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March 28th, 2012, five years ago today, was the day I planned my suicide.

It wasn’t the first time that I had been suicidal; not by a long shot. A lifetime of living with multiple serious mental health issues, along with a plethora of other problems, meant that suicide always lingered in the back of my mind, hanging around well after its welcome was worn out… and simply never leaving. It still hasn’t left; it is always there. Always. However, I was usually safe. Although I’d sometimes even concoct plans regarding how and when to end my life, I’d eventually come to the conclusion of “not yet” before forming anything other than morbid musings (and one trip to the ER). This conclusion almost always had to do with animals more than anything or anyone else; even as a child and teen (yes, I was even suicidal as a child), I cared for animals who depended on me, and their love and need trumped my desire (for lack of a better word) to no longer be.

I had lost my unemployment benefits some weeks before that fateful day, and my disability claim had been previously rejected. The decision was appealed by myself and two of my doctors at the time, but I was out of funds. I was essentially squatting in my home of eight years, as I had stopped paying the mortgage some time before, when I was out of work on FMLA time, dealing with mental and physical health issues. After losing my job, I kept delaying foreclosure proceedings by filing out loan modification packets, which ended up allowing me to live there for another year or so, but losing my unemployment benefits meant that I wouldn’t even be able to pay for heat, electricity, or food and medical stuff for myself and my four dogs. I  wasn’t taking any of my prescribed medications regularly, as I couldn’t pay for them, and my frame of mind was already quite grave.

For a time, my Father footed some of my bills, and with his help, along with the help of a generous friend or two and my Mom, I scraped by. When I still couldn’t find a job after several more weeks of subsisting on next to nothing, Dad informed me that he couldn’t keep paying to run two households, and the only solution would be for me to move in with him. I remember texting with him about it on the 27th of March. I, feeling utterly hopeless, began making plans to pack up and leave the home I had purchased, worked on, lived in, made memories in, and still loved, and asked Dad a question regarding the dogs being able to live downstairs, in the finished basement of his large home. He replied that he was sorry, but the invitation to stay with him applied solely to me, not the four canines I shared my home with at the time.

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I said I’d rather die; he didn’t think I meant it. I did. It was, however, obvious that he wasn’t going to allow the four of them to come along, and after a plea on Facebook (after a switchy, self-medicated evening), I was able to find temporary foster care placements for three out of my four dogs amongst friends by the next day. Although I stated that it was temporary and only until I “got back on my feet”, I had no intention of ever seeing them again. I came to the conclusion that they were better off in other homes anyway, homes that would be able to care for them financially, with an owner who wasn’t depressed, ill, or dissociated all the time, who could meet their physical and emotional needs, and give them the loving care they deserve. Someone a helluva lot better than me. I made a plan to write up care sheets for them, take them all personally to their new homes with their beds and toys, thank their fosters, go home, swallow every pill in my medicine cabinet, wash them down with vodka, and slit my wrists for good measure, after lying in my full bathtub to ensure that once I passed out, I would drown and be unable to wake up or be resuscitated.

My Mother, in the meantime, was able to convince my Father to allow just Kirby, my high medical needs elder-bull, to come with me to his house. This put a kink in my plans; I hadn’t been able to find someone who I thought would be able to care for him close by, but he couldn’t exactly come with me to Dad’s when I wasn’t going to be going there, either. I convinced myself that it would still be for the best to make a list of “dog-people” friends who may be willing to take him on, and wrote up a document on my computer containing my last wishes; mainly, that my family have me cremated, skip the expensive funeral crap, and fund a trip for Kirby to go to his new home, wherever that ended up being, with one of the friends I specified. I knew that one would say yes, at least, as Kirby was a very loved dog amongst my circle of dog friends, but the uncertainty and the crippling guilt regarding this particular portion of the plan started a twinge of doubt in my resolve; a tiny little thread poked out of the tightly woven strategy of my demise. I tried to ignore it, but it was begging to be tugged, in order to unravel my best laid suicide plans.

