Being not suicidal

A few suicides in the news this week. My first thought — “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” ?? … unfathomable hopelessness, intentional self-destruction … really, these talented, fortunate people?

The trouble with living with depression/anxiety is the lens. You see through a lens that is distorted and dim and smudged and cracked.  The images coming through that lens bring only despair, perhaps terror.  You try and keep on trying to see light and beauty and goodness.  The trying is beyond exhausting.  It takes everything you have just to draw the next breath.

In rational moments, you know that you have talents and gifts that give you great pleasure in sharing … you know you have people who truly care for you, maybe admire you .. you know you have people who you love deeply … you know you have passions that give you hope and meaning and joy and wonderful, life-enriching challenges to overcome … but they are all on the other side of that damaged lens.   Even if you’re rational, knowing isn’t seeing, or feeling.  You can’t see or feel the other side clearly, or at all–all you have are cracks and smudges and distortions and darkness and demons. That’s all that can exist in your vision.

I’m an inactive member in this club.  I try to keep my distance, but now and then I wander into the banquet room at Downer Denny’s and attend a meeting.   Because I’m “diagnosed,” I guess I have a lifetime membership so I’m obligated to make an appearance on occasion.  There are those rare times when I’m actually there, present and accounted for, participating, squinting  through the same lens, and unable to focus my truly grace-full reality through the melancholy and fear.

So far, I always come to eventually, and realize that all I really want to do is play hooky from the meeting and scarf down a Grand Slam in the normal seating area.  And Thank God.  I’m rescued by the thought of pancakes and sausage and biscuits and gravy.

Anyway, there is nothing anyone can say or do to fix our lens for us. Some of us can bandaid our lens with therapy and meds and practice and duck tape and prayer and knitting and writing and good food and horses and working and the knowledge/hope/faith that Something Greater than ourselves is still at work and will be faithful to complete that work as Promised. I’m on that subcommittee in the club, and fortunate in the way that the Something continually reminds me that even this, the come-and-go darkness, can be a gift should I choose to accept it as that – “… give thanks in ALL circumstances …”

Others will find nothing that will bring light and clarity and joy, nothing, not even love and family and beauty and freedom and wealth and, really, perhaps exactly because they already have everything this world can offer … they come to the point where they have nothing left.

Nothing left to do except to go to sleep.

I pray their journey is bathed in light and grace.  I pray for their peace.

friday nite peace

Last week was Not So Good.  Let’s just say the Not-So-Good part started at Sudden Onset of Extreme Dizzinesss, went directly to Extreme Panic, made a bee-line for the ER with help from the serendipitous timing of a visit from my dearest long-long-time friend, and then ended with the realization that I am a Mo-ron.

This realization made me feel a lot better right away.  Although to arrive at it, I had to ride my spinning carousel of a living room while trying to focus my spinning eyeballs long enough to research my predicament on my spinning computer.

Now, after almost two weeks after fixing the Mo-ron part, which means going back on the SSRI I had inadvertently stopped taking cold-turkey, which was the cause of the dizziness, I am feeling like My Old Self,  Which is, as you know, mostly OK with some not OK parts.  Bottom line:  Drugs are good, at least for now.

So this week I have been spending a lot of time just being thankful for my life. For being able to watch summer evening sunsets from my front porch, work at a job that is enjoyable and pays me well enough to afford my front porch and drugs, have my lovely Mommy close by and willing to come babysit me anytime I need her, have a great big, sweet horse to ride, and have the comfort and support of my dear friend who I have just simply adored for about 42 years or so now, exactly when I needed her here, even though she lives 3000 miles away.

Tonight, Friday, the end of a busy and so-much-better week, I am reminded of something I wrote a few years ago while in a similar state of under the influence of gratitude.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About 25 years ago, when I was more of a City Girl, I used to go with a friend to the Sacramento Symphony on Friday nights. We would get all gussied up in fancy dresses and jewelry (hers) and drive a red BMW convertible (hers) and act like Real Women of Culture And Sophistication. I loved the symphony.

