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.

Mini Jack Skellington
Dino mask reimagined
Sloth advice
My favorite animal

The Art of JB Daniels

We are all creatives in this house. I like to write, and I used to sing and act. My kiddo sings and acts and writes and does all kinds of art. My boyfriend makes amazing animal art. He was recently a featured artist at JUMP in Boise, for their wonderful Illumibrate event. Here are some of the amazing projects he’s worked on. There are the fish in our living room:


Then there was the elephant puppet he made for a circus-themed dance show a few years ago…


He made a swordfish with Billy Edney for JUMP’s Illumibrate festival last year.



And here’s the latest, the installment that is currently in JUMP’s lobby. Many artists collaborated on this and I find it so amazing. Jim works so very hard on all of these projects. Not bad for a guy that started making art five years ago, eh?

What amazes me most is how he takes an idea and makes it a reality. I leave you with my amateur video of his elephant puppet. Enjoy.

Hitting Reset

I wish I were a modem. You could unplug me, plug me back in, and I would work just fine. Provided you managed to pay my outrageous internet access bill. But that’s an entirely different ball of wax.

So I haven’t been on here blogging in months. I was afraid potential employers would see this and automatically deem me unstable. But trust me, I’m well medicated for my conditions. My child, on the other hand, has had a difficult time with some med adjustments this week, and my heart goes out to him. You see, when you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder the week before your fourteenth birthday, you have many questions.

Why do I have to be on medication? That’s one question. Why can’t I focus? There’s another one. It could be racing thoughts, it could be the ADHD you were diagnosed with two years ago. Will I ever be normal? Trust me, sweetheart, there is no such thing as normal.

You may have questions about my pronoun usage. You see, my child prefers he/him. I love him with all my heart.  Wouldn’t have him any other way than the way he sees himself. I understand that you may have moral or religious objections to his state of being. And as much as I love you, I don’t care. Not supporting his journey would only make things awful for all involved. And I choose to support him, no matter what, for the rest of my life.

Have I been worried for the past year? Absolutely. Being a transgender kid in a very red state has its drawbacks. I was already worried about the risk of bullying and suicide, and now we have at least two diagnoses to contend with on top of those potential issues. I also see, from my observation, generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. We have a mental health assessment on the 16th of this month to see what other official diagnoses we have been blessed with.

I keep trying to explain to V that you can see your mental illnesses as a blessing or a curse. There are plenty of historical figures and contemporary artists diagnosed with bipolar who thrive creatively. Hugo Wolf, for example, was arguably the greatest composer of German lieder in his time. Halsey’s latest album is entitled Manic, and let’s not get started on the genius that is Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos. He’s utterly brilliant.

And my child is brilliant artistically and intelligent beyond measure. We just have some head/mood wonkiness to contend with. And med adjustments have been multiple and extraordinarily rough. And the diagnoses are constantly evolving. And I’ve had to take unexpected time off from work in order to help. I love working for my company, but I love my son more. I need him here with me. And I will do whatever it takes to see him through this.

So since November, there’s been a lot going on. I’m in the process of narrating our Christmas crisis, but it’s turning into a little book. Trying to get this poor child help was a nightmare, in a nutshell. Boise’s infrastructure has not kept up with the need for mental health services. And because we are just above a certain income level, we did not qualify for any services offered through Medicaid.

That may change soon, however. I am a temp agent and my job status is up in the air right now, adding to the stress. I just realized I started grinding my teeth a few sentences ago. I am looking for something part-time and flexible, but more immediately, I’m trying to focus on what’s best for my child. I could get up on my soapbox about the evils of capitalism and how there’s no adequate social safety net for folks like me and my son. But that would take a while, and I need my OTC drug of choice (namely, coffee) so I can get through the rest of my day.

My child, however, is a sleepyhead. Dreaming dreams only those on medication can dream. I leave you with a song.


It’s been a few months.

