Sunday, September 20, 2015

Stacy Fucking Campbell*

Dear Stacy Fucking Campbell,

Shamelessly stolen from Facebook

I don't remember how I even first "met" you (I hate that I don't remember) - I never had the honour to meet you face-to-face: ours was one of those connections forged via a series of pipes and tubes. Our Facebook messages are gone, as are our Gchats and emails (I hate that I've lost them). All I know was the amazingly stunning woman with a razor-sharp wit and an incredible talent with words was talking to me (ME!), and I was starstruck: how did this magnificent fucking unicorn even notice me?!?

I've started and restarted and erased and started again and deleted and read other posts and closed other posts and I just don't know (I hate that I just don't know).

I don't understand.

I knew you hurt. I knew you struggled. I knew you had your demons. But I didn't know (I hate that I didn't know).

I refused to believe it.

As I waited for confirmation (nonononono), to find out it was true (nonononono), to learn it wasn't just some kind of fucked up joke (nonononono), I rocked back and forth chanting my nonononono mantra like some kind of talisman with the power to FIX everything.

It didn't work (I h.a.t.e. that it didn't work).

I had therapy the evening I found out we'd lost you. I went in there a hot mess: she took one look at me and said, "You're not okay," and I lost it. Again. (I spent a couple of hours bursting into sobs, scaring the shit out of the poor dog who could do nothing more than lie at my feet and whimper in solidarity. Thank god for him.)

I told her I didn't feel I had the right to grieve, since I didn't know you-know you, that my grief was selfish. Grief's funny that way, though: it sneaks up on you in ways you don't expect in moments you don't see coming. And just like everyone grieves differently, everyone affects people differently, like you did, Stacy.

I told her that perhaps the worst thing about suicide is that we wait until it's too late to tell the person how much they meant to us, what a difference they made in our lives, how much they mattered, how much we loved them (I hate that I waited). Sadly, I've seen it more times than I care to count, and all I've ever been able to think was, "God. If you could only SEE how much love there is for you here." That being said, this is partially our... fault. I'm not saying it's our fault someone makes the decision to die by suicide; however, it's kinda our fault for not being more forthcoming with kind, loving words until after the fact.

We discussed the decision you made and how undoubtedly this wasn't a decision you didn't come to lightly, that whether or not I liked your choice, it was one to respect because it was yours. I didn't walk your path. I didn't wear your shoes. I didn't fight your demons. I cannot judge your decision.
"You still have work to do. You’re still letting Them win. You will stop this, but you will never forget.
You will suffer loss of people you love; a loss to death, argument or time. You will be, at times, so consumed with grief that you don’t think you can go on, that going on without your loved one isn’t even worth it. You will get through it. Cry, let yourself grieve. The tears will stop, I promise. It will take some time, but you will find peace in the memories. You will know that they are always with you, that you’re never without them in your heart."                                                           From Stacy's letter to herself 20 years in the future - this is a hard read.
Your wise words ring true. I only wish they had returned to you in time (I hate that you didn't somehow magically stumble upon this and that it didn't somehow magically make everything better). I hope to hell you have found peace - that's all I want for you now.

 I'll never forget you, Stacy Fucking Campbell.

Love always and forever,
Chibi Fucking Jeebs

*Please don't get your knickers in a twist: this was a running joke she had with more than one person.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"What would that anger look like if you just sat with it?"

That was the question asked of me by my therapist last Thursday when discussing Bev and my... feelings about that whole situation. I had told Donna I was beyond frustrated with my inability to just let it go already: Mom has patched things up with her, so why can't I just move on? 

We discussed my anger around Bev and what she's done over the years and acknowledged the anger is covering something else up. Donna wondered what that is, what it would look like if I just sat with that anger and listened... observed...

