None

No beauty
No joy
No laughter
No family
No friend
No purpose
No ambition
No nothing
Nothing
Is
Nothing
Was
Nothing
Will be
Amen

My Aress is Gone

image

This is Aress, yesterday morning.  Ten minutes later he was dead.

A truck pulling a horse trailer went by on the dirt road that I take to get to this hilltop where Aress and I used to live.  Aress went after it.  I called him back to me, and he came.  I held onto his collar while the trailer went rattling by, but it was too much for him and he broke away and ran after the trailer.  I ran down the road screaming his name, and then I saw his body.  The trailer had run over his head.

I threw myself down on top of his body and screamed and screamed.  Buzzards were already gathering.  I screamed the few yards to the van and got a tarp to protect his body from the vultures, and I lay back down in the road holding his body and screamed and screamed, and kept on screaming till the horse trailer guy came back, and I somehow dialed the number of the woman I bought him from and screamed, “Aress is dead!” And then I screamed until she got there and picked me up off his body.  Then some people came and dug him a grave and buried him.  I screamed all night.  Now I’m just crying, and I don’t want to scream because I have another dog to keep me company tonight, but she is sick and I don’t want to upset her.

Maybe this is instant karma for taking Noga’s life.  Maybe his job on earth was finished.  Maybe life has ZERO MEANING and it’s all an illusion.

Maybe it’s so fucked up I can’t even find words to express how fucked up it is

He had become my friend, my brother, my protector from all harm.  He was the only family I had.  THE ONLY FAMILY I HAD, for fuck’s sake.  And he was gone in the blink of an eye.  And now I’m alone, more alone than I’ve ever been.

PLEASE don’t try to tell me I’m not.  I. Am. Alone.

Last night I came the closest I’ve ever come to using my suicide kit.  Instead I took drugs and screamed and screamed and screamed. 

It’s not over yet.  This loss might be too much for me.  My heart and soul were melded with his.  I just don’t know how I can keep on living without him.

“God”?  There is no God.  There is NO God.  If there is some kind of evil thing that causes this kind of damage, may it shrivel and die.  But of there is something called God that causes this kind of damage, may it suffer the same fate.  To create me, a damaged person, to bring a beautiful healing soul into my life so that I begin to see meaning and then without warning to rip my beautiful soul away?  BULLSHIT there is no good in the world, only evil and buzzards and I don’t want to be in a world like this.

Psychological Damage and Retraumatization

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

A truly phenomenal, right on the mark essay on the unique vulnerability that people with history of childhood abuse have to abusers and predators in adulthood, and asks the question, is childhood abuse the basis for mental illness?

Originally posted on Gentle Kindness :

People with mental illness often have psychological damage from being subject to abuse during childhood, Then very often they are retraumatized in adulthood by ending up being the victims of predators, There are narcissistic people that prey people who have C-PTSD from childhood abuse.

Some predators actually will evaluate

you during conversations early in the relationship. They find out about your past and what the effects were. Yes,  when they were seeming to be so sweet and caring, they were pumping you for information, in order to asses how broken you were.

These predators know that broken people are easier to brainwash and drag into their world of control and manipulation. The relationships we have with people like this, retraumatize us and add to the C-PTSD we already had.

You have chosen to click on this post because the title of it struck a nerve with you. Most likely you…

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There’s something I need to tell you.

I’ve been procrastinating, but I must gather courage and do it.

I haven’t wanted to blog about it because it makes me feel defeated, bad, and like a lousy person. I am afraid that my readers will hate me.

I thought about making up some kind of fairytale story to cover it up, and I almost got to believing it myself. I have a lot of grief about it, and I have a lot of grief about a lot of other things, and there’s only so much grief a person can have before you start wanting to make some things disappear from the grief radar.

But it’s no good. I have to face the fact: Noga is dead.

She died just before Memorial Day.

She didn’t get sick, or get run over by a car.

I had her euthanized, and here is why:

I adopted Noga at age 8 months. She was the “ugly duckling” from a show litter, and had been cast aside and ignored, kept crated most of the time. She was not potty trained or socialized at all. She was a happy little girl, but also had a deep anger and resentment toward anything she didn’t like, and she expressed it in a particularly unpleasant way.

If, for instance, I left her in the car on a perfectly cool day in order to run into the grocery or the drug store, when I came back there would be a pile of poop and a puddle of pee on my seat.

