Doomed to Party All Night

What’s up, party people? Me. I’m up. Hypomania? Perhaps. Time will tell. The good news is, I have little disposable income. So I won’t be going on a shopping spree anytime soon.

National Novel Writing Month is coming up. They have free tools on the website, which I discovered a few days ago. I’ve never participated. I started a romance novel (sans sex) maybe thirteen years ago. I never completed it. I think, in light of the fact that I can’t sleep, I need to finish it. Or at least compile that book of essays.

I haven’t had much time to write as of late. Too many appointments, too many phone calls. We average four appointments a week. I had only one slated for this week and wah-lah! It multiplied into four. I have to call the school psychologist back today and fill out another test.

I did manage to get a flu shot at Costco yesterday. Only $19.99! I insisted on paying cash, and the kind pharmacy tech insisted that my insurance probably covers a flu shot. But you see, I called, and it doesn’t. “That’s kind of crappy,” she commented. Exactly. That is the most succinct summary of the plan currently offered to me. The nice thing is, I have been there a year, so I am finally eligible for EAP. I asked about it several months ago. Before the added stress of online school. I would call, but I have so many other appointments at the moment.

Self-care. Apparently it’s important. Who knew? I am up in the middle of the night. Plenty of me-time, am I right? Updated the resume and applied to a position. These lovely ladies took the opportunity nap in my stead.

Mona looks personally offended. Not at all ready for her close-up.

I know I brought this on myself. Bought mass quantities of chocolate at Costco on my way out. Looked for lettuce as well, because life is about balance. Couldn’t find what I was looking for, because life is also a b**** sometimes. Had a biscotti with a cup of coffee at three in the afternoon. Hence, I am awake now.

The funny thing is, I know my child will complain about HIS lack of sleep when I get him up in three hours.

And I must remember, in my sleep-deprived state, not to go out the front door. The concrete guys showed up early to fix our sidewalk. So that the rain and snow runoff doesn’t pool by the downstairs window and leak through the wall.

And with that mental note, I am off to make more coffee. I’m to that point where if I go back to sleep, I will just feel worse when I have to get up. I think I’ll indulge myself in the eternal delight that is laundry. Indeed, Fifth Dimension. That sleeping pill I took was, in fact, a waste of time…

Pshaw

Psoriasis. Hard to say, even harder to spell.

Joined the psoriasis group online to learn more about my newly-diagnosed disorder. And guess what? The fatigue I’m having may be due to the fact that autoimmune disorders suck.

Cue doctor house–at least it’s not lupus, right?

Could be worse. But I need to learn to control (or at least better manage) my stress levels. Of course, yoga and kale are suggested. And this time, I’m taking this advice seriously. Couldn’t hurt, might help. NOT A CURE.

Saw this terrifying article. Had shingles in June. Which came first, the autoimmune disorder or the shingles? Chicken, or egg? They appear to be part of the same bird. Doesn’t help that I’ve been running around like recently decapitated poultry. At least the risk of stroke has passed.

So. What else have I learned? Oh, yes. Don’t eat or drink anything that might be considered “fun.” No salt. No excess. No alcohol. I’ve been meaning to get more fruits and vegetables into my diet anyway. Exercise, of course. Avoid stress.

Bought a fancy paint-by-numbers set. Am determined to actually use one of my four exercise mats. Have a yoga DVD downstairs. My only real exposure to yoga was the P90X version. I definitely need something less extreme.

And, of course, research. I heard turmeric can reduce inflammation, and I bought two bottles yesterday. Vitamin D. Plenty of rest. Ha! I woke up at 3am for no discernible reason this morning. Good luck to me.

What bothers me the most is that, other than prescribing an ointment for the thick patches of skin, the doctor said nothing about psoriasis causing my other symptoms. But every person who commented on my post in the group said that fatigue is definitely present, and often debilitating. I was sure I had COVID the week before last, because I have never been so tired. Not even when my kid was born. Not even in the sleep-deprived weeks leading to my hospital stay.

In honor of Halloween, I am bone tired.

At least it wasn’t the shingles coming back. YET. Haha. So in addition to the mental maladies, I have added autoimmune disorder and asthma to my list of chronic illnesses. Apparently I am an avid ailment collector.

My Inner Demons

It’s October. That means it’s spooky time.