I wasn’t really packing, as I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving (in that sense of the word, anyway), but I did have to take three of my dogs to their “temporary” homes, as the move was supposed to happen in less than a week. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life, to look into each of their little faces and say good-bye with my eyes, while lying with my words in front of  friends that I’d see them soon. In the span of two days, I was left alone in my home, with Kirby and my tears. Within hours of coming home from that last drop-off, I had twenty-odd open prescription bottles, a 5th of vodka, and my xacto blade kit laid out on the counter before me. At this point, I realized that I didn’t want Kirby to be in the house when I killed myself, for a few reasons. I didn’t want him to watch me die, or find me dead, and also didn’t want him to be protective of me when someone inevitably came into the house to look for me, and end up getting himself or someone else hurt. Even at this point, my dogs were my top/only priority, so I delayed my plan until I could bring him elsewhere for a bit, in order to carry it out. I’d like to say it was some emotional epiphany regarding my human loved ones, or life, or some other revelation, even guilt, that stopped me, but it wasn’t.  I just didn’t want Kirby to be there. I put the pills and booze back in the cabinet, put the blades out of reach, and decided to ask a friend to watch Kirby under the guise of needing to pack and such within the next couple of days.

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Because of this, and this alone, I was still alive when I received a job offer two days later, followed quickly by a second. The original thread was longer now, with another poking out, too. I finally decided to pull one. A job meant money. Money meant I might not have to leave yet.  Upon hearing the news of my newfound employment, Dad agreed to help me out for the following couple of weeks, until I started getting a paycheck. After less than five days in the care of friends, I returned to pick up my three other family members from their respective fosters, and take them back home. Seeing their joy upon returning home unraveled my plan further still; the threads were now multiplying, decimating the intricate weavings, eventually forcing suicide back into the depths of my mind, where it has (more or less) remained since.

Things haven’t gotten much better in the past five years, but as long as there’s always at least one thread to pull…

-G

 

Edit:

*If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out for help.  I know how hard it can be.  I didn’t reach out five years ago, and I should have.  If you can’t reach out to a friend, family member, or loved one, there are online and over the phone resources available.  The number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is:  1-800-273-8255.  Use it, or head to the ER if you can’t talk to anyone else.  All life has value. You matter. Find a thread and pull with all your might.

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My First Assault… or… Don’t Vote Trump

The first time I remember being forcibly kissed by a boy, I was five years old. Five. Years. Old. I was on the school bus, and a boy pinned me down against the hard, cold metal of the side of the bus, and began kissing me. He told me he loved me, over and over. I squirmed and attempted to get away, but he kept holding me down, his fingers pressing painfully into my upper arms. I almost missed my bus stop because he wouldn’t get off me. The bus driver had to intervene, and I fled from the bus as quickly as I could.

The first time a much older boy slapped my ass, I was six years old. He was at least in middle school, and, again, this would happen on the bus. He would slap my rear as I tried to walk by. I would try to carry my book bag so it rested across my butt; he would just lift it up and still smack me. Sometimes it was a pinch as well. A couple times he put his hand on my crotch. He would force me to sit with him on the bus as well, tossing my book bag aside if I attempted to put it on the seat next to me to prevent him sitting there.  I never told my parents. The bus quickly became an unsafe place; those hour long bus rides were sheer torture.

Again when I was six, a boy who had been invited to play and go sledding at my house held my immobile, snow-suited body down against a snowbank, and forcibly kissed me while lying on top of me. I believe my Father came to my rescue that time, but I honestly don’t even remember. I was terrified. When I was the same age approximately, my older sister and her friend arranged a “wedding” between myself and my sister’s friend’s younger brother, who was my age. After the vows, he laid on top of me on the couch, forcibly kissing me and pinning my hands so I couldn’t fight him off. It was laughed about for years. I never found it funny.

Fast forward to middle school. I started developing breasts rather soon, and they were more developed than most of the other girls in my class. In came the poking. I don’t know how many boys in middle school poked my breasts, with their finger, or a pencil, while laughing. I also had my first experience with a misogynistic teacher, who told us outright that girls were not as smart in science and math as boys. I got straight As in his class… he would never call on me, so I eventually stopped volunteering in class. He made inappropriate jokes about girls, to the delight of some of the boys in class. This was in sixth grade.

