I don’t know how much longer I can do this school thing. Many of my friends are now applying for residencies- Bell, a brilliant writer has just applied to a writer’s residency in a remote fishing village in the Arctic Circle and another friend just got back from her residency in a remote rural area in Southern Iceland. I could probably list 50 others (no, seriously) right off the top of my head who are flying here and there and working hard on their exhibitions. They’re truly amaaaaaazing people and I’m really getting to the point to where I miss the crap out of them! It’s more than that. When you form a bond with a tight group of artists- for years- you come to know each other so well. And, you become a cycle of flowing water, each watering the other and eventually, you’re not even “you” any more but hundreds of other people- all reflecting one another.
Because of the hardships that have smacked me down over the past few months, I’ve had to put off my schoolwork until the last minute. I simply couldn’t do anything about it. Now, I’m facing 30 assignments in two combined classes and my deadline is March 7th. Am I screwed, or what?!
I have the resources to take a year off. I won’t have any extra money, but I would be able to minimally pay my bills and rent, buy food, but not much more. I’m not ready to jump into a “career”, socially speaking, not until I finish school, and so I’ve been in this tailspin for quite some time. My complaints are still the same. I want to do so many things with my art and music: I simply can’t as long as I’m in school.
And school is choking the living daylight out of me. Sure, I’m accomplishing small goals, always. But my bigger ones are drying up, such as, making a music CD, doing more school readings with my book- guh. I just don’t know how much longer I can do this.
Tonight, I’m supposed to work on my assignments, but I have to hook up with my art peeps and reconnect.
I can’t believe it’s March and there’s this much snow on the ground.
My red wine awaits. I have to take a freaking break before I blow a gasket.
I’ll be back…
Yesterday was such an awful day for me:everything was so dark. Ever the optimist, I know that these times are cyclic. They’re bound to happen and they’re inescapable but they won’t last forever. I hadn’t felt so depressed in a such long time. Since Chance (my dog) ripped my ring finger open, I’ve had to hand-write all of my notes in my classes. Today, I took 33 pages of notes (33!) on dissociative disorders, fugue, and the predispositions of unipolar and bipolar disorders for monozygotic and dizygotic twins. (33 pages!)
Last week it was 30+ pages on schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, and that’s just one class; there are three others. So, life has been a blur of mania and depression and lots of it (note-wise). It’s really no wonder that I’ve been a bit depressed, seeing how I haven’t seen the outside of my bedroom in days and I’m consuming 30+ pages of hardcore psychiatric disorders daily. The bright side is that I’m retaining 90% of what I’m studying and don’t have to look twice at my notes. Once they’re written down, the info. is locked in, pretty much. But still, yesterday was horribly black.
Until, that is, I received a knock at the door.
There was a special delivery and he brought me these!
And then my bitter scowl turned into this! (That Proactiv is good stuff, man.)
I figure that’s the least I owe you, Y. :) (And yes, those are your flowers in the background.)
Nobody’s ever sent me flowers before. (I know!) Thank you a million times over. You’ve been there for me over the years more than anybody else. You’re a GEM and I love you dearly. My icky clouds have passed over and I’m feeling right as rain again. (I had no idea I could be bought with flowers. I’m so cheap!)
Thanks again so much for showing that you care. Love you. xo
…things have been so hard. I don’t like to complain, so I try not to, but really, when I look at the string of events I’ve experienced in just the past 6 months, it’s really quite incredible that I’ve managed to remain in college. Let’s recap:
a. The irreparable breakdown of my off again/on again relationship with my former fiance
b. The irreparable breakdown of my car
c. The great internet apocalypse (and subsequent loss of my electricity/phone/and Netflix)
d. Picking up a vile bacterial infection by “the cougher”
e. Missing my own graduation as a result of a systemic infection and U.T.I (and again, “the cougher”)
f. The death of my beloved cat, Carl
g. A severe burn to my belly
h. A bone-deep dog bite to my right ring finger
i. Unspeakable stress from tackling my 5th academic year
I’m a tough cookie, believe me. I can handle pretty much anything that is thrown my way, but sometimes, it just starts to get to you. Little by little. Drop by drop, and in the end, it’s not the catastrophic tsunami that wrecks it all, but the water drop that hangs on for a second too long.
I’m feeling severely depressed. My emotions stay on a fairly predictable plane, daily. I’m not what could be classified as “ecstatic”, but I rarely get depressed either. Tonight, I’m black. So black, I’ve contemplated quitting school, bolting my door, and retiring early. I’m supposed to do 30 hours of internship at a drug rehab/Behavioral Health facility of my choice and I don’t even have a freaking car! I really wish my former room mate (name withheld) would give me the money he owes me already. He owes me thousands of dollars and he knows how hard things have been for me. He hasn’t given me a cent- I would never do that to anybody. How could he be alright with taking advantage of somebody like that? He’s owed me a significant amount of money for almost a year now. It’s quite pathetic.