This may have been the longest hiatus I have taken from writing. It has been a tumultuous time since July. I started off with being physically ill from one of my medications. That turned into resignation from my long-term job and a short foray into a job that was simply not right for me. I kept a brave face but inside I was failing. After seeing how my stress level was affecting my child, I decided to take the leap and look for an alternate source of employment.

Long story short–being disabled sucks at times. And there was a level of constant chaos in my most recent job that I simply could not handle. So, here I am. Temporarily unemployed and wishing that the reportedly uncomfortable state of being on disability was a possibility. I’m told that it’s not. I’m told it takes years. I’m told you lose your car and any semblance of your once comfortable life. I don’t really want to do that, especially considering that I have a child to help provide for. A child who, incidentally, goes to school on the other side of town to grow up with supportive friends.

So I soldier on.

And Christmas is coming. With Christmas comes the usual, additional bills. I’m still playing catch-up from being on leave in July. But my car registration will soon come to haunt me. As will my AAA bill, which I depend on in case said car decides to break down. And soon I will need to get the issue of my squeaking brakes addressed.

Then there was the unexpected $500 worth of vet bills I incurred when the little cat decided not to pee for three days. At least some of that I should be able to recoup through pet insurance. But it’s hard to keep your self-worth up when your net worth seems to be dropping steadily by the day.

This idea of worth. What am I worth? More than the sum of my bills. As you know, if you’ve read the blog, I have waxed suicidal in the past. The idea that I am worthless? Well, I’ve flirted with it from time to time. But that idea is completely invalid. I know that I have something to offer. To my family, to my friends, to the community.

Society has other ideas sometimes. It wants to reduce you to a bank balance. Capitalism is a mixed bag for artists and creatives. Yes, I want to be myself. But well, food is kind of important. So is a roof over our heads. And running water. Will I be unwillingly forced back into the service industry? Most likely. But in reality, I’m happy to do it. Despite the social anxiety, I do like most people and enjoy at least trying to make their days a bit brighter.

Would I prefer a quiet office job? Sure. It is what I am best suited to despite a lack of recent experience. I am trying. I know. Most people are like, hey, you should try for one of those state jobs. I’ve tried. I fail every examination due to a lack of recent experience. I know I could do any job if trained, but a lot of jobs these days require familiarity with programs that I’ve never even heard of. I’ve heard, hey, you’re an educated woman, you should get a better job. I know. Trust me, I’ve tried.

I know my worth, but also my limitations. Being chronically ill is also a mixed bag. Does it make me tough? Sure. Does it make me more vulnerable and prone to failure? Absolutely. But I cannot, and will not, let it take me down.

Bellyaching Part Trois

I really need to get a new gig writing about puppies and unicorns. Alas, I am still sick. Not much to say about my exciting adventures this week as they have mostly taken place from a couch or a bed. I’ve seen a lot of excellent TV, perhaps I’ll write about that on the other blog. I’ve been a useless turd around the house. I can’t say that this has been fun in any sense of the word.

But I did lose five pounds on the nausea diet. Yay me. I was expecting 10 but I’ll take what I can get. I’ve never had a medication make me this sick before. To where I can’t reasonably function. And the anti-nausea medication gives me a terrible headache. This does beg the question–what do you do when the cure is worse than the disease? Well, I’m on another mood stabilizer so I’m dumping the pill that makes me ill.

It might not be the smart thing to do. I could potentially go manic. I’m going to request a mood stabilizer other than the one I’ve been taking and other than lithium. God love you, lithium, you’re a classic drug but you make me feel so heavy.  But the real question is, can I afford a different mood stabilizer? That remains to be seen. I’ll have to discuss options with my provider. I really want to try to go back to the clomipramine but it’s also too expensive. And it did seem to make me tired all the time.  But man, I’ve got $250 of it sitting in a drawer like untouchable gold.

Why are the good drugs with fewer side effects so damn expensive? You would think someone would have fixed this glaring problem by now. For example, having diabetes should not be a death sentence since the medications to treat it exist. This is really obvious. Healthcare is an outrageous scam in this country. Why aren’t more people outraged? Oh yeah, that’s right. We’re too sick to fight back. Or we’re dying. Or we’re simply flummoxed by our own problems, receiving substandard care for a huge price tag. Trying desperately just to manage.