I was not even free from these unwanted touches at church. Our childhood priest at our local Catholic church, later accused of being a pedophile after he left our diocese, patted my butt while giving me hugs, and rubbed his hand up and down my thigh while I was in confession with him. He always stood and talked very closely, and would often hug me without permission, his obese body rank against me, telling me to “smile”. I brushed off these acts as friendly gestures at the time, as I was still very young, but in hindsight the man had deep issues, besides the alcoholism he confessed to us. I’m unsure how old I was at the time, as he was our priest for several years. I remember giving him a voluntary hug when he left, and feeling extremely uncomfortable as I again smelled his malodorous body too close to mine. Hugs can feel like the safest thing in the world; they can also feel like an inescapable vise grip, depending on who is doing the hugging, and if it’s wanted or not.

My freshman year of high school.  I was fifteen, he was either eighteen or nineteen. I was babysitting for my Aunt, and he called and asked to come over. When I refused to tell him where she lived, he found out anyway, and rode over on his bike. I had put my charge to bed by that time, and he insisted on coming in “just for a few minutes” and promised no one would ever know. And he was right… no one did ever know. Except him and me.  Again, I was fifteen.

I began to have a distrust of males in general… how I made it that long without developing one I don’t know. I avoided dating in high school, college, and beyond, but that did not equate to no more sexual assaults as I’d hoped. I put on a massive amount of weight (partially because of the anti-depressant medication I started taking in college), started dressing in oversized hoodies and cutting my hair all off in a super short, spiked hairstyle. I wanted to look unattractive to these males, these males who always took it upon themselves to look, to touch, to assault. That didn’t matter, either. I thought that it must be something about me. It was only much later in life, when I looked into the actual statistics and found that many, many women are sexually assaulted, that almost as many women are assaulted as not… that I discovered I was not alone, or bad, or fundamentally flawed.

I never came forward about any of my assaults. I did, however, seek therapy, beginning in college, for severe depression and anxiety. I was much later diagnosed with PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder. These are life-long conditions that I have to live with forever, and they are the result of trauma. Trauma from sexual abuse and assault. I will have PTSD and DID for the rest of my life.

What I’ve written here is not my whole story… far from it. These are just a few examples of *some* of the boys and men in my life who were predators, and we’re sharing them now because this election scares the crap out of us. Donald Trump is a sexual predator. His words and his actions are absolutely abhorrent, and I do not understand how any self-respecting woman can continue to support him, especially after his, “Grab ’em by the pussy,” comments. I saw one woman state, “Well, I wouldn’t trust him with my daughter, but I trust him with our country.” WHAT?! How in the hell does that even make sense? The women who are now coming forward about Trump’s sexual predation and being hated on, even having their names and addresses published to the public, are heroes. They are not liars, they are not opportunists, they are women who have had enough of Trump’s lies and his belief that his wealth and status can get him whatever he wants. They are women who are bravely saying, “No more,” to unwanted sexual touch and assault.  You want to know why women don’t come out and disclose their sexual assaults? Just look at what is happening to these women, and you’ll understand why.

I’m not even getting into all of Trump’s other flaws. The fact that he is an unapologetic sexual assaulter is only the tip of the iceberg. For the safety of all girls and women in this country, please do not vote this misogynist into office. And no, not all men are like this. Not nearly. That is an insult to good men everywhere. Saying that men are “weak” when it comes to perpetrating unwanted sexual advances is a copout, and perpetuates rape culture in our society. This entire post glaringly shows that rape culture is alive and thriving in our country, and enough is enough.  Women are not objects to be ogled, touched, or grabbed at will.  We are human beings deserving respect and equal opportunity in life.  We don’t deserve to be assaulted just for being a female, and we don’t deserve to have to live with a President Trump preying upon us and looking down on us.

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Welcome to my Words and Worlds…

Welcome to my Words and Worlds….

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Pain

Can think of nothing to say,

Can think of nothing to type,

Favorite comedies bring no smile,

Movies don’t live up to the hype.

Sleeping through the morning,

Get up, immediately wonder

When sleep can come again, to

Avoid having to ponder.

It comes in waves, the pain…

Choking, cutting, burning, stinging.

Seems to be over for a bit, but then

More pain it seems to be bringing.

Eyes blur, arm throbs, throat

Constricts, stomach in knots,

Leg shakes, nails nubs, nose raw,

Teeth grinding, skin taut.

Pain interchanged for pain,

Even then, nothing is gained.

It will not abate, will not go away,

The pain, it seems, is here to stay.