I was on the Facebook group “Creatures of the Night” recently, and someone’s story reminded me of my own experiences with sleep paralysis. From what I understand, this phenomenon happens when your brain does not fully shut off during sleep. In my personal experience, it has happened when I have been severely sleep-deprived.

College. When I lived off of vegetable beef soup, coffee, and Pepsi. Side note–I do not remember ever drinking water during college. Anyhow, I was getting 3-4 hours of sleep on a good night, because I was an obsessive-compulsive nerd who loved to study. Between classes, I would go back to my dorm room for some much-needed rest.

In a prior dorm room, when I had a roommate, I had a few strange episodes of sleep paralysis. While sleeping, I felt someone sitting on my bed, watching over me. The feeling was that the entity was benevolent. I asked my boyfriend at the time if he had stopped by my dorm room when I was sleeping. He had not, which makes sense. Benevolent is not a term I would use to describe him.

A more frightening episode happened a few weeks later. I was napping, and I felt like someone was clawing down the length of the underside of my mattress. A voice was repeatedly hissing, “Get OUT.” Not the best experience. That nap got a 0/10, would not recommend.

I eventually moved to a “closet single” dorm room, and the strange experiences took weird to a whole new level. While I slept, there were once again two entities, one good, and one bad. Like Yin and Yang, they were black and white, and they encircled me. In one episode, I was the little spoon, and the white entity was the big spoon. It seemed a genderless, but protective, force.

Keep in mind that during these experiences, I was partially awake, but could not move when I attempted to. I could hear conversations of my college colleagues in the hall outside. I could hear good old Todd practicing his trumpet upstairs. I was frozen, but I could see my dorm room quite clearly.

The malevolent spirit terrorized me during other episodes. Once it appeared as a giant curtain, dark grey, at the foot of my bed. In the most terrifying scenario, it transformed into a tornado-like cloud and forced itself into my mouth.

My friends wanted me to bless the room somehow. But I knew it was not the room, but my mind, that was haunted. My angel and demon followed me to my parents’ house. I simply was not getting enough sleep, and my brain went wonky because of it.

It has been many years, and many medications, later. Thankfully, this does not happen to me anymore. My child did have an episode where he saw a monster with a top hat come out of his closet, so I am wondering if sleep paralysis was at play.

Mansplaining Mental Illness

I got up at 4:30 to have some “me time.” I’ve recently reduced to part-time, and am looking for an at-home position to be closer to my kid. I’ve never really worked at home before, but I think I would dig it. I’m also determined to start submitting writing to websites, rejection rates be damned. You don’t get better if you don’t practice and learn from your experiences, right?

So, dear readers, what has happened these past few months? Here, we’ve been managing medication changes. I would say it’s been fun, but I don’t think that’s the right word. We have been trying to focus enough to pass online courses. I have contacted several other online school websites, because (praise administrators and teachers for trying), the district online learning is just not jiving with E’s disability. They’re trying to get an IEP in place, but it’s a slow process, and I know everyone is overwhelmed.

In my search for online and other part-time work, I noted that the district is hiring interventionists to keep kids from failing. Which means, this lovely pandemic and its repercussions are not just affecting MY kid. Everyone is struggling.

And by the way, they sure don’t make being disabled easy. In case you were wondering. They’ve given me enough red tape to hang myself. I wanted to see about a certain treatment program that we were cleared for this spring. But now that it’s been over six months, we would have to start the reevaluation process. On top of the IEP process, and the gender support meeting, and the counseling, and the med management, and the family support, and the coordinated care team…I’ve been up to my eyeballs in appointments and paperwork.

And at the heart of all this bureaucracy, there is a child, suffering. It breaks my heart.

In order to get more support, I tried to attend NAMI virtual meetings. The first meeting went well, though the other members indicated that they had adult children. The second meeting, however, seemed to be led by a gentleman (ahem) who held certain convictions about mental illness. When he heard that I had been divorced in the last five years, he asserted that my child’s mental maladies were a result of early childhood trauma. The exact quote was, “Sometimes, when people are seeking their own happiness, they forget that they are dragging other people along with them.”

Um, what?

So it’s better to stay in a toxic relationship, one which you might not have survived long-term? And what about the genetic factors? There is a history of one mental illness on one side of the family, and a history of the comorbid condition on the other side of the family. I guess that doesn’t factor in though, according to what this individual read on the internet.