I feel like since going off both old drugs I’ve been in choppy waters. SSRIs traditionally do not work for me. They make me fly into mania. Lithium is like taking a lead balloon. And then we’ve got the generic Geodon in there making me feel like I’ve swallowed poison every night for the last month or so. All of this is making me feel very tired of being on drugs at all. It’s no wonder people like me go off their meds. And let’s not forget the two as-needed antianxiety meds and the antinausea. That’s a total of six drugs and that’s just too many.

Do I want to go off my meds? Yes and no. I just remember the suffering before and it’s enough to keep me swallowing the pills and feeling like crap otherwise. I’m terrified of losing control. I’ve been moody and anxious even on the drugs. Can I really survive without them? Would it be better or worse? Can CBT help more with the OCD? I seem to recall having a CBT for Dummies book around here somewhere. If I can treat that part of it I’m halfway there. Then we would just have to worry about that mood stabilizer.

Basically, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired and am grasping at straws. Wishing I could afford a CBT certified therapist instead of using an SSRI. I just feel nasty. And not nasty in a good, Janet Jackson kind of a way.

Bellyaching Part Deux

I am so sick. I can’t eat without feeling horribly nauseated. I went to see my med manager, who prescribed low dose lithium and some Zofran to control nausea. In addition, I am supposed to up the dosage of my SSRI to triple what I’m currently taking. Hoping this balances me out.

I’ve been forgetting things within moments of thinking of them or doing them. Like with my pill earlier, did I take it, or did I just think about doing it? Since we’re going to triple the dose I figured one more wouldn’t hurt, so down the hatch it went. I’ve been stopping at imaginary stoplights and missing turns on the way to work because I’m so preoccupied. I even had a doozy of a dream where I was driving down the highway at night with no lights on.

I’m seeing three people for my medical conditions which hopefully will help with all the paperwork that needs to be filled out for the time I’m missing from work. When the meds are on, I’m on, and when they’re off, I am hopelessly off. I am panicking. I am not financially prepared for this but here I go. I have a little in savings which will help soften the blow of however many days I am out. They wanted me to give them an exact date range. I don’t know people, how about when I feel better?

Kiddo is over at grandma’s for the week which is likely a good thing. I am too anxious to do much. Getting gas today was a struggle. Going to my med manager was difficult, I got there super early because if I didn’t leave my house right at that time I wasn’t going to. I’m hoping desperately that the adjustment to the new meds and dosages happens quickly so I can go back to work.

This country’s healthcare system is broken BTW. It needs an overhaul like, yesterday. I am a good person and I do what I can but ultimately I am disabled. But I am stuck working 40 hours a week. 50 in the winter when they need people. That’s crazy. That’s crazier than I am. It shouldn’t be so hard for people with disabilities to receive the healthcare and support they need. And forget about applying for actual disability, you need years and a lawyer and I don’t have the time or the funds for either.

I guess I could go off meds entirely and end up institutionalized but that doesn’t seem like a viable option either. I have a kid and kitties who depend on me. I’m doing my best with what I’ve got to work with even if my wiring is messed up through no fault of my own. I’m worst-case-scenario girl again, I know. Print me a T-Shirt and get me a Twitter following, lol.

I need to make lists of things like medical appointments I’ve had recently. I need to bring a little notebook to appointments as suggested by my med manager. I need to quit with the explosive bum, let’s put that on the to-do list. I need to take action because inaction is getting me nowhere fast.

But again, I am so sick. Maybe I’ll just take one of my controlled substances and a much-needed nap instead. Which will win out? Anxiety or the exhaustion? Tune in next time, same batshit crazy time, same batshit crazy channel.


I was feeling terribly nauseated for the past two weeks. I had almost given up hope on my new med because of it. But now things appear to be getting better, not worse as I had feared. I thought I was going to have to put in for leave at work. I thought I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. I was terrified. But too sick to move much, so that was fun. Today I am not as nauseated and I appear to be getting my appetite back. Steps in the right direction.

