Friday, December 30, 2011

I Truly Hate New Year's Eve

Nothing has changed in the ten years since I wrote this blog's most popular post, why I hate New Year's Eve. 

It's one of my most favorite pieces I ever wrote. That said, nothing but nothing has changed. I hate New Year's Eve more than anything. More than Brussels Sprouts. More than having a mammogram. I'd rather have a root canal than celebrate it.

Nothing but nothing in my book is as bad as New Year's.

Let's put this on a psychiatrist's couch and figure out why I hate this holiday so much.

Oh it's easy. First of all I was conceived sometime between New Years Eve and New Years Day. I would love to say my conception was like Tristian Shandy's but, it was a 12 year old girl in the back of a VW Bug. Do I hate my birth mother? Not really. She gave me life when she could have easily chose to not do it, and she gave me up for adoption when she could have kept me. By giving me up for adoption, despite 7-8 months in the system in an abusive foster home, I got the Best parents in the world to adopt me.

What scares me is what I learned about my birth mother. Now, when I was adopted, the state of New York had the records sealed. To this day, I do not know her name, or anything about her other than she too had blonde hair and blue eyes. And that she was 12. I wish I knew my nationality, where my ancestors  came from. All I was told it was either France and/or Ireland.

All I have seen are the notes the social worker took on her, her parents and her siblings.

Like Oedipus, I should have never investigate my past. Like Oedipus said,

Burst out what will, I seek to know my birth, Low though it be, and she perhaps is shamed (For, like a woman, she is proud of heart)         At thoughts of my low birth; but I, who count Myself the child of Fortune, fear no shame. My mother she, and she has prospered me. And so the months that span my life have made me         Both high and low; but whatsoe’er I be, Such as I am I am, and needs must on To fathom all the secret of my birth.  

Well, we all know what happened to Oedipus. What happened to Susan is this- she learned that the people who make up her biological family, assorted aunts, uncles and grandparents and cousins didn't fare well. Two of her grandparents suicided. Several aunts and uncles also were listed as suicides. Two relatives, were lobotomized in the mid 1950's and early 60's. 
The rest of the lot were labeled, "high strung", "hebephrenic schizophrenia", and "alcoholic". Only my birth mother, due to her age, escaped any labels. 

For those who know my back story, I had a meeting planned with the adoption agency, located in Manhattan, on September 11, 2001, to look at these records. I got a call at work on September 10, from the woman I was supposed to meet. Something came up, can we reschedule for September 17?  It's one of those serendipitous events that if I had been in the city, that day, I would have been right there to see the Towers fall. 

I didn't see the towers fall, but I saw my life crumble. How do you feel when you see that a majority of your biological family died by their own hand? That almost everyone suffered from alcoholism? And to top it off, there were two, count em. two lobotomies given. If mental illness turns out to be hereditary, I could be the poster child for it. 

Flowers know to bend with the wind and the rain. Those who don't break. I didn't bend. It took a year to break, but I broke- and wound up in the hospital for 30 days and getting ECT. It's all here in my blog, nothing new. The ECT ruined my life, destroyed my brain, wiped out memories and knocked my IQ down at least 25 points. 

This is all fine, but I digress. New Years Eve. You turn on the TV, you see Dick Clark, older than an old thing that is quite old, and the people in Times Square. Couples. The few times I have gone to a local diner for a meal, it's all couples. The singles sit at the counter, eyeing the couples, and feeling like misfit's from Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" painting. Loneliness personified. 

Some people don't mind being alone. Most of the time, I don't mind being alone either. But throw in seeing couples and let;s face it, "Happy couples are all alike", with apologies to Tolstoy. The loneliness cuts through you this day like a knife, it's more than sex. I have a little toy in my night table, it's a single girl's best friend. It's the desire to have someone to hold you, to cuddle, to hold a hand. To feel their breath on your cheek. To make you feel alive. 