Can think of nothing to say,

Can think of nothing to type,

Was Tennyson right?  I think not;

Love doesn’t live up to the hype.

01-05-2013

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas 2011

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas 2011.

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Geographical Fix

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Several years ago, a very good friend of mine, who seems to be, in most every way, happy and successful in life, told me that a “geographical fix” can change one’s life for the better, in almost every way.

I didn’t think much of it at the time; I had already bought a house, all of my close family lives here, and I have a few close friends nearby (I’m not one of those people who have hundreds of friends; I’m rather an introvert in most aspects).

However, given the past few years of my life, and what I am experiencing at the present time, his words to me have confounded my entire being.  Circumstances being what they are, I may or may not lose the home that I purchased, here in rural Maine, some nine years ago.  So, the question begs to be asked:  Should I stay in Maine, or leave?

I toggle this idea around in my brain at least fifty times a day.  Should I even TRY to stay, or just give up and relocate?  I have lived in Maine all of my life; essentially within a 50 mile radius.  I grew up, went to college, got a job, bought a home… all here.  Here is where my life began, but here is also where my life fell apart.

So… what now?

Do I head for “greener pastures?”  I am not encumbered by a job at this point, although I hope to be very soon; being “disabled” is something that I absolutely abhor and wish to remedy as soon as possible.  Finding a job “elsewhere” would likely be even easier, when the time comes, if I was not in “rural Maine.”  Also; no one would know me.  No store clerks would be reaching for the items that I regularly purchase as soon as I walk in.  No one would know that I reached such a low point that I would go to the local convenience store, un-showered, hat on my head, fuzzy fleece pj pants and all, to buy cigarettes, a pizza, or whatnot.  It would be a clean slate.

I wouldn’t have to live where everyone knows everybody’s business.  In rural Maine, it is impossible to escape people “knowing” your business… from your purchasing habits to your fuel bill to the fact that you live alone… it all seems to be public knowledge.

Depending on where I moved, I wouldn’t have to deal with the frigid winters, the snow removal, the cold, cold, cold, that is Maine.  My elder two dogs would be more comfortable in a warmer climate.  I could also have food delivered, be close to popular shopping places, experience much more “culture,” and not have to drive an hour one way to see a doctor that I need to see, or get a dog food that I want to try.  Never mind the fact that I could go into a store without the “Cheers” aspect of everyone knowing my name, and my business.

What is stopping me?

I rather like my little house.  It’s kind of shitty; it needs a new roof, interior paint, some new floors, new cabinets, the basement leaks… but it’s MY house.  I bought it, and I’ve put a lot of work into it so far.  It also has almost an acre, an ENTIRE ACRE of 6′ chainlink fencing for my dogs to roam, and I own a total of six acres.  This house might not seem like much of anything to most people, but, to me, it’s kinda perfect.  It’s small, but plenty big enough for me and my canine crew.

My family.  My Mom and Dad, although not together anymore, are both close by.  Mom is always up for dinner at her place, and Dad is always there for me if my furnace is acting up, or, well, any household dilemma.  He has likely saved me thousands in repair bills.  My sister, and my three nephews and niece are also close by, as is one of my closest friends, and my “honorary” two nephews and niece.  When I’m not in the emotional state I’m in currently, I enjoy seeing all of them, and spoiling the hell out of all of my nephews and nieces, whether by blood or bond.

The dilemma continues.  I await word on whether a loan modification will be approved for my home.  IF it is; I might just stay here. Maybe.  IF it’s not… well, I just don’t know, still.  I need some advice.  What I DO know is that I’m constantly looking at housing for sale outside of Maine; hell, mostly outside of New England entirely.  I’ve become such a hermit here; I have no “life,” and have deteriorated drastically in the past few years.  Could a “geographical fix” be what I need?  Could it really, and truly, change my life for the better?  Would a complete and utter fresh start be the remedy I need to repair my life?  Could I possibly find contentment, even, dare I say, happiness?  Dot dot dot…

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Being Normal

While many people say that there is no “normal,” I’d wager that most of the people who say that have never experienced what it is like to be completely and utterly abnormal.  Can there be an abnormal when there is no “standard” definition of normal?  If you happen to look up “normal” on webster, there’s a pretty large amount of definitions, for this thing that doesn’t exist.  One of them even states “free from mental disorder.”  Heh.  Others include things such as being of average intelligence or development, conforming to some sort of type or standard, et cetera.  Some people pride themselves on not being “normal.”  I, on the other hand, would give anything to at least have some semblance of normalcy being attributed to me.  I’m not a normal weight, or a normal height, so, even physically I don’t fit the “norm.”  I really care less about that than the other things, though.