My "homework" is to do just that and to try to rewrite the story as an impartial observer, this in response to me questioning why, even if we were to attribute Bev's behaviour to a mental disorder or altered thinking due to her prescription drug abuse, I'm unable to accept that as an explanation when I'm so quick to excuse other people. (We determined it's likely because there is hurt - even betrayal - involved: this is personal.)

So, here goes nothing... *deep breath*

When I think of Bev, it's 8-year old me that pops up, so I have a feeling this stems from the fear/hurt/confusion I experienced as a child.

I don't have a concrete memory of this, but I know (do I know, or was I told and just think I know?) she stressed that Mom left me there: again, I don't remember what specifically may have been said, but I get the sensation that "abandoned you" was implied (or, at the very least, that's how grown-up me sees it). There was also an undercurrent of "aren't you lucky we decided to take you in?" I know from later conversations with Mom that she was made to feel unwelcome there and unable to care for me, to believe I was better off there than homeless with her (because, in effect, that's what she was: she wasn't moving out to a place of her own: she was couch surfing, at best).

I remember Gramps's Donald Duck piggy bank where he would deposit loose change until it was full; Bev explained to me he would then split it between term deposits for Nick and I. At the same time, she told me Mom had been taking money out of it - "stealing from her own kids." I find this hard to believe based on who delivered the information, but I also remember Mom pillaging the coins/bills from our baby books one night when she was desperate for smokes when I was 10 - Dad controlled the money with an iron fist.

I remember Bev telling me Mom was fired from her job for stealing money. To hear Mom tell it, she was made manager simply because she was the oldest employee (it was a newly opened retail business) and that when the nightly deposit turned up short, she was blamed as manager. Both stories seem suspicious; it bothers me that there's no way to know who was telling the truth.

I remember Bev telling me Mom didn't care about my hernia surgery and only called the day after because it was her birthday, so she was looking for gifts. Mom maintains she didn't know I was having surgery until the day after (I think my aunt filled her in?). However, there was no custody/guardianship agreement in place, so how could surgery have been done without my parent's knowledge? I know this was a lonnnnnng time ago (almost 30 years), but I'm sure similar laws were in place back then.

I remember Bev getting "weird" - walking around in the middle of the night, bumping into door frames, crashing into walls. One night, she "stole" Gramps's truck and took off. He was worried and scared (and did nothing to shield me from what was going on), so I was worried and scared. When she finally came home, she had ripped a bunch of boughs off a neighbour's dogwood tree.

She went out of her way to let me know I could always "run away" to her if things got "really bad," planting the seed in my head that things couldget that bad, and I might need to flee. The very first time she told me this was when Mom and Dad came for me when they got back together. I was 9.

She went out of her way to pit Mom and I against each other: she'd tell us both what the other said, constantly stirring the pot with embellishments for further "fun." I don't know how many times I'd show up there after school to her literally wringing her hands, moaning about being "so worried" for me because Mom was "so mad" at me, making Bev "so scared" for me. I thought my mom was a monster for two years.

I feel confused.
I feel manipulated.
I feel uncertain.
I feel like I don't know who to trust.
I feel sad.
I feel scared.
I feel pissed off, so angry... about being manipulated, about being lied to, about wasted years (both on Bev and in the relationship with Mom), about falling for it all, about being fucked up by it...
I feel betrayed: by Bev for all of this and by Mom for putting me in this position (AND for befriending the woman she swore with great ferocity would have to admit to her wrongdoings AND APOLOGIZE for them to her beloved children).
I feel like I'm not good enough for Bev, that there's something inherently inferior and inadequate about me that keeps her from even trying to reach out to me - I wonder if some of the anger is due to the "lost" opportunity to tell her off.

And now that Mom has magically and conveniently forgotten everything Bev has done over the years and they've become BFFs, I feel angry and betrayed by Mom: she broke her promise that Bev would have to apologize for the way she's treated me before Mom would patch things up with her. I feel like once we moved, I was easily forgotten by Mom: out of sight, out of mind.