Instead you feel dead, hollow, almost destroyed. Drinking your way until you pass out would be lovely, but I can't give up my sobriety. It's the time where I wish I had a gun, anything to stop the psychological pain and angst. I've always had neighbors in every apartment I've lived in, and I can hear them. It's sad. You can block it out by turning on the stereo, but overall, it makes you feel like you are in an old "Twilight Zone" episode where you are the last person on this Earth. 

I've tried to improve this situation. I've done volunteer work on two New Years Eves in the past 5 years. It was nice, but the rub is I was always home by 9pm. So it's that cursed midnight Times Square ball dropping that is the bane of my existence. 

So here it is December 30, and I am panicking. I have a few movies I've rented from Redbox. I bought popcorn. My Snuggie and bunny slippers are clean. It's no escaping, it's tomorrow night and I am screwed. 

The only thing going this year is maybe the Mayans were right. Maybe the world will end next year, and I will never have to go through this by myself. 

Don't get me wrong. I am happy for those with partners. I'm just saying, the pure definition of loneliness, is New Years Eve. I wish there was a wish that no one would be alone on this day. That everyone would have someone. That this horrible feeling would never be felt again.It's one of the most horrible feelings in the world. 

I hope 2012 is a better year for everyone. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Depression is a four letter word.

 from Bitter Animator
Sometimes I think I must have come from another planet. I don't get people. Or rather- people don't get me.

For example. On the phone with my best friend last night. I am telling him I had two real good days last week. Bought a new winter coat, since I don't have one in my size, some underwear and a killer pair of shoes. All from Santa! (He came early this year). I was very happy.

Energy came back and I did a thorough clean of the apartment. Had the car washed and waxed. Just felt alive. Even managed to get to the gym and had a nice workout.

The next day, I crashed. Big time crash. I couldn't get out of bed. The cat had to bite me hard, drawing blood so I would get out of bed and feed her. I did and crawled back to bed. I could hear my upstairs neighbor moving around. It sounded like an elephant walking, but I know it wasn't. I just put the pillow over my head, wishing for a split second I could wind up like Desdemona, but instead, just tried to sleep.

I slept round the clock for two straight days, getting up only to feed the cat, change her box, and use the toilet. I had a talk radio station on for white noise. All they are talking about is the election which is a year away. Sigh.

When I tried to tell my friend, he couldn't understand. "You should have gone for a walk, instead of laying in bed", he said. When I got in touch with my mother, she replied "Are you sick?"

"No", I replied, "Not physically sick. Sick in my heart, in my soul".

"You are being stupid. Go for a walk. Go shopping. Go to the gym. Quit crying, or I will give you something to cry about", (she didn't say the last thing, but you know mothers, she was probably thinking it).

"Mom", I said both to my mother and to my friend. "Try to live in my shoes for once".

It's strange, normally I don't get depressed this time of year. Spring and summer are my worst times. I love this time of year, holidays. I love Santa, I love driving around to look at the trees. I love the parties. The only thing I don't like is the fruitcake.

Then there's New Years. A holiday that should be wiped off the calendar if you are single and cannot get a date. Nothing to celebrate, go out to a diner or Denny's for a meal, go home, rent a movie from Redbox, and snuggle on the couch under an afghan made by Grandma. Then right before midnight, turn on Dick Clark, see the countdown in Times Square. Laugh at the poor folks freezing who are there, while you are snug as a bug and warm on your couch.

Then midnight. No one to kiss, even the cat has fallen asleep. You take the afghan off, lay it on top of the sleeping cat, go to bed and cry yourself to sleep.

In my 20's I would have gone partying and clubbing. By the time I was 30 I was tired of warn out pick up lines and guys spilling beer on my clothes because the club was too crowded. Then I stopped drinking, I don't go to places like that anymore. Living in Suburbia, there aren't any other  places to go.

The next day, New Years Eve, you go to a friend's or a relative's house and watch football. And count the days til Valentine's, while your local store has left over chocolate from Christmas, and new chocolate for Valentine's and Easter up.

The older you get, the faster the holidays go by. It's one of those weird laws of Physics you know exists, but you really can't prove.