Is it normal to sleep for either fourteen hours or fourteen minutes every night?  (And by “night” I mean anywhere from 1-5am until whenever it is during the day that I wake?)  Is it normal to hide dishes so they don’t make me feel shame for not washing them, or hide the vacuum cleaner?  Is it normal to avoid friends’ calls for so long that most of them simply give up?  Is it normal to not remember large portions of some days, due to one of my people being out, over something that can be as trivial as watching something sad on youtube, or, even worse, because one of them wants to eat what I was preparing?  Is it normal to sit in a chair, all day (when not lying in bed), and only get up out of it to use the bathroom, or feed my dogs or myself?  Is it normal to be able to muster the motivation to leave my house to get cigarettes, but not food?  Is it normal to have a panic attack in the middle of Rite-Aid because some person is in the same aisle as me?  Is it normal to have another panic attack at the mere idea of a birthday party for one of my nephews or nieces?  Or at the thought of having someone come here to fix the dryer?  OR at the thought of, well, absolutely NOTHING?!  Is it normal to realize that all of this is wrong, that all of this needs to be fixed, yet do absolutely nothing about it?  Well; I can’t say that I’ve done nothing… after being without any sort of “professional” help since my old shrink lost her license, I took the plunge, went to an “assessment” appointment, and now have two new appointments, which I am already doubting my ability to follow through on.  Is it normal to continuously cancel appointments, and make excuses simply because the thought of getting up, showering, putting clothes on, and driving there, never mind the appointment itself, is simply too damn daunting for me?

Is it too much to ask to want to, perhaps, get a little enjoyment out of life?  To actually want to see and talk with friends and family?  To walk my dogs, play with them, maybe even take some classes again?  To read books?  To go back to school for my Master’s, or even further?  To be able to work again?  Hell, to do the damn dishes and clean the house?  To make appointments earlier than 1pm and actually be able to get motivated and get there, on time?

I will tell myself,”Okay… today, I will do X, Y, and Z.”  I may even make a list (this is a big step).  Then, nothing happens.  It’s as though my brain and body literally cannot cooperate for even the simplest of things.  Once in a blue moon, I will get this little spark of motivation, and pounce on it like a gecko on a cricket.  I’ll make calls, I’ll clean, I’ll maybe even go grocery shopping.  Then, just as fast as a dog cleans his bowl, it’s gone, and I’m exhausted… which is how I feel most of the time anyway.  Although, at those times, I feel a bit more “normal.”  I long for the days when I could hop out of bed, get all clean and purty-fied, put in a full eight hours of work, come home, walk the dogs, clean the house, cook dinner, read, do homework, talk to a couple friends or family members… you know, things that “normal” people do.

I think that “normal” is different for everyone, but most everyone would likely agree that my semblance of “life” right now isn’t normal.  I can’t even write an amusing post; it’s as though “this” is all I can even write about.  Well, I suppose it’s “something” to even be writing, but I’d much rather write about, well, something people might actually want to read.  I want my life back, before THIS becomes my “norm,” if it hasn’t already…

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My Dad

‘Tis the season for Christmas music to be playing, still too early, in nearly every store in America, subliminally jostling people prematurely toward the more profitable holiday, while trying to stuff Thanksgiving away in a corner.  I’ve noticed that folks on Facebook have been combatting this a bit, with “thankful November” posts.  While I enjoy reading them, I haven’t participated.  I try to be thankful every day; although, at times, it is nearly impossible, for me.    Not to mention the fact that, no matter how hard I try, someone or something will inevitably be left out, and I’m rather a perfectionist when it comes to thinks like that, which is one of the reasons why I am exceptionally “wordy.”  Tonight though, as I face another night of insomnia, I have become inspired to tell my thanks, publicly and humbly, to one particular individual.  This way, I know I’m leaving everyone out, except him, but don’t worry, I’ll get to all of you, one day.  But, for now, here’s a tribute to my Dad.

