Ambien Shame

So I was all sorts of excited last night because I got some Ambien from my doc.  I’ve been sleeping so poorly lately, and aside from the normal “dealing with child” stuff, I can’t figure out why.  My birth control has been wreaking havoc on my hormones so maybe that has something to do with it.

But anyway, I took my Ambien last night, looking forward to falling asleep fast and NOT needing to eat ten times and get up to pee fifty.  And then I made a classic Ambien mistake.

"Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with “sleep-driving”, patients usually do not remember these events. Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric symptoms may also occur." (source)

“Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with “sleep-driving”, patients usually do not remember these events. Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric symptoms may also occur.” (source)

I got up.  I thought I had time before it “kicked in” to grab a quick glass of milk.  I was feeling a tiny bit empty and wanted to coat my belly with something.

Apparently it had already kicked in.  Most of the rest of what I will recount was told to me by my hubby this morning.  I don’t remember much of it…and what I do remember, I thought was a dream.  I woke up to a cup of fruit snacks next to my bed this morning, with only the vaguest idea of how they got there.  Hubby said I asked for them.

Anyway, I brought J* out to sit with hubby around 10 pm because she just would not sleep. I got my milk, and polished off the rest of the dark chocolate Hershey bar I had left in the fridge.  Then I guess I went to the bathroom… and puked everywhere.

thought I maybe had a dream about throwing up.  Had no idea I had actually done it until hubby came home for lunch and asked if I was “feeling better.”  Not only did I puke everywhere- homemade chili and chocolate.  Somehow I even got some on the tub next to the toilet. I told hubby I felt bad he had to clean up after me and I didn’t even know it. He said I cleaned most of it up myself.  (I don’t remember.)   With what, I asked disgusted, wondering if I was going to find a pukey towel in the laundry.

Wipes, I guess, he said.

Where did I put them? 

In the trash can I guess…

I hope I flushed them…  I tentatively went in to take a second look at the bathroom.  I’d already been in there numerous times today and noticed nothing amiss, so between the two if us, we must have cleaned up okay…

A spot or two on the floor towel we use to soak up water by the tub.  A dribble on the outside of the toilet.  That’s all the evidence that’s left.  That and a resolution to only take half a pill tonight, and under no circumstances, get out of bed.

And the mild feeling of shame, like a drunk, post blackout.  Heed the drug warnings, people!

365: The Journey to “Less”

I wish I could remember where I saw it, so I could give some credit to the author…  Even if she didn’t come up with the idea herself, she certainly inspired me.

Well, that, and the fact that I have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed, burdened if you will, by all my possessions.   As I once told my husband, albeit a little less eloquently, “We’ve got too much shit.”  Not only is this probably the case with most people, it never becomes more evident than when you are packing to move…or unpacking after a move…still…   Two and a half years later…  And yet, often times I have a hard time letting go.  My internal dialogue is usually a variation of one of three themes;

1) I may need it at a later date (we all know this one)

2) It was a gift from so-and-so (Guilt is such a useless feeling, and yet so persuasive…)

or  3)  Well, just throwing it out would be a waste; I should find someone who can use it

So as I lay curled in a semi-face down fetal position last night, riding the thankfully ebbing waves of a migraine and trying not to puke, I began to think, once again, of all the shit  I have.  Not necessarily talking “hoarder” level here, just a lot of knickknacks and long unworn clothing and, well, just stuff we really don’t need.

Especially in this tiny apartment, I sometimes feel buried by stuff, tied down by stuff.  If you wanna leave a place, you have to figure out the hows and wheres and whys and how-much of moving all your stuff  too.

So I decided to give this unnamed writer’s ide

a a try.  The concept is simple.  Get rid of/throw away at least one item a day.  At the end of a year, you have gradually, and in a non-overwhelming and non-invasive way, whittled down your collection of useless stuff.  I don’t know if she has any rules.  I’m just going to start easy.  Today, I got rid of a couple of bottles of toiletries I don’t really need.  Like, I said, you only need to do one a day, but I figured any extras I can get rid of on any given day would just be a bonus.  After all, why hold onto it if I know I don’t need it?

