Don’t Wanna

This is a Really Real Health Post

For the last bunch of years, even after getting healthier, I was dealing with some weird symptoms, sporadically.  I would retain fluid in my hands and feet, they would go numb, sometimes it would coincide with my autoimmune illness flaring (even though it isn’t related), other times it wouldn’t.  It happened every time I took vitamins, but also happened other times.

Finally we decided to send me to food allergy testing.  Some strange things popped up, spinach, which I already knew,  but also broccoli, shrimp, and potatoes.

I was hoping they could find out why vitamins cause this problem in me, but not medication.  There’s something in the filler.

We never did find out and the allergist said it’s not really possible to.

But potatoes are part of the nightshade family, and for some people, nightshades cause inflammation.  I cut potatoes out almost completely and noticed a significant decrease in swelling, pain, and my autoimmune illness flares, and just started watching myself around tomatoes, peppers and eggplant (the other nightshades), hoping I wouldn’t have to cut them too.

I’ve spent the last few weeks feeling like I might have to cut them because I’ve been noticing more problems when I eat tomatoes.  Last night I had spaghetti and I woke up half a dozen times with my hands falling asleep from swelling.

Allergies are annoying.  These aren’t deadly.  I can technically eat them, so I guess it’s more of an intolerance, my body just doesn’t process it correctly.

Potatoes have been a big enough pain in the ass.  I miss McDonalds fries, I miss hashbrowns, there are some Gouda potato puffs that Aldi’s makes that I’m completely bummed about.  Tomatoes means no more Caprese salad or Caprese chicken.  Bell Peppers are a little easier to work around and I only had eggplant once or twice a year as it is.

But, I know that cutting out potatoes made a significant difference in my pain levels.  It was a big ‘ah-ha’ moment for me, as far as what had been going on in my body for so long.

I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to tomatoes completely, but I’m getting closer and closer.  I have a feeling there will be one last Caprese chicken in my future before I cut them out of my diet.

Fire!

This is a Really Real Trauma Post.

Five years ago today I woke up to the sound of fire alarms going off in the house we were staying in.

Parker and I grabbed our, “Coats and shoes, coats and shoes, coats and shoes” like had been barked at as over and over again while we went through the monthly fire drills at the shelter.  We were still living a very condensed life at that point, we were lucky enough that a guy let us stay with him.  Parker and I had most of our stuff in our room in the basement.  Kidlet had a room upstairs because it was easier for him to get to when he was still healing from the accident 6 months earlier.

“Fire, Fire, Fire!”  I figured someone was cooking, but for some reason, we grabbed our coats and shoes from the back of our door.

No one was on the first floor.

Kidlet met us on the stairs heading upstairs asking why he smelled smoke.  We sent him outside and went looking for Kevin.

We tried to put the fire out and instead watched it spread.  Everything we’d spent 6 months regaining, after spending months in the homeless shelter, we lost again.  Most of Kidlet’s stuff that had been saved while we were homeless, was lost due to smoke damage.

We were so lucky to have friends and family who came to our aid.  Kidlet’s electronics were replaced by friends, for Christmas.  The place we went for therapy, gave gifts of clothes and gave Kidlet a handheld game system and some games.  One friend spent hours washing all of Kidlet’s clothes repeatedly to try and get the smoke smell out.

We were even luckier that it was a relatively small fire that only consumed one room (with loads of smoke and water damage to the rest of the house) and that all of the humans walked out alive.  We were devastated to lose Kidlet’s pet cat, Shadow.

Five years later I’m sitting outside with a fire in my fire pit.  Smoke alarms only freak me out for a few minutes now.  I no longer grab my “Coats and shoes, coats and shoes, coats and shoes” as soon as I hear one.

I live less than a block from the house where the fire happened.  I pass the house pretty much every day.  New tenants live there now, but there is still a little buckle in the roof line from the heat.

So much has changed in 5 years.  At the time, it was one of the worst things I’d been through.  At this point I know better than to test my luck by even trying to rate things because there’s always something worse out there.

But life gets better.  And I’ve always had some pretty amazing friends and family around to help out after the tough times.

If I could have

This is a Really Real Widow Post

TW: Talk of Completed Suicide.

I’m a suicide widow.

I went to bed a wife and woke up a widow, and from that moment on, there has been a part of me that wonders ‘what if.’

‘What if’ I hadn’t fought with her that night.

‘What if’ we hadn’t put her medications near the bed.