I thought this was fear, so even though I gave her a stern lecture about it, I forgave it and went about desensitizing her by going places in the car that ended up in walks in the park, or other pleasant things. Little did I know that I was conditioning her to expect something special for her every time we got in the car!

Eventually she got so that she didn’t make a bathroom out of my car every time I left her, but as soon as I got back to the car I had to kiss and cuddle her and make a big deal of how good she was, which I was happy to do, but if for some reason I was in a hurry and had to make it a quick one, she would sulk in the back seat and ignore me for the rest of the day.

I posted about this on the Lhasa Apso group board, and the answer I got from one of the world-class show breeders was:

“Apsos are a self-serving lot.”

I nodded, shrugged, and went on.

Over five years she became my little buddy, and accompanied me through my dad’s dying, and during his last weeks she was the only one who could make him laugh. When he died, I had to physically remove her from his body. When she loved, she loved fiercely, and that was the root of the problem.

The tears are pouring down my face now, and it’s hard to type.

As most of you know, after my father’s death I bought a small RV, just a conversion van, really, and Noga and I hit the road.

She didn’t like it. She really, really didn’t like it.

Before The Road, when we were living in my father’s studio, she had me all to herself. In fact, she was my only diversion from the constant blackness of my father’s terminal illness and my mother’s terminal abuse of my poor helpless Dad, which I was powerless to stop because not one single person in Adult Services would believe that my “angel” mother, who was a Geriatric Social Worker and had actually trained most of them, could be capable of such a thing, and they all knew about my mental illness, so poor Dad suffered until he went into the nursing home and was finally protected.

And Noga came everywhere with me, and was a big hit with everyone in the nursing home. She especially loved the people with Alzheimer’s, and became the unofficial Therapy Dog of the dementia unit.

But on the other hand, she bit people.

Specifically, she bit anyone who tried to approach me, or my dad—the Hospice nurses, for instance. We thought she was being protective, and since she was only 12 pounds everyone thought it was cute. I made sure to grab her up when anyone came, and most of the time was successful. Occasionally she did get somebody, but we were in Appalachia and people there are used to dogs that bite. Dogs bite, right?

For some reason, she liked to attack children. I had a heck of a time walking her in places where children might run by, or run up and try to pet her; so I made a point of taking her places where it was only she and I. That was how she liked it. But if a child happened to come by, she would lunge at them and I had to be vigilant with the leash, to jerk her back before those sharp little teeth made contact.

Back to The Road.

At first it was OK because she got to sit next to me while I drove, and of course she was my Service Dog so we went everywhere together.

But then something terrible happened. I used my newly found mobility to go and visit dear friends whom I had not seen in many years.

Of course, Noga came too—why wouldn’t she?

But I’ve left out one piece. Rewind five years.

After I brought her home for the first time, she jumped up on my bed and peed and pooped right on it.

Of course I was horrified, especially since it was a furnished house that I was renting from one of my parents’ friends. The quilt was a fine antique. I was in a total state of panic. I assumed that the reason she had done it was simply that she was not potty trained, and disoriented to boot; so I quickly cleaned up the mess, had the quilt professionally cleaned, and put my own linens on the bed.

Then I thought, well, I’ve trained a few dogs, so what should I do? Naturally, the way we potty train puppies is with a crate. We put them in the crate, take them outside every few hours, and praise them to the skies when they do their business where we want them to. Then it’s playtime, and tired puppies go back in the crate for a nap.

But since Noga was used to using her crate for a bathroom, she obliged me by going pee in the yard, but she saved her poop for her crate.

So every day I had not only old towels to clean up and wash, but also a filthy dog.

Then I had a brainstorm: put “potty pads” in the crate and leave the door open. Sure enough, she used her crate for a bathroom. Then I moved the potty pads to a spot near the front door, and took the crate away. Yup, she continued to use the potty pads. Life was good.

Then my son came to visit. I made up his bed, he threw his duffle in the corner, and we sat up talking till late at night as usual. Of course he made much of Noga, and she adored him immediately. He is a dog magnet.

Finally we dragged ourselves off to our respective beds, but—

“Um, Mom?”

I opened my door to find him standing in the doorway of his room. On his pillow was a neat little present: A pile of dog shit. And to make it extra nice, she’d peed on his quilt, too!

