Time to Do Something Good.

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Hi MiCaela,

My name is Erin, I found your post from Stephanie on FB. I have a cat, That Jake.

https://www.facebook.com/smalljake

He is a story.

https://erinire.net/category/jake/

A few years ago, he got very sick. I thought I wanted to let him go – I was broke – but one of the vets at the hospital basically guilted me into treating his undiagnosable liver infection. (Undiagnosable without major surgery, which I really just couldn’t bear to put him through). Over the next 8 months of constant pills, carsick appointments, and blood tests, I wound up spending over $3,000. I wish I had GoFund me back then!!

It turns out, that was probably the best three grand I ever spent, with the possible ouster being my video camera and / or laptop (which are my livelihood). I am not in a much better financial position now than I was then, but I hope that my small contribution helps! I think I’ll post this on my blog. Maybe you’ll get a few more dollars that way.

Cheers,
E

(ps – in case you didn’t get it, guys, that image is a link to her GoFundMe page. Click it up!)


Whispers.

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I don’t know if being educated about my illness(es) from an early age would have made a difference – the struggle is the struggle, no matter how much you learn about why. But I saw this on Facebook and felt, like, *yes*:

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It’s an image uploaded from Whisper, an app I’ve used, in the past, to share things I’d never admit to anyone. And that phrase: “sometimes it’s ourselves that make us feel like…” I find that to be so true.

Things, obviously, are not always easy. Things get dark. And during those times I am oh-so painfully aware that it IS myself that’s upsetting me. Unbearable! Of course there are antecedents – triggers, if you will – a compounding of factors to produce a perfect storm… but underneath it all lurks something that is very much my own. It’s familiar, gravitational, and seems to rise of its own accord.

I wish I could reach out to this girl, and say “YES! LADY!! I GET IT!” But I can’t, because Whisper is anonymous. You don’t “follow” people – there are no “profiles”. So I’ll never know who she is, or how it is she knew how to say what I feel, when I feel that way. The least I can do is put it out there again, so maybe another person will see – and, maybe, understand.


Only on the Blue Line?

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So things are terrible here in Boston, and, after yesterday’s MBTA shutdown, I wasn’t expecting a swift commute home. The Red Line took forever – it wasn’t even worth trying to swim through the sea of passengers at Downtown Crossing to make my connection to the Orange. Walking the something-odd blocks to State Street, I wondered if now would be a good time to Uber. I’d calculated the fare from Harvard Square before leaving work at $21-$25, but now it was 30 minutes later and traffic would be worse.

I kept walking.

This was a mistake.

Lured into comfort by the relative emptiness at the Forest Hills-bound entrance, I was unprepared for the low-ceilinged hell that awaited me at the Blue Line. The crowd bound for Wonderland at the State Street station was like nothing I’d ever seen in real life, aside from those Phish mega-festivals back in the early aughts. After a few polite minutes spent pushing through to the opposite side of the platform, I gave up and just stood. There was nowhere to go. By the time the next train arrived, the human surge was enough to bear me to the very lips of the doors… but no room in the car.

It was approximately 4:30. I decided, still, to wait.

This was another mistake.

After an interminable span spent clicking through my Longform feed (have you READ the latest New Yorker article on psychedelic medical research? FASCINATING.), another train finally arrived. By some swift stroke of doom I found myself square between the cars, and the vector physics of MBTA-boarding ensures that, when squared between cars, there is no possible hope that you will make it through. You will remain, stymied, on the platform, again, wondering how you could possibly be so close and yet so very far away.

Waiting. The crowd was large, but jocular, and this Chinese woman behind me started chattering, at nobody in particular, about the high-speed train Guangzhou to Beijing, suggesting that if our trains in Boston were faster, and arrived with greater frequency, perhaps we might not all be waiting here in a frothing mass of subterranean torment while that homeless blind guy belts out “New York, New York” for the fifth refrain. Of course, she didn’t really SAY it like that, but she was totally right on. “America, you know, think they number one… but maybe…”

The train arrived, and this time I all but RAN through the open doors, thrown inward by the throng behind me. I turned around and saw some brown-skinned men helping the Asian lady up off the floor. “How multicultural,” I thought. “See? Things aren’t so bad, even on the Blue Line.”

