Running on E

Between each crisis I have been able to find small moments of calm, but as the weeks have gone on winter has done nothing but wear me down. Ice storm after ice storm makes the world a little colder, and in that cold I find a little darkness.

Still, the weeks bring combinations of pleasures and pains. Friends have been getting together and we have been building positive relationships with colorful people. People so colorful that they boggle the mind, and bring me to such laughter that I often come home beyond exhausted and in desperate need of recharging, but still longing for more exhausting nights just like it.

The truth is, the past few weeks have been a struggle. A struggle in patience. A struggle in spirit. A struggle in mind.

I’m going through the painful experience of a faith crisis, one that seems to leave me with more terrible questions than answers, and makes me feel more and more abandoned by God and desperate to stay in communication, but at a loss as to how. In a way it makes me feel a little crazy because all the emotions piling up are sort of a whirlwind of anger and fear. What does one do, when they lose faith, and how does one get it back if they miss it? Are you even allowed to miss it when it is lost? Have I really lost it at all?

I’ve been getting into more metaphysical stuff lately. A scary realm for me, yet I am no less drawn to it. It feels like a complete swing of opposition, and yet, I feel like God is so much apart of the mysteries of the universe that I cannot help but feel a little of what I’ve read can be supported by a Christian faith, and yet, some of it I find completely unconvincing. I don’t know weather to seek more information on such new things, or if I should just stop altogether and protect myself?

This all comes at a bad time too. While I have not had a huge crisis in my life I have had many small ones to deal with along the way that have just been that much more difficult as I’m dealing with the faith crisis….that and my husband is not good at dealing with any crisis, big or small, and has allowed the burden to fall on me more often than not. Which is exhausting. Little things like my husbands battery not starting, severe winter weather that keeps one home from work, and scuffles with coworkers that have bad attitudes have added only more to the deep tired I feel within me.

All of this I think directly correlates with my spiritual issues. I’m spiritually exhausted. I want to crawl in a hole in the ground and be planted there to rest until I’m recharged and renewed, or just sleep for eternity. I’m not sure which yet. It’s hard to say. I’m just so deeply depleted….of what I do not know, but it is so depleted that I feel like I’m falling apart.

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The City of TR

“Why did it do that?” my husband exclaimed as the water seeped into his clothes and dripped from his face.

“Welcome to home ownership!” I laughed.

 

My husband had never done any kind of handiwork in regards to plumbing, and recently the city issued us a Public Nuisance allegation about our sump pump, because it pumps out into the rain gutter in the street and has been causing ice build up. According to the past two owners that drainage had been there since they had both owned the house. So it’s at least over 10 years old. But, of course, the cops only just noticed it recently, and decided to pick on us about it. We hadn’t known that it was an issue really. Our street doesn’t have a storm drain, and it had passed inspection so for all we knew it was perfectly legal. It wasn’t. So we had to deal with it.

 

Of course, the weekend I was going to get my dad to help me route it to the backyard, a snow storm hit and dumps 10 inches of snow on us, and since the ice was building up rapidly in the street, I decided I would just make an emergency reroute into the sewer drain I have in my basement. However, I had forgotten to warn my husband that pipes tend to unload whatever is left in them when they’re disconnected, very rapidly, and I didn’t realize how much water was still left in the pipe. So of course, it became a lovely violent fountain, made our sump pump hole overflow, and gave us a very wet basement, which in-turn, made more work for us.

 

When I finally got the sump pump hooked up to the makeshift resolution we had with spare pipe and saw that it was working for now…My husband and I proceeded to clean and dry up the mess in the basement. I called off from my usual day at the printing museum and got to work moving plastic bins and getting fans to dry up the basement. Every rag in our rag bin was used. My poor husband had an attitude about the whole thing, and in the midst of the issues with the city, this just felt like icing on the cake for all the frustration.

Not only was the city being jerks to bring up this issue after we had only lived in the house for two years, but we also had another issue. The city forgot to check the meters on our block and the block before us to send us our utility bills. So we got charged for two months this month after a series of complains from us and our neighbors that we had not yet gotten our bills. Just after this is when we were issued our Public Nuisance allegation, given only 30 days to comply with the option of an extension if we could prevent the water off the street for now. After speaking with the city we found out we had to reroute the water, remove the pipe, and fix the hole in the curb on our dime, then have the cop who filed the complaint take a look at the changes to make sure we’re doing it all legally. Which we were more than happy to do…up until we saw on our bill that we have a storm water charge we’ve been charged…but our street doesn’t even have a storm drain for our sump pump to connect to, which is the city’s preference.