At that time, I was also wearing suits and pumps to work, studying piano, taking college courses at night, buying my fingernails, living in a townhouse, and probably smelling better overall.

Fast forward to now. I still consider myself to be a Real Woman, but it occurs to me that the Culture and Sophistication parts have officially hightailed it out of here, as far from my present being as my feet are from their next pedicure.  The little black dress, good jewelry and convertible replaced by riding pants, boots, and my dirty beater SUV, I head out on a Friday night to different sort of symphony — dusty old Garth Brooks hits blaring from a loudspeaker.  I sit on a garage sale-quality dinette chair, eat a home-made pulled pork sandwich courtesy of Daisy’s Chuck Wagon, and watch local horse people do team penning.

  • Team = Two or three riders and their horses
  • Penning = separating a single young cow from a herd at one end of the arena and moving it down to the other end, into a pen.

The team sits waiting at one end of the arena.  When given the go-ahead by the announcer, they start walking, trotting, loping or galloping (depending on the horse and/or rider’s desire to actually get close to those cows) toward the herd of terrified or bored (depending on the cow) cows at the other end. The cows are wearing numbers, zero to nine. There are several of each number. The announcer calls the number of the cow to be penned when the riders have started down toward the herd.

The teams have to find one cow with the correct number, cut that cow out of the herd and then make it go by itself to the other end of the arena. Since the cows know by Herd Instinct that they are safer if they stick together (safer from what, one wonders, when the closest thing to a cow predator within miles is Daisy herself, and she’s busy with pork), the cut cow will try its hardest to get back to the herd, in which case the rider’s job is to yell “HAH HAH HAH YIP YIP YIP” and jerk their horse’s head around trying to get them to track the cow and scare it down the arena and into the pen.  The horse’s job is to either to be obedient to the rider’s jerking or jerk the rider around in a bucking frenzy. Which is way more fun to watch if you are the audience. Definitely more fun if you are the horse.

Or, the cut cow just won’t care anymore since it has been doing this team penning crap every Friday night for 6 weeks in a row and the outcome is inevitable — it gets driven down to the other end of arena, goes into the pen, waits for the applause, and then toodles on back to the herd. So the cow just plods along resignedly in a Just-Shoot-Me stupor, infuriating the rider who wanted to show off his riding skills and giving the horse a much-needed break from getting his head jerked around by those same riding skills.

And this goes on for hours, as long as there are teams that want to pen, and the cows are still awake. Long past sundown, and into the wee hours possibly. I don’t know, I didn’t stay until the end. But when I left, Garth was still singing and I thought this was just a way cooler Friday night than the symphony ever was.

Killing Me Softly (a.k.a. Yoga)

Yesterday was a Red Letter Day.

I think.  I have always thought of a Red Letter Day as a day chock full of pleasant surprises, but just to make sure what I write is as accurate as my wisdom-wrapped-up-in-nonsense can be, I looked up the meaning of the phrase.

I love Wikipedia for this sort of serious academic research, but this time I chose instead some obscure UK site.  Because I thought the British description would be more interesting. Because of their penchant for misspelling common English words over there.

Red-letter day*

Meaning

In earlier times a church festival or saint’s day; more recently, any special day.

Origin

This comes from the practise (see, told you) of marking the dates of church festivals on calendars in red.

The first explicit reference to the term in print that we have comes from America. This is a simple use of the term “Red letter day” in the diary of Sarah Knight – The journals of Madam Knight, and Rev. Mr. Buckingham … written in 1704 & 1710, which was published in American Speech in 1940.

(aside:  wondering what Madam Knight had to say in her journal about her red-letter day with the Rev. Mr. Buckingham in 1704 and/or 1710.  historical novel fodder.  Oh Wait.  Dim memory of an English lit class.  The Scarlet Letter.  Dang, Hawthorne beat me to it.)

The practise is much earlier than that though. William Caxton, referred to it in The boke of Eneydos, translated and printed in 1490:

 “We wryte yet in oure kalenders the hyghe festes wyth rede lettres of purpre.”  This makes no sense to me whatsover, assuming purpre = purple.  I am now too lazy to look it up.  But it doesn’t have to make sense to me —  I am studying Spanish, not Olde English.