A trio of white construction workers banged their coolers together as the train pulled slowly from the station.

“I totally tripped that lady, bro. Talkin’ shit about America.”

And that was the first time I ever felt unsafe on the T.


Snowpocalypse 2015: The Stop & Shop in Revere

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B! and I just got back from the grocery store. We’d driven past around noontime today, Sunday, and the glut of cars in the lot made me wonder how many more people they could pack in before they hit fire code.

“Let’s not do this now,” we agreed, and went to breakfast instead.

Some eight hours later, we again approached our local Stop & Shop, reusable bags in-hand. I wondered aloud about what they might have left for sale. This is the same grocery store that went without ginger for three weeks, during the Market Basket strike, so my expectations weren’t high.

However…

THINGS I FOUND AT STOP & SHOP

– turkey necks

– pig ears

– bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder

– tripe

– beef tongue

– calf’s liver

– oxtail

– chicken hearts / gizzards (apparently, they go together)

– a whole bunch of lamb stew meat

– three packages of short ribs

THINGS I DID NOT FIND AT STOP & SHOP

– bread

– 2% milk

– any other meat at all

Like, when I go looking for oxtail at Stop & Shop, can I find it? NO. When I need a bone-in picnic butt, do they have any? NO. But tonight, it’s all offal and pork belly when everyone’s out looking for beef chuck and chicken breasts.

We took the short ribs and ran, before someone else could swipe them.


My lovely self, in the psych ward.

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So there’s this thing I never talked about, before I stopped talking altogether. I didn’t talk because I couldn’t talk, because it was all too close and awful, and the other day I read this thing and now, in my head, I can’t stop talking.

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/lovely-wife-psych-ward-95567/

I didn’t talk because I couldn’t, because, in June 2013, I was committed, which is different from admitted, and all of a sudden talking felt dangerous. In June 2013, something changed.

~~The following may be triggering. Please read with care.~~

The run-up was very much the same old tune: an uptick in work stress, an increase in self-harm behaviors, verbal explosions, days in bed. Except there was something uncontained about the whole situation – how it bled all over my life, and now, how everyone could see. Everyone was aware. My partner would call my therapist, who would advise him to call the cops and/or my parents. There was discussion about what ought to be done with me, as though this “me” were some other entity, something who didn’t have her own priorities.

Given that my ONLY priority was to stay Bin-less until my sister’s wedding, I was not a willing participant. I don’t like to think about those days before my second hospitalization, that hour before I was half-dragged into the ER by my then-boyfriend / now-husband, the indefatigable B!. And the most horrible: my mother, who, having been summoned, walked in to a nurse swabbing my secret wounds with alcohol. The way I cried when she saw me, because I knew what it was that she saw.

I have not forgiven myself for the harm this caused to my family, this falling apart, time after time.

It had been easy, before, to speak of my mental illness as if it were “over”, and it was nice to think of life as having that arc. Health to illness and then better than before. It had been easy, before, to deal with it alone. But June 2013 annihilated the fantasy of my mental health as a solitary island.

I thought I was writing about one thing, but it seems now that I’m writing about another.

It is certainly one thing to be the spouse or partner, and to see your beloved fall into madness. It is one thing to be a parent or sibling, wondering how you can help. It is another to witness one’s own fall, knowing the chain reaction one’s own madness will cause, not understanding how to reach out for whatever it is that might slow your annihilation. Gravity. Vertigo. The pull and weight of the inevitable as your soul wanes thin or burns up in a nuclear blast.

For me, the biggest takeaway from this article is having a “mad plan”. Limits that are set before the descent begins. If X then Y and we all know it. Because without a plan, the free-fall can feel unbreakable. Without a plan, the “healthy” partner has no recourse but to play the enforcer of ad-hoc rules made, often, without the patient’s consent. Without a plan, the patient can be rendered unfit to GIVE consent, her concerns dismissed as excuses or worse.

This is what happened to me, that June. My voice was not heard, and my treatment, therefore, was a farce. In the hospital, my medication was switched, for the third time in as many months, I cried during all my yoga classes, and, after a mandatory three-day hold, I was sent home to a situation much more precarious than the one I’d left.

My sister was getting married. I put on my bridesmaid gown and raised a glass.

 


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