Anyone else have difficulties letting things go and wanna do this with me?  (Moral support, people and baby steps.)

Today is "get rid of cat that pisses on bed" day. Just kidding...maybe.

Today is “get rid of cat that pisses on bed” day.
Just kidding…maybe.

A Few One Liners About Social Media, To Sing You Off To Sweet Sleep

Just a few random thoughts that have been poking at my consciousness like splinters, presented in a passive-aggressive way for your entertainment…

All of your “selfies” look exactly the same.  Stop it.

Maybe it’s not your opinion that people object to; maybe it’s the combative and assholish way you present it that pisses them off.

That pic of you fresh from the gym/car dealership/proctologist/whatever– you know, the one where you’re staring into space, or looking sideways and making duck lips at the camera…it was very unique and illuminating.

You’re so vain…you probably think this post is about you.

This post is about you.

Dear close friend or family member, I have to be more understanding and try not to get my feelings hurt when I know you’ve been online, but you’ve ignored something I posted specifically for you; you must just have your hands full “sharing” all those played out memes and “inspirational” photos.

I love watching grown ass adults act like adolescents on a social media site, don’t you?

And speaking of “grown adults,” watching some of the older crowd navigate Facebook is like watching two monkeys try to fuck a football.

I’m just here for the Scrabble.

This time last year…

This time last year was a bad time for me.  I lost my grandmother and my cat in the same week.  I didn’t make it back to my home state for my grandmother’s funeral…and I buried my cat, my longtime buddy, in a blanket in the park.  My grandma died in a hospital after succumbing to injuries from a fall.  My beloved Neeners died in my lap on the way to the vet’s office for what was to be a second opinion.

I still have a strange feeling of unreality when it comes to my grandma’s passing; maybe it’s from lack of closure because of not being able to be at her funeral.  Most of the time, my grief is sort of a dull sadness that resides in the back of my mind.  The other day, I happened on a photo of her holding my daughter when J* was about three months old, and I suddenly felt the grief rear up, along with the familiar disbelief– denial– I’m really never going to see her again?

With Neeners, my grief is tainted by an unshakable guilt– why did I not do something for her sooner?  Even if I couldn’t save her, maybe I could have at least spared her pain.  What must she have thought of me when I had to give her the medicine that made her sick to her stomach?  Did she think I was torturing her and she didn’t know why?  I feel like I failed her somehow, even when I try to tell myself I did the best I could.  If we had had the money to get the tests she needed for a more accurate diagnosis, sooner…

It’s too late for me to do anything about any of this.  I could try to end this post with some wise thought or platitude about how time marches on and we all die sometime.  Really, my only point with this post was to sort of remember my lost loved ones on this sort of anniversary week of their passing… and hoping that “honoring” them somehow keeps them from being forgotten.

Things Not To Say to A Grieving Person (Me, At Least)

Obviously, when it comes to death, everyone handles it differently.  Though the stages of grief may be similar, every person’s individual experience with grief is unique.  Differerent people find comfort in different things.

Death can be a touchy subject for many, myself included, and that means finding the right thing to say to a grieving person can be hard.  In the wake of losing another acquaintence from high school, I have been reflecting once again on society, people, and the role of social media in the grieving process.  Many people are clueless when it comes to tact, even in their everyday life, but especially in times of other people’s sorrow. Often, even well meaning people unwittingly say the wrong things.

My personal policy is ‘when in doubt, keep your mouth shut.’

Unfortunately, a lot of these people don’t have any doubts about the stupid things that may come out of their mouths.

As I said before, everyone finds comfort in different things, so to say that all grieving people would be annoyed or insulted by these things would be presumptuous of me.  But I will say, when I’m grieving, I do sometimes want to smack people who say certain things.

So here are a few things I try to make it a point not to say to someone who has lost someone else.

1) Who died? – Especially with the emergence of social media sites and “smart phones”, people seem to have forgotten some very basic manners.  If you must look in on your friends’ grief when they post about losing someone, there are waaaay more tactful ways to ask about their loss then “who died?” (Yes, I actually saw someone say this, this morning.)