I’m tired. And tonight, I’m having a bit of a meltdown. I can’t always be the strong one. I want to have a good scream or break something but alas, that takes raw energy and I have none of that at the moment. Truly, I want to quit. I want to quit everything, but I’m not a quitter, so that’s out. I have enough alcohol here for 10 New Year’s parties but I don’t like to drink, so…that too is out. I’ve had enough psychology for the past few years to diagnose and assess 100 people, but I fall short assessing myself. I miss my daughter, and I miss my son already.
Brian was over for the weekend with his girlfriend, Amanda. I let them take my room over when they’re here: my wide screen monitor doubles as a mini-theater, which can be swiveled around easily. They left only yesterday but already this places feels like a crypt.
I snapped a few pics of them. They’ve been together for almost a year now. They’re absolutely adorable together. :0)
Ghosties (snuggling in the snow)
Recently, I sold a print on Redbubble (a pic of my former pet: Sketch titled Black Beauty) and the mystery buyer chose to remain anonymous. If you (the buyer) happen upon my blog, thank you so much for the purchase! It really made my day. :0)
I hope you enjoy our Sketch as much as my children and I have.
I can’t begin to describe the hell I’ve endured this past week. I’m sure by now my professors think I’m making up stories, but nope, this really is my life!
Before Carl (our cat who was ill with Feline AIDS) died last week, he tripped me at the stove as I was carrying a skillet full of boiling water. Rather than step on Carl, I took the hit- straight to the stomach.
It’s doing better now, and I explained to my professors that I have a severe burn on my belly and need a few days to get myself together. But that’s the good part!
Then my dog, Chance, bit my right ring finger when my son and his girlfriend were over (he was momentarily confused) and when I went to pick him up and move him, he snapped on my finger:
I should have gone to the ER but I don’t like needles, so I chose to care for it at home. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I was a top med student at one time, so I’m right up there with a home nurse. (Sort of.) I understood going in, that there are two major infections to watch out for with a cat or dog bite: staph infection and then there’s the reeeeeally bad one- Pasteurella. People have died from that crap!
I took my chances. Already, my immune system is very tough: I take probiotics daily and a vast array of herbal supplements and have for years. I know that the first 24-48 hours is the most crucial time to watch out for signs or symptoms of a systemic infection. By the second day, I was already experiencing mild delirium, nausea, tremors, chills, night sweats, and a headache. For me, the headache bothered me the most, because I have a history of migraines. If I didn’t knock that headache out fast, it could grow into a migraine. Which is exactly what happened. And then came the vomiting. I couldn’t eat or drink anything for two days.
This went on for a few more days and I finally fell into deep sleep, after my Mom brought over some Phenergan and was able to knock me out, mercifully. I wrote my professors explaining the situation (the severe burn my cat gave me and the bite my dog gave me) and realized how ridiculous it all sounded, so I sent pics too.
Yesterday was the first day I was able to actually get out of bed; I’ve spent the past two days catching up on schoolwork- 7 assignments and a massive Abnormal Psychology exam, but, I’m caught up again. I can only type with two fingers still, but at least I’m back at work and in the land of the living!
I walked into the living room this morning to make coffee, and noticed that our long time cat, Carl, wasn’t breathing. He was diagnosed with feline AIDS last summer. Many times when a creature dies, if it’s in pain, it will draw its knees in to its chest in the fetal position. Carl was outstretched and looked as if he were merely sleeping, so I know he hadn’t suffered. He ate dinner last night with as much excitement as he always does. Rigor mortis had already set in and his paws were cold, so I know that he died sometime in the night.
I said a quick prayer earlier and thanked God for allowing Carl to be with us for as long as he had been. Still, there’s just no shaking this sadness. Brianna laid him to rest just past these frozen leaves.
Frozen like our hearts.
There are two words that bother me greatly when I see, hear, or read them. They are: “Mental Illness”. Why does this wildly popular and acceptable term bother me so much? I’ll elaborate.
Quite a few of my friends are “mentally ill” at their own admittance, and those that aren’t, continue to use the phrase easily and without conviction. It’s just what people are known to be that have “mental problems”, right?
But who doesn’t have “mental problems”? Who hasn’t at some point broken down and cried? Who hasn’t felt afflicted spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, financially, health-wise or otherwise? How did it affect you as person? Did you feel defeated? Did you feel like giving up? Did you fret? Worry? Call people? Overeat? Not leave your house for the day? The week? Pace your floors? Cuss? Scream? Throw something? Drink? Drink more? (See where this is going?)
How do we differentiate between a person who is exhibiting (fatigue, duress, insomnia, depression and other) physiological manifestations; very natural responses to his or her sexual abuse or other traumas- combined with their chaotic environments, and a person who is exhibiting these signs when everything is “hunky-dory”?
