Friday, December 21, 2012

Year End Thoughts

First I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  Hug yourself, love yourself, and love the people around you as much and as best you can.  Life is short, and life is very often harder than it is easy, but it is sweet.

And it is worth it.

When I got sick, I was feeling guilty for taking time off work, and not being able to cope and the list sort of just went on and on and on...A friend said to me "Stop talking like that and tell me what you would be saying if it were cancer or something else."

It was dead simple, and he was 100% right.  So I leave you with this.  Know that this year seems to be tougher for a lot of us struggling with depression and anxiety than it seems other years have been.  So, if you're hurting, know you're absolutely not alone.

Also know that I think we're finally hitting a precipice where we're going to learn that the stats of 1 in 5 people struggling with the things we struggle with is largely understated.  That number is more like 25%-33% of all people are dealing with depression and other mental illnesses that are debilitating, crippling, and life altering.

Know that there is help and there is a reason to live and there's a damn good reason to not let this beat you.  You are loved.  If by no one else.  You are loved by me.  I wish I could reach out and hold your hand for real, but I am always here to listen too.  If you need someone right this moment, please call your local distress hotline.  They care about you too.

And at Christmas remember that giving to someone else, anything at all, whether it is time, a smile (even one that is forced through your very own tears) can make the difference between someone hurting themselves and living another day.  One smile, handshake or even holding the door open, can set off a chain reaction of love and kindness that can truly save lives and make the world a brighter place.  Paying a kindness to someone else, can save you too.  Try, please.  For me and for yourself.  See firsthand how it can fill your heart and replace your pain.

With love in my heart, I wish you all a safe and joy filled holiday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Cloak of Invisibility

So my weight has long been my cloak of invisibility.  Not only is it the one thing that makes mobility difficult enough that I often stick out like a sore thumb.  But it's the very same thing that helps me hide from the world and live quite comfortably in a role of observer.

We attended the orientation session last night for the bariatric surgery program at the hospital.  It was nothing I didn't already expect.  And as I sat there, I felt myself hunkering down.  Preparing for battle.  This is going to be one of the toughest wars I'll wage in my lifetime.  But I already knew that.  It's the toughest, and longest  hard fought battle I've dealt with in my life so far.  How could the final hill be won with any less blood, sweat and tears than I have already invested?

The session was really our opportunity to learn what we didn't already know and to firmly feel the gravitas that is this final decision to alter our metabolic system was really going to be.  Think Top Gun, the scene where they're all being told that they are about to be flying for their careers and that only one of them will be Top Gun.

It was that, only for fat people.  And instead of hearing "you're the best of the best", we heard a lot of "Don't waste our fucking time and money.  Leave now if you're not absolutely fucking serious about this.  Now.  Did you hear me?  Right fucking now."

And that sorta threw me for a loop.  Who in their right mind goes through all the effort of dieting, and failing, and dieting and failing, and beating themselves up endlessly, long enough to finally throw their hands in the air, and make the appointment with their family doctor, only to confess in the most public way any of us ever could dream of having to do it, that they can not succeed without extreme intervention?  The kind of extreme intervention that can only be offered at 5 hospitals in the province and has a 6 month waiting list just for a session in which we can be berated and demeaned further by a nurse, dietitian and social worker about wasted fucking time.  Where we discover it will be another 3-6 months before we even get to meet with a surgeon.  Where we sit for two hours and take it graciously despite the fact that the voices in our head who have beat us up all our lives for being worthless and fat are laughing maniacally at your treatment of us.

Apparently they didn't get the memo that I just spent the last six months worrying about heart attacks, strokes, and the fact that I might or might not see Christmas with my daughter, while they were jockeying their agendas and accusing other people who live with the same fears about waking up the next morning about not taking this seriously, wasting their time and potentially even punishing them for being lazy enough to need their services in the first fucking place.

The purpose of the program and for the rigors it includes is that it's meant to help people really succeed with this.  I imagine the tough love is intended to weed out the weak and make room for the brave.  These are going to be the people who support us through the surgical journey pre and post operative, for as much as five years after the surgery is over and done with.  Somehow I'm hoping that their bedside manner outside of that orientation is a million times more supportive, otherwise I can see my ass being "kicked out of the program" for being insubordinate.  Taxes paid be damned.

So begins my journey.  Through all the pain that has been and all that is to come, I'm fighting my fight tooth and nail, sip by sip, and mashed up food for the win.  My next appointment with the specialists is in March - 3 more months of fretting over what could happen between now and then.  But I'll be damned if they are going to kick me out of this program and call me weak, lazy, worthless.  My next round of tests is on Monday and then look out world.  When all of this is done, I'll use my extra skin as a shield and I'll show my child what it is like to be healthy and happy and able.  I'll show my child that she is the prize I fight for daily.  That she is my entire reason for living.  And she is my strength in beating something that has beaten me down for so many years.

And when my last appointment is done, I hope I get to tell those bitches who called a room full of desperate and disappointed people lazy and worthless, how lazy and worthless they really are.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Knitting Our Own Nets

So, the last week or so has been emotionally challenging for me.  For no good reason.  Just likely the pressures of the season and a whole lot of missing my loved ones who are no longer with me.  The notice about my surgery consultation, coupled with holiday and work stuff, and my daughter's uncanny timing with trying to assert slightly more independence has been a lot to absorb.  Fitting in all these pre-op tests with work and making the magic of Christmas miraculously happen without seeming to take the effort we all know it takes - possibly a little too much.  I'm on the brink of tears probably 50 minutes of every single waking hour, and I'm barely sleeping.

Today I met up with long time friends of mine for our annual "festive special" celebration at le Swisse Poulet.  And what would ordinarily be an energized couple of hours sharing gift bags full of baking and happy stories of things that have happened since we saw each other last in the summer, turned quickly into a sad story sharing experience that left me honestly ravaged.  One of my friends announced that she's separating from her husband and when asked why, I suddenly realized it could have been me sharing precisely the same story today.  I realized quickly that I'm lucky my husband has made the efforts he has.  Otherwise it likely would have been me sharing this very news.  My daughter's godfather is also part of this crew, and when I first met up with him for our lunch today, he quickly asked me about my mental health issues, and confided that he has been feeling extremely unhappy and that he's now seeing his family doctor.  My heart broke for him, because let me tell you, the last thing you want to hear is that someone you love dearly is now experiencing the same thing you've survived.  ESPECIALLY when you still struggle with it, and you have the tools to help you cope.  And the third part of our foursome is also dealing with some sadness that is related to the loss of a loved one.  Between all four of us, we have been so dramatically impacted by our losses and we have seen each other through the darkest hours, that to see us all come to this screeching halt, and see us all stiffening our lip and squaring off our shoulders to brace ourselves for the next hit, was so remarkably poignant and disheartening all at once.

I love these people.  I think they love me just as much.  We don't see or talk to one another nearly as often as any of us would wish to, but I do believe we always know we're still there for one another.  At least I hope we all feel that way.

In driving my friend back to work after our lunch, I reminded him of some of the things he told me when I first got sick.  I tried to reassure him that it was manageable, that he could do this, and that his people love him.  He was quick to exit because he's not used to this kind of attention or needing to be this vulnerable.  And that's when it struck me.  We're struggling because we've let our own hand made safety net pull and stretch and now there are some rather large holes and we're afraid of slipping through.