2) They’re in a better place-  Oh, really?  That’s nice.  Personally, I prefer being above ground to below ground.  Oh, you meant Heaven?  Well, that’s sweet of you to say.  Really a nice thought… except, I’m an atheist, so…yeah, that doesn’t comfort me a bit.

3) At least they’re not suffering- Yeah, you may be right.   Maybe their long battle with cancer is over, or they no longer have to fight their addiction…  Or maybe they were just out with friends last week, having a grand old time, smiling and laughing, enjoying their life until it ended, perhaps suddenly and unexpectedly.  You know… not suffering.  

4) She/He’s lived a good long life-  Yup.  In fact, their life was maybe so awesome and good that they (and the people who loved them) will probably miss them like crazy, and wouldn’t have minded them sticking around for a bit longer.

5) Heaven has another angel- Um… like I said…atheist.  But even if I wasn’t, humans don’t become angels when they die, do they?  I thought angels were created by God before humans ever existed.  Maybe I’m being ungracious, and people are just saying things like this to find comfort in what is likely a very confused and upsetting time. But, again, to me at least, these types of sentiments ring a little false.  They offer me no comfort, and in some cases, not a little bit of annoyance.

6) The good die young- Yep.  But, then again, so do pimps, drug dealers, and, often, rock stars.  Chances are, the deceased was none of the above.  We all have light and dark.  The fact that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to who lives and who dies is part of what makes death so hard to accept.  And please, don’t say

7) It was part of God’s plan

Not to me, anyway.  I might not be able to restrain myself from smacking you and then telling you it was in God’s plan.

I have also heard some people say that they hate it when people say “If you need to talk…”

I personally don’t think that would bother me, unless the person saying it never seemed to notice my existence before my grief.  Some people just thrive on other people’s drama.  And maybe grieving people get tired of talking.  If you feel you must say something else, asking your grieving friend or relative “what can I do (for you/ to help)?” may be reasonably safe, and then leave them the option of what telling you what it is specfically they need (and it may not be someone to talk to…)

Basically, unless your grieving friend opens one of these avenues of conversation (for example: indicating they believe in Heaven, or mentioning that they are glad their loved one’s suffering is done) the best bet when addressing someone who is in mourning is to just say, “I’m sorry” and not much else.

2436_1103830909638_6891171_n

                              In Memory Of Greg Knapstein (1981-2013)

Service to Animals, Service to People

So today I took the first concrete step towards my future.  Hubs and I invested in my future, and put a down payment on my continued education.  Only it has little to do with the degrees I already have.  But it is for something I’ve always enjoyed, and that is working with animals.  As soon as the enrollment process is completed, I’ll be starting coursework with the Animal Behavior College to become a certified dog trainer.  But I don’t want to work at the local Pet Smart teaching people’s ill-mannered pets to behave (though no disrespect if that’s your passion!)  I’d eventually like to work with animals that help people– chiefly service dogs or police dogs.

police-dog-training

Service animals are no longer just seeing eye dogs.  Animals of all species are now being utilized for all types of disabilities, both physical and mental.  Cats, dogs, monkeys, ferrets, goats, and even pigs are being used as companions to physically disabled people, people with agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders, and even bipolar disorder.  To me this exemplifies a more holistic and harmonious turn in the treatment of many severe and often debilitating health problems.  Simply put, I love how animals and the bonds they forge with their humans can help surmount even the toughest challenges and just make people happier.  

Then there are the police dogs, the bomb sniffing dogs, the cadaver sniffing dogs, the war dogs…   These dogs truly are service dogs, and they are heroes!

And I definitely want to be a part of this.  I love animals…   People, meh…  I don’t care for people as a whole, although I do generally like being around people on a more individual level.  I have a lot of interests in my life– art, writing, music, forensics, sports, horseback riding, my family…  It’s hard to give time to everything in my life that I enjoy, and even harder– for me– to settle on a career path, but I think this is something that can make me happy…

Which in the end is more important to me at the end of the day than any other considerations like money or prestige.

orlando-police-dog-training

i-service-dog-sharif

The Cycle

“I asked you a question.”

