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 tire 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.

 

 

Advertisements

A Letter I’ll Never Send: Spiritual Abuser

Dear “brother” in Christ,

May I remind you God created woman with the intention of coming into the world through one. There were female judges in the Bible. God used a lineage that includes and mentions a harlot to come into the world. God saved Armies with women. God used women for great political and spiritual change in Scripture.

Don’t take your toxic masculine Christianity and call me the weaker sex. I have known women Biblical and otherwise who saved nations on rebellion and disobedience to men. I’ve known women who are stronger than most men. Don’t force my submission to you. Because my submission is meant for God honoring men who have earned my love and respect, not the ones who believe because they have a dick that my respect is an obligation. Also, my submission is MINE TO GIVE based on how I discern who is worthy of it.

I know who God says I am. Do you?

You can take your watered down Bible stories and toxic pride that you’ve so lovingly mixed into a cocktail of religious heresy and SHOVE IT. You can take your condemnation and eat your own bitter words. I am loved. I am forgiven. I am made beautifully and wonderfully by a creator who doesn’t see my gender and uses it against me or to exert power over me, but rather sees the state of my heart and washes it clean and renews it with love, and with that love earns my wayward heart back everyday.

Take your words, and take your lies, and get behind me Satan! You have no power here.

Christmas Eve

As a child, I don’t ever recall believing in Santa. It’s just not something that my parents perpetuated. We believed in celebrating the birth of Jesus, and by giving to each other and spending time with family and friends. Of course we did lots of other traditional things. My parents kept our gifts a secret and they didn’t appear under the tree until Christmas Day. We went to my dads parents in the afternoon and my moms mother in the evening and stayed out late. We usually fell asleep in grandmas guest room and woke up the next morning in our own beds. Christmas Day would usually be spent at home so we could stay in pajamas and play with our new toys.

There was still plenty of magic in the air. Especially if there was snow.

This year my husband and I are attending our church for one of the three Christmas Eve services. Afterward and friend is coming with us as we do a short Year Walk in the woods to contemplate all that has happened and pray for all that will. Gifts have been under the tree for a few weeks now, and my husband and I are really good at keeping secrets. We plan on giving the kitties extra treats and catnip before bed, and waking up extra early the next morning to open gifts and rest on the couch before heading to my parents house for lunch and Christmas movies.

I’m actually looking forward to it.

I leave you with one of my favorite Christmas songs. Feel free to post your favorite Christmas song in the comments. I’m always a fan of music.

It Ended with Silence

The funny thing is, nothing about me has changed since the day I cut him out of my life. I am no less the self I was then, only now I have a little more experience under my belt, and hopefully I’m a little wiser. I hold no animosity, though I have plenty of reason to in our case.

Still he tries to have the last word. It’s been nearly two years, and he’s still trying.

Today he tried to contact me on Instagram, under a new account with a new alias. Nothing threatening, just the usual petty remarks about how I look or what a bitch he thinks I am. I deleted the nasty comment after taking a screen shot and saving it to a folder of potential harassment case material. I blocked him. Again. Probably the 3rd time now.

But today was different…

Today I wasn’t thrown into chaos by fear. Today I wasn’t worried about running into him in the street. Today I wasn’t afraid of seeing him. Today I wasn’t afraid of the next attempt to harass me. Today I recognized what all of this was…a show. A show he’s putting on for himself in hopes others will watch and be amazed, only to be disappointed when I refuse to retaliate. Because without my response, he isn’t a show at all. He’s just a man child crying out for attention and making a spectacle of himself. Or worse. He’s nothing if no one notices.

Retaliation means something to play at. Silence means there is nothing but the sounds of angry wails on deaf ears.

Some would say ending my friendship with him with silence was cruel. In his case, it was the only way. You cannot win with Narcissists. They will find ways of blaming you in their own mind and twisting it so they truly believe they are never to blame. So to be silent is the only way to keep him from having reason to retaliate, so if he does harass me, it is entirely of his own choosing.

I keep choosing silence every time he tries to contact me, because with silence I have chosen absolute rejection. When I choose not to retaliate, I ultimately reject his thoughts, his negativity, his bad energy, and his feelings…none of which I am obligated to take responsibility for since ending the friendship. I refuse to acknowledge them. I refuse to be a victim to them.

Still, I wish he would just move on. The only “crime” I committed was out growing him. That’s not a crime at all. As long as this continues I intend to retaliate with silence.

Christmas Plans

The day has been grey, and as I sit here at my laptop I can only be thankful to be indoors. The combination snow and rain is making my bones chill, even though my heat is on full blast and my cats are warmly tucked at my feet and behind my back as I type. It officially feels like winter now, as I can watch the sun sink a little earlier in the day. It’s only 4pm and nearly dark out, accompanied by clouds looking stern and cold through the water droplets on my window pane.

My husband and I set up our Christmas Trees last weekend. This year we set out only 3 instead of 4. Our little 3 ft white tree in the living room, our 2 ft frocked tree in the bedroom, and a 3 ft metal frame “tree” my husband keeps in the basement with the rest of his nerd ornaments. This year we have no travel plans and no required places to be. We’ve not committed to anything at all.