I found what this man said greatly upsetting. As an OCD sufferer I blame myself for EVERYTHING. I accidentally cut someone off while driving yesterday, because when I glanced back to cover my blind spot, the sun was in my eyes. Scared me and her to death, and I WILL NEVER FORGIVE MYSELF. Imagine how this gentleman’s claim made me feel. I stayed in the group to listen to someone else’s story, because I didn’t want to be rude. But I will never attend another family support meeting hosted by the local NAMI branch.

Just writing about this has made me furious.

So, puppies and kittens and unicorn farts. I’ve read enough on both disorders to know that logically, it is not my fault.

But STILL.

Guess I’ll look at job boards for the next half-hour or so. Also need to look into purchasing a Windows-based computer, because a lot of at-home jobs require them. And this lovely, lovely laptop that I have keeps going black, at random…

Resurrected

Hi all.

I haven’t written anything in months. In June, at the tender age of 42, I was the proud recipient of stress-related shingles. This should have clued me in to the fact that I was under too much stress. But I kept on going at work, full time while trying to manage my own disabilities and the disabilities of my son.

And how has that worked out? Not so great. My son had a recent bought of insomnia that I feared might lead us to the hospital. He finally slept, and has been sleeping all day. We have been trying to keep up with online school during this pandemic. We really have. I toyed with the idea of getting him medically excused from high school for a while, but those trying to help us say he needs to stay in so they can complete an IEP evaluation.

I’m having to drop to part time at work and examine other, at-home job opportunities. I know I am hard-working. Maybe too hard-working. I need to find something that strikes a balance between financial and emotional needs. But I am tired. I am tired of hiding my disabilities. They are mostly well-managed, and I just deal. Perhaps it is the added stress that the pandemic has put everyone under. But no one I know is coping as well as they used to.

I have never been this tired. I love the company I temp for dearly. But I think it’s time to find something that makes better use of my communication skills. Something where I can stay close to this kid, preferably. I will do anything it takes to support him and the rest of this little family. Because that’s what good moms/girlfriends do.

We will figure this out.

Greetings from Lockdown

On Wednesday I was exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. I was told by my doctor that if the symptoms did not go away, that I should go get tested. I did not want to be tested, but I did not feel well at all the following day. So I made a field trip to the testing site after going through a telephone screening with a local health professional.

The clinic had me wait in the nearby Wendy’s parking lot. I then called their number and awaited further instruction. I was told that when signaled by the traffic guard, I could move my vehicle into one of the marked stalls. I noticed that everyone else had their driver’s side windows down, so after I was assigned a stall, I also rolled my window down.

That may have been the longest half-hour of my life, waiting to be tested. The doctor and his assistant were extremely pleasant and even gave me an extra mask. I had worn a bandana, but they needed to take more stringent precautions. The doctor explained that some of my symptoms (namely, my hands turning cold and numb and blue) were likely symptoms of Reynaud’s syndrome and not COVID. Out of an abundance of caution and probably due to my being diagnosed with asthma the day before, he proceeded with the test. He listened to my breathing, took my oxygen level, and then told me to tilt my head back. He said, “It’s going to feel like I’m tickling your brain.”

Indeed, it did, though the test was not as bad as I had imagined. I do think they may have accessed my Matrix switch, though. I would not be at all surprised if I suddenly acquired the ability to fly a plane. I did have a bit of a lasting headache afterward, but I can say the test itself is nothing to be afraid of.

Now I am awaiting the results. I feel a great deal better today, despite the shoddy stomach. The sinus pressure and pain are much better, and my hands have not gone numb recently. My son and boyfriend, however, have been coughing.

According to my boyfriend’s doctor, they will only test one person per household and wait for that result. So we are all waiting for four to seven days. We cannot go anywhere, not even out for groceries. We did bring the indoor/outdoor cat, Frank, inside, so he could not potentially spread the contagion. We are staying six feet away from each other, but the doctor’s office indicated that if my test is positive they will assume we are all positive. We continue to sleep in separate rooms.

IMG_0490

I was going to continue completely isolating myself, but I had to weigh that against my son’s mental health. Because of this quarantine (and my boyfriend and I working on-site), my son has been all alone during the day here. His sleep patterns have been disrupted and in general, he has not been doing well emotionally. After just a day of complete isolation myself, I can see why.