__________________________________

When I was very little, I’d sit on Daddy’s knee,

Sharing breakfast bacon, just for him and me.

I’d wait for him to come home, giving the horn a toot,

And hustled down the stairs to help him “hoose his boot.”

I ran away from home once, straight down the road, in danger;

Dad gave me a rare spanking, explaining about strangers.

As I grew up a little more, we worked on little projects,

A dog house for my Lady dog, and a quarter for my pockets.

Many pets over the years he helped me care for and feed,

Ever building fence and shelter when there was a need.

I was Daddy’s little girl, and he was just and fair,

But even more importantly, he was always there.

He rescued me from bees and wasps and falling from a horse;

When I was very little, he was my hero, of course.

______________________________________

Many years have since passed since I was that little girl,

And many changes have occurred inside our little world.

My Dad has had to adapt, to change; at times he doesn’t “get me,”

But I can say with honesty, he tries quite hard to just see.

The “bacon days” have long been gone; I no longer eat meat,

And I’m sure it’s been decades since I’ve de-booted his feet.

Long past the time that many Dads consider that they’re “done,”

My Dad never gave a moment’s hesitation; not a one.

He’s rescued me in different ways, throughout my many falls,

Whatever I need, no matter the deed, he always answers my call.

I remember very well the day I flipped my car down a hill;

I never saw my Dad so scared; I thought ’twas him it might kill.

I’ve had financial struggles, emotional and physical too;

My Dad gives me more than he ought, just to see me through.

I know my Dad would give up his life if that would ensure mine;

I always thought that type of love could only come from the Divine.

____________________________________________

My Dad is still my hero, although I often do not show it;

But I think it’s high time I write this, and past time that he know it.

I love you Dad, and honestly I don’t know where I’d be,

If you weren’t there all along the entire way for me.

I know I baffle you at times, and make you mad as well,

But your unconditional love has seen me back from Hell.

I hope one day to repay you, although I don’t think I ever can,

But I hope you know, to me, you are the most special kind of man.

-Gina

November 17th, 2012

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Depression Is.

 

 

 

 

 

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Depression is an illness, not a weakness; it is a multi-faceted condition, not a mere feeling…

 

depression is sleepless nights and sleep-filled days.  it is yearning to escape to the world of dreams, yet being pursued even there.  it is the non-verbalized hope to simply not wake, once sleep can be found.  it is pushing the ‘snooze’ button repeatedly; not to get enough sleep, but to not have to face the day.  it is hiding underneath the pillow, with no hope of finding the will there, either.  it is the subtle realization that, although sleep cures nothing, it passes the time with the most minimal effort.  

depression is feigned smiles and laughter, when interaction with others is a necessity.  it is 47 unanswered voicemail messages, 183 unanswered emails.  it is not remembering the last time being ‘social’ was fun.  it is wondering how human companionship was once not an exhausting chore.  it is excuses, lies, and apologies to friends and relatives.  it is sheer isolation.

depression is self-loathing, self-denial, self-deprecation, self-hostility.  it is seeing no self-redeeming qualities whatsoever.  it is cruelty to the mind, body, and spirit.  it is the conclusion that failure is always just around the corner, if not now.  it is being weighed, measured, and found severely lacking.

depression is the abandonment of purpose.  it is wandering; listless, ambition-less, destination-less.  it scoffs at the idea of god, gods, goddess, or goddesses; of any sort of higher power, that might help bring meaning to life again.  it is the sucking out of the soul.

depression is not eating a meal for weeks, as cooking requires too much effort.  it is eating without consciousness, as though the food will fill the gaping hole inside.  it is wandering the aisles of the grocery store looking for comfort rather than nourishment.  it is not having any sustenance in the house at all, because walking those aisles was simply too daunting.  it is both gaining and losing too much.  

depression is going away inside.  it is simply going through the motions.  it is warnings at work, admonishments from friends, talks from parents.  it is hearing ‘snap out of it,’ and, ‘you need to do better.’  it is advice from people who have never and will likely never know; it is ‘exercise, eat right, clean, get out and do things!’  it is behind-the-back whispers of past achievements, past good times, and the ever-present quip, ‘whatever happened…’

depression is a quest with no will; an attempt with no motivation to find the cure.  it is big pharma; it is a plethora of pills.  it is doctors, therapists, shrinks.  it is guinea pig experimentation.  it is endless appointments, assessments, evaluations.  it is trying to try, when there is no ‘do’ to be had, and when the ‘experts’ don’t seem to have a clue either.

depression is a bottle, a knife, a cigarette, a flame.  it is half-hearted attempts to re-create feeling; feeling anything but what is currently felt.  it is the slow realization that death is, indeed, a possible end result.  it is the constant battle against the unseen, the unknown, with few weapons.  it is fear, it is panic, it is shame, it is desperation.  