 

I’m all about removing the pipe and rerouting the water. I wanted to fix that anyway when I first bought the house, but I thought I would have more time to solve that problem. It’s my concerns about fixing the curb, because I thought that was owned by the city. Am I even allowed to touch it really? Am I going to be fined if it’s done incorrectly? Why am I paying a “storm water fee” if my street doesn’t have a storm drain? Furthermore…if the gutter and curb act as my storm drain that the fee on my bill maintains…then why am I paying for it twice when I didn’t damage the curb? What is that fee even for?

 

In all of this there is so much to be thankful for…like all the old pipes the former owner had laying around that have proven remarkable useful. My husband in his funk was still so helpful when I was fixing things and cleaning up the water. Nothing was damaged. The basement is drying as we speak. The water is not spilling into the street or into my basement anymore (though I know the city will not be pleased it is going into the sewer because that’s not legal, but its 12 degrees F and we just had a blizzard overnight so nothing further can be done until spring).

 

The other good thing is Pinterets is full of ideas for solving this type of issue, and I may finally get a water feature in my back yard like I have always wanted…assuming that once I have the water draining on my property…they don’t care what I do with it.

Coming Out of the Woods

I finally took the plunge and got medicated in December. I wasn’t really thrilled about the decision, but as I filled out the mental health questionnaire that most doctors offices make you fill out every yearly checkup, it became more and more clear to me that I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I was.

I brought it up to my doctor again and since the last medication we had tried last year was giving me so much stomach and sleep trouble, I had weaned myself off of it shamelessly. I admitted this to her, and she prescribed me Prozac.

Isn’t that for the people who are really bad? I thought to myself trying to push away the guilt and shame I felt for needing help. I had to give something a chance to at least discover if it works. I was desperate, though I hadn’t known it before. I was desperate to not feel so anxious and depressed that thoughts of suicide were frequent. I was desperate to find out if this was really myself or if there was something working against who I really was.

I realize medication doesn’t work for everyone. I had low expectations of this experience, because I had been so failed for so long before. I know pills are not cures, but treatments. I know that some people are very discouraged and emotionally effected by their depression to the point that they often give up on meds before they even have a chance to start working, or they stay on meds that are hurting them because they desperately want it to work and hope if they just wait longer it will. Medications are never cures. They are helpers as well as hurters in some cases, and by no means was I willing to give up on myself now. But, I struggled with this decision for the first week. Because nothing seemed to change, and I wanted a quick fix like so many others.

Still, I had to try.

The third week into my medication my manager came into the office and addressed me.

“You’ve been quiet today. You okay?”

“Me? Yeah, I’m just really plugging away at these package designs today.”

“I see that, you’re usually not this quiet though.”

“Oh…well nothings wrong just really focused I guess.”

Wait…what? I’m focused? 

I have never been an organized or focused person. Most days at work I’m a busy anxious  bee buzzing around the office unable to focus on anything…and I’m super chatty. I started realizing after that encounter I was able to sit still. I was able to work through the whole day without having to get up and pace. I wasn’t anxious, I just was working. That was the first time in a long time.

In the lunch room a few days later a few snacks were laying out for the employees. Cookies and doughnuts as usual. I was refilling my water bottle when my coworker came in and made a comment about the snacks.

“Hey Em, are these good?” he said pointing to the cookies.

“I don’t know I haven’t had one.”

“What? You never pass up snacks.”

“Just had lunch dude, I’m not hungry.”

When I sat at my desk and began working again I thought about the scenario. I wasn’t hungry. I had never once in my life had a moment where I couldn’t eat. I never really felt full, and even if I was full, I never didn’t at least nibble on something little by little. I could usually eat anything at any time. In fact I’d say I was a constant over eater. How was I not hungry ?