That isn't a bad thing. The older you get, the more you appreciate the smaller things, like remembering the simple pleasure of waking up one morning and finding it's snowed and there is no school. Running outside, sledding on a wooden Flexible Flyer, coming in and mom having real hot chocolate and home made chocolate chip cookies, with the chocolate melting.

The trick of being an adult is to remember that exact moment, how great it was not to go to school, the sheer joy of being alive when you felt snow and rolled around in it, and how happy warm gooey chocolate can make you feel.

A bit of happiness. A small burst. A giggle, a smile. That's what it's all about. Remembering this little moment, can do a lot for depression.

If only cookies weren't fattening.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holly the cat on holidays and writing for the TWIM blog

Meow. Yes, it's me. My human, Susan is reading on the couch, so I thought I would get on line and say "Meowry Christmas" to all my friends on the computer.

Personally, it was a frustrating year for me. I did not become a LOL cat. I did not meet Maru. I did get cans of Fancy Feast though, and much love from my human and her friends on line. So maybe next year I can become a LOL cat. And meet Maru. He's a boy cat you know!

I am what you might call a "therapy cat". Yes, there are therapy dogs, but I keep my human alive and moving. So I am a therapy cat. And she loves me- except when she has to clean my litter box.

My human is doing a bit better than the last entry, but, well, she's sad. She loves this time of year, but she is lonely. I don't understand, but then, I had six kittens, all who went to good homes. And then I got spayed. Mom hasn't gotten that yet. Maybe she would feel better if she had it done. I think they do it for humans. I don't know.

This is my favorite time of the year. For those who don't know my back story, I was adopted from a shelter that was planning on putting me to sleep on December 23 many years ago. It was a long time in kitty years, but Mom says it was only 2000. I was heavy with kitten. A very nice lady rescued me, and I went to live with her until I could find a furever home. The problem was- I didn't get along with the other kitties in the foster home, and I didn't place well when they had open houses to adopt the kitties. My kittens were adopted as soon as they were weaned. The other cats in the foster house came and went like wraiths. But no one wanted me. Until my mom adopted me. She needed me, I needed her. She is my best friend and I am hers. We have been together for almost ten years.

I keep my human sane. She is a really nice person for someone who is not a cat. That means I feel sad for her, she doesn't have a tail, she can't rotate her ears, she cannot purr. She doesn't know the sheer joy of having the sunshine on your tummy fur.

It's been a rough year for her. She lost the function of her kidneys last year, according to the doctor they are working ok, but every now and then they "hiccup" and things shut down for a bit .But she is ok. She's having some other health issues, and I know she is in a lot of pain but I think she is doing better. She just passed the one year point being off all psychiatric meds. The only thing we have in the house that alters brain chemistry is catnip.
That's mine!

Mom is doing well with her psychiatrist, but she still hasn't found a therapist. I've been serving as one, but frankly, I fall asleep after a minute or two. I am a cat. I have the attention span of a butterfly. Speaking of butterflies.....

Oh yes. Therapy. Cat's don't need therapy. We would nap on the couch. If the doctor showed us Rorshacks everything would look like birdies, squirrels or tuna. Maybe a ball of yarn. A catnip mousie.

This picture is copyrighted and I don't know how to remove it, but thank you to the photographer

Silly isn't it? Like I said, cats don't get depressed. Unless we think of all the other cats in the world who need homes that are in shelters.

I am grateful my mom did not die last year, that she still is with me. That she lets me snuggle every night with her in the large bed with my stuffed panda bear.

Now for the first time in a while mom is sad. She isn't depressed, she says she just feels out of sorts. Not physically sick. Just sad. Lonely. She has me, she shouldn't be lonely. But I think it's more than that. I think mom is starting to feel her age, and worry about the future. I know she is upset when she thinks of money. Money is nice, it buys me kibble, tuna, and other nice things. A scratching post.