I was furious. I grabbed her by the scruff and held her over what she’d done, screaming “No! No! No!” My son fled the room, convulsed with laughter. It was too bizarre.

OK, in this case, jealousy. But using excrement as a tool for expressing displeasure? No, impossible. She’s a dog, for heaven’s sake. A cat might do that, but a dog? It did not make any sense.

If I described every similar instance, every defilement of the bed of a friend who came to visit, or in whose home I was a guest, it would fill so many feet of blog space that you’d get bored and click away, if you haven’t already.

I spent $400 on a phone consultation with an animal behaviorist at University of Tennessee. She chalked it up to a behavioral issue due to a traumatic puppyhood, and gave me some suggestions that didn’t work. The only thing that did work was my undivided attention, which she got most of the time anyway because of my reclusive nature and the state of total isolation that I lived in.

I knew it wasn’t doggy IBS or anything like that, because she flew to Israel and back with me three times, 14 hours each way, sitting on my lap, and never had an accident. And of course there were the innumerable vet visits, racking up thousands on lab tests that showed nothing.

And so it was, that one morning, after I had made the drive to Rochester, NY, to visit a couple who have literally been parents to me when my mother sent me out of her life, I woke up in my van and smelled something. My covers were wet. There was a pile of shit at the foot of my bed, and my dear little dog had rolled in it.

She watched as I opened my eyes. She wagged her tail. I screamed “Nooooooo!!!!!” and she wagged it some more.

I jumped out of bed, dressed, wadded up my bedding and stuffed it into a garbage bag, with the dog shut up in the tiny bathroom so she couldn’t smear her shit-covered fur all over the place.

Before I washed her off under the hose, I took a sample to take to the vet. Maybe she had eaten something bad, maybe her monthly worm medicine didn’t work, maybe I had forgotten to give it to her.

Nope, perfectly normal poop. The vet looked grim and silent.

“What do you think it is?” I didn’t tell him about her long history of pooping on people’s beds.

“Dunno, maybe she’s stressed or something. Come back if it happens again.”

It happened again, that very night. I am sorry to say I lost my temper and hit her, then felt horrible. She didn’t seem to mind. She looked at me and wagged her tail. I guess any attention is good attention to some people.

That night I tied her up in the aisle of the van. In the morning I had to bag up the carpet runner and throw it in the trash, because she had shat all up and down it and rolled in it too. All I could do was cry and wash the dog again.

The next night I put her in the bathroom, which has a molded plastic floor, and lined it with potty pads (did I mention I had lined the entire van with potty pads, but she scratched them aside so she could get to the floor?) thinking perhaps that would at least make cleanup easier, but this time, instead of shitting, she went to work attempting to chew her way out, so that now I have something to remember her by—a totally trashed, formerly brand-new bathroom door. Got me again.

In the meantime, my friend’s husband caught her twice sneaking up the stairs, trying to get to their bed. Oh. My. God. My friend has a poop phobia, and vomits if she even smells it! And Noga snarled at him when he intercepted her. Who would have imagined???

Then I got a call that my aunt, who is 93, had been moved to New Jersey from Florida to live by her daughter (my cousin, I guess you could say), and her daughter needed to go to Florida to close up her mother’s house. That meant Auntie would be alone. I volunteered to Auntie-sit, so off I went to New Jersey, with one or two stops at Laundromats along the way.

Hell had descended upon me. My beloved little angel had turned on me, and it seemed there was nothing I could do about it.

My cousin made arrangements for me to stay at a campground very near the nursing home, so I could visit my aunt two or three times a day. It was a normal campground, full of kids running around and riding bikes. Noga bit two of them, not badly, but she bit them. Fortunately nothing came of it, except that I had to walk her in the nasty woods behind the campground.  I got two ticks.

I continued making daily trips to the campground Laundromat. This was getting very expensive, as well as being just, I can’t say it any other way, hell on earth.

I took another poop sample to a local vet. No parasites, pathogens, nothing. He was very sympathetic, and sent me to another vet who specialized in behavioral problems. He listened to me carefully and here is what he said:

“You know, there are two main classifications of behavioral problems in dogs. There are neuroses, like separation anxiety, that we can treat with medications and behavior modification. Then there are personality disorders, which in the case of dogs, are inborn disorders of the brain. We can try medications (listed them off) if you want…”

I mentioned that I had been giving her Ativan, in case of anxiety, but even though it did make her groggy it did not stop the shitting behavior.