So I’m scared that the result may be positive, but my rational brain says that it’s probably negative. I decided that I couldn’t live with not knowing and potentially spreading the virus to others at work. At least with a negative result, I will know for sure that the symptoms are from some other bug.

If it’s positive, I will be upset. Because I wash my hands, I avoid touching my face as well as I can. I use hand sanitizer. I’ve done everything right, and yet, with this virus, it doesn’t necessarily matter. And it makes me frustrated and upset. I know of other people who are in isolation from suspected COVID right now, and I don’t normally pray. But I am praying for the mental and physical health of every one of them.

And I try not to pass judgment but our neighbors on either side of us have frequent visitors. They may have legitimate reasons, but it seems very business-as-usual for them. It upsets me because we even had an invitation to Easter dinner that we refused, just because I have a higher risk of contracting the virus through going to work every day. Am I glad we didn’t go? Why, yes, I am.

And now I get to sit around and try not to lose my mind. Work has been understanding, which is nice. But it’s becoming harder and harder to see myself working on-site every day when fear of this virus is out there.

Stay safe, folks. Stay inside unless going out is absolutely necessary. Listen to the scientists. Think about the at-risk portions of the population before you act. We can get through this, but we all have to do our part.

Birthday Blessings

So I do love my job. And I’m somehow considered essential. But I really wish I could be at home with my son, as he is going through a lot right now. I considered quitting a few weeks ago but knew I could not reasonably afford to. Now, with the advent of COVID-19, my options are extremely limited. Not a lot of places are hiring for permanent positions right now. The places that are hiring are more on the front lines of this thing than I am comfortable with. So I’m going to have to wait out my term, but I am terrified.

I wish I didn’t have to choose between barely scraping by financially and my health. I already dropped 10 hours a week to help care for my child. And I’ve been doing my best to manage his care, through telephone interviews and web appointments and all the forms that have come in the mail.

But let’s ignore my stresses for a moment because today is my birthday.

Let’s start at the very beginning, with the coolest parents ever.

41315614_10155766382662308_9220536873108111360_n

They had my lovely sister, Heather, and then they had me. I was born with a football-shaped head. It might explain a lot. Here is a picture of me with my father.

541491_10151292483067308_1751596812_n

I have been blessed with two wonderful sisters. Here are some Halloween shenanigans.

My dear father passed away in 2002.

307365_10151292492992308_1080902302_n

I am so grateful to have these ladies.

32349084_10155515363817308_2840940984483708928_n

And of course, I have been blessed with wonderful aunts and uncles, and many lovely cousins to boot.

11103217_10204070286421077_7852628812399708998_o10393548_10152714599552308_3384555673480341288_n68958_10152361833182308_1967259484915011982_n

And then there are my friends, as intelligent and creative as they are strong.

58769483_10156269024552308_1540556261714558976_n

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my niece and my own wonderful child.

10511256_10152202477522308_9179546086223567630_n

Vi is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

80271861_10156866930162308_124507017397141504_n

More recently, I have been blessed with an amazing, supportive boyfriend. His art continues to inspire and amaze.

IMG_1516

So I would count my blessings on my birthday, but I don’t math and can’t count that high. It’s a quarantine birthday, but the way I figure it, I got a bonus decade. So I can’t complain. I love you all, and thanks for reading.

History of Illness

Hi all.

With the dramatic turn of world events, I’m surprised I haven’t completely gone mad. When I go mad, I go all the way. I’m worried that I’m not sleeping but it’s likely because I may already have been laid off. But I don’t know for sure because I never got a text from my boss. So I’ll go in with the full expectation of being let go.

Everyone is hurting. I know a lot of people who weren’t in as good a place financially as I was up to this point (blatantly ignoring my mountains of debt). I’m so scared of what is to come but I also want to help where I can.

Mentally and emotionally, kiddo and I are not well. We weren’t well, to begin with, but the global crisis has made things exponentially worse. If I’m not responding to your snippy political comments on Facebook, it is because I am beyond blaming anyone for this crisis and also, I have far bigger fish to fry. If I block you, it’s because I need to do so to preserve my sanity and/or our friendship in real life.

In the end, when we die, it won’t matter whether we were Democrats or Republicans per se. What will matter, I think, is if we tried to be kind to one another. I’m trying the best I can and hoping that it’s good enough. I’m sending virtual hugs and moral support in lieu of germ-ridden real hugs and monetary support. Because that is currently what I have to give.

