Sunday, July 19, 2015

Is it beautiful or is it sad? Maybe it's both.

I have a problem with my five senses. The smell, taste, hearing and feeling are a bit in overdrive. Okay, so maybe I only have this problem with four of my five senses considering I need reading glasses for small print.



The possibly beautiful:

My husband and I, years ago --
I had a potted palm tree in our living room. It was a saw-toothed palm and I told my husband I could hear it growing. He said, "Huh?" I turned off every noise in the house and told him to sit by it and listen. Then he heard it, too. Tiny little snapping sounds as palm fronds stretched to open. I could also hear the electricity running under the house in the same conditions if I put an ear to the floor or to the sofa, which rested on the floor. It was a low level hum. Huuummmmm. I once heard a scrunched up and discarded cellophane candy wrapper expanding in the trash can in the next room. One time I also knew there was an insect on my kitchen floor because, while seated in the living room, I heard its nasty little legs scratching the tile on the kitchen floor as it walked. Sure enough, there was an insect on my kitchen floor. I knew because I heard it. One day when I came home from work, my husband was amazed when I told him how I assisted a building inspection with only my nose to guide me. The building inspector, though very good, missed it initially. But I smelled the rot and insisted he find it. He did, and it saved my buyers thousands of dollars. Everyone was shocked that I rooted out the rot with my nose when no one else could smell anything. My husband thinks I should get a job as a bomb-sniffing dog. :-)



The sad:

I can taste it when I get a fountain drink right after a restaurant has cleaned its equipment. It tastes bad. I can taste trace amounts of some sort of antiseptic. I can also taste other drink flavors when they share a dispensing nozzle. I don't like that either. Also, I can feel, and even HEAR in some cases, internal bodily functions that I know others are oblivious to in their own bodies. I wish I could be oblivious. Hearing and feeling everything makes me very anxious. Today my husband and I went to lunch and sat at a table along a wall. I felt weird vibrations and was very uncomfortable. I sensed the vibrations were coming from the table. I put my palms on the table and felt it. I told my husband I wanted another table. One that wasn't vibrating. He put his palms on the table and I saw his face transform in amazement. He agreed, to his own surprise, that the table was indeed vibrating and that he had not noticed it and would not have noticed if I had not said anything about it. Other diners eating along the same wall had the same reaction. They felt it, too, but said they had not noticed until I mentioned it. Turns out there was a lot of electrical equipment on the other side of the  wall. The occasional person notices and doesn't want to sit there. I want to be like the carefree people who don't notice the vibration. I want to be the person who doesn't care. I want to be carefree. Just for a fucking change. If I could have anything right now, it would be that. I just want to be comfortable.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Something good happened this evening. It was a very simple something good. I went for a walk. See? Simple. But for a while, that wasn't so simple. Last year I took up power walking after my sister died. I did great at it. I helped me to feel better mentally and emotionally. Plus I dropped fifteen pounds without changing anything else (already had good eating habits for the most part). I could go three miles a day at a really fast clip and barely even get winded. It was awesome. It used to charge up my batteries, body and soul. Of course sometimes life gets busy and a person may slack off for a week or two. That happened a few times. No biggie. But after my daughter's car accident at the end of March, I simply had too many things to do. And during tax season to boot!! The insurance claims and the issue of getting another car, plus the go-to-ground level of anxiety the whole thing caused brought everything to a screeching halt. I went out once or twice for a mile or two, but it didn't feel the same way and that was it for a while. I tried to go back out and walk last week, but I had to turn around and go back home not even a quarter mile in due to anxiety. You see, after the incident with the panic attack on the bridge (scroll down), I became afraid of the sky. Don't ask me to explain, because I can't really do that right now. But walking outside so far and away from the house, with a hungry sky above me, was just too much. Like the sky was waiting to suck me up into it and I would have no firm ground to stand on. And so I turned around and went home. But not today. Today I walked a mile in my own shoes and it was good. I hope this is a sign of things to come. I need good things.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I haven't cried since the first week after my sister's death. Tonight I did. I cried buckets. For all the losses and the fear they evoke in me. Especially around the sudden and totally unexpected losses of my brother and my beautiful sister. I've been having a lot of bad panic attacks. Will it help that I know why now? That I uncorked the bottle of fear and sorrow and let it out? I certainly fucking hope so. Not just because I hate feeling bad, but because I have four wonderful children who need me to help them with things. I can't afford to be crazy. Nor do I want to be. I just want to be with my kids and help them out. And then maybe do something for only me... like writing my fiction. I don't want to fall down the rabbit hole anymore. No more. Please no more. I just want it to stop.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

