heavy heart full of pain

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

My friend here has (fortunately and unfortunately) captured what I feel when I’m profoundly depressed. I wonder if it’s like that for everybody. How about you? Can you share? I feel like sharing our experience of our illnesses is empowering. One of the signatures of depression is isolating oneself, or being alone in a crowd. If you feel like having a conversation about this, I think it might be helpful to a lot of people.

Originally posted on midnightdemons7:

Heavy heart full of pain

I have been in a funk the past few hours. I thought it was because I didn’t eat for several hours but I had dinner and my heart sunk lower than it did before eating. I feel really miserable. I just feel really depressed and I don’t know why. That is the hardest part of dealing with this illness. It just takes so much just to go from a to b. I did a lot today but I still feel like I am useless. I feel like I have no purpose. I texted my therapist to tell me it is worth one’s while to live, but I haven’t heard back. I honestly don’t expect a response. She probably will give me a response tomorrow.

I just feel like my heart can’t take any more pain that I am feeling. It is getting to be unbearable…

View original 541 more words

So Much For My Salmon!

Yesterday I shared my horror at discovering that the guvvy is mucking about with the food supply again–this time in the form of “GMO” giantized salmon.

At the very moment of that writing, a fillet of what looked to be perfectly normal Atlantic salmon reposed in my fridge.  I purchased this, mind you, before I had any idea that Frankensalmon could be even now glaring at me through the fish counter window.

After reading the GMO fish article I reflected a moment, then decided not to pitch it based on its petite proportions.  After all, I am petite (?). 

So this evening I decided to eat it, despite the fact that I was not at all hungry.  I have been struggling with this damn depression for many months now, which has ruined my appetite and made me even more petite.  But I gathered my resolve.  I must eat if I am to have strength to fight this monkey off my back, right?

So I took a pack of this yummy gluten free rice ramen, which tastes like cardboard soaked in hot pee.  A nice piece of fresh salmon will flavorize it, right?

Removing the fillet from its brown paper wrapping, I inspected it for signs of illegitimacy.  There were none.  I smelled it.  It smelled like fresh salmon.

Atina, my now-20-month-old Belgian Malinois, was driving me crazy humping her fleece blanket.  She does that.  Often.  She is a sex-crazed teenager.

So, to get her mind off of humping for two minutes, I cut a strip of raw salmon skin into tiny bits, made her sit and look deeeply into my eyes, and handed her a bit of salmon.

You would think that any dog would be in ecstatic transports, being the lucky recipient of a piece of salmon, no?


Atina rolled it around on her palate, gave it a cursory chew, and spit it out on the floor with a look that said, “Awww, wadja do THAT for?”

“Girl,” says I, “You have just become the Royal Tasteress.”

I threw the rest of that fucking fish in the freezer, to be disposed of next time I go to the dump. 

I really think this is a sign that after our Thanksgiving duck I need to become a better vegetarian.

My main problem is motivation.  No, wait.  My main problem is that I’m too fucking depressed to care whether I eat or not.  It’s a vicious cycle, because the less I eat, the more my nutrition suffers, my body falls apart, my brain doesn’t work right, and everything sucks more.

If I had a lovely dark skinned South Indian kitchen staff cooking for me, I bet I’d eat.  There is nothing that will make my senses happier than dosai (a crepe made out of lentil paste) filled with spiced potatoes, with sambar (a piquant soup served with dosai and related dishes), coconut/green chili chutney, tamarind chutney, and slurping it up gloriously with the hands.

I think of my beautiful brown friends in South India who fed me so lovingly, and begged me to stop crying because it was making them sad.  But I couldn’t stop crying because no one had ever been so kind to me before.

One woman in particular touches my heart to its core.

She is a big woman in a culture that values petiteness, and she feels this acutely.  Also she is very dark, and Indian women are obsessed with trying to make themselves fair.

I think she is the most beautiful woman in the world.  When she wraps you up in her soft-strong hug, chuckling from somewhere in her soul, you feel embraced by the Cosmic Mother.

When she confided her sadnesses to me, I said, only half joking, “Oh my dear, you are so beautiful, can I come and live at your house?”

She looked very seriously and long, her deep brown eyes into my mood-ring blue hazel ones, and said,


Unlike myself, who live in a tin can with a bathroom in it, my friend lives in a mud hut with no bathroom in it.  Cooking is done over an open fire.  Panthers, tigers, snakes and rabid domestic animals are the local hazards, not counting the men.  My friend’s husband beat her because she miscarried her baby, then he left her for another girl.