Back to My Hyghe Fest Day

First, I got to work at home instead having to go in to the office.   This is good because I didn’t have to drive my always-a-potential-adventure-in-panic  commmmuuuuuuttttttteeeeeee, all the way from my little ranch in the boonies to midtown Sacramento.  Plus I get to play music as loud as I want while I’m working.  Plus I get a lot of work done while The Black Thing (my beast of a bloodhound) snores contentedly on my feet.

Then I went to visit my horse “Big”, who, having had some joint injections the day before, needed some bandages removed.  This was good because Big stood still while I used scissors around his hooves, which is always a potential adventure, especially when the horse is, well, big.

Then I went to Walmart.  Always a potential adventure, but I was on a mission — to get a Walmart manicure inside of 40 minutes (40 being the maximum manageable number, even though I was already reliably Rx-ed, in anticipation of the onset of panic to be caused by the enjoyable relaxation of a manicure countered by the crowd of Women of Walmart already packed like large, interestingly dressed mani-pedi-ing sardines in the little salon) by my favorite manicurist Kevin.  Who is Vietnamese.  No surprise there.  Except for his name.  He has a different given name I’m certain.  I asked him what his real name is, and he just smiled,  shook his head side to side, said “No No No” as if he was already suffering my butchering of his name in an attempt to pronounce it.  What Kevin doesn’t know is [1]  I work hard at pronouncing correctly the proper names of all cultures, and [2] if I can say Merry Christmas in correctly pronounced Korean**, then I can surely not butcher his name.

40 minutes later, manicured in hot flamingo coral to honor today’s 4th of July fireworks that are an Extreme Fire Danger and therefore against the law in my county, I headed to my first ever yoga class.  At a training stable.  During a warm evening after a 90-plus degree day.  In a barn.  Upstairs in a loft that was behaving suspiciously like a sauna.

Even though it killed me temporarily, I loved LOVED loved the yoga stuff.  I could not actually do any of it.  Well, hardly.  I could do the sitting cross-legged while breathing position and the laying down while breathing position.    But I loved the quiet confidence, reassurance and encouragement of my friend and fella horse rider Jackie who was instructing the class — I’m wondering if I call her Sensei or something like that — I’ll text her and ask — and I loved the trying to do it.  Even though most of it was pretty much torture, I liked it and I kept trying.  And I really liked that I kept trying.    And I was introduced to some of the position names which I now forget.  Get Down Dancing Dog, Wonder Woman, Warrior One (maybe that’s Wonder Woman), Surfer (maybe that’s Warrier Two, or Three), and Child something, among others.  Each of the positions were very hard for me to do,  but I can see how with practice I could get this (I don’t know if I have that many years left on the planet but surely it is good for me and should extend my planet time, dontcha think?) and be just as graceful as Jackie.

But never as tall as Jackie.  She is very tall and very lean and very limber and exceedingly graceful, both in yoga and on horseback.  I hate her.  But I adore her.  I am guessing Jackie has the perfect physical conformation for yoga.  My present physical conformation is only perfect for writing while seated super comfortably in my big super comfortable leather chair.  And, maybe, for riding my big Big.

Now, I’m typing my hot flamingo coral fingernails over to an on-line Yoga Mart to order a good yoga mat and some cute, short-round-person yoga clothes.  And some East Indian jewelry.   And some incense.

*http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/red-letter-day.html

**당신에게 크리스마스 축하!  (Tang-shin-eh-geh ku-ri-su-ma-su chuk-ha!)

stepping outside of my head for a moment to ponder rice

I think too much. Therefore I have too many thoughts.  A perpetual frenzy of mostly nonsense sprinkled with smart bits, ping-ponging around in my cranium 100% of my waking time.

So I have decided to lose my mind for awhile, with intent.