I’m tired of being complacent with where I am though. I feel ready in some ways to take a leap into some form of at-home work. I would have to do it after my regular job though because as I said, bills to pay. Which is difficult because, with an invisible disability, a 40-hour workweek really takes it out of me. So finding the additional time where I feel productive is a challenge. I’m also supposed to be exercising and all that jazz. Which has also proved elusive, especially for the last few weeks.

As for the bills, if things get bad, I know there are resources out there. And there’s always declaring bankruptcy which I hope I don’t have to do but hell. If I lose my job or don’t find a new one I would be in a tight spot. I have too many bills. My divorce didn’t leave me financially stable though I appreciate the support given to me by my ex. I just don’t have the practical skills to make it after being a stay-at-home military spouse for so long. I need some remedial training. I need to not be mentally ill on top of it.

But there are some things I can change and some things I cannot. So finding remedial, cheap courses it is. I really need to learn to use Excel, for example. And I bought a Udemy course on editing a while back that would prove useful when applying to evaluate college-level papers. I also got some leads on work-at-home jobs from a private advice group online. I need to follow up accordingly.

But right now I am going to make myself a big old breakfast. Because after not being to eat much for several days, I am starving.


So my off days extended into my working days. I have been twitchy, restless and emotionally unstable. I saw my med manager, who cut back on my generic Abilify, making everything, including the anxiety, worse. I saw my primary care doctor who thought the fun side effects might be from the new med fluvoxamine, but who also wanted to defer to the expertise of the medication manager.

Everything kept getting worse to the point where despite the two medical visits, I missed two days of work that I couldn’t really afford to lose. Because of my daughter’s medical problems and my own personal brand of nutty my attendance has not been stellar. I feel horrible but I knew I could not perform the duties of my job while feeling like I was on the verge of a breakdown. I did a lot of sleeping to ward off the restlessness. I know that sounds weird but sometimes you’ve got to put yourself in shutdown mode so you don’t lose it. I have been nervous and restless, twitchy and sometimes even enraged and aggressive.

I couldn’t figure out whether it was the new med or the old med either. I just knew that when the med manager asked me to increase the dose of Abilify I was still unstable. Then I started Googling my med names at work, and wah-lah. An interaction appeared. According to

“FluvoxaMINE may increase the blood levels of ARIPiprazole. This can increase the risk and/or severity of side effects such as drowsiness, seizure, Parkinson-like symptoms, abnormal muscle movements, and low blood pressure. You may need a dose adjustment or more frequent monitoring by your doctor to safely use both medications. Contact your doctor if you experience agitation, aggression, confusion, convulsions, muscle spasm, or movements that you can’t stop or control such as lip smacking, chewing, puckering, frowning or scowling, tongue thrusting, teeth clenching, jaw twitching, blinking, eye rolling, shaking or jerking of arms and legs, tremor, jitteriness, restlessness, pacing, and foot tapping. Also be alert to symptoms of low blood pressure such as dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, and/or increased pulse or heart rate. Avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how these medications affect you, and use caution when getting up from a sitting or lying position, especially at the beginning of treatment or after an increase in dose of ARIPiprazole. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.”

And I scream into the void, what in the actual eff??? “Agitation, aggression, confusion…muscle spasm…movements that you can’t stop or control…shaking or jerking of arms and legs, tremor, jitteriness, restlessness, pacing…” Oh, gee. You mean EVERYTHING I’VE BEEN EXPERIENCING SINCE STARTING THIS COMBINATION OF MEDS???

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Try sitting at a desk for 8 hours tethered to a set of headphones and feeling this way. My only advice was to go to the hospital if things got worse or if (God forbid) I became suicidal. No indication from either professional that it might be the combination of meds causing the oftentimes freakshow side effects.

But at least my ability to function in general wasn’t affected, right? Hahahahaha. My boyfriend had noticed me being agitated but thought it was frustration from the meds not working. Turns out all my daily interactions were being influenced by this one horrible interaction brain chemistry clusterf***.