And that how it struck me.  We need to "re-knit our net".  We need to catch each other and build one another up once we have landed each other safely on the shoreline.  And maybe our lunch was step one of that, but in any event, this should be true for everyone who suffers with mental illness like depression.  And particularly for the loved ones of those affected by a mental illness.  They need you to knit their net for them. The worst fear anyone with depression or anxiety disorder is that they'll fail and fall, and get lost completely.  It's absolutely terrifying to be in that position where ever step you take feels like it's on the edge of a slippery cliff.  10,000 feet into the summit of a mountain, and when you look over the edge, it's so steep a drop you can't tell if the net even exists.  We need that net.  Everyone does.  So, if you're reading this, and you know a loved one has been down a lot lately.  Reach out.  Do whatever you can to pull them out of their funk.  You won't know you've been successful til you've not given up on them.  It takes time, but every single phone call, every single touch, and every single kind word knits another catch in their safety net.

As we approach Christmas, this kind of effort is never more important than it is for that person right this moment, today.  Pick up your phone and dial the numbers.  Leave a message and say "I love you".  You might be amazed at how uplifted you even feel by having said it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Parental angst

Apologies for leaving you all hanging.  It's been a couple very strained weeks with barely a moment to spare.

Not that it will get any better in the short term.  The holidays are officially upon us, and while I'm more than amply prepared with gifts purchased and decorations up, December is going to be all about execution.  Gifts will be wrapped mere moments before they are delivered all month long no doubt.

The snow is flying here, and it has been already colder than we got all of last year.  I'm actually watching the snow whip across my office window as I write.  It's chilly, and dark and dismal, and I am already wishing it were spring.  I do not want to deal with winter at all this year.  It likely has something to do with having to clear off my car to take my daughter to preschool in the mornings.  But I digress.

Other things that are triggering some anxiety for me recently are the fact that my child is having issues with a bully at her preschool, and I'm so hopping mad about it, I could spit nails and be sent to jail.  I can not believe I'm dealing with this already - my daughter is only 2 and a half!  It makes me want to quit my job and do things the way I know they should be done - but we know how that goes.

But I've also finally gotten the written notice of the orientation session at the hospital that will begin my journey through bariatric surgery.  I know I've said before how I couldn't believe how long it was going to take, but suddenly, it feels like it's all going so fast, and I'm getting terrified.

Today I went to see my doctor to get the requisitions for all the surgical work ups.  And to be honest with you, I suddenly realized the angst I've been living for so long relates directly to this thing that happens when you become a parent.  Some people call it guilt.  Others may call it a noose.  I don't know what's more accurate other than to say, that I've come to recognize that every single thing I say or do is delivering a developmentally critical message to someone I am now fully responsible for.  And this is why working creates such angst for me.  It's also why dieting and this surgery is creating even greater angst than I could have imagined.

One hand says: working shows my daughter a strong and capable way of managing one's life, supporting one's family, and being able to do and have it all.
The other hand says: you weren't my priority and I desperately needed or took more time than you should have had taken from you.

One hand says: dieting and getting healthy shows my daughter the value of eating healthy and exercise.  Shows her that making herself a priority is important to living a long, healthy and balanced life.
The other hand says: dieting and going to extreme measures to achieve something called "health" is self abuse, lack of self worth, and demonstrates a lack of ability to accept all of one's self.

One hand says that going to an extreme measure like having bariatric surgery should prove how much I love myself and more than that, my child for making such extreme sacrifices just for the opportunity to spend more time, more quality time, with my daughter.
The other hand says that it's extreme lack of ability to love myself, and that I'm a failure at every other method of weight management.

And the worst message I could imagine her receiving from any of this is that its even remotely better to over exercise, under eat, or do "whatever it takes" to never gain an ounce of weight (muscle, fat or otherwise).  I managed to catch a 5 minute snippet of the Katie Couric show the other day.  And it happened that the 5 minutes I caught was of a 15 year old girl who's battling back from dire situations related to anorexia.  She explained that it was her mother's dieting, exercise regimen and constant watching of her food intake that triggered her negative body image, and her approach to food and exercise.  She recalled her mother baking an extravagant birthday cake for her 5th birthday and noticing that despite slaving over it for days, that her mother had nary a bite.  Her mother looked healthy, athletic but not over thin and frail.  She looked strong and confident and healthy.  Her mother thought she was teaching her daughter how to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle and how to do things right.

Flip a coin and now that I'm on the precipice of starting this bariatric (the system wants to auto correct that word to "Barbaric") surgical journey, I am realizing that I am either acting on this way too late, or praise God, just at the right time.  With that image in my own head of hearing another girl recall how acutely she was watching her own mother, I recognize how I already struggle to get my child to eat a full meal.  She eats baby bird size portions and can often just graze all day long.  She is underweight for her age and has been since day one.  I've worked overtime trying to make sure I consistently deliver a healthy relationship with food for her, putting my own and my husband's health at risk to ensure she has 100% complete balance at every meal I can give her, and the example of parents who eat what is given to them and try everything on their plate.  But quantity and some varieties of food continues to be an issue with her.  Setting examples, we eat a healthy dinner before anyone gets dessert or treats after supper.  Admittedly, we have far too many treats in this household, and my daughter would quickly forego any meal of any kind to skip right over to our treat portion of any given evening.  So I'm wondering how in the world I'm going to cope when all I can eat, is really as much as she is currently able to eat, and that there will suddenly be things that my body can't digest or metabolize.  And I'm praying to God that it's early enough that it won't impact her relationship with food.

It's times like these when I really do wish I could have some of my teenage angst back.  It pissed a whole lot of people off when I was going through it, but the only one it really impacted was me.  I'd take back a whole dose of my teens to alleviate some of this angst I have today.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Setting Examples

So I've seen a lot of articles recently that speak to being a better example for our children when it comes to perceptions of our own appearances.  They're poignant and absolutely true.  But the thing is, I've never had the same affliction that some of these women describe when they speak about how the envision themselves, and how the speak about themselves and their appearances in front of their children.

The core point behind the articles is to resolve the nagging voice inside your head that says "you're fat", "you're ugly", or worse "you're stupid", and demonstrate to our children that we in fact feel differently by virtue of how we actually speak out loud in response to those inner voices.  The articles highlight how we envision the absolute and perfected beauty in our children, and fail to see any of that in ourselves.

I read this and suddenly, I feel pretty awesome about myself.  You see, I have those same nagging voices.  Truth is however, they are both true and slightly inaccurate.  Because in my mind, beauty isn't what is outside.  It really never has been.  Nobody's ass is beautiful.  It's an ass.  And those old sad statements of "she has such a pretty face, if she'd only lose the weight" when you actually can't disassociate the two.  At least not in my mind.  If I have a pretty face, well then, c'est touts.  It's a pretty face.  That doesn't change because the size of it is larger or smaller or somehow related to the size of my very ugly ass or the belly that carried and nurtured my child that never somehow went away.  I can honestly say that I never look at an actress or a model on a magazine and say - yep I'd die to look just like her.  I have plenty I'd like to change on my body, don't get me wrong.  But I don't really want to live up to someone else's distorted objectification of beauty - ever.

Beauty, in my mind, is entirely in one's character, which can manifest itself in the brightness of a smile; the twinkle of one's eye; the peak of one's eyebrow; or for that matter, the absolute perfection of any other feature.  But to be clear, none of us are Shakespeare, and one arm is not generally any different than another.  No foot is any less footy than someone else's.  But spirits and characters are either made better or worse by the life experiences they've had.  The outward features of their faces and bodies, are mere reflections of how life has affected the spirit within.

So with that, yes.  My life has worn on my face, my hands and my body.  They take a toll, and if you saw a photo of me without my child in my hands, you would probably see a weary, tired, and less than exuberant mom type person who spends no time cherishing herself, or wearing nice clothes.  In a close up, you would see wrinkled, blemished skin, saddened and heavy eyes.  You would see the subtle downturn at the corners of my lips and a furrowed brow - probably because my mind never stops.  I'm planning and juggling a million thoughts in my head simultaneously every moment of every day, and trying to keep them all straight with one another.  Motherhood represents a level of schizophrenia you could never possibly imagine if you weren't a part of the same sorority.

