I am not a mess

It has not been an easy year. Really it hasn’t been an easy 7 years, but let’s focus on this past year, for the sake of time. March 2016-March 2017.

I broke up with a man I thought I was going to marry. Not because he was cruel or because we fought, but because we had both changed. I hurt him and, in turn, he hurt me. And it was awful.

And while I was hurting and confused I had two men, people I had known for years, who I thought I knew and who knew me and everything I was going through tell me that they cared about me and wanted me. And who were just using me. One to pass the time, even though he was engaged (which he neglected to tell me), the other to make his ex-girlfriend jealous.

And while this was going on I was falling apart. I was a mess. While the heartbreak didn’t help, I started falling apart long before that and I kept falling after. I was on medication for the depression, but it wasn’t helping anymore. The panic attacks were back in full force. I stayed in bed all day and didn’t care what I was missing. I didn’t want to do any of it anymore. I kept a bottle of Norco under my pillow because I couldn’t fall asleep without knowing I had the option to not wake up again. So I got help. I didn’t want to, it felt hopeless and stupid, but I did and I’m still proud of that. I went to a crisis group. I upped my meds. And I got better.

I got better just in time for my family to make a drastic change. One that wasn’t completely unexpected, but I would be lying if I said it was easy or that it didn’t upset me at all.

During this change, I moved across the country. I left my friends, my family and my home behind. I was alone and without the support system I had spent years creating. And it was exciting and terrifying. Which brings us to now. I am in my first year of my Ph.D. program. I have two dogs. I’m sick all the time and it’s pissing me off. I miss my family and the girls I’ve been friends with for the last 12 years. My family dog is dying and I don’t know if I will get to see him again. I miss the ocean and the sun. I love my job and I don’t regret any of my decisions, but it would be an exaggeration to say I like Michigan.

To say the least, there have been a lot of changes this past year. It went by faster than I thought possible. And things are still hard. I still freak out sometimes. I say the wrong things. But, despite the fact that I jokingly declare it weekly, I am not a mess. I put myself back together and I learned a lot in the process. About what I want and who I am. I feel like myself for the first time in years. And it’s good.

So, no matter what the people I’ve met along the way may think, that I’m crazy or unstable, I’m not. I just had a long year. And I think I’m finally ready for the next one.

Alternative Uses for Dogs

Ok, maybe not all dogs. Probably not good dogs, for example. Or small dogs. My dogs fall into neither of those categories, being large fluffy monsters from Hell. So here are some things my dogs can teach you that you might not expect:

1. The Ability to Overcome Physical Pain

Are you a fighter? Do you need to learn how to take punches and dull your body’s natural and healthy response to pain? Well, do I have a plan for you. You see, my dogs love you. They don’t know you, but they love you. How will their love help condition you to pain? As we all know, love is pain, but it’s rarely physical pain. Unless you’re loved by my dogs. Because my dogs love you, they want you to feel included when they play. The problem with this well-meaning gesture is that my dogs don’t know what pain is. Elena has at least an inch of dense undercoat and another inch of fluffy, shock absorbing overcoat. And Azlan is, of course, a sentient ball of fluff that has no physical body in the first place. They do not understand that you don’t have this armor/fur and they will not hold back with you anymore than they do with each other, which is not at all. If you manage to survive a few weeks of wrestling with my dogs, I promise you will raise your pain tolerance to unsafe levels.

2.  Defense Maneuvers

This could also be learned while attempting to minimize your injuries during wrestling, but if you want to improve your reaction time to an attack, the best way is to eat your meals on the floor with my dogs.  The floor is the dogs domain, if you are on the floor with your food, both you and your food are their property. They also only have respect for me (mom) and while that is a tiny amount of respect, it keeps them from actually stealing food out of my hands. They do not have this respect for you. To keep my dogs from stealing any of your food, you have to develop your reflexes because they are very sneaky and very fast. In challenge mode, I will take away your entire meal if they get any of it, which will use hunger to encourage you to improve. By the end of the training, you’re reaction time will be cut in half or you will have died of hunger.