He’s trying to control the conversation.  Don’t let him.  You have the power now.  He’ll never control you again.

“Say something…say something!” His lapse in composure is brief, but she sees the rage that she now knows must have always been there.

“What do you want me to say?”

“I want you to answer the question.”

A pause.  “How could you do what you did?  Those women…”

“Have you never been taught not to answer a question with a question?”  She’s never heard that note of condescension in his voice before.  Not in 8 years of marriage or the two years they dated before that.

I never knew him at all…who is this man?

“You still love me…”  His eyes pin her to the spot, like a butterfly mounted in a display case.  “You miss me.  You need me.  Don’t you?”

don’t need him.  And I don’t love him, not anymore.  But, God help me, I do miss him.  At least, I miss the person I thought he was.

“Answer me.”  Somehow this quiet command is more frightening than all of his rage.

I’m not scared of him.  He can’t hurt me anymore.  I’m not scared, I’m…  Defiant,”Why should I?”

“Because I have something you want.”

“You don’t have anything I want anymore!”  No!  Don’t let him see your anger!  If you’re angry, he wins.

He smiles.  “We both know that’s not true.  I know where your sister is.”

bflies-071

“Death is a Door…”

“… we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we are alone.”  (Hans Fallada, 1947)

“Every living creature on earth dies alone.”  (Donnie Darko, 2001)

Donnie Darko and Roberta Sparrow

Donnie Darko and Roberta Sparrow

“Everybody dies alone.”  (Firefly, 2002)

“Son. Everyone dies alone. That’s what it is. It’s a door. It’s one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone.”  (Dead Beat, 2005)

Are you afraid to die?  It seems like a simple question, but it requires you to be brutally honest with yourself.  What are your beliefs?  Are you religious?  Do you actually believe your religion’s tenants on death and afterlife?  

I suppose it could make a difference to you if you genuinely felt God will be with you when you shuffle off the mortal coil.   But I imagine some people clutch to their ideas of an afterlife specifically to keep at bay the terrors of death.  What happens when we die?  Do we just cease to exist?  I for one can’t conceive of not being aware, not being able to think.  

Have you ever had a serious illness or injury and felt that black stab of panic?  Am I going to die?  Maybe you’ve just been in a significant amount of pain and felt like you would die. (If you’ve ever had a migraine, you might sympathize with the thought of wishing for death, or at the very least, a long narcotic induced oblivion.)  I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks sometimes as well, which can make even a non-life-threatening situation feel exponentially worse. Suddenly, you think that migraine may actually kill you…just give you a stroke or something.

In these moments, that’s when our true feelings about death surface.

I’d like to think if my family was on a plane and it was going down, I’d be okay as long as my last moments were spent with those dearest to me, my husband and child.  But it’s been my experience that when you are in that moment of fear, panicked, you are completely alone.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Not every death is untimely or traumatic.  You may die of old age, going peacefully in your sleep, or surrounded by loved ones, but death is a door and it’s only one person wide.  We all walk through it alone.

Can We Make Our Schools Safer?

*edited 

Oh, look.  Another school shooting.  Dismaying, but not surprising.  If you’re a regular reader, you may have already read a bit about my feelings and theories on Newtown and similar senseless and sensational crimes.  People are tempted to bring all sorts of political opinions  to issue, even if they have little (or nothing) to do with the crimes in question.  Many people spout rhetoric as an almost knee-jerk reaction, but a lot of people are just plain scared and are looking for an answer- any answer- to the problems plaguing our country and the world.

I don’t know what to do about guns.  I do believe access to guns is too easy.  People that don’t have guns of their own seem to be able to still procure them with relative ease, sometimes simply by stealing or “borrowing” one from someone they know.

Kern County sheriff Donny Youngblood said at a news conference Thursday night that the 16-year-old used a shotgun that belonged to his brother and went to bed Wednesday night with a plan to shoot two fellow students. (source)

I don’t think Mental Health Care reform is the problem, and at any rate, that seems to take the focus off the victims and hand the perpetrator an excuse.