But if you saw a photo of me with my child, with my husband, with the two people who make my furrowed brow and headache worth wearing every day, you would see exactly what I see.  Infinite beauty and happiness.  Gentle kindness that speaks louder than any wrinkle, blemish or fat ass could yell.  You would see the serenity of a woman who has devoted every breath to sustaining a happy, somewhat healthy family, and who is so very happy, glad, and proud to do it.

And then again, if you were to look at a photo of my husband or my daughter you would see my own beauty.  Because what makes me beautiful, is the light and unparalleled love that I breathe into them every single day, and the light, power and radiance they breathe into me.  And so yes, just like those other bloggers, I see the infinite beauty of my child every single moment of the day, but I also see that it's already a reflection of me.  I see in the way she looks at me, that she feels that way too.  And it never hurts when you're snuggling with her before bedtime and she looks at you, tweaking your cheek and says "you're so cute" of course, either.

At the end of the day however, whatever I do, to modify the way my life's experiences are reflecting on my outward appearance, are always an example of how I'm choosing to live my future.  Not my past.  And this has nothing to do with superficial opinions that what is on my outside is what is "beautiful" or "ugly" or "nondescript" for that matter.  And when I speak to my daughter about what is beautiful, it will always be approached in terms that define it as smart, kind, happy, and wise.  It will always be in terms that help her understand we are all beautiful, even if we don't sometimes see our physical appearance the way we feel it inside.  And I plan to be honest with her that the nagging voices should never have a power over one's view of one's self.  The nagging voices belong to people on the outside who don't have enough self awareness to see the beauty of this world in it's entirety.  They can't appreciate true beauty, because no one's ever shown them their own.

I work to show my daughter every day that her beauty is inside her heart and her mind, and it's in her smile and her laugh.  And I remember every single day that I'm beautiful like that too, even on the days when it's harder to do it.  And the fact that I can proclaim that level of self awareness is something I'm truly grateful for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The role fate plays

When it comes to forgotten dreams, or plans that never panned out, and the general dissatisfaction one feels about their lot in life, it can sometimes be very easy to blame fate, and things outside our control.

I struggle with this, and as you already know, if you're reading frequently enough, one of the major components of my depression and anxiety comes from not living up to my own potential.  Everything is triggered by not feeling good enough, or feeling satisfied with what I have.

And the more I struggle with it all and think about it, I have come to understand that if the fates can be at fault for not giving us what they want, why can't they take credit for helping us avoid larger failures and pitfalls?

There's an old saying that failures or mistakes are simply lessons to learn from.  If you take a more positive spin on how things naturally evolve through choices we and others make in a situation, then however things wind up, is basically how they were supposed to.  If the fates have a role to play, why does their job have to be about thwarting our progress and reversing our luck?  Why can't they actually be working overtime to make things turn out better for us in the long run?

Here's where it all boiled down to this understanding for me.  For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be a teacher.  Everything I did in my schooling and extra curricular activities was bent and designed to drive me in that direction.  I volunteered at my old highschool as a TA (absolutely voluntary - no extra credit or pay involved), I worked part time at a tutoring centre, and did a co-op placement at a french immersion middle school...EVERYTHING was a choice to pave the way for a teaching degree.

It came time, and I applied for Teacher's college - I even applied to school's way out in the sticks with the hopes if the larger more prominent schools rejected me, then at least I'd have an ace in the hole.  Well, as good as my GPA was, it wasn't good enough for even my third choice school.  I was faced with finding a job  and making a living with the urgency of a car slamming on it's brakes to avoid colliding with a brick wall...

Turns out that wasn't such a bad thing.  I made a great career for myself, started earning great money, did a lot of travelling and got to live in another country even.  But I never had let go of my dreams of being a teacher.  So when an opportunity presented itself to write a curriculum and partner up with someone to start my own private event planning school, I jumped at it.  A year into the process everything unravelled.  I had toiled, sweat and worked through the first half of a well deserved maternity leave trying to give this school wings, and my partner screwed me over.  A classic situation of someone in way over their head, with more money than they really know how to handle, and a really big fear of success.  She lied, that lie caught up with both of us, and in a screaming second, my teaching dreams were snuffed again.

I still have the dream, and if I ever had the opportunity to retire and teach for fun, I think I'd jump at it.  BUT in the meantime, I'm closer to retirement than I may have been if I'd been a teacher full time.  And perhaps I live in a nicer house than I would be if I were a teacher.  And now I'm able to work from home and have enough flexibility that I get to spend just about as much time with my kid as I would if I were a teacher, or possibly even more.  And I watch the teachers dealing with back to work legislation and I see their rights are being violated by our own government and I think - at least I'm not dealing with all that.

But even better than all of this, I've realized I'm teaching people everyday.  Just not out of a book.  And best of all, I'm teaching myself.  I'm learning lessons by living my life, and observing others.  And the best teacher of all is my child.  She's showing me the beauty of this world all over again and it's incredible.

So do I believe that the fates have a role to play?  Sure.  I'm fanciful enough a thinker to believe there's something solid about plans meeting up with the right timing and circumstances.  But I don't think they're always out to get us.  And this has helped me cope with my depression and anxiety to some degree.  If there's always a reason for why things happen, the reasons may not always feel good at the time, but in the long run, if you're doing everything the best way possible, then you know that the way things work out are then for the better.  So thank God or the Fates, or Mother Earth (whomever) for the unanswered prayer sometimes.  She may answer a few more if you do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The noise

Cancelling out the noise is a critical part of maintaining my own mental health.  It's never easy, and never often enough, but when I find a moment to cancel out the noise and centre my mind, it's bliss.

I live with a lot of noise.  Even though we now live in a small quiet town and I'm not subjected to hearing sirens and traffic all day long, I work, and therefore the constant hum of electricity in the house, the lights, the computer screens, the phone and the conference calls.  All this is book ended by the noise of harping at a two year old, and the nattering of a husband who is frustrated with diabetes, work, commuting, child rearing and often times with life in general.  It can be almost unavoidably impossible to cancel it out.  To hear silence, and revel in it.  I might be one of only a few rare people who greet a power outage with a smile.

My family has been hit rather hard this year by the Health Hammer.  That's right, I've given it a name.  It's lived with me long enough, it's like that rotten stray dog that came in one day and decided my furniture looked tasty enough to eat, but has never somehow left and moved on to someone else's home, someone else's sofa legs, or area carpet.  My daughter has caught every bug known to man this year and I think I've boasted once already that we have finally seen our first full month of preschool without a sick day.  That isn't to say we haven't continued to be hammered while she's been at school though.  The hubby has had a resurgence of bad blood sugars and his diabetes is officially out of control enough again to warrant insulin, which he laments at every. single. opportunity he has to speak about anything at all.  And then I've had my own lady issues that need not be spoken of, outside of which to say that I've been in agonizing pain, so much so that it's likely an undercurrent driver for some of the anxiety and depression I've been experiencing lately.  Combined with ailing mothers and grandmothers and holiday prep that is already in full swing despite the fact that Halloween hasn't even happened yet, geesh...stop the world, I want off some days.

So with all that, how do you cancel out the noise in your head to get the space you need to remember how to breathe?  Good question.  Just a few minutes ago, I covered my ears, very like a child would do when trying to shield herself from an extremely loud bang.  Where do you have to go to find silence?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Whew - catching a breath

So, I'm very sorry that I went quiet.  It's been a frenzied few weeks in all aspects of my life, and well, there just wasn't spare time to do a whole lot of posting.