She goes out to run errands and one day gets a lot of things done. Then she sleeps for two days, afraid to leave the apartment. If I didn't wake her by doing the "I am hungry" dance, she might not feed me or water me. She stays in bed, listening to talk radio as white noise. She likes this one station called Coast to Coast that she's been listening for years, but found a station on the internet that broadcasts it 24/7 so she listens to that. I like it too. I wonder if the announcer knows that he has a cat who likes listening to him.

All and all we are doing fine. Mom is  cleaning once a week. She still forgets to shower everyday but she does it every other .She is getting out, which is good for her agoraphobia. It's hard for her, I know. She's always been a homebody and to her nothing is better than reading a book or watching TV with me by her side on the big couch. 

I know writing is hard for her, so I recently wrote a piece that showed up for the Twim blog. It was fun, so many blogs to read. So many bloggers who have cats, dogs or both. If you aren't familiar with Twim, it's done by a group of people in the UK. Most of the blogs are from the UK, and both Susan and I are honored to be the first Americans/Americats to write for them.Right now they are having a vote for best blogs. I wish they had a "cutest cat" blogger category. There are some really good ones there to vote for.

 This is something that mom would like- for the bloggers in all the countries to unite and help each other more. We are all going through the same experiences and maybe we can all help each other by sharing what we've learned on this road we are all traveling together. 

I will tell you what I have learned. I am blessed to have a human, and I wish that all the shelter dogs and cats can find furever homes too. 

Happy Holidays from Susan and me-ow. I hope next year is a better year for everyone, and that Santa Paws brings you happiness. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rain-outside and in my heart

I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open, despite the three cups of coffee I had prior to getting in the car and being taken to my psychiatrist. All I can think about now, as I wait in her waiting room is how my bladder is filling.

A very tall, handsome man comes in with a briefcase and a laptop. He sits down next to my mother and I, says hello, and opens the briefcase. I can see samples of Abilify. Ah! A Bristol Myers salesman! Not unexpected, I am just a few miles or so from BM US headquarters, as the crow flies.

Eventually, the doc comes out of her office, and ushers me inside. Everything is turned around, the couch is on another wall, and the chairs are facing a different direction. It turns me around, I do not like it. It's like the Feng Shui in the room is totally messed up by moving the chairs and couch around to different sides. I tell her I don't like it, and she says it was done by the person she shares an office with. Every time she moves them back, the next day they are in this pattern. I sense she is frustrated.

We talk a little small talk. I have 10 minutes total. One and a half minutes to small talk. One minute at the end  to pay, get a receipt and make the next appointment. Seven and a half to  Eight minutes for everything else.

The small talk comes easy. As a whole, I like my psychiatrist. She's about my age, the mother of a teenager and a pre teenager. She's a little smaller than me- I'm 5 feet tall, and she is 4 feet 10 inches. We both complain about our short stature and problems it entails. It's like we share one common bond.

It's really the only other thing we have in common.  She asks me the standard questions, I answer. She tells me flat out she thinks I should be in the hospital- I'm non compos mentis. My foggy brain kick starts- something lights up the gray cells and I hear myself saying "No. I've been in the hospital twice during the month of December. They are very short staffed. I don't want to go in now. Let's wait."

She's not sure. She asks me to consider going to this address (Robert Wood Johnson) and going inpatient. I've never heard of this hospital, I've always gone to Princeton House. i tell her there is no way I would ever go back as an impatient to Princeton House. She suggests Carrier. I don't know about this one, but I do know they let you keep stuffed animals with you.

I tell her I cannot go in, I need someone to take care of the cat. I can't afford to send her to the cattery, and I have no one to take care of her. I need someone to collect my mail. It won't work. No. I have a friend who can house sit for me, and cat sit, but he is over 200 miles away. I have to give him notice to get him to visit. Meanwhile...

She raises up out of the chair, and goes to get my mother. She tells my mother flat out I should be in the hospital, and gives her a piece of paper with a number written on it. I tell my mother, in FRONT of my doctor, do not ever call that number, the police will come and it will be involuntary. I won't go in involuntary- my insurance will automatically throw me out after two weeks and I am off to Trenton Psych. Please Don't. Call.