Also, hating one another for their sexual identity or the color of their skin or their religion has never been the answer. I don’t know why some of my relatives and friends think it is. I will never understand it. If that makes me a bad person, I guess I’ll see you in Hell. I’m bringing the margaritas.

Oh, holy moly. Lack of sleep is very bad for people with bipolar disorder. It is making me wax philosophical, but if I start sounding delusional, let me know. My Grammarly mood indicator is a little frowny face right now. Instead of saying no s***, Sherlock, I think I will say, no poop, Plato.

My history of mental illness has inadvertently affected my child. However, it also makes me his best advocate. I will still fight for him and his rights, no matter what. If that makes me a looney then put me in a straightjacket right now.

It may be the only thing that prevents me from touching my face.

Speaking of touching your face, I have a history of germophobia because of my OCD. Y’all suddenly becoming hyper-aware of germs was my everyday reality since I was five years old. Welcome to my world. Now, do you understand why I wash my hands fifty times a day on a good day? Uh-huh. I thought so.

Mental illness vindicated! But I digress.

Seriously, take care of your mental health in any way that you can during these times. But don’t visit your much-needed counseling center because, like my son’s counseling center, it is likely closed until further notice.

I have had this song stuck in my head for the last few days. Hair metal fans, rejoice.

Anticipating Introversion

As an insomniac introvert with OCD, you would think I’d been planning for quarantine my whole life.

Not true.

I was just starting to get on my feet again when we were floored for a time. I didn’t work at all last week, because my child was not at all well. No such thing as paid sick leave at my temp job. So we were already in a rough spot with money and hadn’t gone grocery shopping in weeks when the panic hit Idaho. Thank you, my heavily weighted credit cards. I owe you a debt (ha! I kill me).  I managed to hit up Fred Meyer for about an hour or so before I started to have a panic attack and needed to check out. I have never bought such random food in my life, I sure hope my little family likes Italian sausage.

To make matters worse, V, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), is worried about my mother and grandmother in light of the pending pandemic. I am worried too. I am trying very hard to keep my own anxieties in check. But it’s 6:30am on Saturday, I’ve been up since 4:15am, and I have already finished laundry and reorganized my closet.

The cats woke me for breakfast this morning. Starlight, the striped one, likes to knock pens and other random objects off of dressers and desks in order to wake me up. It works. She is a smart little bugger.

IMG_0292
Starlight, keeping the bills warm until they hatch and (hopefully) fly away. Joke credit: Jim

Mona Lisa, the tuxedo kitty, goes for a more subtle approach, she hogs the pillow on which I lay my head and purrs loudly. Note her lovely white “smile,” due to which her rescuers named her after the famous painting.

IMG_0373
That smile knocks my socks off. Her toe beans are pink AND black, btw.

Frank, the 22-lb orange tomcat, simply gets up to bully the girls after they’ve already woken me. He is large and in charge. An interesting fellow, quite possibly the nastiest cat I’ve ever met. He purrs while he chomps at you.

IMG_0115
Frank is the illest

Frank is currently scrapping outside with another cat. I tried to get him to come in. He refused.

So what will I do while housebound? Vi and I plan on singing on YouTube. Our voices blend well. A gentleman in a group online said he might do a podcast with his son. My Vi is an experienced YouTube and TikTok user so perhaps we will follow suit. I already have a Facebook page called “V and C TV” dedicated to this very idea, perhaps we will update it. We can also chronicle Frank’s weight loss journey and the nonexistent love triangle going on between the cats.

Also, my love gifted me the David Sedaris MasterClass for Christmas. I need to finish that up and read all the books that I’ve been accumulating since my divorce. I also need to keep up with all of Vi’s appointments. We have an in-home assessment coming up Monday that I really should clean the house for.

In short, we will stay busy. And try not to buy into the growing panic by taking common-sense measures. And we will feast on Ramen noodles, which never meets objection from the child anyway.

 

 

The Art of VS

My kiddo is an artist through and through. He will be opening up an Etsy shop as soon as I have a steady income again. Here are some of the amazing works V has come up with so far.

IMG_0253
Mini Jack Skellington

IMG_0284
Wicked

IMG_0374
Dino mask reimagined

IMG_0380
Cityscape

IMG_0379
Pennywise

IMG_0381
Sloth advice

IMG_0382
My favorite animal