I'm hesitant to complain though.  I've had some ups and big time downs in the last couple of weeks, and I'm exhausted, but when you think of what other people are dealing with right this very moment, I'll take my hits thanks, and keep on trucking.

What's been happening you ask?  Well work has been out of control pressured.  Last week I think I had meetings from the crack of dawn til dusk nearly every single day, and in every spare second I could find, I spent it painting my daughter's room.  It took 3 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint to go from circus side show to somewhat chic (as chic as you can get with paint in a 2 year old's bedroom.  It looked great, and my design vision was feeling totally zen, until I carted all of her toys and books back into her room, and now it looks all junked up again.  I'm trying not to stress out about it, because I know that at least now, I'll be able to change things up as she gets older without having to rearchitect the whole darn thing.

When we're all done, I'll post some photos of our home's transformation.  It's been a lot of work, and there's still plenty to be done in the way of getting artwork and personalizing the spaces...but with the bones now complete and sturdy and neutral enough, it shouldn't be too hard now.

In other news, my mother in law has begun radiation and chemo treatments this week for lung cancer.  While we're not there every day taking care of her, I know it's been weighing on both my husband's mind and mine, and I can tell you that dealing with the emotional strain of not being there is not as easy as one might think.  Both the hubby and I are fixers.  And while I suspect he'd be lost in space up there, I know that I'd be busy as stink taking care of her basic necessities.  Part of me is glad I'm not there to do all that, and the other part of me is ill thinking that it might not be getting done.  This is not where my father in law exceeds expectations either.

My own mother has been ill, and trying hard to recover from heart troubles, and she's not rebounding as easily as she did the first time.  They've put 2 new stints in one of her arteries, and well, her body isn't taking too nicely to having them there.  Because of the heart attack that is induced during the procedure and complications from emphysema  she's not able to walk the length of her driveway without feeling in trouble and in need of a rest.  This is probably weighing heavier on my mind because again, with a toddler and a full time job and responsibilities of my own, I'm not able to pitch in and take care of her the way I would like, and the way I think I should be.  It's another one of those complications that comes from having children late in life.  When I should be worrying less about my kids, or having my kid help more so that I can have more time for elder care, I'm still in new mommy mode, and unable to devote the kind of attention she needs to her, precisely when she needs it.  You know, old people stop caring for anything that happens in the world after 4pm.  And when it happens, it's not like it's gradual.  It just stops.  And nothing you can do to suggest doing something after 4pm will work.  It's like the hard wiring of their synapses changes.  It's completely irreversible.  And what makes it all harder is that I keep listening to her tell me what she's doing to look after my Grandmother.  oh what I wouldn't give to work part time right now, without taking a financial hit.

But what puts all of this into perspective for me is this.  I'm able to complain about such things as not having enough time to devote to more people as though it were a luxury.  I don't know exactly if that's good or bad, but I think, depending on your perspective, it's not all that bad.  These are the people in my life who mean something very dear, and who are in some respects, my best friends.  And I have so much love and so many people who are special priority for me, I'm so very lucky and blessed to have them.  And none of this is about wanting to find any time to be with them, because none is usually spent at all.  It's about finding "more" time to spend with them.  It's about the fact that I recognize the fragility of everything around me, and the idea of not getting 150% of every single opportunity I can get with them is unacceptable, and stressful to me.

So I'm tipping my hat to the "have nots" today.  May you find peace, good health, comfort and unconditional love with someone who is a trusted, true and faithful companion forever.  May you one day find yourself as lucky as I am today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I participate in an online community for moms.  I connected with it, when I got pregnant with my daughter and was spending that dreadful first three months with the biggest secret of my life, and morning sickness that made me curse all the women who had given birth before me.

One of the threads in that community got me to thinking.  The question posed was "what advice would you tell your 15 year old self?"  I couldn't come up with just one thing.  Now that I'm staring down the double barrel of 40, there is sooo much I would tell myself at 15.

Here's my list of 15 things I would tell my 15 year old self:

  1. You are more precious than gold. 
  2. You are worth every good thing given to and done for you.
  3. You will change the world somehow, some day, for someone, and you probably already have a million times.
  4. Your grandfather was right. There is a lesson and an opportunity in everything you do.  Learn from watching others mistakes as well as you learn from your own.  And learn how to be diplomatic when you speak.
  5. Don't fight with your father, and go on every single family trip you can no matter how appealing the extra cash from working is, or how dull the vacation sounds.  You only have 6 years left with your father.  You won't remember the fights, but you'll have a hard time remembering the good moments too because there were just too few of them.
  6. The best moments and the best memories happen when you make them, and are better when they are every day moments.  Soak up every last one of them, and remember every possible detail.
  7. Stop worrying so much about boys.  Boys will come eventually, and over time, there'll even be a couple good ones.  The best ones for you, will be the ones your parents dislike the most, BUT you should always trust the instincts they gave you.  They're good.  And when they tell you to get out, do it and don't look back.
  8. Being alone is as much awesome as it is the suckage.  One day, you'll be so entrenched in family and togetherness you'll be desperate for a good chunk of alone time.
  9. Learn to love exercise right now.  Today, you are not fat, despite what everyone in the world keeps telling you.  Listening to those voices is going to hurt you for so long.  If I could show you a picture of yourself in 25 years, you'll completely understand why.
  10. You are always good enough, and better than you give yourself credit for.  There are a lot of painful moments heading your way, and lots of disappointment.  But every single day of your life, there are a million things to love and be happy about.  
  11. Belly laugh every single day and marry the man who makes you do that even on the days you want to shake him.
  12. You are going to have the most awesome kid one day.  She is perfect and she is yours and she is just like you in so many ways.  Motherhood is the most rewarding job you will ever have, but it's also the  ost challenging, and I'm serious about that - it's not as cliche as it sounds.  Some days you're going to wonder if that child was sent to kill you - but she's not.  She changed the entire universe the first time you saw an extra line on that stick, saw her first ultrasound, and heard her heart beating for the first time.  She could run a country one day.  She's that bad ass.
  13. When it comes to figuring out what you do with your life, do what makes you happy every single day, and the money will come.  What I mean by this is don't get sucked into "just gotta get a paycheck", cuz those jobs pay great, but they make for a long and painful death.  Do yourself a favour and take some practical theatre courses at university, and think about doing something charitable for your day job.  Live your life for some of the stories you can tell versus the paycheck.  Seriously, it's worth putting the time in now to find a passion and make a career of it - they get sick benefits and lifelong careers at some of these charities and it's impossible (really impossible) to make the switch later on.
  14. Love yourself and your own company.  You are a pretty freaking awesome individual, and despite your flaws you are your family's primary bread winner, primary caregiver, and that dream you had of being super woman, well, you've been there, you've done it, and you got the t-shirt.  It really isn't worth the ativan, BUT, you did it!  And you were awesome at it!  
  15. You rock and I love you.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Anyone who treats someone suffering with depression and anxiety will tell them that the bulk of their recovery and management of the illnesses are lifestyle.  Medications do their part and are often the most critical part of getting control of the illness early on.  I've said it before that they gave me the head space I needed in order to confront some demons, and to build the coping skills I'd need to manage the illness long term.  Let's face it, once you have it, you always have it.  It's not a virus that just outstays it's welcome a while or leaves in a few weeks.  Mental illness has some serious staying power.  It's really a dark horse you seem to have to ride forever and ever.  Kinda like the Ghost Rider.  You're never really rid of it, even when you try to use it for good.

So for me, I think I've said it before.  I try, the best I can to reward myself often (probably too often), and I try to make sure that I make moments where I'm able to laugh at least once each day.  I try to do something fun with my kid every single day, and I sometimes fail miserably at all of it, but trying is 50% of the battle.