I have to think of her more.  A large part of me wishes I hadn’t left.  Another, larger piece of me wants to go back and find her.   I would learn how to cook dosai, iddlies, vadas, biryani…anything to make those deep brown eyes light up.

But no salmon.

I don’t believe my friend has tasted salmon.

Article: The FDA finally approved ‘Frankenfish’ — the first genetically modified animal you can eat

“The FDA finally approved ‘Frankenfish’ — the first genetically modified animal you can eat”


And you thought GMO soybeans were scary?

This article should have come out on Halloween.

I’m just speculating here, but if I wanted to make a fish that grew hugely bigger in a much smaller time than its normal cohorts, I would increase its secretion of growth hormone.

But wait: the article states that the fish are sterile.  They can’t reproduce, or so they say.  So does that mean that each fish is the subject of generic tweaking?  Sounds expensive to me.  Since the driving force behind more-for-less is money, I doubt that there is an army of experts injecting fish fry with modified DNA.  (The baby fish kind of fry, not the kind with hushpuppies.)

And what about the fact that the US won’t even allow these mega fish to be cultured in the States, but only imported from two specific sites in Canada and Panama?

And what about the article’s statement that the water in which the fish are grown must be carefully contained so that it doesn’t reach the oceans and contaminate wild fish?  This implies that there’s something in the water that is causing these fish to grow huge in a short time.  I vote for growth hormone.

Now we come to the really scary part:  since the FDA has declared these modified fish to be identical with wild-type salmon, there is no mandate to label it as GMO.

I find this terrifying on a number of levels.

One is that the FDA is scared enough about the safety of growing these monsters using the methods proposed, that it outright bans the type of aquaculture that it’s permitting us to eat products thereof.

The second is that our children are already experiencing puberty at younger and younger ages.  Where 30 years ago the average age of puberty for a girl was 12, now it’s not uncommon for a girl to have her first menstrual period at 8, in certain ethnic groups, and 10 overall.  There is evidence that this is caused by hormones used to beef up food animals and to increase milk production in dairy cows.  How do we know what the long term effects of whatever they’re putting in these fishes’ water might be on growing humans?  We won’t know for at least another generation.

The third is that since there is no labeling requirement, we have no way of knowing what we’re eating.  I’m hoping the giant fish will look different, at least.

Damn, I bought a piece of salmon at Whole Foods yesterday.  It was from a very small fish, though.  I’ll eat it anyway.

But I think this will be the last “regular” salmon I eat.  Maybe Coho, or….maybe goodbye, farmed fish.  It was such a good idea.  Aquaculture was supposed to have saved the world’s food supply.  Instead, I believe we’re headed in the opposite direction.

Lentils.  I don’t think they’ve messed with lentils yet.

Egyptian TV Host: ISIS Is Israeli-British-American Made, Al-Baghdadi a Jew

Had your daily dose of the absurd yet?  This won’t take long.  I laughed so hard, my coffee went up my nose!.


Ad Ana..How Long?

While the world reels from the news of the Paris massacre, millions of observant Jews the world over will not know what has happened until after sundown Saturday night.

That is because during our Sabbath, which begins shortly before sunset on Friday and ends after sundown on Saturday, observant Jews do not listen to radio, watch TV, use the computer, or do anything besides pray, share festive meals, study Torah (our sacred texts), and rest.

Clearly, I’m not observant at this time.

But when I was, I remember emerging from the Sabbath bubble on Saturday night to hear of one or another horrible acts of mass destruction. 

I can only imagine the terror, the overburdened communication services as Jews fly to the phones, Skype, email, etc, to try to locate family and friends in Paris, on Saturday night.

This is what the terrorists want.  They want terror!  And they will keep getting what they want, as long as we keep giving it to them.

A good friend, who will not know about the Paris massacre until tomorrow night, said this to me yesterday:

There are two ways to think about the problem.  There is the Saul way, and there is the David way.

Saul said, “No, we can’t possibly fight the Philistines!  There are too many of them!  They are giants!  They are demanding that we send out our best hero, and we don’t have any hero to send out!”

David said, “Fuck a bunch of that.  My God is all the hero I need.”

Even if you don’t believe in such a thing as a God (I’m not sure), it’s crucial to look at things from David’s point of view.  Are we going to let ourselves be globally bullied in the name of political correctness, or are we going to demonstrate to those who would kill us that it’s really not worth the trouble?