3. Appreciation for Alone Time

As stated before, my dogs LOVE you. And they love you so much they will never leave you alone. Never. They will be with you when you eat, when you sleep, and when you shit. They will even stick their head around the curtain while you’re showering and watch you. Because you are never allowed to leave them. EVER. If you shut the door, they will cry and beat at it and not listen when you tell them to stop, because, again, they also do not respect you. When you begin to lock yourself in your freezing car while it’s snowing to be alone for one solitary minute, you’ll have learned your lesson. I have heard this lesson can also be learned when raising human children.

4. Deathlike slumber

Are you a light sleeper? Does the smallest noise or movement end your dreams? Fear not, we have the answer: Dogs. If you can sleep through my dogs attempting to wake you up in the morning, you will be able to sleep through the apocalypse. Here’s the plan:

You alter your schedule to you go to sleep at 4am.

7 am – I release the dogs into your room. Sensing that it is far past the time to go to the dog park, both will growl at you, increasing in volume as you continue to ignore them.

7:30 am – They are now standing on top of you as they growl.

8 am – Azlan is attempting to dig you out from under the covers. Elena is sitting by the door, silently threatening to shit  on the carpet because she does not respect you and WILL be going outside. And she’s willing to use biological warfare to get what she wants.

8:30 am – Azlan is now rolling around on top of you. I don’t know what it is meant to accomplish, and I don’t think he does either. But fuck if it doesn’t wake you up. Elena has shit on your carpet and you begin to choke on the fumes.

9 am – Azlan is literally just sitting on your face. Elena, upset that you have ignore her attempts to anger you, is now looking for ways to destroy everything you love.

At this point, if you have managed to stay in bed and in a state where going back to sleep is actually possible, I will come in and take the monsters away. Slowly, you will be woken up less and less by their antics and soon be able to sleep like the dead.

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The devils

I would like to end this post by again stating how much I love my dogs. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But this is a warning post for anyone thinking about getting a dog. It ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Awake

It’s 1 am on Thursday and I’m awake and angry at the world. Why am I awake? Well, it could be good ole fashion insomnia. It could be because my ovaries are trying to murder me for once again not giving them a child. And it could be because I can’t breath. It’s probably the breathing thing, because trying to convince yourself that unconsciousness is a good idea when you’re wheezing goes against all survival instincts. Well, at least it does if you have the overactive imagination that comes with anxiety, like I do. It could get worse and I’ll die in my sleep. Will it? Statistics say no, but it COULD and that’s enough to have me furiously typing on my keyboard instead blissfully sleeping.

Why I can’t breath is a mystery. It could be allergies from the frustratingly inconsistent Michigan weather. My body could finally be rebelling against living in a snowglobe full of dog hair. Or this miserable winter could have once again overcome my delicate California immune system and given me some other minor malady. It’s hard to say, and no answers helps my current predicament. And I can’t find my inhaler, and so now I have to once again return to the doctor just to get a simple prescription for one of my ever present and chronic conditions. But I suppose it’s worth the trouble if I get to breath again. But just barely.

Rant 2. Let’s talk about hormones, folks. Hormones are the absolute worst sort of torture our bodies inflict on us. They are continually frustrating, from unexplained anger at minor annoyance to this whole ‘love’ business that everyone celebrated on Tuesday. Love is probably the worst and most frustrating emotion there is, but my disdain and desire for it deserve their own post. Back to hormones. As you may guess, from the whole murderous ovary business, I’m on my period. I particularly hate the rush of hormones I get this week, as most women do. While I am a perfectly happy single girl the rest of the month, Aunt Flow makes me want to be in a relationship. Not just in a relationship, but married. It makes me want to be in love and have someone to hold me forever and ever. The rest of the month, I question whether I ever want to get married. The rest of the month, shit, I don’t even really like being held. Let’s face it people, cuddling is fine for a while, but it gets uncomfortable fast. Humans were never meant to embrace for long periods of time. Anyway, the change is most disturbing and I do not approve.