Because I work from home, I have the added challenge of doing all this while staying within the same four walls just about 22-23 hours of every single day.  I don't get out a lot, if it's not to run errands or drop and collect the child from preschool.  That's a lot of time to stay couped up.  Sure, it's awesome.  I don't have to fight traffic during a commute.  I add about 2 hours a day when I can hang out with my kid instead of worry all the way home about what I'm going to make for dinner, and generally speaking on slow days, during my work breaks, I can do my laundry, clean my dishes or dust something.  All this I couldn't trade for the world.  But nothing comes with out a price, and the price I pay is not having much of a social life, not getting much interaction with people who aren't collecting money at the end of a grocery store checkout, and frankly all that means that the four walls I see every day, better create an environment that brings me peace, air and tranquility.

So we've been working hard at getting that in place.  The people who owned our house prior to us had some strong paint preferences, and did a piss poor job of loading up every single space on the walls with photos/prints or some other kind of chachke, and they used everything from cement anchors to screws, to all out 2 inch nails to hang some of this crap.  And most of the rooms were colour blocked - as in 2 completely opposite colours in the same room.  Seriously.  We're not talking feature walls...we're talking colour blocking.

And so the effort we've undertaken so far is to lighten the place up, and balance it out.  Every room in the house doesn't have to be the same colour, but they should at least make sense, be neutral and calming.  We're almost done, and then furnishing and art and decor will take this all home.  It's already been 10 months of slogging through the hardest parts.  We have literally 2 rooms left to paint, and my house will be a sanctuary that will support my mental wellness the way it should.  I have a winter planned already of heavy duty sewing that will replace most of our window coverings, and am dreaming up plans for landscaping and artwork in the spring.  Come this time next year, I'll be able to focus my spare moments to making halloween decorations, and doing crafts with my child.  I'm so looking forward to that!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Zsa Zsa Moments

So, there's a blog almost every single person in the world knows about, but I'll be honest, I've only been reading her for the last few months, and I enjoy it.  It's the Bloggess, and she even won herself a spot on Katie Couric's show in it's inaugural month of shows.  That's extremely high praise, and it's most definitely deserved.

Why I connect with Jenny Lawson from the, is because she experiences the same disease I have, and while she is far more extreme in her sense of humour, I most certainly get it.  I think it, she says it.  Works for me.

Some of my friends read her too, and one recently posted a link to Jenny's speech on being furiously happy.  I'm going to pay it forward because it really means so much to live like this.  Especially when you suffer from illnesses like depression and anxiety.  It's worth the watch.  I enjoyed it.

For my part I have been attempting to live my life in a more muted fashion but with the same goal.  Reality is, that I live my life every day for my family and try to carve out enough time in my life to satiate my soul so that I don't up and walk out, wringing my own neck and pulling out my hair on the way to the looney bin.

So for me, that means I weave in little Zsa Zsa moments.  If you're too young to remember Zsa Zsa Gabor, you'll miss many of the references, so I'll just hang on a moment, while you catch up on her background.  Essentially, this woman made mug shot synonymous with celebrity.  Before Martha Stewart, Zsa Zsa was the quintessential bitch slapping diva they all painted Martha with.  In fact, Lindsay Lohan and Naomi Campbell were jokes compared to Zsa Zsa.  When Zsa Zsa said or did something, she pretty much meant it, stood behind it, and then she left you to rot in your own unworthiness.  She married 9 times.  Yes.  9.  Once even to Paris Hilton's great grandpappy.

I think she had a competition running with Liz Taylor.  She married royalty, she married actors, she modelled and acted herself...and never in her hay day would she have been caught without her face on, her diamonds in, and her nails (err. talons) done.

You know how they say "no one smiles for their mug shots"?  Well, Zsa Zsa did.  Yep.  Cuz that's how she rolled.

This is a mug shot of one well put together lady who wouldn't have missed out on her luxuries for a second.  Luxury was her middle name.

And so I have Zsa Zsa moments.  They are those moments when I indulge myself in something innocent (not slapping officers or marrying billionaires here), but where I spread a $10 jelly on my toast at breakfast because I frigging deserve it after changing a million dirty diapers and where I take the wine to the bubble bath because gosh darnit, baths require wine.  And where I just flake off work for an hour or two to write my blog because darnit, my soul needs a little love too.  It's my equivalent to living furiously happy.  I smile and laugh every day with my kid and my husband, even on some of my most challenging days.  They keep me balanced with the frustration and the frenzy that is Monday to Friday and sometimes Sunday too.  But my Zsa Zsa moments keep me being "me".  100% me.  Nobody else.  Nothing artificial, temporary or cloaked in a role or responsibility.  Just me, being good to me.  Selfishly happy.  Wining and dining my soul.

The $10 jelly is equally awesome.  I recommend it to everyone and there's one here waiting for you.  Comment and tell me why you need a Zsa Zsa moment, and I'll randomly select a winner.  $10 jelly could be on it's way to you, and you could be eating some seriously bitchin Zsa Zsa'd toast for breakfast!

So did Martha.  Just sayin.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Throwing Stones

I try to live a simple life.  And by simple I mean that I try to keep to myself, stay within reasonable boundaries of people, and I truly try to live most of my life without casting unfair dispersion against people who honestly don't deserve them, because when all is said and done, I've been the recipient of far more than enough of various dispersions myself.  So much so, that over time, as my depression and anxiety took root, it has rooted in a space of my mind where the little voice says "you're not good enough".  In truth, I'm just as "good at anything and everything" as the rest of the world is, and there have to be one or two things that I'm better at than other people.  But the voice in my head is loud.  It's been nurtured and fed by the thousands of other outside voices who screamed it at me, whispered it behind my back, and who stabbed me with them whenever the opportunity struck.  Most of those people didn't even realize that this was the result of those thoughts, looks, snide remarks.

And that's not to say that I'm the victim of bullying, or what we now view as "bullying" behaviour.  Then again, I know now that really all of it is bullying.  But when I was growing up, it was more about taking your licks and learning to get past or overcome them.  When I was real young, I was bigger than the other kids.  I grew fast.  I wasn't fat, but stocky.  I wasn't inactive.  I was always busy and playing.  But I'd be picked on. Luckily for me, it would only be once or twice, and then I'd fight back.  My baby brother was picked on too.  He had big front teeth and a significant overbite.  I'd say comparatively, he took more than I did, but I do recall stepping in a couple times on his behalf too.  I recall that I took down a couple Grade 4 students for this kind of thing when he was in kindergarten...I was in Grade 2.

As I moved into highschool, I found myself with friends in all the different cliques.  I got busy with the theatre group, and ate lunch with a different group of people every day.  This meant that I was no real outcast, but I never wholly belonged to one group.  And that meant I would more often than not be forgotten for different parties, left out of different social things.  It meant that I had to find and make my own drum beat, because well, no one else's fit entirely.  And that also meant that I never felt good enough to fit in with any one group. Any grown up would have looked at this and thought, good for her, she's doing her own thing.  But that's not really what you want when you're a teenager.  In fact, it's never something you really want when you're a grown up either.  It's isolating.  It leads to a whole lot of navel gazing.

What it inevitably returns though is this acute awareness of what other people do, why and how.  When you live on the fringe of nearly every socially acceptable pocket of people, you become a very keen observer.  You not only make an art out of living vicariously through others, but you also learn how to benefit from other people's mistakes.  And so, when it comes to casting judgments on others, I try very hard to think first how I would have done things differently.  In some cases, that means I can be extremely harsh on other people.  And in many other cases, it means I can be way softer than people often expect.