Letting “God back in the schools” won’t do it either.

But one thing I think we can focus on is making our schools safer.  I don’t want to hear that it’s expensive.  The money that goes to inflated Congressional salaries and frivolous expenditures can and should be re-routed to make our children safer.

One thing that would help is to “treat schools like we treat courthouses,” as my hubby says.  I think metal detectors would be a great investment.  Every unsecured, public entrance to the school should have one.  (Really, ALL entrances should have one, but let’s not give the guys that write the budget simultaneous coronaries just yet.)  And a security guard posted at each entrance, especially during the hours of the day when there is high volume traffic.  If a metal detector is triggered, the guards can be on hand to handle the situation, and if a metal detector goes off at any given time during the day and is not immediately shut down, there should be a school-wide protocol that directs all teachers to lock down their classrooms.  Any students in the halls during a lock down would be directed to hide or make their way to a predetermined safe location.  Security officers should be specially trained to handle crisis situations.  We’re not talking a supermarket cop collaring people for trying to smuggle candied hams out in their drawls, we’re security personnel with the training and the will to take down a kids with a gun.  These little punks aren’t playin’ around and they need to know that the schools and the cops aren’t either.

Garrett-PD6500i-walk-through-metal-detector pic-11

Speaking of which, I know I can’t be alone in calling for stricter laws on media reporting, especially in the first few hours after a crisis.  One of the reasons that these freaks end up doing things on such a massive scale, shooting up schools and killing their whole families and whatnot, is because they think they can make a mark on the world, hurt people with their rage,  wrong others the way they’ve been wronged (in their pathetic little minds.)  I realize that people want to understand why these people do the horrible things they do, but the answers are usually more complicated than blaming guns, video games, music, or bullying.   Aside from whatever deranged, disturbed thoughts might pop out of the killers’ mouths if we were to ask them why, we usually don’t get that opportunity, because they often end up dead.  And it doesn’t really matter anyway.  What matters are the victims, and the media needs to take steps to keep the focus on them instead of glorifying the killer by validating his actions and intentions with exhaustive media coverage.

Well, the media will always cry “1st amendment “ and “the public has the right to know! so I’m sure I might as well just wish in one hand as far as media accountability, so back to the metal detector thing…it may not be a perfect solution, but it is one concrete step we as a community can take to try and make our schools safer for our children.

*see some of the stupid things the government could cut from their budget to make our schools safer!

“Mental Illness” and its Role in this Tragedy

I want to talk about this, but there’s just so much ground to cover, so many feelings and opinions about the subject.  I can’t get into all of it.  It’s just not in me emotionally.

Since the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut, people all over Facebook (and I’m sure every other social media) are having very strong opinions about what caused this and about why we in America have more school shootings than anywhere else in the world (combined probably.)  The two main things I’ve seen are “Gun Control” and “the Mental Health Care System.” I am assuming there will be some “the answer is to get Bibles back in the schools” and “better education” coming along shortly.

The term mentally ill is already being thrown around when we know nothing for sure right now.  Probably because to most of us “sane” people, we can not conceive of a normal, well-adjusted person shooting at babies.  Bear with me, because I am so upset I am shaking as I type.  I understand the urge to blame someone, or something, especially since the killer, like so many of these cowardly wastes of skin, killed himself after he did these horrendous things.  It makes me so mad that he’ll never have to feel the GUILT he should feel, let alone pay for what he did.  I don’t believe in Hell. I wish I did, because then maybe I’d feel he’s getting what he deserves there now.

But I want to take a moment to explore what it means to be “mentally ill,” and how it may or may not apply to this situation.

Wikipedia describes mental illness as A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological pattern or anomaly, potentially reflected in behavior, that is generally associated with distress or disability, and which is not considered part of normal development of a person’s culture. Mental disorders are generally defined by a combination of how a person feels, acts, thinks or perceives.

*The above definition may also be problematic because social factors can create sociopaths, people with antisocial personality disorder, which very much is in the DSM as a mental illness.  Sociopathy is highly correlated with lack of empathy, “damaged” moral compass, and violent crimes that can result from such a disorder.  Also, sociopathic personalities generally feel little distress about their lack of normal morals and emotions.