I do think a lot of this does stem from the crap from my childhood, but I'm wondering now if some of this isn't displaced anger with Mom.

Rewriting the story as an impartial observer will have to wait for another day.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Depression or Drugs?

"I'm afraid I'm depressed."

It's funny: I told Chebbar after three solid days of feeling down in the dumps, but it took me two full weeks to admit it in writing (I've been journalling old school for awhile, but a helpful reminder from Time Hop pointed out I rode this carousel almost exactly a year ago, but more on that in a minute). I was low mood-wise, tired and lethargic no matter how much sleep I got, barely getting anything done at work because I couldn't concentrate and had zero motivation, and found zero enjoyment in the usual things (interwebbing, colouring, art journalling, reading - I don't know how many books I picked up only to discard them within the first few pages).

That good, old apathy was back with a vengeance: I either didn't give a shit, or was supremely annoyed/pissed off all the time. My usual MO was in full force as I searched for reasons or patterns - the last run in with the landlord? the (good) news that Chebbar should finally be getting a permanent job posting (night shift)? hormones, waaaaay far in advance, worse than I've ever experienced, and lasting longer than ever? I even had a momentary freak out over the possibility that I could pregnant (until Chebbar pointed out it wasn't *ahem* possible (*cough*not since before my last period*cough*).

Last week started to pick up on Sunday: I cleared some clutter, tidied the house, and may have resorted to some dippy-hippie energy clearing stuff (I was desperate and willing to try ANYTHING: figured it couldn't hurt). Monday was great at work, but it went downhill when I walked the dog who was full of beans after an encounter with a little ankle-biter and progressively snowballed. Tuesday was also good at work, but I allowed one minor thing with Chebbar "ruin" my day (then subsequently realized I was being just a tiny bit melodramatic). The success is that I kept it to myself and didn't start (pointless) shit right before I went to bed.

Thursday I had therapy, which was good. We talked about my propensity for needing to figure out *why*, the successes (see above; see also: continuing to take care of myself), talking to my doctor about my prescription, and so on. During the conversation, I admitted fear in talking to my doctor because the Cipralex has been working so well for my anxiety, but I'm at the max dose, so going the medication route would at least mean adding something if not a complete switch (which, quite frankly, terrifies me). I told Donna I wasn't interested in exploring that option just yet, citing my family doctor's initial assertion that therapy would be the best option way back when I was first diagnosed (plus, I know the depression is something of a secondary thing - it's the anxiety that is the root of things, not depression). I did promise to keep it in mind as an option. I did comment on the fact that, while I had already made up my mind (at least subconsciously) to treat this without (additional) drugs, I hadn't taken the time or made the effort to research how to do this, which is SO unlike me.

We talked about the blog, Instagram - connections made there - and my comfort in being more open there. I started to say that I'm more comfortable sharing with "strangers," but had to correct myself because I have shared the GAD with a few people at work and admitted feeling "down in the dumps" when asked by my supervisor if I was okay. I had to correct the statement and admit that family feels like the "unsafe" space (not Chebbar, obvs). We poked around this some more, and I shared that, while I know if I prefaced a conversation with "this is serious," they'd behave, all the teasing growing up holds me back from sharing, specifically with Mom and Nick. I don't feel this way with Taylor, but after she shared how difficult it was for her to have Mom constantly sharing every struggle, holding back is more an act of protection of her, not me.

I then shared the Time Hop thing: a few days prior, it had shared a blog post I know was about feeling low due to the emo title, and mentioned it looking like I went through something similar around this time last year. I also acknowledged it was "funny" I hadn't opened the blog to read. When the session ended, Donna made a few suggestions, one of which was to go home and read the entry.