That's never to say I'm perfect.  Far from it.  But I can be very critical of people, because I'm as hard on them, as I am on myself.  So recently I've been reading a blog that I really do like.  She calls it like she sees it, and very often we agree.  But she brought my focus recently to two separate issues and between her reviews of the situations and the resulting comments, I've had a lot to digest.  Here are my thoughts:

Honey Boo Boo - has her own tv show which is a spin off of the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras.  Now often I've thought how easily I could have gotten my own daughter into modelling as a baby, and then shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, and now Honey Boo Boo, have ultimately reminded me why my husband and I said "no way, never, over our dead bodies".

And the photos of Peaches Geldof who has been captured on film stumbling the baby carriage on a sidewalk and criticized for not dropping her phone to collect her child, never mind the criticisms that ensue spiralling from this story to her fashion choices (like that has anything to do with the price of tea ANYWHERE).  The argument being made is largely that she cares more for the expensive phone, and by implication designer cut off jean shorts and great shoes) than for her child.  Peaches is the daughter of Bob Geldof (musician and political activist) and Paula Yates who died tragically of a drug overdose when Peaches was a young child.  In all honesty, I didn't know this person existed until the article on PIWTPITT.  And I can tell you I've thought of her father only when he's been referenced for being a pain in the ass whack job.

BUT, the things I'm most unimpressed with isn't the people in the show, how they are raising their children or whether or not they slap a pile of make up on their kid.  It's that TLC is making money from pitching people as lunatic fringe folk for gawking and general revelry at someone else's (a child's no less) expense.  And that news giants like the Huffington Post actually report about a nobody's clumsy gaffe, again for the purposes of profit and admonishment by the general public, all under the pretense that it's what we want.  I think it's reprehensible and I'm taking ill to the idea that we as a consuming public actually do want to see this shite.

In both those situations, I think to myself, if it meant feeding my family, or making sure my child had an option to go to college, I'd do everything short of damaging her odds.  If that meant whoring myself out somewhere, or eating shit off a street corner, I'd bloody well do it.  AND, I make a note of my own clumsiness, and my daily gaffes and I realize I can not criticize someone for not thinking to drop the phone, or laughing at my child when she says something rather adult.  Every mealtime is a new adventure for me, because it's a never ending battle to get through one without spilling food on my shirt. I've knocked over a full cups of iced tea on my new born and felt absolutely dreadful about it for 2 years.  I've definitely dropped the phone to address my child in a moment of crises or stumbling accident, but it's never been without doing what comes naturally and saying abruptly "Call you back" and hitting the end button.  I'm a human being.  Over the years, I've been conditioned to elicit certain responses, just like every single person out there.  So much of our lives are instinctual, habitual.  No one, and I mean no one, has the right to assume superiority over anyone else based on what happens in a split second of time.

So, do I agree with what Honey Boo Boo's parents are doing by contracting with TLC: categorically no I do not.  I think that does way too much harm to their child's future than it prevents.  BUT, I'm not the person to judge that.  They are.  And, for what it's worth, maybe it is their best shot at giving their child a hopeful future.  I think it's a shot at outrageous therapist bills to wade through and identify the precise moment when a child lost the respect of her country and the world at large and pinpoint why she never feels good enough at anything or worthy of anyone's unconditional love.  But that's me.  What I CAN judge is TLC for feeding the world crap, and disrespecting it own heritage as a network that promotes learning for the sake of profits.  It should simply change it's name.  It won't change my judgement of them, but it will better reflect their goals with shows like these.

Looking at this last picture of Peaches and how she is holding her child to coddle it and solace it, the comments I've read are all about the phone that's attached to her damn ear.  What I see is a woman who is probably going to beat herself up for the rest of her life feeling like a failure for that split second reaction, for letting it all happen in the first place, and God forbid, for all the nastiness other people have slung at her ever since.

To conclude, people in glass houses should never cast a stone in any direction.  We all make mistakes and gaffes and have things that embarrass us daily.  TLC and the Huffington Post and all those commentors who have holier than thou dispersions and judgements to throw off have a day of reckoning coming to them.  It's debate-able if I will then be able to find anything with which to empathize when that inevitably happens.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I want to be Eckhart Tolle

There it is.  It's out there.  I've said it.  I also wouldn't mind being Oprah Winfrey, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

I've already credited Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of Now: A New Earth with helping me yank my own butt out of the drain that was my own battle with depression and anxiety disorder.  I don't change my read of the situation at all, but when I say I want to be Eckhart Tolle, here's what I mean.

I think Eckhart is a bright mind.  A philosopher worth listening to with valid emotional insight, an educational background that allows him the opportunity to infer logic, use metaphor, and a voice and accent that allow him to reach the corners of your brain.  That's a multi million dollar ticket right there.  His real qualifications for all this insight is a come to Jesus he had while he was contemplating taking his own life.  So for what it's worth, this is a guy who has been there done that, and in my world, that's the kind of street cred that counts.

What I like most about him is that he's overcome a humble beginning and ensured himself a higher education...that is of course if it's all true.  You know you can't always believe everything you read on the internet.  For now, until I'm proven differently, I'm making an assumption it's pretty darn close.

So the way I figure it, I have an education too.  It's a pretty good one, though it's not Oxford.  But hey, we don't all get a chance to roll like that right?  And I've seen the bowls of depression too and avoided the pit, and I figure that success can't all be his...It's mine, I claim victory over my own depression and anxiety almost every day, so that's something.  As should everyone who survives it and thrives in spite of it.  And gosh darnit, I'm pretty damn insightful too when given the chance.  The only thing I can't copy is his accent and his transcendental aura - you know, unless I dig into a bag of seriously awesome weed.  But if that would make the difference between slogging away at my desk job, and raking in millions (even thousands - I'm really not greedy) by selling books that get sold by Oprah, and posting video interviews for $100 subscriptions so I can share my insights with the world at large, hells yes, sign me up.  I'll smoke just about anything you ask me to if you could make me that guarantee.

What it all really does boil down to though, is even despite not making millions selling my books, or being able to share my philosophy while maintaining a perfect tree pose, I do continue to plunk away at my keyboard, sharing my inner most thoughts with a great void in the hopes that someone out there, anyone, finds some level of comfort in what they read or stumble upon in these logs.  Rest assured too that while I'm typing away, I'm making an effort (albeit clumsy) to get from child pose to a passable downward dog while not fainting from all that blood that's rushed to my head.

Love to you all - and please comment freely.  I'd love to hear what different things you'd like to see here!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tapping Out

So, I think I'm ready to tap out of work for the week.  It's been another challenging one, I'll have to admit.  I've had to hit the doctor's office for a few tests that were nothing short of agonizingly painful and emotionally draining, all with the hopes that nothing will be there but normal results.  Nuff said, there probably are normal results on the other end of this ordeal for me, but getting there has been, well, challenging.

But work has been the greater challenge this week.  On a bright note, this is the first 3 week stretch I've had I think since March without having to take a sick day for myself or the kid.  So while I find myself thanking the universe and my doctor for making an asthma connection and giving my daughter a puffer, I also find myself at the end of my rope with the politics of corporate life.

I want to shake the hand and kneel at the foot of the one executive in this world who is undeniably offended by her subordinates lack of faith that they can read, are interested in the details and can "figure simple shit out" without a step by step illustrated instruction manual.  I really do.  I say all this because I'm sure there's just one out there, if any exist at all - and if more exist, well then they are as secret as Willy Wonka's Oompa Loompas.

And I say "her" for what I hope are obvious reasons.  Suffice to say, I suspect if a woman is in a position of power she got there by figuring shit out on her own, and she got there by having to outsmart and outlast a whole lot of opposition...and frankly, I know that most women in an executive role don't last long if they in fact got to where they are using their good looks and charm.