One would be classified as “appropriate behaviors” given the circumstances, and the other would be classified as “exhibiting psychological disorders”. Both examples describe the same behaviors! But the environmental norms surrounding them separate the two.
If a person has been sexually abused and placed in a “normal environment” with siblings and other happy folks who have a swell life, there is no way the sexually abused person is going to “behave in an expected manner”. Who would behave at optimal performance in school, church, family gatherings, etc. after being sexually abused and having to “guard it” like Fort Knox gold? A person who tries to “keep it together” year after year will eventually break down while trying to process massive amounts of: guilt, anxiety, shame, anger, rage, confusion, blame, self-loathing, envy- the list is very long.
Given the circumstances, it’s actually “very normal behavior” to exhibit signs of distress, anxiety, anger, OCD-like tendencies, insomnia, night terrors, and other maladaptive behaviors that are associated with trauma. People who have not suffered these traumas do not understand and it is extremely unsettling for them that they do not have “answers” that they can file away, shelve, and dress things up with a tidy bow so that it’s “sorted out” in their heads.
But there needs to be an understanding in this area that these “odd behaviors” are “very normal” for sexual abuse survivors. What wouldn’t be normal is having suffered sexual abuse (especially as a child) and then sailing through life with little or no “behavioral quirks”. I dislike the word “disorder” because I challenge anybody to say that surviving sexual abuse is a “disorder”.
It is a triumph. Sexual abuse is a violation like no other and people give medals to those in wars who have been violated less and call them heroes. Sexual abuse survivors fight in the battlefields of life, and there’s no hero’s welcome. There’s no parade. No medals. We have to be our own heroes and rescue ourselves from the collective trenches of societal stigma and hate bombs that others throw at us and that we throw at ourselves.
Being a sexual abuse survivor is like being locked in a dark, dirty cell and given 5,000 keys: only one will unlock the door, and you have one hour to find the right one, or you could die! Doom. Doom doom doom! And lots of crying, worry, and fears that you will never find the right key in time.
But again, I reiterate that these horrible feelings are absolutely normal “given the circumstances”. We need to carefully select the words and labels we assign to people who have suffered such traumas. What if they believe you?!
God forbid I ever believe any labels that have been placed upon me in life. I would be the biggest mess in the world. But I have assigned healthier labels for myself: loving, compassionate, real, honest, valuable, happy. After all, I am the one who has to live with myself and why would I want to live with a pessimist?
The term “mental illness” came about in the 1800′s after various psychological perspectives disagreed on what actually defined a person to be mentally ill. Some believed that it was evil spirits. Some believed it was “psychogenic”, or psychologically induced, and others believed that it was somatogenic, or “of a biophysiological nature” (that’s a fancy way of saying “relating to your body” rather than your mental processes).
They locked “mentally ill” people up on psych wards and in chains where they were beaten and starved, or placed in a metal contraption that rendered them motionless for hours and days at a time. When the patients in these asylums exhibited paranoia, fear, depression, sleeplessness, excessive anxiety and other abuse-related behaviors (as a direct result of the abuse), their friends and families sadly accepted what the doctor had prescribed them all: mental illness.
Many of these patients were exhibiting very “normal” responses to being held against their wills and physically and psychologically abused. People were quick to swallow the ideology of “mental illness” because it satisfied their need to classify and understand what was happening to their family member.
In other words, people created the term “mental illness” to be able to better control individuals, societies, groups, and religious wars were often the fuel that kept this controversial fire burning. With the classification of mental illness: the acts of physical and emotional abuse on those who “broke society’s norms” were not only unpunishable, but sanctioned, approved, and rewarded!
Just as toxic as any sexual abuse is the belief by the victim that he or she is mentally ill, because somebody said so. This is such a powerful weapon of self-destruction, and only the act of sexual abuse itself is stronger.
We need to start tossing out terms like “mental illness”: those two words alone are TOXIC.
I will never accept terms like “mental illness” and “disorder”. Those are conceptual words made up by people who do not understand what it is like to live in a world with wild, technicolor vision. How about that?
How about, “I have a family member or friend who
is mentally ill has really been through it, but they have still been able to [insert accomplishments here] despite their obstacles.”
It’s all about perception and presentation, and I think we owe one another a sum of decency in how we present each other.
I wrote this post so that other sexual abuse survivors might gather strength and comfort; know that there are others who have suffered the same things in life, but refuse to be labeled! You are what you believe you are.
You have to believe yourself into something positive, constructive, hopeful, and be fearless in your conquests! Be bold in who you are, and acknowledge that you are a survivor rather than a victim. And when you learn that, teach others that too. Choose positivity rather than negativity.
Those 5,000 keys?
They all open the door.