PTSD - The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I already had big issues even before my beloved sister suddenly keeled over dead last year. My problems got worse after that. Then I thought things might be trying to stabilize just a little. Then one night about a month ago, one normal night, my husband and I were just sitting down to dinner in our favorite German restaurant when my phone rang. I saw it was one of my 19 year-old twin daughters calling. I answered and it wasn't her. It was her friend calling to tell me that the two of them were in a car accident on the way home from the hospital where they both work. She said paramedics were already on the way, but my girl was "entangled in the car". That's what she said, "entangled in the car". My brain couldn't function very well after I heard those words. I had to call back to get a location because I couldn't remember anything I heard after "entangled in the car". The fire rescue squad got her out and... and then she walked out of there under her own power. Paramedics took her to the hospital and she had only bruises. The car was MANGLED. A total loss. She's fine, inexplicably fine, but I could have lost my baby girl while I was sitting down to a dinner on a normal, normal day. Is anything safe? It doesn't seem so. I'm more worse off now. I GPS-track my kids and watch them this way while they drive. I do this WAY more than I did before. Driving is even scarier for me now and I'm not the one who had the accident. I worry even more. As if things weren't bad enough before.

While searching for a replacement car, my husband and I drove over what has to be one of the scariest bridges in the world. Or at least in the U.S. I've never had a problem with bridges. Never. Not even the Golden Gate Bridge. But this was... different. I had the kind of panic attack I used to refer to as a "freight train" panic attack. It's been YEARS since I had one like that. I had one again today. I was at the bank. I was up at the teller counter as the sounds of two men arguing began to register on my consciousness. Within a few seconds I started to feel the physical manifestations of anxiety. The men were very loud and angry and they were threatening each other physically. They ignored the bank employees who were asking them to stop arguing inside the bank. Even as I began to realize I was triggered and said to myself out loud (in front of people), "It's a panic attack. I'm having a panic attack", I still lost control of my body. I had to leave in the middle of a transaction and sit down right there before I fell down. I kept looking out the window where my twin daughters were waiting for me in the new car I bought. I was glad they hadn't come inside the bank with me. And I watched them as they were figuring out how to lower the seats and work the tilt steering, etc.

I grew up in a house with a very violent father who taught his ways to his sons with his abuse. I grew up with my father and brothers all fighting each other. Loud, ugly, awful. And my family members could be hurt or killed in these fights. Even once I left home I would receive scary phone calls. My mother asking me to talk my brothers down from a standoff in the basement - one with a gun and one with a knife. My terminally ill father calling me to ask me to come over and help him because he'd gotten into it again with my brothers and one of them had thrown him into the fireplace and he was hurt. The sound of men fighting is something I simply can't deal with. I don't go to boxing matches, wrestling competitions, football games, hockey games, bars... because I want to stay away from any possible violence. I didn't expect it at the bank.

I can't really talk to anyone about this. I feel like I don't have anyone who would really listen and ask questions and want to know. I'm worried about myself. And I probably need a new bank.

My take-away here is that your son might be in the middle of a dangerous prison riot just as you are putting a roast into the oven. One of your brothers might commit suicide right at the very moment you are trying so hard to convince yourself that everything is okay enough for you to fall asleep. Your sister might collapse at her kid's volleyball game while you are shopping for your living room re-do and you'll get the call just as you're walking out of Lowe's. Your baby might be entangled in the car just as you are sitting down to dinner. And you can't even go to the bank without bad things happening.  Scary, bad, awful things.

I don't feel safe.

Image result for sunshine skyway bridge

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thank you to all who commented on the last post. Though I am bad at sharing my feelings lately, I really do appreciate those who have visited here. Today was very difficult. I've had a run of bad luck in a few different ways: REALLY big repair bills, kids catching sicknesses and/ or generating giant dental bills, I've been feeling alternately anxious and depressed, etc. The worst of it was today. I almost had a flashback in a dental office even though I was not the patient, one of my kids was. She was laid back in the dental chair, covered with a blanket because she felt chilled. Her mouth, of course, was open wide. This changed the shape of her face. Changed the way her lips looked. Reminded me of my sister dying in the hospital. Her mouth open and her lips stretched over the tubes that went down into her lungs from the ventilator that breathed for her until her heart gave up for good. My daughter's hair is not as dark as mine. It's a little lighter like my sister's was. She was covered with a blanket to her chin, like my sister in that bed. Those things and also a few triggering words contained in the instructions from the dentist that reached much farther back into my past, and I really felt like I was going insane. Like my brain was under enormous pressure and would crack my skull in order to leap from my head if only it could. But I didn't show it. I am an expert at that. Until I get home. I'm home.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I know no one reads here anymore, but I'm writing anyway because I have nowhere else to go. I went to visit someone the other day. I managed to do that, made myself do it because it's a good thing to do, but then the unexpected sorrow was waiting for me. There were two sisters there sending messages from their phones to the rest of their sisters. There were children from two different families playing around in the place. I was the only person there without a living sister. In all those people, I was the only one. It's horrible and I feel like it will never get better because she will always be dead.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Square One