At any rate, I find myself desperately trying to figure out how to get from here, to a position of "it is what it is" as quickly as I can, because unfortunately, if I linger too long on how appalling it is that executives can't be trusted to read and do math, is going to sink me into a funk that will destroy my whole freaking weekend.

But I'm afraid I'll have a much better chance of spotting Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster before I lay my eyes upon the rarest species of all: the smart, compassionate and empathetic executive.

* Update: After posting this, I thought I'd have a run at googling "smart, compassionate executive".  Guess what turned up?  No list of links to specific execs, but top of the list was Michael Hyatt's hire me blog about Intentional Leadership.  Hmmmmm...mayhaps I'm on to something!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hats On For Awareness

So I just heard about something happening in our great city, and unfortunately it's too late for me to make arrangements to attend.  I just wish I'd heard about it sooner.

I'm so glad to find out that something like this is finally taking place.  Often while I worked within the mental health circles, I begged and pleaded to see this kind of fundraising take place.  As with most smaller municipal not for profits, the concept of this type of event was just too big, too foreign and too expensive to contemplate.  I'm so excited to see it blossoming somewhere.  This kind of attention is precisely the kind of attention that people with Mental Health needs are desperate for!

September 13th is the Hats On For Awareness Hatsquerade gala.  It's a shame not to see CMHA's name listed as a primary sponsor.

This is the photo Nicholas Rosaki of Dabble Magazine and CityLine fame has posted of himself from last year's gala!  It looks like so much fun!

I am sooo planning ahead for next year!

Think Happy Thoughts everyone!  Make some lemonade today!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shaking God

There are times in everyone's life when we feel abandoned and disillusioned, and well, forsaken.  By everyone including God.

Now I'm not an overly religious person.  I prefer to practice my faith in my own way and on my own time, because I believe that if there truly is a force out there greater than the universe, well, then he or she or it, would simply prefer a more direct and informal relationship with the beings it shepherds over a cult like routine worship that pays lip service to the gospels that are intended to be practiced every day.

With all that said though, there have been a lot of days in the past few weeks where I've wanted to simply shake God for delivering such pain and suffering to me and the people in my life.  If everyone would just live by the golden rule (which by the way isn't exactly religious in any way), then we could all live peacefully, and happily in our own utopia.  It seems completely unreasonable to me, that we've been pitched against each other like pawns in a really lose lose game of chess between good and evil.  The innocent bystanders in those wretched games end up living and suffering with anxiety, depression, scizophrenia, and any other list of ailments as long as my arm, and maybe even then some.

Yesterday, a coworker I've become rather close to over the past year, was telling me that an absolutely horrendous disease that she suffers with, is getting worse.  Both of us working a country away from each other, there was nothing I could do except to read her words (paraphrased but accurate) "I feel foggy.  Just not right.  Heart not pumping enough blood or something.  Chuck's (her husband) not home til tomorrow.  I started getting tremors this weekend, and I guess I never expected them to come on this fast.  I broke my kindle.  I couldn't open the garbage bin.  It all just pissed me off.  I just can't stand the idea of someone having to look after me.  It just kills me that that's what's ahead of me."

She suffers from a disease called Mitochondrial disease.  So rare that only 1 in 4000 people have it.  So devastating that in her case it is attacking her heart, her nervous system and her brain.  She can develop Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and endless numbers of other conditions simply by having this one disease.  And for someone so bright and intelligent, and dedicated and ostentatious to be plagued with something that has no cure while we continue to bark up the cancer tree pouring money at it left and right with no resulting cure all's, it devastates me.  What's worse is that she's killing herself to keep her job, and keep her symptoms under wraps for fear of losing her job and her benefits and the financial ruin that will befall her family if that does happen.  She's fighting tooth and nail to stay alive so that her family isn't burdened by the cost (both emotional and financial) of her long term care.  It makes me appreciate where I live and the health care I receive so much more watching her dig in and fight like Muhammed Ali under a health care system that is so broken and politically disputed.  Knowing that the Republicans would sooner see her die than collect the healthcare she needs in order to protect the "constitutional rights" of insurance companies?

And I realize that there are so many people in the United States suffering from mental illnesses also, who are unable to get the help they need because the cost of medications is skyrocketing above what they can afford to pay with limited benefits.

And it makes me want to shake God, that the idiots have loud voices, and sharp knives, and the smart people have only been given dull, blunt weapons with which to retaliate in this battle.
It makes me want to shake God for praying on the meek and delivering them unbeatable illnesses that drag on for decades.
It makes me want to shake God that he hasn't given me a better opportunity to help these people while not forsaking my family to do it.
It makes me want to shake God that some of us have to choose to live every day, while others choose how to make it harder for us.
It makes me want to shake God, that he has forsaken so many of us, and allowed so many others to flourish.
It just makes me want to shake God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Steady as she goes

So I'm officially through a full day and night without another panic attack and the aftershocks have actually worn off.  Aftershocks feel just as awful as the real deal for me.  I feel ill, and woozy, and like my ears are on fire.  As my muscles catch up with the relaxation of my heart and lungs, I feel dragged through a knot hole backwards, and it takes immense patience to deal with the amount of time it takes to reach a normal state of alertness and calm.

But a couple of nights work free with the hubby, a couple good cathardic chats with my mom and a friend, and a seriously awesome bath with a bottle of wine, and things are levelling off.  At least for now.

In the meantime, my neighbours up the road have had a new display up for the last couple weeks and I am finally able to manage sharing it with you.  If you look super duper closely, you'll see that the teacher is a crane, and they are all sitting at bench desks...Yes in fact, a few of them even remembered their backpacks!

Thank you to Zoolander for the answers to life's oddities.

You can imagine how the first day's lesson goes:

Mrs. Crane: Welcome children to Honk Your Socks Off 101.  In today's lesson, we're going to learn about honking etiquette.  It is not ok to honk AT humans, but it is ok to honk FOR them.

Goose 1: But what if the human runs out of bread crumbs?  Don't they deserve a good honking?

Mrs. Crane: Ah Goose 1.  Good point, however, if the human has already shared bread crumbs with you or your friends, then it's unfair to chastise them.  In order to ensure you get a second opportunity at bread with that human, you're going to have to give a little.  Remember this, just swim away in a circle, honking once you're a safe distance from them.

Goose 1: Yes, Mrs. Crane.

Goose 2: But what if they're only sharing their bread with another goose?  That's totally not fair.  I'm hungry too!

Mrs. Crane: Another good point.  But if you want any bread at all, you'll be wise to remember that making a big stink and scaring one may in fact result in you getting some bread, but it is also more likely that you'll scare them away, and no one will get any.

Goose 2: Yes Mrs. Crane.

Mrs. Crane: Are their any other questions before we get on with today's lesson?

Goose 3: I have one Mrs. Crane.  If we can't honk at them for not giving us bread, can we crap on their cars?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Super Woman Syndrome

I don't know if it's really a syndrome in some medical journal somewhere, but I sure know it applies to my world.

I'm living in the land of panic attacks and depression again, and it's about as rough as you could imagine.  Between things heating up at my work, and things hubby's work are an inferno, and our daughter's terrible two stage all has me peaking over the edge of a cliff and being secretly joyful for a bit of that kind of relief (metaphorically speaking of course).

Panic attacks for me are more severe than they have ever been before.  They used to make me feel claustrophibic, gasping for air and trying my level best to regulate my heart beat.  They felt a lot like when your blood sugars get a bit too low.  But now, there's all that PLUS, a sort of blanking out behind my eyeballs.  Like there's a discernible disconnect between my brain and what my eyes are registering.  Everything is blurred and slow motion.  There's also a disconnect between my ears and what my brain is registering.  I hear everything, but it's affected by that same cloudiness and slow motion that my eyes are dealing with, and both are coming at me like they're on different tape reels.