Here's where this post gets its title: this time last year, I had just started the iron supplements. As I read that, I remembered googling "Palafer and depression," but not finding much. Guess what I just started again about a week before this all started? I hadn't noticed an appreciable difference taking the Palafer (right down to blood work that showed a minimal improvement), so when my prescription ran out, I just didn't bother getting it filled. I was off it for 3-4 months before something made me decide to start taking it again, and... here we are. This time when I googled, I found a study that showed four people reporting signs of depression after starting Palafer, which isn't many, but drugs don't affect everyone the same, and not all side effects are reported (I don't even know who I'd tell: my doctor? the pharmacist? the manufacturer?).

I'm feeling much better now than I did a week ago. That two-week blip, while scary (all those original "what if I never get better?" thoughts come rushing back full-speed), was just that: a blip. I have good resources, a great support system, and a plan.

Speaking up was the first - and hardest - step for me, but I'm glad I did.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Because I Haven't Done One of These in Forever

100 questions no one ever asks? Here’s the full list (from Four Hats and Frugal):

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?
Gah, closed! Always!

2. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotels?
No, because they usually stink.

3. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?
Tucked in, but not so tight I can't move: makes me feel claustrophobic.

4. Have you stolen a street sign before?

5. Do you like to use post-it notes?

6. Do you cut out coupons but then never use them?

7. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees?
Oh, jesus. A swarm of bees, I guess?

8. Do you have freckles?
Yes, but sadly only when I spend time in the sun, which I don't do much of anymore because #fuckcancer.

9. Do you always smile for pictures?
Mmm, no: only when I have to. Generally speaking, I avoid the camera, and when I can't, I stick my tongue out or flip the bird or both.

10. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Just one?!? People scuffing their feet while they walk like they're wearing cross country skis.

11. Do you ever count your steps when you walk?
Just stairs.

12. Have you peed in the woods?

13. Have you ever pooped in the woods?
If I have, I've blocked it from my memory (assuming out houses don't count).

14. Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing?
On occasion, but that just means there's music playing in my head. ;)

15. Do you chew your pens and pencils?
Yuck, no.

16. How many people have you slept with this week?
Ha! NONE! Chebbar's working night shift. (And if you mean in a brown chicken brown cow kind of way, again none: being on completely different schedules makes sexy time complicated.)

17. What size is your bed?
King size.

18. What is your song of the week?
OMG! "Go" by The Chemical Brothers
19. Is it OK for guys to wear pink?
Anyone should feel free to wear whatever they want.

20. Do you still watch cartoons?

21. What is your least favorite movie?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Long story.

22. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some?
Pffffft. Like I'd tell YOU!

23. What do you drink with dinner?

24. What do you dip a chicken nugget in?
Honey mustard or plum sauce.

25. What is your favorite food?
Pie. Fruit pie. Warmed. With vanilla ice cream.

26. What movies could you watch over and over again and still love?
Dirty Dancing
Dazed and Confused
Empire Records
Mean Girls
Pitch Perfect
That's all I can think of for now, but I'm sure there are more.

27. Last person you kissed/kissed you?

28. Were you ever a boy/girl scout?

29. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine?

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
Don't remember.

31. Can you change the oil on a car?
My step-dad showed me once, but very warm oil leaked very close to my face, so that was a one-time deal. (Also, do you know how TERRIFYING it is for someone with anxiety to be under a freaking car?!?)

32. Ever gotten a speeding ticket?
*hangs head in shame* I was quite proud of the fact that I had never gotten a ticket in 19 years, then got THREE in THREE MONTHS. Let's just say speed traps are more... effective? plentiful? in Alberta than in BC. *sigh*

33. Ever ran out of gas?

34. What’s your favorite kind of sandwich?
Sausage and egg biscuit from Tim Hortons.

35. Best thing to eat for breakfast?
Oatmeal with blueberries or peanut butter on toast. With a hot, strong cup of orange pekoe.

36. What is your usual bedtime?
I go to bed around 9pm when Chebbar leaves for work, but lights out isn't usually until about 9:45pm (I read, then meditate).