Finally, I have been avoiding posting because of the necessity (that I have imposed on myself) of discussing Trump. There’s just really too much to discuss. Too much wrong in what he’s already done and what he plans to do. He is a threat to the freedom of women, minorities, science, and (while some won’t admit it) all Americans. And I’m scared. But I plan on doing something about it. (That sounds a little murder-y. Reasonable things, I assure you). He also seems to have gone out of his way to pick people that oppose the very basis of the government agencies they will be heading (I mean Pruitt? DeVos? Where did he even find these people?). And geez, Bannon? Just in general. If it was only Trump, if it was only  one, corrupt person, I would have more hope. But he’s surrounding himself with unqualified extremists. And he has a Republican Senate to back him up.  This was far less composed than I wanted it to be, but it’s all I have right now. I don’t have the energy to sort through all my disbelief (and there is a new source of it everyday) to be anymore articulate at the moment. I’m sure more will come.

But there are details that make that seem slightly less crazy…

I just locked myself in my car and cried because my dog wouldn’t poop. But there are details that make that seem slightly less crazy.

Detail 1. Azlan does not like to poop on his leash. He likes to poop alone, with no one watching him. Which is why he normally does this at the dog park, which we did not go to today because…

Detail 2. I have a bacterial infection in my stomach. It’s cause by H. pylori and it’s something that happens to people, apparently. So I am in a lot of pain and I am on a lot of drugs. Like 8 drugs. All the drugs. Too many drugs to be a rational person.

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This is the bacterial bastard (from  www.helico.com/images/o_heliobacter-pylori.png)

 

So Azlan was barking because he needed to poop, we walked around for 30 minutes (each step agony for me), but he wouldn’t go. So I threw him back in the house and went to go cry alone in my car because I could not deal with his shit (pun intended).

Eventually, I tied him to a long rope so he could pretend to have a little privacy and the fucker did his business. But I’m still a little peeved.

Which is why it sucks to be in a new state. I’m not sure who in California would have been willing to help me get my dog to shit at 9pm on a Tuesday, but at least I would have had options. There is no one here that I feel comfortable enough with to call at night and have a drug-fueled sob with. Sad days.

ANYWAY back to the stomach infection, which is just more proof that someone is passively trying to kill me. I have had many strange and painful illnesses in my life, none of them life-threatening, but all of them long and unlikely. Like viral meningitis, ovarian cysts, and other less exciting things.

In addition to the stomach infection, my neck is messed up, which is giving me a persistent headache despite being on some pretty high dose pain medicine. The doctor thinks I slept on my neck funny, but I disagree.

Personally, I think my arch enemy from the future (which I will have when I take over the world. Trumps election has solidified this goal) sent nanobots back in time to infect me with H. pylori and then slowly start sawing away at my spinal cord, explaining how I managed to hurt my neck bad enough to cause a headache while also getting a bacterial infection in my god damn stomach. Soon, it will be completely severed, turning me until the worlds first zombie (because I’m not just going to die, that would be too simple). I’ll have to start eating human brains. Hiding the murders and morgue raids I will need to commit to satisfy my undead hunger will slow down my plans for world domination by at least a year. It’s a dastardly plan, though less effective since my arch enemy has morals and seems to feel a bit queasy about killing a young, innocent (so far at least) girl. They are so weak (maybe).

Whether I’m right or the doctor is, I think we can all agree that both situations are equally likely.

I’m going to return to laying around and moaning now. Cheers.

P.S. I will likely comment on the upsetting election results from last week when my stomach and head stop hurting. Which should be in a little over 4 years, haha. Gotta laugh to keep from crying. But, no, I will comment on that when my body only hurts from the rising anxiety and fear instead of unfriendly nanobots.

 

 

Advice followed by needless rambling

For any taking psych medications (or any medication, really) never quit cold turkey. Always consult your doctor so you can make a plan to slowly lower the dosage and get off the meds in a responsible manner, like the god damn adult you are.