We are stuck between the fire and the frying pan in a lot of ways.

The late Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, once wrote, “We have met the enemy, and they are us.”  I quote this often, because I believe it’s a risk we take when we react to violence with violence.

Another problem is that when dealing with an enemy for whom the best possible outcome is to become a “martyr” (in quotes because dying for one’s beliefs historically does not include taking innocent lives with you), paying violence back with violence simply fans the flames.

On the other hand, doing nothing, or trying to broker peace by means of words, does not buy peace.  Our enemies see this as weak.

It seems that no matter what we do, no matter how easy we make it, how many doors are opened, there is a large and growing faction that now is not content merely to murder Jews and become martyrs.  This new “caliphate” actually DOES want to take over the world.

When IS first raised its head the world laughed.  How could a handful of rabid extremists do more than blow themselves up in town squares in Syria? 

The world is not laughing now.  More and more disaffected youth from every part of the world are going into training camps to become IS fighters.  Young women willingly travel to Syria to marry fighters and make more of them.  Girls are kidnapped, raped, and forced to marry IS fighters, to make more of them. 

Americans watch TV and say,  “That’s on the other side of the world.  It has nothing to do with us.  It’s a passing thing.”

I watch the Western world’s reaction to the growing violence, and I think of the same reaction during the run-up to World War II, the outrageous rounding up of Roma, gays, Catholics, and, of course, Jews.  No one could believe that this was happening, because it was unbelievable.

When I speak this way, people shout me down, accuse me of being a pessimist, a Chicken Little, tell me this is a whole different thing, a tempest in a teapot, etc.

But it’s not.

It’s the same thing, different day, and this time it’s not just the Jews (although it seems that anytime is open season on Jews).

It’s everybody.

So I ask you…is Goliath really so big nowadays that one mighty force cannot destroy him?

Tell me what you think.  I’m listening, and I’m afraid.

Packed With Wholesome Goodness

And it’s heart-healthy, Zero Everything, Good For You, and 100% Whole Grain (OK, the grain is white flour, but still).

Where have I just come from, dear readers?  Planet Claire?  Well, yes, and they also have grocery stores.

I would like to find the advertising executives who work for the companies that use this vapid copy. 

Can I write for you?  I can put together asinine slogans such as, “Filled With The Wholesome Goodness of Heart-Healthy Whole Grains.”

I actually saw a number of combinations of these exemplary examples of advertising copy, as I was cruising the aisles looking for what I really wanted, which was of course buried among the Good-For-You foods.  I don’t really like things that are Good For Me, as a rule.  I mean, I do like them, but at the moment I am too depressed to prepare them, let alone eat them; so I am making do with Heart-Healthy microwave meals, which are much too small for the calories contained.  Did I mention I’m a recovering anorexic? 

It was really terribly amusing to amble through the aisles noting the repetitive, monotonous descriptive cliches.  Any reasonably motivated blogger could make a pile of money cranking out Zero, Good For You, Wholesome Goodness, with a little Delicious and Nutritious and maybe Yummy thrown in to clinch the deal.

Since all advertising has to adhere to the Stick To Eighth Grade level of literacy rule, I guess “Scrumptious” is out of the question.  It’s ninth grade.

On a positive note, I discovered a brand of gluten free Oreo knock-offs that promise to be “Wonderously Rich.”  Splendid! 

They made it as far as the van before I took a scissors to the wrapper and sampled them.  It was my duty.

I don’t know about Wonderously Rich, but let me tell you they are CRUNCHY and DELICIOUS!  It’s very difficult to find crunchy and delicious gluten free cookies.  I ate two.

Speaking of ad speak, what’s this garbage about (fill in the blank)-free?  What are these things “free” of?  Disease?  Germs?  Lead?

Caffeine.  Gluten.  Lactose.  Fat.  Sugar.

Hell, in the olden days we used to say things like, “sugarless candy,”  or “skim milk (that’s fat-free), or even “diet pop,” which might have been sugarless, but it was never caffeine free.  What’s the point?   You want a bump, maybe you don’t want 240 calories (you want to know the caloric content of anything?  Just ask any anorexic), but decaf soda?  Ridiculous.

It was an uplifting experience, strolling down the supermarket aisles and sneering at the creme-filled, whole-grain, heart-healthy cupcakes.

Bon appetite!

When Is Enough Enough?