Today I had to take one of my kids to the hospital for a procedure to remove a screw in her knee from a previous surgery. It was simple and all went well. But not on the inside of me. I don't think anyone really likes hospitals. I dislike them more than most. But this was worse than usual. Much worse. I had awful panic, heart palpitations, and the whole sucky lot of the physical manifestations of anxiety. But I didn't know why it was worse than usual. The panic continued after we got home. It's been coming and going in waves, but quite severe. It sucks. But now I realize why it's here in such force. The last time I stepped into a hospital was the night my sister died very suddenly in one about six weeks ago. No one realized she was sick until she was dead. Just like that -- gone. This was the only person I was very close with from my family of origin. My only sister. This horrible event, the worst thing that has ever happened to me in all my life, has completely reset my baseline when it comes to anxiety and mental distress. I drifted away from writing here as things slowly became so much better for me that I was able to be really and properly involved in my offline life. I feel disrupted now. Writing helped before. Maybe it will again. Apparently, bottling it up is only going to give me panic and heart palpitations (and those make me panic more). I ran from a checkout line at the store today because I couldn't wait and only wanted to be at home. I haven't done anything like that in many, many years.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

It seems I have promised a Parking Lot post and here it is. One week after the lovely time in the pumpkin patch, I had a meeting with a business colleague. The meeting just so happened to be in the building next door to the parking lot where my brother shot himself. I ate lunch overlooking the site of my little brother's last few minutes of life. I was okay, but still... he was my brother. And it was exactly one year ago today. Right now. Just after two in the morning. And I just realized this several minutes ago. I can't tell anyone else except the internet because if I did it would stop the listener from being able to get enough sleep and sleep deprivation is HORRIBLE for a person's mental health. I can handle it by myself.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Pumpkin Patch and A Parking Lot

Last Thursday I had an awesome moment of... I have no idea what to call it, so I will describe it instead. I went to pick up my kid from school. We stopped at the library. Then we stopped at a pumpkin patch on the way home at the urging of my kid. She wanted a pumpkin. And this was the perfect opportunity for a dissociative episode or the PTSD flashback from hell. Only nothing happened in spite of conditions for 'the perfect storm'. The pumpkin patch is a fall/ Halloween thing -- strike 1. The pumpkin patch was on the sprawling front grounds of a church -- strike 2. The pumpkin patch was out in the open in the weather and it was a stop on the way HOME where things are more contained and controlled by yours truly -- strike 3. But nothing bad happened. I didn't even think that it would or wouldn't. Nothing about any of that even entered my mind. And then I suddenly realized that I was indeed in the middle of 'the perfect storm' and nothing bad was happening. I was perfectly okay. Not panicked, not dissociated, just perfectly okay. I stood there and felt really happy and at peace. Not only was I okay, I wasn't even worrying about practical matters like chores, bills and the relentless ticking of time. I worried about nothing. Me and my kid went to the library and then to a pumpkin patch. I stood there in that moment and realized that THIS is what life is. It is libraries and pumpkin patches with my kid. She picked out the perfect pumpkin. If the kids don't carve a jack o' lantern, then I will make pumpkin seeds and baked pumpkin. I'll mash it and freeze it for pies.

For anyone who might still come here, I will write about the 'Parking Lot' portion of the post-title as soon as I can.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Some white folks pretty much have 'fros. And that's just the way it is.

One of my daughters was telling me how she wants to have her hair chemically straightened. She knows that some African American women do this and if it can work for African American hair, it will definitely work for her hair. Then I told her about the damage that undue interference causes for hair (some of which she already has from a straightening iron). I told her how such drastic actions will burn and break hair and generally make it look like shit if a lady insists on chemically maintaining a high maintenance 'do over time. I told her she should leave her hair alone. She told me again about how much she wants straight hair.
"You see my hair?" I asked.
"Yeah."
"You see your Daddy's hair?"
"Yeah."
"You're screwed, kid."