What really sealed the deal for me was last week when we had a terribly icy rainy snow mixture. Since my car accident last May, I’ve struggled with weather, and as I pulled into a parking space at work I realized that there hadn’t been a moment of panic while I was driving in this weather. I wasn’t afraid of the weather. I didn’t even think of it until I was at my destination.

I was feeling normal.

It was still hard to adjust to the medication, not because I was experiencing symptoms, but because I began identifying what was a personality trait, and what was a symptom of my depression. That was hard to swallow for a little while, but the more I began to identify the changes I saw in myself, the more I realized how dysfunctional I really had been. I hadn’t had a stress cry in several weeks. I hadn’t had a suicidal thought in as long. I hadn’t had a panic attack or moment of feeling panicky either. My brain could actually reach a state of quiet…something I never thought I’d be able to do. I could read better. My memory was improving. My blood sugars were lower because I was no longer as anxious as I used to be and I wasn’t over eating. I was remembering to shower more frequently. I was able to get up in the mornings and not feel like I was hit by a truck. Social interactions didn’t feel so jarring or depleting, though they still were tiresome and I still felt like a nap would be very nice.

I was realizing I was becoming myself.

As of right now, I feel really encouraged. I’m starting to value myself more, and I’m better at setting boundaries. Self care is improving and my health is taking a turn for the better. I’m really encouraged by all of these things, but for the most part, I’m just so excited. I didn’t realize how crazy I had felt until I had it all calm to quiet and got rid of all the terrible anxiety that paired with my depression so violently.

As I said before, I understand not everyone has this kind of experience, and for those of you who were like me, I realize lots of people will be discouraged themselves over reading a success story. I had a lot of inner conflict about writing this post, mostly because I used to be really discouraged by people who were successful. Now that I feel like I’m getting better, I have so much empathy for those who are struggling and ready to give up.

Don’t give up, but please also don’t expect it to be immediate either. All you can do is be honest with your doctors and therapists as well as yourself and take life 5 min at a time if you have to. Celebrate small successes like actually eating breakfast or taking a shower and try hard not to be discouraged by all the things that feel like failures. If meds aren’t working, don’t settle for feeling like crap because you want it to work. If you can’t afford mediations, talk to your doctor about assistance programs. Do what you can and exhaust your options. It will suck. It will drain you. It will be a roller coaster. But there is a possibility of getting better, and it is worth trying for.

I know, it’s easy now that I feel like I’m getting to the other side of these problems to say things like that. I know that will make people who were like me before angry, and you know what? You’re so allowed to be angry. What is happening to you is not fair. Depression is mean. It’s violent. It’s so painful. It can turn on you in a moment. Even as I speak I know my body chemistry can change and suddenly these meds might not work. I could be back at square one. I just want to let people know that there is hope, and it’s allowed to be conflicting and complicated and make you upset because things feel so hopeless. Give yourself grace. Do what you can to keep trying.

 

 

A Confession: Failing

I was supposed to be a friend’s plus one at a wedding this evening. “Supposed to be” being the key term. Tonight, during a bought of freezing rain, my car slid a little and threw me into a panic attack induced by a car accident I had a few months ago, where my husband and I hydroplaned into a cement divider on the interstate going 70 mph. I was driving at the time and totaled the car.

The panic attack I had this evening forced me to pull into a parking lot to calm down, and when I did, I had to call my friend and tell her I was struggling to make it the 45 min drive to her place, and told her I had to flake out on her. She understood and told me to go home and stay safe.

I was really disappointed when I got home. Disappointed at how much the anxiety from my car accident made me fearful and prevented me from living my life. Before the accident I didn’t have issues with minor things like sliding. I knew how to control slide. I was able to push through them. I wasn’t paralyzed by them. But since the accident, I’m afraid to even drive in rain during the summers.

So I flake out on my friends and fail myself and them. I wish I knew how to get over it. How to not be afraid.

Diabetes Awareness Month…is a joke.

So November has been diabetes awareness month, and I have to say I haven’t done much posting about it. Why? Because I fucking hate it.

I don’t want to be a diabetic. I hate this disease. I hate being obsessed with food and with counting carbs and needles and all the complications of everyday diabetic life.

I don’t want to make people aware of my disease…I want my disease gone. I want it eradicated like polio and small pox. I want it destroyed.