I lived with my father as he slowly died in increasingly excruciating pain over years and years.  When my mother was home, she forbid him to say, “I hurt,” and she withheld his pain medication “because it made him sleep all the time.”

He slept all the time anyway, because that was the only way he could reduce his pain level.  He groaned in his sleep, though.

Unfortunately, I have inherited the disease that caused his pain: degenerative joint disease, with the added agony of degenerative disc disease.

For the past few weeks the combination of mental and physical pain has me close to the breaking point.  I can’t take opiates because they make me itch, and my skin condition makes it impossible to scratch without tearing off pieces of myself, leaving a wound that takes a month to heal.  In addition, the docs in this part of the country are so afraid of opiates that they refuse to prescribe.  So I’m stuck with using mj, which is somewhat illegal here.  But I have things to do, so I can’t use enough to really relieve the pain, because that would put me in bed.  So I’m screwed.

The psychic pain–there are no words to describe. 

Part of it is endogenous.  Part is environmental–the part of the country I’m stuck in at the moment is grey and damp, two things I can’t stand.  The sun came out for five minutes today and it was balm to my soul.  I’m out of here just as soon as my task is done.

My task is to clean my stuff out of my father’s old studio, where I lived for the last four years of his life.  It took me four days just to clear the spiders out.  Now I’m sorting  through things, making three piles: throw out, because of damage from humidity; give away, because I’m not going to use anymore; keep.

Just to to the situational depression off, Atina is not doing well.  This week her labs were worse.  Her kidneys are getting leakier.  They’re no longer holding her blood proteins in her blood.  They were leaking protein before, but her serum proteins were holding their own; now her kidneys are leaking more than her body can produce to keep up with the loss.

Today we took a short walk in the woods.  It’s been raining for weeks, and since it had stopped this morning (but is back now) I thought it would do us both good to take a walk.  But she wasn’t interested in playing in the creek, and although she carried her ball, she didn’t want to play with it.  And she simply collapsed halfway through where I wanted to go, which is only half a mile on flat ground.  I had to sit down and wait for her to recover.

Now she has fallen off the driver’s seat, which is where she normally sleeps, and is passed out on the floor where she landed.  It looks like she’s nearing the end of her sweet life.

When will my misery end?

I want to stay alive until my son finishes his Ph.D in May.  I want to see him off on the next part of his journey.

He and I have talked about what we lived through with his grandpa, and that I have the same illness, with the added fun of bipolar.  We have had the talk about what will happen when I can’t stand the pain any longer.

It’s one thing to talk about it, and another thing to live it.  I know he’ll survive.  But losing one’s mother is a terrible thing.  And living in agony is a terrible thing.

There will come a tipping point.  I keep on living for others: for my son, for my dog…should I get another dog?  Can I live that long?

In three years my income will be drastically reduced, to the point where I literally can’t live.  I guess that will be the end of the line, if it doesn’t come sooner.

The Knife Intifada Video

Yup, you’re right.  I don’t drag politics into my blog, because my blog is about living with mental illness, and I hold to that.

However, there is something going on in the world that can no longer be ignored, pushed off as a one-off, or justified by other actions.

Rather than waste more of your time, I ask you to watch what’s going on here, and regardless of your political position, ask yourself, “what does this mean for ME, as a human being, and for the world?  Do I believe in genocide for any reason?  Who is the people who are marked for genocide here?  Are they a numerous people?  Is genocide condoned by the UN?”

Phantom Limb Pain

There’s a crazy phenomenon that sometimes happens when a person loses a limb. The nervous system thinks the limb is still there, so that the person continues to have the sensation of having it.  I mean, to the point of the former owner freaking out because they want to put on a sock because the foot is cold, but the foot persists in not being present.  This is called a Phantom Limb.

But since the limb has really been amputated, the limb also feels the pain of that, and of the injury or disease that lead to the amputation.  This can become a terrible situation if the limb doesn’t get used to being amputated and settle down.  How can you relieve the pain of something that doesn’t exist?

I just realized that I am suffering from Phantom Limb Pain.

Some of my readers know that I am caring for my beautiful Belgian Malinois, Atina, who is dying of kidney disease.  She is now 19 months old, and starting to slow way down.  I’m enjoying her delightful self for now, and I will take care of her until it is time for her to go.

I just received the final pathology report.  It is terrible.

For those who don’t toss around medical terminology on a daily basis, let me give you your word of the day:  nephron.