So, basically, sociological factors such as upbringing and economic factors can in fact combine with psychological issues to create a killer.  Essentially it is an play between nature versus nurture.  (edit 6/2015)

However, mental illness can encompass such things as anorexia, OCD, depression, phobias, stress disorders, and much more.  The point is, it can be said that half of America is mentally ill, under this criteria.  Mentally “ill” does not automatically mean violence, although, using criteria which measures behavior against society’s mores and parameters would naturally mean anyone who committed violence would automatically be considered “mentally ill.”  However, not all people who commit violent crimes have a mental illness diagnosable in the DSM.  At this early stage, I don’t think it’s helpful or accurate to say that the mental health care system is at fault for this.  I really can’t blame gun control or lack thereof either.  *In regards to gun control, the kind of gun control we really need is stricter fines and punishments for people like the mother (who died as a result of her irresponsibility anyhow), who knew her son was mentally unsound, yet did nothing to restrict his access to her guns.  Don’t misunderstand me.  While I do not advocate disarming citizens with a blanket ban on guns, I do believe there should be strict and definite sanctions for any gun owners who are caught being irresponsible in any way with their weapons (ie: leaving a loaded weapon in an unlocked car springs to mind, and yes, it happens quite a bit.)

I can’t help but think there is a social component to this phenomenon of school shooting.  I look at it in the same light as the increased suicides over bullying and the increase in family annihilators.  Some people are seeing this stuff reported and are getting it into their heads that this is an effective and acceptable way to “make a statement.”

There have always been bullies.  In schools and even in adult life. But since the explosion of social media, bullied kids can’t even get respite from their tormentors at home.  The bullies continue to harrass and hound their victims on social networking sites.  Though there were school shootings before Columbine, Klebold and Harris’s names became known the world over almost overnight.  Initially it was speculated that one or both of them had been bullied in school, and the killings were some form of retribution.* (New evidence seems to suggest they were not, in fact, bullied.  Rather, they were extremely angry and to some degree, psychopathic.  Psychopathy is in the DSM, but as a personality disorder.)  Now many bully victims are increasingly feeling that their only way out is suicide.  I can’t help but feel that like copycat suicides,  public response, media coverage, and perception have a lot to do with the proliferation of mass shootings.  But what is the answer to this problem?  Stop reporting on news and crimes?  It’s not possible, and shouldn’t be necessary.

But I don’t believe there is any one answer.  That would be too simple.  It’s not JUST a gun control issue, not just a mental health issue, not just a media reporting issue.  Our country, our world, is sick.  And I wish I knew what the answer was.

But what I will say is that, as a sufferer of an anxiety disorder, I would be classified as “mentally ill.”  Even were I not medicated, I can’t even imagine ever…EVER…going into a school and harming innocent babies!  I don’t understand why people like this feel the need to make innocents suffer for their misery.  Part of the problem I really believe goes back to personal responsibility.  I think America has become a society that fosters feelings of entitlement and a refusal to accept responsibility.  

Anyway, I’ve already wrote more than I meant to.  As a mother now, I feel a gut wrenching empathy for the parents of those poor children killed or wounded.  But I also feel a sense of desperation because I don’t know the answer.  I wish I did.  I just know that spreading the blame is not the answer, and mental illness is stigmatized enough without assuming that it’s the reason for this tragedy.  Arguably, a person who would do this is “not right” in the head, but it doesn’t mean the system failed him.  I’m betting he never gave the system a fair go in the first place.  In terms of mental issues, one usually has to acknowledge the need help, and want help to get help.

As an adjunct, please feel free to share your thoughts, but as this is a sensitive topic, I want to re-emphasize my policy on comment etiquette.  No flaming, keep it civil– or your comment will never make it past moderation.  I realize I may be expressing views that are contrary to your own.  I offer them up in the spirit of expressing my feelings and maybe trying the only way I know how to make sense of this.  I respect your right to disagree.  Please don’t take my words personally, and don’t make it personal.