This occurred to me recently as I spent a solid hour in one of the most brutal full blown panic episodes I’ve had, while driving home from an enjoyable dinner with former work buddies.  Although I knew it was “just” panic and nothing else, as I always know, I couldn’t rationalize it away, as I never can.  And none the tools in my emergency panic toolbox were working.  I couldn’t take the usual Rx since I’d had a small bit of alcohol.

I did deep slow breathing and cowboyed my way through hell on the freeway.

On the fast downside of the roller coaster, my head chants “It’s bad, it’s bad, it’s bad, it is really getting very bad …”  Adrenalin rushes in to fight the bully.   I begin to  imagine I cannot feel my legs anymore, I will not be able to accelerate or brake when I need to.   I don’t know for sure if my hands are still on the steering wheel, even when I can see them there, since I know my mind can play tricks of the wickedest order.   I wonder if I am actually still conscious.  I become more terrified, more terrorized.  More adrenalin.  More and stronger physiological symptoms. The bully is growing, bigger and meaner.  More panic.  More adrenalin.  More, more.

,On the slower upside of the roller coaster, I have periods where I can think more clearly, probably just from exhaustion, a mental time-out.  Tears come.  I’m still in panic but the bully has backed off momentarily, no doubt gathering strength for the next round.

During these sort of “quiet terror”  periods, I search the day’s events for potential triggers.  Still driving, not quite sure I’m still driving.

The workday preceding dinner that evening had been normal, non-stressful, even fun. I am working in a great job in a great company. Nothing there to rev up the anxiety motor to a 50,000 RPM attack, probably.  Unless it had something to do with the foos-ball games that happen twice daily, at noon and 5:00 pm, right next to my cube.  (I kid you not. Foos-ball, vintage machine even.  I like listening to the flipping of the plastic men, the banging of the metal poles that bayonet through the plastic men and make them flip and spin, and the slamming of the ball that has to get wherever it is supposed to go to earn whoever a point,  and the good-natured, competitive but mostly curse-less banter of my co-worker players.  I have even brought in my portable sound system to give them a soundtrack for the game from time to time.  If they get to make noise in the office, I get to play Tower of Power. What Is Hip.  Live Version).

Aside:  I have asked the company owners to add a ping-pong table and a vintage Pac-Man machine to round out the Arcade Department of our open-floor-plan office.  Next I will volunteer to be Arcade Department Head.

Another aside:  At our company, there is beer on tap and wine in the break room, and a liquor bar in one owner’s office.  This is a small company in California on the 2nd floor of an inconspicuous office building in mid-town Sacramento.  The first floor of the building is occupied by a real estate agency, no doubt perturbed by the foos ball banging around while they are trying to do escrows or whatever they do down there.  Which may explain why the real estate agency people keep stealing our parking spaces out back.  Out of spite.  Out back, incidentally, is an alley, and on the other side of that, directly behind our building, someone is building a Beer Garden restaurant.  A Beer Garden that we can overlook, while holding beers we got from our break room.  So we can be drinking beer at work for free while watching the Beer Garden customers pay for their beer and look up at our building in annoyance,  wondering what the f is all of that banging around on the 2nd floor in the building across the alley and why do the people up there get to have Beer in their cubes.  Maybe they will want to come  and contribute to our profit sharing by buying beer from us.  Maybe even play us in a foos ball tournament.  And Pac Man and ping-pong as well , if I get the promotion to Arcade Department Head.

Back to the panic — dinner after work had been in a well-known, around-for-ages downtown Sacramento icon of a beautiful old Chinese restaurant, featuring fabulous food, half of an adult beverage, and energetic and interesting conversation with known-quantity, non-scary people in a non-scary quantity of four including me.

…. fabulous food was Chinese chicken salad, walnut something shrimp, kung pao chicken, sweet and sour something, soup maybe?  , and brown rice. Remember the rice part even if you don’t remember the rest of the menu.

… the half of an adult beverage was half of a mai tai.  Against my personal company medication policy, yes,  but i let it get very watered down and i nursed the half drink for the entire evening.

… conversation was with women i had worked with and admired and enjoyed for various reasons.