 

Depression is an illness, not a weakness. 

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Jobbed to Semi-Jobbed to Jobless to Semi-Jobbed… Jobbed?

The past, oh, almost decade and a half or so, give or take, I’ve been in a plethora of employment scenarios.  I always worked part-time, pretty much ever since I was legally employable.  I worked in retail as a young college student, in the “Home Fashions” department of a large store in the “big mall” of the area.  Being eighteen/nineteen years old at the time, it was the most fun when customers would want my “expertise” on which crock pot, toaster oven, blender, or other small appliance they should purchase.  Seeing as how I owned none of the afore-mentioned appliances, and usually ate microwavable masterpieces in my room or fast food while moseying to class, my “advice” usually consisted of my observational skills.  “Well, this one has an extra slot,” or, “This one is much bigger; that means it’s going to take up more counter space.”  The funny thing was, nobody seemed to notice that I had absolutely no idea how a convection oven even worked, nor did I ever attempt to learn anything about any of the finer points of small appliance differentiations; after all, I made minimum wage, no commission involved.  They’d always leave happy; I’d always gratefully half-run back to the towel section and hide.  

That first job “experience” always paves the way to getting a “better” job, which happened the next year, when I was hired at a local bank.  What I didn’t know was that getting As my first two semesters would also lead to a better job; I was also hired as a tutor, teaching first-years who were struggling how to properly study.  The problem with this job was that *I* never really studied; I never had to.  I would usually read stuff, once (okay, I’d at least “skim,” skimming is almost just like reading, only much faster), and I’d “cram” the night before (sometimes), and I always ended up with decent grades.  Above decent, usually.  (Except Calculus.  But, seriously, who needs Calculus?  Lesson learned; never do your best on math aptitude tests before you start college (when you’re not pursuing a Math/Science degree), or they’ll put you in Calculus.)  So, I had to google “study skills” to be able to teach these first-years how to study, because they were already doing what I did, and then some.  I remember meeting with a flushed first-year who presented me with oh, about five hundred flash cards she had made up since the beginning of the year for her Psychology class.  She still received a “D” on her first exam.  Boggle.  I’m happy to say she ended up with a “B” average, with lots of work; I mean, if I’d had to do that much work for one class, I wouldn’t have been able to work, and tutor, and take six to seven classes a semester.  Tutoring really helped me appreciate my brain, although it’s gone downhill at a semi-alarming pace since I graduated in 2002; maybe it needs a tune-up.

In my final year of college, I started working in a field more relevant to my degrees (well, one of them; Psychology), and, after graduation, started working full-time there.  Working full-time for the first time in my life was a huge transition, as were my living arrangements.  I was living with my Dad back at home, yet working overnights, sleeping all day, getting up, and going to work (Dad and I worked opposite shifts and hardly ever saw each other).  You step backward in independence in the living situation, and forward in the employment situation.  It’s an odd thing, to sleep in the bedroom where you once played with Pound Puppies and Voltron, the room still adorned with rainbows, clouds, and a plethora of pink (I have no idea why I ever picked pink for my room; even as a kid I didn’t really like pink).  Odd to not have the social life that college provided, yet not feeling like an “adult” either, because, well, you may be working full-time, but your bureaus have stickers on them, your shelves have stuffed animals, and your walls have posters of puppies.  

So, I started looking for a place to live.  That would be the key to being truly “jobbed” versus “semi-jobbed” and in college still.  This would be the BIG step.  I was eventually hired at a job where my degree was required; the first job I obtained with said degree, and my search for a home began in earnest.  I also had brought home Fiona, my very first “grown-up” dog, well before I landed the “good” job, but I was, at least, full-time “jobbed” at the time.  She was my graduation present to myself, and an adult responsibility to offset all of the weird child-ness associated with moving back home.  I also acquired two kittens (pretty sure my Dad started looking for a house for me even harder than I was) from co-workers during that time.  In August of 2003, I found my home, moved in, and promptly brought another dog home, since the place had a massive six foot tall chain-link fence covering nearly an acre of the six that came with the little three-bedroom ranch.  (I bought the place for the fencing; the house needed/needs a lot of work, but man, is the fencing wonderful to have with a menagerie).  