They are debilitating.  They scare the bejeebers out of me more than ever before.  I can no longer drive when I'm having them (I learned this with a close call last night), and that means I'm limiting my ability to cope with my parental responsibilities.

I'm no longer in a position where I can afford to take time off work.  I'm no longer in a position where I can take ativan as soon as I feel them hitting, because being incapacitated and asleep also does not make for solid parenting skills.  I'm meditating, breathing and rationalizing the hell out of these things, and I'm still struggling to manage the physical manifestations of the chaos that's hitting me in my life.

How the hell am I going to survive this?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Notebook Rage - An Office Space Kinda Day

Much like road rage, notebook rage occurs when someone or something in a notebook lights the fires of anger in its user.

I get this all too often, and when it happens I envision an office space printer scene where I pick up my computer, launch it out my second story window, and greet it on the driveway with a bat, and a kick ass Geto Boys soundtrack.

And in my case, it's rarely the hardware that is the real problem, it's the people I am beholden to in my email.  That technological advancement that is supposed to expedite communications, is the thing that often trips people up, and enables them to speak (write) without thinking, makes them more sensitive to nuance, and acutely aware of tone.  All in a far more complex way than letters used to.  And in my case, there are several people around the world who are free with their opinions and all too ready with an aim and a shot, using those opinions as weapons.

In Corporate America, unlike any other time in it's history, is plagued with dotted lines.  Office Space summed it up with how many people told the main character about a stupid, simple negligible over site in his TPS report from the day before.  With dotted line reporting structures that are heavily used today in an effort to support the cross functional complexities of organizations, the result is overload, strain and exasperated minutae management.  And that's what I'm dealing with.  Don't even get me started on the politics it explodes by virtue of the power struggles between people who own functions outright and those who feel their dotted lines should be firmed up and solidified.

I'm caught between a rock and a hard place most days, and it challenges my mental health 24/7.  I have a job that supports people all over the world, which means that very often, I put hours in well past closing time, AND it means that I get to figure out how to influence people with different cultural histories and genetic make ups which make them more or less opposite in how they can be managed depending on what time zone they work in.  BUT it also means that my American boss is not the only person I am beholden to report to.  I have dotted line responsibilities into folks in Europe and Asia, and none of these people makes any mistake about how inconsequential or how disruptive I am to their regional processes/activities with any given issue...and that means each and every one feels obligated to tell me what they think I should be doing instead.

And so it's moments when this occurs (ok, this happens at least 3 times each week), when I want to fire my notebook out the window, bash it around a few times with a good solid bat, package up the remains, and ship them to my hard line boss with a post it note that very succinctly explains why he's looking at a pile of junk from me.

But I can't and so I won't.  And instead, I'll respond to all my emails with a smile on my face (albeit copied and pasted from last week's email), and I'll thank these blow hards for their time and valuable (ehem) inputs. Then I'll have another cup of coffee, and read the next email.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A blatant disregard

There comes a point every so often, where I watch the world around me going to hell and I whisper to myself "WTF?"  How hard can it possibly be, to just be normal?

I just finished watching a bit of "breaking news", which turns out in this bias world of reporting, isn't so noteworthy.  And the "entertainment news" is that Lindsay Lohan is in trouble again, still, for all the same shit she's been in trouble for, FOR YEARS!  Seriously.  This is going on since at least 2007 folks.  She is no longer noteworthy for anything but getting into trouble.  She's a washed up has been that maintains her spotlight and her wealth by being dumb.  Yep.  And the world sops it up like it's the bread basket and olive oil at their favourite restaurant.  Sheesh.  Even Charlie Sheen had a very short breakdown and returned to normal.  In fact, he could have spiraled like 6 times in the time Lindsay has taken to deal with this crap.

Which leads me to this line of thinking.  I said "normal" which is a real faux pas in mental health circles because it implies that the fringe has no place in it.  But I meant it, and feel exactly the opposite.  Normal to me, is anyone who deals with the stuff of life without twisting it to self benefit.  "Normal" in my mind is a pretty wide umbrella, capturing both what makes us all alike, AND what makes us different.  For me, the "fringe" is all self serving, and intentional, therefore, abnormal.

as defined in Wikipedia

There's nothing in any sort of mental illness that supports that kind of stupidity.  The absolute difference between stupidity and ignorance is that one is intentional and the other is legitimate.  Ms. Lohan may very well be affected by depression and other rife illnesses that lead her to want attention, BUT, I can promise you that no one needs or wants that kind of attention if they are normal and ill.  So what makes her special?  She obviously loves the attention she's getting, or she wouldn't carry this on.  And apparently the world loves paying that kind of attention, or they simply wouldn't.  And instead of being plastered on the front of every newspaper in the world, taking time away from more serious and life altering events say, like the war in Syria, she'd be checked into jail or a rehab clinic and she'd either succeed or fail, and carry on with the next phase of her life without impacting the lives of so many others.

You may say, I'm not really impacted...I can just turn off the tv or flip the page in my newspaper, but I have to be honest with you, I'm so seriously sick and tired of having to do that.  If I don't like pepper on my pasta, cool, no pepper.  It's easy to disregard the pepper mill on my table top.  It's not on every single surface of my home preventing me from enjoying a meal anywhere without pepper residue making it onto my plate.  That's what Lindsay Lohan, or more accurately, biased news and a sick and twisted population of ignoramuses are leaving me to do with my every day life.
But what bothers me most is both the lack of awareness that this is signalling a real demise of our population, AND worse still, that the general iq of our population is being so violently downgraded.  I'm not a genius, but even at the worst of times, I didn't stoop to such levels of idiocy and numbness that made functioning like a human being impossible.  We really are devolving if we allow ourselves and the insanity of the noise around us, continue to keep us from the geniuses that live in the quiet space in our minds.

In quiet; in solitude and in serenity and balance, live geniuses among us all.  The excess of this noise, is only comparable to brain washing and a steady cleansing/dimming of people who can navigate our world, and their own in particular, to something of greatness.

I remember growing up, my parents told me I could do and be anything I ever wanted to be.  As long as I worked hard, focused and put the effort and attention into it, I could do it.  Knowing that they were absolutely right, it makes me more adamant than ever that it's easy to just exist.  People do it all the time without getting locked up, photographed, and smeared through rags and orange jailer jumpers.  They range from slobs on their parents' basement sofas, to very successful people with healthy families and busy schedules.  Nice cars, nice homes, and comfortable lives.  And I know that living a clean, honest and simple life also means that no manner of money in any amount, could make a person act that dumb.  More money certainly makes room for more mistakes and bad gaffes, but it couldn't take away every ounce of common sense ever given to a person.  The only thing that could do that, is a willingness to disregard one's own moral centre for a public that eats it up and pays more money for opportunity to watch it.  Effectively dumbing down society, and lowering our own bars of excellence to dire levels.

I guess this has turned into a long rant, because I'm simply waiting for the arguments to start flying that poor Lindsay is sick, and needs help with addictive behaviours and depression.  I'm waiting for others to defend her poor soul to the end, because not being able to watch Lindsay spiral out of control, may in fact mean that we have to look inward and heal ourselves.  And I'm ever so tired of watching mental health used inappropriately as a crutch, when so many people out there with legitimate need for assistance, struggle.  We need examples of people who succeed living with mental illness, coping successfully with what can sometimes be catastrophic and debilitating challenges.  Please let Lindsay go, and focus your biased entertainment reports, on people who represent the real issues of our society, and who demonstrate how intelligence, hard work, effort and focus can change someone's stars.

photo pulled from (credits kantmann)