So since it’s the weekend, what do I do? Take less of each med and wait for Monday to roll around. Walk around periodically so I don’t go out of my gourd. Watch my caffeine consumption, half-caff seemed to make me quite jittery though. Go to the emergency room if I get worse, who can afford that?

And the real kicker is I’ve got $250 worth of clomipramine which also produces side effects (but not as bad as these) sitting in a drawer. For which I cannot get a refund because it was not their fault that my med manager discontinued it after I ordered it. I never had a bad interaction on that one and the Abilify. But I have no idea whether I can safely switch the one for the other without first weaning off the fluvoxamine.

And another thing, besides being a complete pain in my ass, this med interaction is affecting my entire left leg and has become a pain in my knee. Because I can’t quit twitching and foot tapping on that side, my bursitis has decided to rear its ugly head. This makes getting up and down particularly painful. And the stairs? My mortal enemy. GAH.

I had to get up a few seconds ago and walk around to mitigate the restlessness and anxiety. I can only imagine what I am like to live with when I am like this, I feel bad for my daughter and my boyfriend. At least he is extremely empathetic, which helps a great deal.

As always, I’ll keep y’all posted on my progress or lack thereof. Thanks for reading. We will get this figured out someday, let’s just hope it’s someday soon. wRQST0c1QuSl9nf4v2q8qA

Off Days on Days Off

Hi all. I keep forgetting to take my damn medication.

It doesn’t work as well as the far more expensive clomipramine in the first place. And I have to separate it into two doses, one at bedtime and one in the evening. But the one in the morning? Ha. It eludes me every other day. Which makes the medication less effective I would imagine. So much less effective that I now have been prescribed an anti-anxiety med on top of the new OCD med and the mood stabilizer.

The good news is my schedule at work changed and I am no longer falling asleep in my car because my days have been shifted forward two hours. Thank goodness. I could not afford my much-needed sleep tests at $2800 out-of-pocket so it was either get a schedule change or find another job. Was it the former medication causing my daytime somnolence? I may never know. Might try to see if the home sleep test is less expensive to at least rule out apnea, though narcolepsy was the suspected diagnosis.

So I am writing now on my new medication. It is supposed to make me relaxed and perhaps sleepy. At present, it is doing neither. I would ask for the cure-all controlled substance Ativan but a) I already have some and don’t take it because I know it’s addictive and b) I was on it for five years and once you are on it regularly it’s awfully hard to wean yourself off of it. I could take it all the time to control the anxiety but I would be giving up a certain measure of consciousness and control. So yes, there are some meds I will not take willingly. Surprise surprise.

But skipping a med makes my head feel wonky and makes me exceptionally paranoid. The old OCD guilt starts seeping in. I didn’t stop for an old lady in a busy parking lot because I didn’t see her until I was almost past her with the sun being at the angle that it was. Now I’m worried that she thinks I am the biggest jerk alive which hey, she has every right to do. But this guilt for not having stopped is eating away at me. Am I a bad person? Not really. Do I stop for pedestrians? When I see them, yes. Can I change anything about it now? No. Yet this nagging guilt is making my head run in circles again.

Being obsessive-compulsive and making any sort of mistake can be torture. I’m thinking about going back on clomipramine even though at the outrageous copay I cannot reasonably afford it. A grand a year ain’t cheap. But neither is the price of tormenting yourself internally over stupid things that you can’t change.

In case you can’t tell, I’m a little off today. Thank the stars I am actually off work today as well. I can’t afford to be this anxious at work. It does me no good and it sure as hell doesn’t benefit my customers. The more anxious I get the more mistakes I make. The more mistakes I make the more anxious I get. Everything is this vicious circle and by the end of the day, I find myself quite out of sorts.

One more day off. At least my job is one where you don’t take work home with you. Unless you count the emotional toll dealing with all types of calls takes on the empathetic types. We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t have a certain measure of compassion for our customers. However, sometimes we care too much about them and that can be our undoing. I have self-referred to EAP. Have I had time to make the much-needed appointments? Nope. So I guess since the referral is long expired I will try again.