I’m actually looking forward to Christmas this year.

As I’ve posted in the past, I do not often like Christmas. I dislike the commercialism, even though I do enjoy shopping to a fault. I struggle between wanting things and wishing I didn’t want things, as I think most people my age do. We’re raised by TV and Internet to be consumers and then we we are adults, we realize we cannot afford to consume as much as we want, and more than half the time, we can’t even afford what we need. So while I love shopping, I shouldn’t, and while I would love to give Christmas Gifts to people I love, I usually can’t.

One of the remedies I have discussed in past posts has been to alternate Christmas gift giving between making handmade gifts, and giving gifts that support greater causes like Charities or a small family-owned business. By doing this, I find either I give something a little more thoughtful and custom made, or I’m giving a gift that gives back in some way or another. That way my family gets gifts, and my gift giving feels more meaningful than just buying the lasted gadget at a large corporation that doesn’t do that much for it’s community or the charities it claims to support. Plus, I leave with less buyers remorse than usual.

A few of the Charities I’ve given to and supported this year I posted in a previous blog post and have been supporting for a while either with my money or my time (or both).

Another reason I’ve been enjoying Christmas more this year, is because I’m doing more to celebrate. My husband and I are starting to formulate and investigate Christmas traditions, which we hadn’t done last year because we were only celebrating our first Christmas and didn’t quite know what the other thought about the holiday, much less what we thought about traditions. One of the traditions we decided on, that also works as a personal goal, is that we’ve decided to attend every Advent sermon at church this Advent season to help us reflect on not only the positivity we should feel for the season, but also the greatest Gift of all…The birth of Jesus Christ.

Another tradition my husband and I are starting this year, is we’re throwing a small Krampus celebration, where we have invited friends over on Dec. 5th (Krampusnacht) to watch the Dark Comedy Film based on the old lore of Krampus, the Christmas Demon. Apparently an old European tale of a demon who took care of the naughty children in a way that St. Nick didn’t (usually kidnapping and eating them). A little dark and ridiculous, but all the same a fun little something that we can look forward to every year.

What are your holiday plans? What traditions do you celebrate in the winter months?

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.

Giving Tuesday

It’s giving Tuesday! That means I’m sharing some of my favorite charities and non-profits with you!

Here we go:

Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum

I’ve been involved with these guys for 3 years now, and besides memberships and donations they have an online store where you can get some sweet merchandise and help keep the history of letterpress printing alive!

LINK

Helping to liberate people from oppression is the most rewarding thing you can do! Liberty In North Korea helps find refugees (known as “defective” to the North Korean government) and relocate them to safe zones. They also have an online shop where you can purchase merchandise to help the cause, or you can become a freedom fighter to help the cause if you are unable to donate.

My Rescue Dogs

This one is a personal friend of mine who creates beautiful art and merchandise to help pets find forever homes. All 100% of the proceeds go to helping out shelter animals.

What are some of your favorite charities? Put them in the comments and share! 👇👇👇👇👇👇

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.

Wayzgoose

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines Wayzgoose as

A wayzgoose (or wayz-goose, waygoose or wayzegoose) was at one time an entertainment given by a master printer to his workmen each year on or about St Bartholomew’s Day (24 August). It marked the traditional end of summer and the start of the season of working by candlelight.

For those of us in modern terms, it’s a time of year that many letterpress printers, paper manufacturers, wood cut carvers, wood/metal engravers, font and typography designers, and lovers of printed ephemera come together for a weekend of workshops, creativity, and art/equipment swapping/selling. In the spirit of the tradition, the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum puts on the event the first weekend of every November, and I have been fortunate enough to volunteer each year for the last three years of the event, as well as offer my time there every Saturday I can during the year.

This year had a couple of firsts for me.

It was the first Time I could attend a full-day Friday, which is usually workshop day. I was fortunate enough to assist with the workshop Rick VonHoldt of Foolproof Press and Bill Allan of Gaslight-Daze Printery using the Silver Buckle Press collection now housed at the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum. I learned so much during that session and assisted in helping so many talented artists create beautiful and meaningful pieces using this rare collection of type, ornaments, and illustrations.

My other first this year was going to the pre sales for Virgin Wood Type and moors Wood Type, which involved huddling in a crowded hotel room, drinking, purchasing newly crafted wood blocks for letterpress printing, and publicly shaming Brad Vetter for hogging all the good stuff (all in good fun of course).

But the first I enjoyed the most? Finally attending the annual bowling outing and bowling with Jim Sherraden and Celene Aubry of Hatch Showprint who was also our volunteer coordinator. I was out until 2:30 AM sipping gin and tonics, belting out songs that were playing on the juke box, and bowling…badly.

While I had many firsts, some things never change. Friends I see yearly were back, and we were able to reconnect for our annual catching up. Work was swapped, business cards passed, and nearly everyone was in tears when it came time to call the weekend quits. Even though I was tired, I found myself misty eyed as I drove back to my home to rest, knowing it would be another 365 days before I’d see any of them again.