The problem is, I don’t think there will be a cure in my lifetime. Why? Because insulin is the sixth most expensive liquid in the world. The fifth most expensive is Chanel perfume. If that doesn’t tell you the priorities of common man, then I don’t know what does. Big Pharma makes money off my plight, and I for one am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

There. That’s the awareness I’m spreading. That diabetes awareness only educates people more on how to care for diabetics…care for….not cure. While I appreciate people being aware that I have a disease that causes me to need special attention…what I really would appreciate is a cure and making people aware of how much that probably isn’t going to happen.

Still I hope for it in my lifetime. Not for my sake, but the sake of so many others like me.

End rant.

I Voted

“My husband told me he doesn’t want me to get a job because we’ll lose our state health insurance.”

She poured out the sorrowful story I had once known all too well. People having to work a broken system to stay alive. In her case it was behavioral medications she and her family needed, with several members on the spectrum, and herself with severe mood disorders. All of them with suicidal tendencies, and the youngest of them 9 years-old.

It’s days like that that I feel so deeply we should have socialized healthcare, being chronically ill myself and knowing so many others who also are in situations like his, where woman can’t contribute to her own home an society by remaining unemployed to keep their public healthcare. It just breaks my heart.

I wouldn’t mind helping others stay alive and healthy given the opportunity. I pay for sidewalks I’ve never walked on, and parks I’ve never visited with my tax dollars, how much more important is the person who HAS walked on those sidewalks and visited those parks, clearly we give enough to help them enjoy those perks of our tax dollars, so why not help keep them alive and healthy?

It’s all I could think of when I voted yesterday.

While some have reason why they’d rather not have socialized healthcare, my heart only broke as I recalled listening to my friend talk on her situation. I too know that fear. I too hated the idea of having to abuse a system to stay medicated and alive with insulin costs only on the rise. I too was tired of paying high copays and deductibles, having more than half my paycheck going to keep me alive and very little else. I recall giving up food, internet, showers, and heat at different points in my life as I lived alone, just to make sure I could get my insulin. How much better would it have been if I could get more help and have reasonable payments on insulin? That would be nice.

Alas, while only time will tell, there is so much resistance to fight.

Anticipation Wayzgoose

Every year around this time the letterpress community comes together to spend time with one another at the convention known as Wayzgoose. The first weekend of November, the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum hosts the event, and every year since 2016, I have volunteered my time for this long weekend of creativity, fun, and chaos.

I’m expected at the museum at 7am, and as I lay here, frightfully aware of what little I have prepared for my swap table on Sunday, I’m terribly excited to see people I only see once a year.

During the chaos of Wayzgoose I will be thankful for a thing I often take for granted: toilets. During my time at Wayzgoose this weekend, my bathroom is getting remodeled and I will be without a toilet from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Besides that fact, I will also be thankful for the respite that public restrooms can provide for a little introverted girl looking for a moment to get away from the crowds of people swarming around her. Not that the crowds are unfriendly, but they are thick with familiar faces, stimulating conversations, and an overall drain on my psyche and body. I love Wayzgoose, I love seeing friends yearly and catching up. It just drains me to my core in the days following.

Then, there is the anxiety. You get around all these famous designers who are Somebodies with massive talent and bank accounts, only to feel like the smallest of the small. It’s intimidating being around so many big name artists and graphic designers, that one cannot help but feel self conscious in just about every way. Not only that, but I only recently got myself a tiny showcard press for myself, and while I put forth efforts to utilize my press and develop in many ways, my work is limited and falls short compared to other designers around me.

All around, it’s an exciting event. I love listening to designers tell their stories, and I love being part of a community of creatives that are intentional about spending time together and sharing ideas. I love taking in the sights, the sounds, and the smells. Not to mention how great the food is each year.

I’m really excited, I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow.

Therapy

“My first therapy appointment is Nov. 6th.”

“I’m so proud of you!”

I was too. I was so proud of her for finally taking a step towards dealing with her issues and setting goals. It was about time she started seeking more professional help in her situations, instead of coming to me for advice all the time.

My thoughts turned to myself then, and wondering why I don’t just buck up and go? I’ve been wanting to for a long time, and since getting married and navigating my relationship, I began feeling the depression worsen slightly, but not enough to alarm me.