I learned this lesson, as I must for most things, the hard way. No, I did not decide to stop taking my meds because I love them and they love. The long and short of it is my healthcare provider screwed me over and I had to get a new prescription and the whole thing resulted in no meds for Beth. For about 3 weeks. Which was less than fun.

There are the symptoms that everyone would expect. The return of the soul crushing depression, the panic attacks, all the normal stuff. And while this was deeply upsetting in way, it was a hullabaloo that I have lived with for 6 years, so it was ok. But the withdrawal symptoms extended far beyond the emotional turmoil. It was headaches, body aches, nausea, and these things called “brain zaps”which literally feel like electrical shocks to the brain. Brain zaps also made me dizzy and almost faint quite often. I was in a pretty shit mood through it all, which is saying something because I am a cynical pessimist on my best day. Let’s just say I did not murder anyone and I should be given a medal for it. Or at least a gold star sticker.

But, in the words of my new psychiatrist, who I love, “At least we know you still need them.” Yes we do, doctor lady. Yes we do.

I’m back on them now, and back up to dose, so I can finally go back to hating the truly important things that deserve hating. Like this god damn weather. Its dropped to the 40s during the day already and I hate it as much as I thought I would. I swear when I die and go to Hell (because there’s just no way I’m going anywhere else) I imagine something like this happening:

Satan: “I am stabbing you with a pitchfork, why are you smiling?”

Me: “Because it’s warm here.”

Satan: “Warm? You’re in Hell. Your flesh is literally melting.”

Me: “Well, yes, but I’m not cold.”

At which point Satan would leave me in exasperation because how on earth are expected to deal with one so completely ridiculous? It might even inspire him to turn down the room temperature a bit. You know, let Hell freeze over, just to spite me and my smartass mouth. Which would be bad for me, but good for Hell, I think. It’s been the same for a long time, and if you aren’t moving forward you’re moving backward, am I right?

Also, I got a new dog. Her name is Elena, but not really because I call her Little Girl 90% of the time. She’s a monster.

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Michigan

I’m back, bitches.

Much has happened since I last posted. I moved across the country from California to Michigan, where summer is a pathetic, whimpering puppy compared to my beautiful, fire-ridden California. There is no smell of smoke in the air, no slight burning in your chest as you inhale the 110 degree air. God, I miss it already.

Instead it has been raining off and on since I moved here in July. Rain. In August. I mean, what kind of witchcraft is that? Everything is still green and alive in the middle of summer and it’s creating humidity. Humidity that makes me feeling like I’m living in the Devil’s sweaty armpit. It’s a lush, green horror land full of water and no extreme heat advisories. It’s basically hell on earth.

But besides this horribly mild weather, Michigan isn’t the worst place ever. And I’ll admit that not being in a drought is nice. For now, I can begrudgingly say that I am enjoying this state, so far. I have yet to experience winter and that will undoubtedly crush my soul. The snow terrifies me. I will not make it through this first winter with all my fingers and toes, if I even manage to survive it at all. Once the first snow falls, this blog will no doubt be a chronicle of my final descent into madness. I don’t believe I have ever gone more than a week without seeing the sun. I dread the dark days ahead of me.

Moving is awful. Packing is awful, driving across the country with a dog is awful, and getting your apartment, internet, and utilities set up and working together is the worst of it all. Moving across the country is especially awful because now I have to go out and make new friends. New friends. Just saying it sounds exhausting. Talking to new people is not the most calming experience for me and I loathe the new stages of friendship where you have to watch what you say. My friends (the few I keep around) know everything about me. Everything. And now I will have to find a develop that type of closeness with someone else? No. People suck. Maybe I’ll just live a solitary life and finish my Ph.D. early.

Oh, that’s right my friends. I’m a Ph.D. student, and you should be scared. This emotionally unstable little package is in graduate school and I will be using my knowledge for evil. I am getting my degree in plant breeding, which doesn’t sound threatening until you remember GMOs. That’s right, I’m going to create plants that turn people into horrific mutants, poison the water supply, and set a plague upon your village. And when I talk to anti-GMO protesters, I will be adamant that I chose this career because it makes me feel like God. Almighty. Powerful. It’s scary, so it doesn’t have to be true. That’s how this bullshit works, right Jenny McCarthy?