“I thought not. What she is doing is expressing her displeasure. She is punishing you.” I nodded. I knew that. I just had not allowed myself to believe it, because she was my little angel and that just could not be true!

“You have choices. You can try medicating her. Or you can live with it.”

At this point I’m shaking, tears and snot are streaming down my face. Noga is strangely quiet. It’s as if she can understand what we’re talking about.

“I can’t live like this anymore!” I blubbered. “What about finding her a new home?”

He shook his head. No, she would just do the same thing, and then maybe she would end up in some shelter, and she’s adorable so someone would immediately adopt her, and eventually she would end up being abused, maybe sooner than later…I was shaking by this time. I knew where he was going.

“So the only good choice for her is to put her to sleep?”

“Well, it depends how long you can tolerate this. As I said, we can try medication, but frankly I do not believe that it will work.”

I searched inside my heart. I could not live this way. I had already been literally swimming in dog excrement for a month, with no end in sight. I handed her over to the vet tech and stumbled to the front desk, paid the bill, and blinded with tears climbed into my van and fell onto the bare bed, stripped for the thirtieth time, and laid there crying until it was time to go visit my aunt.

“Where’s Noga?! I thought you were going to bring her today!”

My aunt and I have always been close. She’s been much more of a mother to me than my own mother ever was. I blubbered out the whole story.

“Oh Baby, I’m so sorry. I had no idea. Well, you did the right thing. She would have had a miserable life, and she certainly made your life miserable. You’ll both be better off this way.”

I got the same feedback from other friends who knew what was going on. My son was really devastated, though he tried to hide it, but he knew how long I’d been trying to help Noga get over whatever this was, because I loved her so dearly.

And now she’s gone, and I have another dog, because I must have a dog to let me know what’s real and what’s not.

But there will never be another little sweet thing like Noga, even though things got so bad that it had to end.

Enemies: Quote From Winston Churchill, And My Thoughts Upon It

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. –

-Winston Churchill

Good one for this time. Yes, I have enemies. I have people who think I’m stupid. In my experience, that usually means that they are either jealous, ignorant, mean, or just plain stupid themselves.

I’ve seen stupid people. Those are people who refuse to open their eyes to evidence that’s right before their faces, or who keep on doing the same ineffective or maladaptive thing over and over again, and getting more and more pissed off because it STILL isn’t working. Well then.

I have to be on the lookout for these behaviours in myself, more than ever, because the one thing we, or I, anyway, never want to cop to is that we might be acting stupid.

I say ACTING stupid because there is always a choice. Most people aren’t inherently stupid; it’s just easier to revert to deeply embedded ways of squaring off with people or situations that challenge the status quo.

Or, a person develops a persona, and that is the face he presents to the world, rather like a puppet or automaton. So instead of actually engaging with the world from a novel point of view each and every time, it’s easier and much more comfortable to let the persona, which is seamless and in fact homogeneous, handle the situation the way it normally would.

That way you don’t fall into the trap of independent thinking, ch’v’sh. (“Heaven forbid.”)

243

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Been there…..It’s been a rough go for both mange and my now-adult child, but it helped me understand how people with lesser inner resources could, in a flash of desperation, hurt either their child and/or themselves. All of that outside chatter, plus no supportive family, makes navigating the rough seas of an inconsolable baby plus depression more than impossible for some people–and most often, it’s not the mom who loses it, but the father or significant other who “just wants that kid to shut up.” The situation can get out of hand very quickly, and sometimes ends in tragedy.

Originally posted on Depression Comix:

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Read at depression comix at http://wp.me/s3zYhM-243

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Mental Health Recovery Isn’t Always Daisies, Puppies, and Rainbows (And that’s OK)

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

This is one of the best articles on recovery in mental illness that I have ever read. Scratch that: THE best. Way to go, Sam!

Originally posted on Let's Queer Things Up!:

marypoppinsA lot of folks are surprised when I tell them that, despite having a great combination of meds and coping skills, bipolar recovery, for me, does not look like complete and total stability.

I still have ups and downs, and sometimes those mood swings are more intense than you’d expect for someone who calls this phase of their disorder “remission.” I wallow, and I cry, and sometimes it takes a minute before I’m back on my feet.