So later, in my car, an interminable one hour drive home, on the upside of the roller coaster, full terror subsiding just enough so I can reflect.  Fabulous food included some sweet stuff and rice.  The Mai Tai was, although watered down, sweet, and alcoholic. The conversation was animated and stimulating.  About 30 minutes before we left the restaurant, I began to feel the jitterbugging in my toes, the start of the weirdness — soon after, on the freeway on-ramp, heart racing, limbs tingling, shallow breathing, minor vertigo.

So here is where the panic started I’m pretty sure:  the rice.  Overload of carbs against insulin resistance.  Heart races in response to my little tiny insulin supply trying to beat up the big grizzly bear rice.  Tiny bit of alcohol, but enough to light a flambe on the panic sauce.  Sensory overload – my neurotransmitters encountering about 30 minutes more of stimulating conversation than they can normally handle.

All of this == physiology.  My psyche was the responder, not the instigator. This realization has set me on a new course — absolutely minimal sugar, no starches of any kind whatsoever — limiting refined sugar to my first oh so good and necessary cup of coffee in the morning.  lotsa lotsa water.  salad/veggies and protein for lunch, same for dinner if I have any.  protein smoothes with unsweetened almond milk.  all that stuff they have told me to do to lose weight on a low carb plan, coincidentally.

Followed this for a few days and felt pretty good for me.  Then test drove the concept and deliberately relapsed — had a half Subway sandwich a few days ago.  Did not have a very strong reaction but I definitely felt uncomfortable, with a twinkling of anxiety following soon after I ate.  I went directly to Clonazepam.

Flicker of an Ah-hah, maybe.  So I’m continuing the experiment. — not focused at all on the weight loss aspect,  just on the keeping the motor running, well hydrated and without spikes in blood glucose.

But also keeping Clonazepam close by..

btw, I am off all SSRIs completely — no Paxil for over a year.  Tried Pristiq, no.  Tried Celexa, no.  So I know my serotonin levels are going haywire but the water and diet thing seems to be enough stabilization to pursue.

The moral to this story — eat rice, go crazy.

 

 

 

 

 

10 lessons learned from middle-aged dating

1. There needs to be another word for “dating” for people my age.
2. It is perfectly acceptable for Victoria’s to remain a Secret from my body type.
3. I am a perfectly acceptable to take out to dinner immediately after I ride a horse, still in boots, chaps and spurs, and with sweaty smashed-by-helmet hair.

helmethair

helmet hair

boots
4a. It is more important to be a good cook than to be able to fit into #2.
4b. I love cooking for someone else.
5a. When I invite someone over for #4b, I have the strength and stamina to clean my entire house in one day, not counting the scary Garage Sale/eBay staging room, and the stupidly-white-dead-center-of-2-ranch-dogs-and-5-acres-of-red-clay-featuring-4-horses’-worth-of-manure kitchen floor.
5b. He doesn’t look at the kitchen floor.
6. Being outside at night and looking at the Milky Way in silence is a perfectly acceptable date.

milkyway_hepburn_big
7. I need my own fishing license.lake and feet
8. Parts of me are stunning, some others at least in very good shape. The parts that aren’t (#2 for example) don’t matter.
9. Waxing is way easier.
10. Dating someone, as caring and comfortable as they may be, does not fix panic/agoraphobia. Dang it.

(originally posted on Facebook 7 Sep 13)

remedecorating part 2

i received some money in bonus and tax refund earlier this year, and decided i would dedicate a good portion of those funds to build a new look for my living room.  and i made a commitment to myself and the Source of my provision that shopping for new living room would not result in the purchase of a new horse.  as it did last time i went shopping for a new kitchen and came home with a Mo.

the new look began with the old look, which was in the neighborhood of shabby chic, next door to delapidated down-on-its-luck rental, and just down the block from partially boarded up but active crack house.

the quilt in the pic below is the only keeper, my first attempt at watercolor quilting — but it will get replaced by the new one in the bottom photo.   which will get started as soon as i finish the archeological dig for the fabric collection, buried somewhere in one of the garage sale staging rooms.   which are all rooms of my home at the moment.  think the reality show Hoarders but with visible navigable floors and working toilets, and without high potential for discovery of multitudes of dead cats (so far).