I might just be breeding for crops for drought tolerance, but a deranged, power hungry scientist bent on destroying the line between man and God is so much sexier. And exactly what the fear mongers expect me to be. And, God, I just don’t want to let the little people down.

Today I woke up sad

Not horribly sad, but “I’m not ever going to find love again because how could I force someone to go through depression with me” sad. This is not an uncommon type of sad, but it is one of the more dramatic types. So I Googled ‘dating with depression’ and I found a dating advice column that essentially said “Can’t be done. Sucks for you.”

OK, it didn’t say that. But it wasn’t the most positive article and it was in response to a person with depression asking for dating advice (see article here). I had to respond to her and I spent an hour on it so I thought I would repost it here:

‘I have severe depression and anxiety and I am never going to get better. This is not some “I give up, woe is me” statement, this is a medical fact. My therapists and psychiatrist have all told me this is something I need to manage, not something I can cure. This is not about exercise, nutrition, or a certain situation, this is because my brain is different. I am never going to just “be happy again” like a normal person, like I used to be, and not accepting this fact would be futile and stupid.

So from my perspective (and probably yours too), Evan said, “Ok, you CAN find love. There is always an exception to the rule. But it ain’t going to be anyone good until you fix yourself”. To which I respond, “Well, fixing myself at this point would be about as possible as growing back a limb so, awesome, I’ll just go die alone”.

I’m not trying to bash Evan, and I don’t even disagree with what he said. He seems like a nice enough person, so I’m fairly certain he meant something far, far more uplifting and kind. I’m just having a hard time seeing it. So I wanted to give you an alternative response, in case you interpreted it the way I did.

So, Kristi – 

Yes, people with depression can find love, but it is going to be more difficult. There is definitely a stigma that we have to overcome, but it isn’t impossible and I wouldn’t say finding someone who will love you is an exception to the rule. That just sounds depressing (pun intended).

And you’re getting help! That’s amazing and difficult and you should be congratulated on that. It sucks, but you’re doing it anyway. I have been going to therapy for years and every time I still think “Ugh, I don’t want to talk about my feelings today. I want to ignore them and eat too many tacos”. You recognize the problem as chronic and are taking steps to manage it. This is something many depressed people don’t do.

Dating advice (based on advice given to me): It’s not exactly something you bring up on the first date. Let them see you and your personality and if things seem to be getting serious or the topic comes up naturally, explain the depression. Don’t just say you have it. Emphasize that you care about them, even when you’re sad. Emphasize it’s not something to fix, it’s just a part of your life, like the flu or the music of Justin Bieber (i.e., It sucks, but at times its unavoidable). This is the first step to testing the compatibility. But seeing is believing, and after going through a bout with you, they may decide it’s not something they can accept after all. This doesn’t mean you don’t deserve love or even that they don’t care. Depression is difficult for everyone around it. But there are people who can accept it. I have dated these people. I am one of these people. And I would absolutely date someone with depression (as long as they are taking steps to manage it and seeking help). They get it. It’s not so scary and taboo for them.

That all being said, your therapists and psychiatrists want to help you, and if they think you aren’t ready for dating, that’s something to consider. What’s even more important is spending time on self reflection and deciding if it’s something you are ready for and if it’s something you really want. You should also be able to look at yourself and say “I have depression, but I’m also awesome.” Acceptance is key. Accept yourself and others will too.

I am currently single and whenever I go through a really bad spell, I want to be in a relationship more than anything. I want someone to be there while I’m crying and tell me that everything is going to be OK. Essentially, I want a crutch, not a partner, which isn’t fair to anyone involved. I should not and am not dating right now. I got shit to sort out.

You are not me and you face problems that I don’t. But I wanted to leave you with a hopeful message. People who will accept your depression and love you are out there, so don’t give up. You deserve love as much as anyone else does. Keep working on yourself because you always should. Try to be better than you were yesterday and move forward.’