I say this because I want people to understand something: There’s this idea that mental health recovery is supposed to be some kind of fantastic, magical place where we never experience a negative emotion ever again. But it’s a myth, and a lousy myth at that.

I will probably always feel more intensely than neurotypical folks do. I will have some inexplicable sadness from time to time. I might find myself anxious about…

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Your Writing Sucks!

It glared at me, scrawled in blood-red pencil, across the title page of my Master’s Thesis proposal.

My first impulse was to tear the damn thing up and stuff it in the nearest dumpster.  My writing sucked!  My thesis advisor, who was also the department chair, had written it large and red!

But then, it made no sense.  None of my previous writings in the six years I’d already been his graduate advisee had sucked.  Or if they had, he hadn’t said as much….

So I hightailed it, still bawling, to my favorite committee member’s office.  Thank goodness, she was in!  I dropped the hated document on her desk, hid my face in my hands, and bawled some more.

She flipped through the pages of my manuscript, exclamations of disbelief alternating with heavy sighs as she read the many other profanity-laden comments that I thankfully had not taken the time to read.

“This is serious.  Really serious.  Do you mind if I call on your other committee member?  Right now?  We need to have an emergency meeting.  This could ruin your career.”

I nodded dumbly.  Black spots danced before my eyes.  My head sank down on the professor’s desk.

A glass of water appeared in my hand, and I forced myself to drink it.  The spots cleared, and I heard the anxious voices of the two professors out in the hall, discussing the case and what to do about it.

They entered the room, tight-lipped and furious.

J. lead off.

“Laura, this is inexcusable.  In fact, it’s criminal.  But before we go off half-cocked, I need to fill you in on some background that the department has kept under very close wraps until now.  Promise me that not one word of what I am about to tell you will go beyond the walls of this room.”

I promised.

J. drew a deep breath and began.

“C., the chairman, is a very ill alcoholic.  He’s handled it well until recently.  For some reason, lately it seems it’s taken him over.  Now his wife’s left him.  And the department has given him notice.  He’ll be out at the end of this semester.  They’ve done him the kindness of offering him early retirement.

“This,” she said ruefully, picking up my defaced paper and passing it to A., who had not yet seen the thing, “is the product of his illness.  He was no doubt roaring drunk when he did it, and if you showed it to him now he’d be mortified…or not,” she mused, as an afterthought.

An hour later I left her office burning with rage, fantasizing about what I could do to C. if I were to take the matter to the Administration.  But I knew I wouldn’t.  He was sick, he was injured, he was to be gone and out of my life not at the end of the semester, but NOW.

In J’s office I learned that she herself was to replace C as department chair, and she offered to be my committee chair as well.  I jumped at the opportunity.  J was a brilliant scholar, an exacting mentor, but fair and kind.  She would see to it that C and I would not cross paths again.  I wept again–this time, for gratitude.

My thesis made its way through many a revision, guided by my new committee.  A new third member was added, in the person of someone whose work I idolized.  I could not have been happier, except that when copies of my final draft arrived back in my inbox, my writing idol had written, in blood-red pencil, in neat letters across the top of the title page:

I want to write like you write.

DADDY COME BACK

Yes I know
It was your time
And what a time
You chose
To go

For Death did not
Catch you sleeping
No;
You took HER,
Deliberate
Concentrating
Meditating
On the HOW of it

As in all things,
Slowly,
Carefully,
Artfully
You waited.

Waited,
For Yom Kippur
That choicest of choice Days
Fasting,
You refused
Even to let me
Wet your cracked lips

“Ah,” I understood,
“Your food is spiritual now.”
Closed eyes, you nodded,
And I knew
Before long
You would be gone.

Indeed,
Just after dawn
Your chest,
That still-great
Box of wind,
Began to heave

I called them in
I had to share
Your precious last hour
I didn’t want to.

Three breaths from the last
You knit your brow
Now,
Intense
Concentration

As a diver
Steadies himself
For that great leap
Into
Great
Abyss:
Two more breaths
And you were
No more.

I closed the dear eyes
Lowered bed to the floor,
Crying out
“SH’MAAA Yisra’el,
Adonai Eloheinu,
Adonai Echaaaddd…”

Kaddish
Psalms
Undertaker
Gone

241

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Been on both sides of that one…

Originally posted on Depression Comix:

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Read at depression comix at http://wp.me/s3zYhM-241

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