Overall, my real issue is I’m too depressed to go.

Building another professional relationship with a therapist feels overwhelming. Becoming a better person takes a lot of time and investment, and I’ve invested a lot of my time in other things, like my friendships, hobbies, and work. You know, those things every human needs to survive and feel functional.

Most days I hardly feel functional at all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look it.

I find any free time I do have is spent wishing for other things. I used to be such a content person, but since getting married I find I spend more time wishing things in my life could be different. Wishing that I had better things, prettier things, better health, better home, better everything. I’ve spent most days having the “I wants” instead of focusing on the “I needs” in my life. Really, I’d rather put my money to retailer than to my own health, because I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and the fewer specialists I have to see, the better. I’d rather have my money go to things I want instead of my needs. Thus, I retail therapy. A lot.

I feel terribly guilty after making purchases though, which makes me wonder why I enjoy buying things so much. Heaven knows how it got his way. The things I buy don’t make me a better person. They don’t make me feel better. They don’t really do much for me when it comes to self gratification.

Still the cycle continues, and I wonder why I don’t just do the right thing and go to therapy?

Because, I guess I really don’t want to.

Family

Yes, for some, “home” is the nicest word there is. To Laura Ingalls Wilder it was. That little house out on the prairie was an ideal location, not just for it’s magnificent scenery but for the loving and supportive family she had with her.

For others, like myself, home can be a daunting word. Not because family doesn’t love and support you, but because they also know how to push your buttons in all the worst ways.

Next weekend my family will be meeting for a vacation together in MI. While I’m excited to get away from work, I’m a little concerned to spend time with my family. My brothers often ignore me, my parents often affirm my accomplishments half heartedly because they misunderstand how big of a deal it is for me. My husband doesn’t seem to know what to do when we go on vacations, so he spends most of the time on his phone.

I feel very lonely with my family. At home or at home away from home.

We’ll be spending time at a lake house my aunt recently purchased. None of us have been there before, so we don’t know what to expect. We know it has enough room for all of us, and my aunt just recently procured another house up the street from it, incase we feel the other house feels too small (oh to be that wealthy, that we can just buy another house to put family in). With it being the peak of the fall season and much farther North than I have been, I’m expecting there to be beautiful crisp days with plenty of sweater weather. At least I’m hoping. I’m planing on taking a lot of walks and sitting on the enormous wrap around porch in comfy sweaters and with big mugs of hot beverages. I’m planning on my husband and I tagging along into town for the shops and boutiques. I also plan on reading a bit if I can manage it.

Of course, I’m sure there is plenty I’m not planning on, but I’m trying not to think about that too much.

Beach Bummer

My husband didn’t come on this Sunday evening car ride. He had to work. So when my parents stopped in, I felt free to accompany them to the beach to just sit and watch the water move.

“We need you to come up with some different words.”

“Why?”

“Because you always resort to saying, I’m good, just tired.”

Because I’m always fucking tired, mom. I thought as loudly as I could in her general direction. But then I finally blurted out:

“Well would you rather me tell people the truth when they ask me how I’m doing? Would you like me to tell them that the existential crisis is crushing me and my depression is exhausting?”

She said nothing. Her most direct way of mentioning her discomfort was silence. I was used to it by now. So I leaned back in the seat as the breeze met my lips and kissed them and my breath mingled with the summer air. I pretended that my breath alone was the reason the air was becoming more humid. That summer came directly from my mouth. I mouthed the word summer, just to feel a sense of power over nature.

My eyes closed, all I heard were the seagulls on the water honking their loud songs, and my mother shifting in the front passenger seat. Dad was outside the car, talking to an acquaintance of his, who had greeted us only moments before, and to whom I responded when I was asked how I was doing with I’m fine, just tired. Like I did with everyone, including my mother and father.

I had no motivation to get out of the car, neither did my mother. So my father ventured alone into the waves after wishing said acquaintance farewell. As I watched him walk further into the lake, I wondered how long it would take me to drowned if I went out to far and quit trying to swim. I wondered if I would be able to quit swimming if I tried hard enough, or if instinct and discomfort would save me.

On days like this…it felt as if nothing could save me.