So.  Here I was.  I had arrived at “adulthood.”  I was jobbed, I had a car (not a great car; I had to down-grade from the sweet ride my parents helped me get my senior year as an early graduation present.  They put a down-payment on a brand new, bright yellow Jeep Wrangler, and God, did I adore that vehicle.  I reasoned with myself that it was one of the sacrifices of becoming a true adult; sacrificing the *awesome* car so that I could have both a car and a home.  Boo, I know, and my next car almost killed me, but that’s another blog post), I had a house, and I had two dogs, two cats, and two leopard geckos left over from the college years (what animal lovers get when they can’t have anything that isn’t able to live in a tank).  I had arrived.  

Fast forward several years.  I went through a series of transitions due to physical and mental health issues that very nearly, and may still, cause me to back-track completely… all the way back to Dad’s basement.  It started in 2009, when my health (mental, physical, with me it’s all intertwined) began to realllllly deteriorate.  I went from jobbed to semi-jobbed, simply due to my lack of ability to be able to handle full-time work.  But, there were supports in place, as I had been jobbed for so long.  I had sick time, vacation time, and then FMLA time.  All that time eventually did run out though, and I became jobless.  Being jobless, after being jobbed for so long, is a completely foreign thing; I’d wake up in a panic, throwing dogs off the bed and turning the shower on before realizing that I didn’t have anywhere to go.  I constantly had dreams about clients, about working, and would wake up feeling like I’d just worked a twelve-hour shift.  I’d go surf ebay, and then realize I had no money to buy this shirt or that new journal.  Eventually, much of my shopping habits devolved to my college trends; cheap food, cheap, comfortable clothes, alcohol, and cigarettes.  Now, before everyone jumps all up and down pulling their hair out because I occasionally purchased cigarettes and, much more rarely, alcohol, while on unemployment, well, um, screw you.  Until you walk in my shoes, don’t judge me.  My bills were getting paid, for the most part, I sacrificed having cable or a cell phone so that I could have *other* things, and I’d continuously quit both alcohol and cigs for periods of time, but one of my people would invariably “help” me nullify that poor decision (insert sarcasm here).  I had a social life similar to college too; granted, much of it was inside-my-head people; oh, and internet people (not sure which is more pathetic here, hmm).  I was regressing into “young adulthood” last year.  I could sleep twelve hours a night (or day, rather), I forgot how to clean, how to cook (and YES, I had been cooking, somewhat), and spent more time reading books than I ever had in college, even.  I was on my way… backwards.

Things went from jobless, but with UI, to being jobless without UI.  This part sucked.  This part still sucks, which I will explain momentarily.  Let’s just say that, at the end of being jobless, three of my four dogs were in foster homes with three friends, two truckloads of my stuff was packed away and in storage, and I was about to move in with my Dad.  Then, on a random Tuesday, everything changed, yet again.  I go to two interviews that fateful Tuesday, and am immediately offered a per-diem position with a local agency.  Yes, please.  So; the move is put on hold, and my babies returned to me.  Joy and lollipops and memory foam mattress toppers!  I am saved!  I’m moving forward again.  Wait, am I?  Per diem work, in case nobody knows, is contingent upon many factors, and there’s no guarantee of, well, ANYthing.  So, if you work there for three weeks, and two of those weeks all but one person cancels, forgets, gets the dates mixed up, or simply wasn’t scheduled (because you’re not allowed to schedule things yourself), well, you’re screwed, and still have no money.  But, I was just offered a second job that will be starting in a couple weeks (and was the second job I had interviewed for on that fateful Tuesday), so, well, hopefully I can stay here until then.  I’m trying to be good.  I’m trying to make my people understand that THEY have to be good; that we have to make this work, because going backwards after a certain point can’t really be a viable option; it means losing too much, giving up an unfathomable amount, and regressing too far.  I don’t think I’d survive it.   

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