Finding this article and writing this response is bittersweet. On the one hand, the article confirms my fears and doubts. On the other hand, I truly am hopeful for this woman and I believe what I said. If I believe it is true for her, it can be true for me too.

 

Family Pt. 2

MOM: Beth, do not be mean to your brother about his girlfriend.

ME: Fine. Brother, look at me. In the eyes. Do it. All your dreams will die.

MOM: OK, tone it down…

ME: What? It wasn’t about his girlfriend!

BROTHER: *ignores me*

Family

A conversation I had with my parents.

MOM: A man and his dog were lost in the woods for a couple days. They got lost while hiking.

ME: Is the dog ok? Did he eat his dog? He ate his DOG. WHAT A MONSTER! HOW COULD HE?

MOM: *after laughing at me* The dog is fine.

ME: Good. Because, otherwise, he would have been a monster.

–Some time later–

ME: You know how cats eat their owners when they die, but dogs usually don’t?

MOM: Yes…

ME: Well, if I got lost in the woods with Azlan, I would want him to eat me if I died. And I don’t think he would. Do you think if I started feeding him little pieces of myself before I died, he would eat my dead body? Like, feed him chunks of my arm.

MOM and DAD: *purposeful silence*

ME: You’re IGNORING me.

MOM: Yes.

ME: How could you? I need your input! These are the questions that keep up at night.

MOM: Yes, sweetie, I know.

(Later, I asked my brother the same question. He answered yes. I thanked him for his input. )

ME: If we were lost in the forest and you died, could I eat you?

MOM: Sure. Once I’m dead you can do whatever you want.

ME: Cool. Noted.

MOM: Could I eat you?

ME: WHAT? NO. I am your DAUGHTER. That’s so WRONG.

MOM: Your dog could eat you, but I can’t?!

ME: He’s my SON. He could eat me, but I would NEVER eat him. God, Mom, it’s called being a good mother.

MOM: I’m going to eat you anyway. You’ll be dead.

ME: Fair enough.

 

Bird Mansion

Today’s post is about how the public school system in America has failed me. I am not a fan of art classes. I art things, but I don’t like the structure of art classes. They should exist, but I would like the schools to bring back skill classes like auto shop or woodworking. I want my extracurricular activities to provide me with a skill. And cars and wood can be creative. Oh, you know what would be great? A classes on banking and taxes on adult shit. Because I am adulting the best I can, and I pay taxes, but I sure as shit do not understand them. Or anything else. I do not feel prepared for the world. Please send help.

It’s super cool to know how to develop film, but it is not something that I happen to partake in on a daily basis. I would rather know how to fix my car or build furniture or repair things. I drive a car a lot more than I develop film. Because that is never. I am not a photographer. I do not own a camera. I would like to understand my car and I realize I could teach myself or find a class, but it would have been great to learn about it in high school. Instead I’m in my 20s slowly realizing I drive a death machine that I know next to nothing about. Scary.

I would also love to take wood shop and learn how to build things. If I had gotten to take wood shop in high school, imagine how good I would be at building bird houses by now. I could be building bird mansions with ballrooms and bird nest made of gossamer and angel dust. Wait, no, not angel dust. That’s PCP. If the birds want drugs, they can get their own. They have beaks and talons and I just have tiny fists. Birds can just steal from the drug dealers. I know if I was a drug dealer I would run if there were just, like, 5 birds attacking me.

Anyway, I would be building bird mansions so majestic that soon birds would refuse to live in anything less. People would be like “Hey, I don’t have in birds in my bird house, do you know what’s up?” “Yeah, the birds are used to a higher quality of living, you gotta get a bird mansion from Beth if you want any birds.” And I would be a rich businesswoman, selling bird mansions so extravagant and luxurious that bald eagles, the symbol of freedom themselves, would want them. Instead, I’m just going to become a scientist and try to better the world. Thanks a lot AMERICA. You failed me and the bald eagles. How do you sleep at night?