37. Are you lazy?
Sometimes/about some things.

38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween?
The only costume I remember is a medieval maiden-type thing.

39. What is your Chinese astrological sign?

40. How many languages can you speak?
One, unless Pig Latin or sarcasm count.

41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions?

42. Which are better: legos or lincoln logs?

43. Are you stubborn?
Bwa ha ha ha hold on haaaaaaaaaaa I'm a Taurus.

44. Who is better: Leno or Letterman?

45. Ever watch soap operas?
Used to.

46. Are you afraid of heights?
Not really, unless you're making look over the edge.

47. Do you sing in the car?

48. Do you dance in the car?
Sometimes. Not often.

49. Do you sing in the shower?
Nope. I have imaginary conversations in the show.

50. Ever used a gun?
Only a water gun.

51. Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer?

52. Do you think musicals are cheesy?
I don't really have an opinion: I like some, but not others.

53. Is Christmas stressful?

54. Ever eat a pierogi?

55. Favorite type of fruit pie?
Strawberry rhubarb.

56. Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid?
Teacher. Child psychologist.

57. Do you believe in ghosts?

58. Ever have a deja vu feeling?
Once or twice.

59. Do you take a vitamin daily?
I take many.

60. Do you wear slippers?
Most of the year.

61. Do you wear a bath robe?
Most of the year.

62. What do you wear to bed?
One of those camisoles with the built-in bra and shorts when it's hot; leggings and a long-sleeved shirt on top of the cami when it's cold. I know sleeping nude has many benefits, but I run cold 95% of the year.

63. What was your first concert?
Alanis Morissette 

64. Walmart, Target, or Kmart?
Welp, considering we only have Walmart in Canada now...

65. Nike or Adidas?
Adidas or New Balance: Nike make the soles of my feet burn.

66. Cheetos or Fritos?
67. Peanuts or Sunflower seeds?

68. Ever hear of the group Tres Bien?

69. Ever take dance lessons?

70. Is there a profession you picture your future spouse doing?

71. Can you curl your tongue?
Yep. I learned in high school biology this is a genetic trait.

72. Ever won a spelling bee?
Never participated in one.

73. Have you ever cried because you were so happy?
Duh. Have you met me?

74. Own any record albums?

75. Own a record player?

76. Do you regularly burn incense?
Nope, but I diffuse essential oils.

77. Ever been in love?
Yep, twice: the first time was not reciprocated.

78. Who would you like to see in concert?
Counting Crows (missed them in May). I'd totally see Garth Brooks: I hear he puts on a hell of a show. I'd DIE for a Pearl Jam/Foo Fighters double-header!

79. What was the last concert you saw?
Foo Fighters, I think?

80. Hot tea or cold tea?

81. Tea or coffee?

82. Sugar cookies or snickerdoodles?
Sugar cookies.

83. Can you swim well?
Well enough.

84. Can you hold your breath without holding your nose?
There are people who can't?

85. Are you patient?
Depends on my mood.

86. DJ or band at a wedding?

87. Ever won a contest?
I won a shit ton of jelly beans in grade 5 by being the closest guesser (I don't even like traditional jelly beans, only Jelly Bellys). "We" won $350 in a radio contest when the dog barked 35 times in 10 seconds.

88. Have you ever had plastic surgery?

89. Which are better: black or green olives?
None olives.

90. Can you knit or crochet?
Nope. Great Grannie tried to teach me to knit when I was 10, but I didn't have the patience for it. I so wish I'd had another opportunity to learn from her.