before ugh 1

before ugh 1

before ugh 2

before ugh 2

then came the virtual new look.  this is the culmination of months of virtual shopping, fiddle-f-ing with Photoshop, cutting and pasting photos of things I liked, moving the things around on the computer screen, discovering Art.Com (on my planet, oh-my-lord-equivalent in viewing pleasure to what i get from YouTube marathons).

on my computer i painted the room, put new flooring in, put in furniture and decor I liked, without spending a dime.

living room -  rugblog

dream in virtual life

then i commenced to buying the stuff in the picture, until the money ran out.  I actually got a couple more Acts of God in the form of voluntary trips to real stores twice — one to La-Z-Boy.  thank God La-Z-Boy employs an Amy who was so good at her job in picking out furniture for short people.  I eventually did buy furniture that was different than what I had virtually selected.  but the stuff I bought was still within the Genus Furniture, which is just a bit short of an Act of God in itself, inasmuch as I am so ardently attracted to the Genus Equus when shopping for stuff to sit on.

then to Home Depot to look at real floor samples and smugly concluding that the virtual sample i had installed in my computer living room was exactly what i wanted.   when the floor installers came, i was pleased that the three installer dudes were Croatians.  Or maybe two Croatians and one Serbian.   I liked their accents.  Which I heard a lot of because they carried on a non-stop argument of some sort the whole time they were here.

and, with more smug, the virtual paint color i found on Behr.com turned out to be the perfect color when the real-life walls eventually got real-life paint, thanks to Steve the real-life painter dude.  he showed up in immensely comforting all-white clothes spattered with paint.

now I am waiting for more money to finish up with lamps and wall art and what-nots.  hopefully not too much in the Genus What-Not, since the main reason for this whole remedecorating of my living space is to support the decluttering and relaxing and prettifying of the energy of my head space.   so that the real Carol will like it enough to come back and live here.  and then maybe relax enough to do some real writing.

remedecorating part 1

this is sort of like remedial decorating — or me-redecorating — or something.

for the past few months i have been working on my cosmetic fixer of a home.  well, it was advertised as a cosmetic fixer when I bought it 17 years ago.  since then,  in the entire 17 years, i have pretty much done nothing toward any fixing, cosmetic or otherwise, except paint a few walls and replace two rooms-worth of crawly-thing-and-dirt-haven carpet with laminate.

so now, a real estate ad for my home would probably describe it as cosmetic fixer of a house-corpse-in-full-rigor, laid out on the autopsy table badly in need of removal and/or rearrangement of its smelly and crawly insides.

i am determined to keep this house until I myself am beyond life as we know it.   so something must be done before i get so fed up with the beyond-shabby (and sans chic)  ambience that i will skip the house autopsy altogether and go straight to cremation.

part of the reason for not doing much with the house is that i am afraid of tools and hardware.  aka “not mechanically-inclined”.   or, more accurately, mechanically-a-danger-to-myself-and-any-nearby-misfortunates …

… so much so that it takes an Act of God for me to replace a burnt out lightbulb.   it takes a whole separate Act of God for me to buy new lightbulbs to replace the burnt-out ones.   which happens after yet another whole separate A of  G  – cowboying me to the grocery store.

these Acts must be way low on God’s priority list considering the state of my home’s present light bulb operational readiness.  which is Not.  which is OK.  because too much light hurts my eyes. and i have a miner’s headlamp when i need to see something.

i kid you not.  meet my favorite light source.

headlamp

i console myself for this lack of mechanical/hardware skill by reminding myself of my nice penmanship, which requires knowledge and application of pens and inks.  which are sort of tools, and i am not afraid of them.

pen

and i can use a sewing machine.  i am not afraid of fabric or thread.  as long as I just have to sew straight lines, like for quilts.  Quilts don’t scare me either, unless I am trying to finish one as a gift in a hurry, like two months after its birthday deadline.

waterfallquilt

Jan’s Waterfall – for my mommy

next up … part 2