Do I think about my customers after work? Of course. Can I discuss their strife? Nope. So I keep it all inside. Have I mentioned that I obsess as it is? Arrrrgggg. Have I thought about a different career path? Yes, but that causes me even more anxiety. I want to write, I may even try to get an MFA in writing. If I can figure out how to fund it. But knowing the stress I was under and an undergrad, could I handle it?

That’s the real question.

And so folks, I am going to take my high-strung self and try to relax. Or shave a cat or something.

P.S. I’m not being vindictive or weird. The cats are fat and have some serious self-grooming issues, poor things.  They need HALP.KGC6f09pRfeeQxUVv1RDPw

On Dreams and Dust

So it’s almost sunrise. I’ve been up since 1:30. What woke me? Teenagers. They were being super loud. Sleepovers are fun but apparently sleep being involved is old hat.

I decided to unpack some kitchen stuff but the little cat would howl like mad every time I went in the garage. She has never done that before. She is not attached to me and I don’t think she was wailing over concerns for my safety. Doubtless, she was just jealous of my early morning garage adventures without her.

So instead of waking the boyfriend and the (finally sleeping) kids, I’ve decided to do a little writing. It’s been a while and I’ve been quite busy moving.

So some great news–I have a new schedule at work. This will hopefully prevent me from drowsy driving in the mornings. My sleep tests have been put on hold until such time that I suddenly find myself independently wealthy. The cost of the studies after insurance? $2800. I don’t exactly have that kind of cash in savings. I was hoping for my responsibility to be oh, say, ten times less than that. $300 I could swing. $3000 not so much. So I guess without me winning the lottery we will never know what exactly is the root cause of my poor sleep quality and insomnia.

So the tests that were to be slated for yesterday and today were not done. And here I am awake and pondering whether I indeed have apnea or narcolepsy on top of everything else.  And despite the coffee, I am finally getting sleepy myself.

The move is going well though I feel like putting half of my stuff in a pile and burning it. Just reducing it all to ash. I have so many pots, pans, clothes, decorations, you name it. Despite my financial struggles the last few years I sure have continued to accumulate a lot of junk. Most of it’s not worth much to anyone but me. I should really try the decluttering thing. I guess in 13 years of marriage and 41 years of life, in general, you just collect things. Like dust. I feel like half my life is over and I spent a great deal of it being listless and depressed. Halted by so many things, not the least of which was having a spouse in the military and limited personal options. Are my talents worth anything anymore? Time will tell…

Speaking of my old marriage, I saw the ex just long enough to remember why we’re not married anymore. I won’t go into great detail but some of the things he says are just…wow. My boyfriend met him this last week during our little trips to Burley and it was less awkward than I would have thought possible, which was nice.

I just glanced over to see both my little cat ladies asleep on the guest bed. They are doing well, though the big orange tomcat continually gets the boot for harassment. Someday they will all learn to play together peacefully. Mona Lisa, named for her unique markings, will roll around on the couch every evening and even (gasp) expose her belly. She then makes these blissful little purring noises. I think she’s happy. I know I am.

This belly of mine certainly won’t be getting any exposure this summer. I think I gained 20 lbs just stress eating the past six weeks. But now we are settling into taking walks and cooking every night. So hopefully the addition of diet and exercise will help me meet some of my long-neglected health goals.

I also am starting to formulate some publication goals and am even entertaining the notion of applying for some scholarships to go back to school. I would like to be a writer in some fashion though I don’t think I could ever write fictional novels like I wanted to when I was a kid. I’m definitely a non-fiction type chick.

And always, there is this notion of life being finite. Hamilton is ringing in my head. “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” With Father’s Day fast approaching, I have some idea why. None of us know how long we’ve got. It could be well over 50 more years, it could be today. I don’t know why I find it so important to leave a mark on the world. I guess I’d rather have my ideas etched in ink and internet than in dust.


And oh the joys of YouTube. Where has this been all my life? Literary hero meets my ​musical heroine.