91. Best room for a fireplace?
After working for a fairly high-end new home builder, ALL OF THEM!

92. Do you want to get married?
Yep. Because reasons.

93. If married, how long have you been married?
Not married: living common law for 7 years, together for 8 years.

94. Who was your high school crush?
Which one?

95. Do you cry and throw a fit until you get your own way?
Um, no.

96. Do you have kids?

97. Do you want kids?

98. What is your favorite color?
Purple or green.

99. Do you miss anyone right now?
My family.

100. Who are you going to tag to do this next?
No one because I think they annoy people more than anything.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 4: 30 Day Learning Challenge

June 22: 10 Things to Stop Doing if You Want to Love Your Body - "Stop blaming your body for the bad things in your life. It's not your body's fault. Instead, say, 'Thank you, body, for being with me on this journey.'"
I posted a picture of my reflection in the patio door. I was wearing yoga pants and a form-fitting cami - lots of me visible, and yet I felt okay to share. I commented on how amazing it was how one minute I think I look like a hippo and the next I think I look okay. The brain is a bastard.

June 23: 10 Ways We Body Shame Without Realizing It - "'You're really brave to wear that.' By the way, wearing a sleeveless top or bikini does not take bravery. 'You're not fat, you're beautiful.' These things are not mutually exclusive - a person can be fat and beautiful."
The very next day, I took a picture of my shadow while walking the dog and noted feeling the need to explain the wide-legged yoga pants and Chebbar's hoodie for the reasons behind my silhouette. Again, the brain is a bastard.

June 24: I don't have to lose weight to be a yogi - "Always thinking that I couldn't enjoy something now because I was too big to try it out. Starting yoga helped me get over the mental block that I put on myself. The block where it has been ingrained into our minds that big people can't do certain things now and that losing weight is the only way to achieve all these great things."
Wanted to show off my great blue nail polish; managed to avoid making self-deprecating comments about my feet, but didn't avoid acknowledging the urge - keeping it real.

June 25: My Intimate Journey to Self-Acceptance - "I had learned to better integrate my body and mind, which took examining inherited perceptions: those of my mother, husband, authors, and culture. It took practice to own my body. It still does."
Forgot to take a picture because I was inexplicably cranky. 

June 26: Denise Bidot, Plus-Size Model, Isn't Sorry for Her Bikini Body. And She Shouldn't Be. - "Curvy women really shouldn't apologize for who they are... "

Oh. My. God. I *loved* this article - FINALLY someone who looks more like ME. I've been cloaking secret shame around the fact that I'm not "pretty" fat: yes, we're seeing more plus-size bodies out there, but - and I acknowledge it's still likely mothertrucking Photoshop - their bellies are free from stretchmarks and their thighs don't show a trace of cellulite. I don't know if the pictures have been retouched or not, but to me it looks just like a real woman's real body.
I wore a dress today, but not before fighting a battle with the mirror. My legs are too white: I shouldn't wear something this short (SO not short, either, FTR). My arms are too flabby: I should wear a sweater (it was 28C, fer crissakes). Eventually I said fuck it: these are my pasty white legs and my flabby arm, and if you don't like 'em, DON'T LOOK! 

In a discussion about pasty white skin with some coworkers, a (well-meaning) coworker suggested a self-tanning lotion. I *may* have wheeled on her and - more loudly than intended - said, "NO! I shouldn't have to slather myself in smelly shit to try to make myself more acceptable to other people." I even shocked myself. Heh

June 27: Unpopular Opinion: I Hate My Body - "I'm trying. Trying not to hate my body. I am soaking in every ounce of what the confident women of all shapes and sizes are doing."
Another day with no sleeves because a) it's hot as hell and b) fuck that shit. 

June 28: Why Body Acceptance Isn't for Everyone all the Time - "She says, 'Stop it. You're beautiful.' While those words are well-intentioned, they are also dismissive. They will not convince me that I am fit or beautiful. They can't change the fact that I feel uncomfortable in my body. Likewise, demanding that I love my body does nothing but make me feel guilty that I don't..."
Still hot as AF, meaning I'm miserable AF (the heat and I don't get along: I tend toward headaches and, um, bathroom issues. *ahem*). Took a picture of my mud masked-resting bitch face whilst in a tepid bath.

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