A compromise is worked out. I should get into the Princeton House IOP program- ASAP. And I shall see her once a week until I can get in.

When we are finished, mom takes me to the Omega Diner for lunch. Bless NJ for being the land of the diners. No Waffle Houses, but we have diners. I can't eat. I have a huge whole in my heart, my stomach is in agony. I drink some coffee, and a few spoonfuls of soup. I try not to cry.

"Mom, I don't want to be in any more hospitals , ever. Please promise you won't call that number."

She promises, but I wonder. I tell her how I am trying. I try to get dressed every day in clean clothes, shower. Some days that is pretty much all I can do. Some days I can do a bit more- the agoraphobia abates and I can leave my apartment. Go shopping. Go do things. Be around people. Other days I am so ... if I leave my bed, it's to use the toilet and feed the kitty.

I try to tell her my problems with out patient therapy- I've had as much if not more education than the therapists, and I know what they are doing. I've had the same courses. People might get better from these things, but I know too much about them. It's futile. This is why doctors make the worst patients. I even tell both psychiatrist and my mom I am seriously thinking of auditing a  psych class at the university to see if I could get a MSW or a PhD. Let's see if my brain can do it. I tell both of them I want to help other people who have been in my shoes, if I can get my stuff together, I can help others; be a better advocate.

It's just- well, I don't know. Futile. I'm doing the best I can.

For the last three days it's been raining. The mail carrier drops off my mail and forgets to shut the lid. Magazines and letters are destroyed from water. My cat is bored because the squirrels are not playing outside. She sleeps a bit more than normal. I can relate. I feel like sleeping more too. It's a Herculean effort to stay awake with the med cocktail I am on. No psych meds, just other meds to deal with the side effects brought on from the psych drugs.

In analyzing Literature, rain is the sign of renewal, rebirth. In analyzing art, it's the total opposite. Depression. It makes no sense to me. It's almost bipolar in it's reasoning, or is it like Ying and Yang? I can't decide. I don't know.

I don't know what I am anymore. It's very complicated. All I know is it's like the line from Robert Frost- I have miles to go before I sleep. I have miles of things to ponder and try to overcome before I go to sleep.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Psych Drugs and Foster Kids- Part Two and Three

Again, last night, (December 1, 2011) Diane Saywer presented part two of her news report on foster children and psychological drugs. (ETA: Part three added after this post was published, and aired December 2,).

Gianna Kali brings up one very good point in her blog. 

And of course this is exactly true and people like Jim Gottstein and the organization PsychRights has worked at passing legislation that might protect children. Given that medicare/medicaid is not supposed to cover medications uses that are off-label, the argument has been made that reimbursement is fraud. We have a ways to go.

So does Bob Fiddaman-
Senators and congressmen take note: The root of this problem is The Diagnostic and Senators and congressmen take note: The root of this problem is The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM]. Once you see how utterly ridiculous the "illnesses" are, you will be able to understand why tax payers are being ripped off at the expense of the welfare and safety of children. You want to eradicate the problem, then go to the root cause and ask the authors of the DSM for scientific proof. It's a manual that is basically a licence to print money for the pharmaceutical industry.

Children deserve a childhood. They don't deserve this, foster children or not. If children are our future, lets make their future bright. Give them love, tell them they are important, they matter.

For the record, I was adopted from a foster home when I was 8 months old. I have the best mom and dad a child could want. Yes, I did not always get the best toys, but I got lots of love, and my parents paid a lot of attention to both my sister and I. I think we turned out OK. My sister is a beautiful girl, very successful in her career. Both of my parents children are highly educated because this is what they wanted us to have- what they didn't. A college/uni degree.

I have been having nightmares over this issue for the last two days- I will not write about my foster home now- it's not salient. But I know this much. I most likely would have been one of those babies given drugs to keep me quiet and sleep.

Part Three airs tonight.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Psych Drugs and Foster Kids-ABC News November 30,2011

Diane Sawyer reports on ABC  Nightly News  on the effect of psych drugs given to children in foster care.

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