‘What if’ I had gone to bed earlier.

‘What if.’

But

If depression could be loved away, I would have.

If darkness could be loved away, I would have.

If suicidal thoughts could be loved away, I would have.

I loved her.

And because I loved her, in spite of her depression, in spite of her darkness, in spite her suicidal thoughts, she had moments where she felt that love.  She knew, not only from me, but from others in her life, that she was loved.

What if she didn’t have that.

If love could have kept her here, she’d still be here.

Happy in Light Form

Really Real Mental Health Post

The last few weeks I’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning.

It went from “fuck, it’s 6 am and I’ve had 5 hours of sleep and now I can’t get back to sleep so I’ll get up and get productive”

to “oh look, 6 am, fuck this” and “heh, there’s 7am, nope” and then “oh hi there 8am, I don’t think so” followed by “oh shit, it’s 830 and i’ve gotta be somewhere at 9”

I’ve blamed it on low grade depression, and it’s probably that, but it’s not every day, normal depression.  It’s, “the fucking clocks changed and now it’s suddenly dark all of the time, and the cold weather isn’t helping, oh yeah, I has the SADs”, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So yesterday when I saw my post from last year with the picture of my smoothie and my happy light, it reminded me that doing those things in the morning for a few weeks really do help me and I made a promise to myself that I would actually push, pull, or otherwise drag my ass out of bed this morning.  I made a smoothie (and realized I was out of half the ingredients cause it’s been awhile and I haven’t been keeping track), and I’m sitting down with my happy light for 30 minutes.

Side note: My cussing filter is turned the fuck off, sorry friends, this is what happens when I drag myself out of bed and don’t wanna.

The concept behind light therapy is that is uses certain wavelengths of light that replicate sunlight and blah blah, neurotransmitters and blah blah, depression and blah blah.  I’m not a doctor or a scientist.  I know I can’t use it for too long because it will push me into hypomania for a few days.  And I can’t use it later in the day because it will keep me up at night.

They used to use giant lightboxes for this, and then at some point they became more portable.  Parker had one that was about a foot or so tall that I’ve been using the last couple of years.  Wonder Woman came with one that’s small enough I can see the computer monitor over it and that’s pretty nice. (I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m using it, it was easier to get to.  Shhhh, don’t tell her.  I mean, hi Wonder Woman, I love you!)

My typical pattern is that this time of the year I fight some low grade depression, but it isn’t too bad, I just need to keep myself active, and do things that I know work.

Which includes sitting here with a happy light for 20-30 minutes in the morning for the next few weeks until my body adjusts better to the time and weather change.

Thankful

Really Real Thanksgiving Post

I had a hard time figuring out how to write this one, even though I knew what I wanted to say.

Thanksgiving is really hard for me.  It’s one of my favorite, but also least favorite holidays of the year.  It holds the best memories, but also the some of the hardest.

I mean, it’s a holiday and that’s kind of what happens around holidays, we link a lot of memories to these “special days” and it makes sense that some of them aren’t going to be great.  Maybe a lot of them.  But hopefully we have some good ones.

I remember the first holiday meal that I offered to host was a Thanksgiving, probably 14 years ago.  I didn’t own any sort of mixer except for one of those hand crank mixers and I made mashed potatoes from scratch using one of those.  I got one hell of an arm work out.

My older sister bought me my stand mixer for Christmas that year and it was the start of us bonding online, over a love of cooking.  I still have that Kitchen Aid.  It’s one of the things I carried through countless moves and stored through homelessness and carried across state lines.  It means the world to me because of the bond it represents between my sister and I.  (This is another one of those things she may have no clue about, Hi Sis!)

It also reminds me of that first Thanksgiving that I hosted.   That first Thanksgiving is also where I found the recipe for my turkey.

I’m so thankful every year I get to make the turkey.

Everyone loves my turkey.

But some years I didn’t get to make the turkey.

One year we were too broke to buy dinner so we went to a soup kitchen instead.

One year we were in a hotel provided by the Red Cross, eating dinner out of Styrofoam containers sent over by a church, because we’d had a house fire 2 days before.

And holidays are still hard.  Thanksgiving was the first major holiday without Parker.  It hit me today that this is the 3rd one without her and that just seems impossible that it’s been that long.

This year it’s the first major holiday with Kidlet all grown up and moved out.

But I’m always happier when I get to make the turkey, and it’s kind of funny when we are going to someones house and I offer to bring a turkey, but they are normally kind of thankful, I think.

And I make a really damn good turkey (as the anxiety hits that I’m going to fuck it up this year, but that’s a pretty typical anxiety for me).

But I’m thankful that I’m spending the day with friends and with the woman I love.

I’m thankful that I get to make the turkey.

Goals

Really Real Mental Health Post

I tend to have an all or nothing attitude when it comes to goals.

I wanted to do NaNoWriMo, but once I couldn’t write every day, that got put on a shelf and instead I’ve been blogging every single day without missing one.  This goal is a success, that one is a failure, and there is no in between.

It’s kind of a problem.

The gym is the same way.

Either I go every day, missing very few, or I just stop going.  Luckily I have a gym partner (Bat Woman) who is very similar, so we push for 7 days a week.

And then something like a holiday comes along.

And the gym decides to close early (which I wholeheartedly agree with, let them have the holiday with their families.)

And I need to start my turkey at a certain time, and flip it an hour later, and I’m doing time math and realizing we’d have to go to the gym at the butt crack of dawn and it won’t make for happy Thanksgiving dinner at our respective houses.

So we take the day off.

But then I beat myself up.

I think there’s a fear that if I take a day off, 1 day is going to turn into 2, and then I’ll quit.  I have a hard time believing I have control over that because in the past it’s been too hard for me to control.

All or nothing.

It’s a really dangerous line of perfectionist thinking.

I am really good at setting goals and really bad at follow through, and I’m working on it.  And I’m working on realizing that one day off, here or there, one mistake, here or there, doesn’t mean I need to hang the whole project up.

One missed day doesn’t make me a failure.

Because once I convince myself that I’ve failed, I just walk away and stop fighting for it.

I need to fight harder instead of giving up.

No one gets out alive.

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

But this isn’t at all one of my typical widow posts.  It’s more important than that.

One of the reasons that Wonder Woman is so great for me is because she doesn’t flinch when my really dark widow humor slips out.

And last night my filter didn’t engage quick enough and I let a joke slip out that even shocked me.  Thinking it doesn’t shock me.  I think really dark jokes about death all of the time, but I try not to say them.

But Wonder Woman didn’t flinch.

Even telling people I’m a widow makes a lot of people flinch.

Bringing up the fact that I saw Parker after she died makes people really uncomfortable.

It even makes me uncomfortable to type it because I know it’s going to make others uncomfortable to read it.

But why does death make us so uncomfortable?

Why don’t we talk about it?

Every single one of us is going to experience it at some point.  We are all going to die.  None of us is going to make it out alive.

And we’re going to leave behind a bunch of people who have to figure out what we want done with our remains, and how we want to be remembered.

I never really got to talk to Parker about what she actually wanted to have happen after she died.  There was no advanced directive, no will, nothing in writing, no real plans for what to do.  Did she want a somber funeral, or a celebration of life?  Did she want to be known as her birth name, or her chosen name?

Don’t you want to have some say in what happens after you die?

Without even getting into the topic of dignity in death (which I feel very strongly about), we need to be having more conversations about death.

Advanced directives are more than just some passing thing that the doctors office asks you about because they need to check off a box.  They are important, they don’t take that long to fill out, and they will give your family so much information about your final wishes should something happen.

And something could happen, right now, today, and who is going to be left struggling to figure out what to do?

If I didn’t have an advanced directive, my 18 year old son would be in charge of deciding what to do.  My 18 year old would have to make the decisions if I were brain dead tomorrow.  I can’t imagine putting that on his shoulders, but people do it every. single. day. because they don’t take the time to fill out the paperwork that protects their young adult children.

I’ve taken the time to fill out a document that named how I want my remains handled.  Where I want my ashes spread, how I want my celebration of life held.  It names when they can “pull the plug.”  Who in my family gets to make decisions for me, and who they should consult.

It takes the weight off of the shoulders of a bunch of people who are grieving heavily because they just found out I’m dead or badly injured.

Your turn.

Don’t keep putting it off.  Don’t say you’ll do it tomorrow or next week.  And if you do, put it on the calendar.

Here are the forms for Maryland and they work in some other states as well (check your local laws).  In Maryland, you don’t need a lawyer, just fill them out and have 2 people witness you signing them.

http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Health%20Policy%20Documents/adirective.pdf

Please do this.

Talk about death.

You aren’t getting out alive.