A nephron is the basic operating unit of the kidney.  It has three parts, which all have different essential tasks in maintaining the balance of fluids and electrolytes (like sodium and potassium) in our bodies.  In addition, special cells called podocytes keep our serum proteins from leaking out.  These are the parts of the kidney that maintain fluid and electrolyte homeostasis, in a delicate and incredibly intelligent system of checks and balances.  Any disturbance of kidney function can lead to a disruption in the system, depending upon which area of the kidney is damaged.  And that can lead to illness and death.

Atina’s biopsy shows that 90% of her nephrons are fetal, which means that kidney development was arrested before three weeks of life.  The pathologist writes that this could be due to disease or toxins being transmitted to the pup through the mom’s milk.  The remaining 10% of normal nephrons are becoming ballooned out of shape from having to process all that pee by themselves, and their podocytes are starting to detach, which is why her urine is full of protein.  Soon those few functioning nephrons will die, and then Atina will die.

I stopped by the vet’s yesterday for another reason, and just for kicks had Atina stand on the scale.  She’s gained three more pounds…of fluid.

When I first got her, she weighed 55 pounds of skin and bones.  She looked like a sick cow.  With treatment and lots of love, she put on ten pounds and was looking and acting like a normal, healthy, happy, bratty adolescent Malinois.  I started her in Service Dog training and she was doing great.  I had this spark of hope…

Then she started looking weird and puffy.  Despite treatment, her blood pressure was sky high (another kidney function thing), and she went back to drinking gallon after gallon of water, and peeing like a waterfall many times a day, and even needing to go out at night sometimes.  And her weight keeps creeping up, and her appetite keeps slowing down…

I’m glad she’s with me, and that I’ve had the honor to be her very own human and caregiver, friend and mutual aid society.  We are passionately in love.  She’s asleep now, but if she knew that I am crying she would rush to my bed and throw herself on top of me, causing various injuries.  Since I know that they are love bites, scratches, and bruises, I take them in the spirit in which they were inflicted.  And once her initial exuberance settles down, she cuddles and kisses and lets me cry in her fur.

Aside from the love injuries, I have been injured in many ways since becoming Atina’s personal angel.

I needed a service dog to guide me through the next ten or so years of my life.  Instead I got a very sweet invalid dog, with whom I fell in love, from whom I will be parted very soon.

This beautiful sick girl of mine cost me $12,000 up front, and more than $10,000 in medical expenses so far.  I have used up most of my financial and emotional resources, and at the end of the day, I won’t have a dog, and I won’t have the money, and since even now I keep myself alive by force of will, Atina’s death may sever the thread I’m hanging on.

Everyone says, “Sue the bitch (who sold you the dog)!”  Easier said than done.

Yesterday I had a telephone consultation with an attorney from the State Bar Association’s referral service.  He listened to the “short version,” told me he had no experience with cases like this but would be happy to litigate it, outlined the essential steps, reminded me that his hourly fee is $210 (a bargain, actually), that the case would cost a minimum of $20,000 to litigate, that we would surely win, that the first thing he needs to do is to examine the purchase contact and look at some other things, and that in order to do so he needs a $5,000 retainer.

Phantom Limb Pain.

Before I became a disabled person, back in the days when I went to work every evening, relished in healing the sick, lame, and halt, and also in bringing home the bacon and frying it in the pan: if someone needed a legal spanking I had only to pick up the phone, and if my own attorney couldn’t do it, he knew someone who could.  Retainer fees?  Not a problem.  Not a question.  Not required!  Don’t even offer!  They knew I was good for it, and besides, they might need my expert witness services one day…or their kid might need to be sewed up on a Sunday… But now all I have to offer is

Phantom Limb Pain

as I am cut off from myself, and I can’t get back what is gone

I can feel it, even see it, but it’s gone

And now I have to beg some abogado, please, please

If you think my case is so straight-forward, please take it on contingency, or reduced fees, or even pro bono

I have Phantom Limb Pain, don’t you see

I’m not what I once was
I find myself in reduced


I am among the lame and halt now
As one day you yourself might be

As odd as that might seem

No one ever dreams it will be them
Believe me, Mr. Esquire, Sir, The Hon.,

no one ever

believes that it can get worse

But it can get worse

And then it can turn into

Phantom Limb Pain

Happy Birthday, Dad

You would have been 91 years old today.

As it turned out, you left last year, three weeks short of your ninetieth birthday.  You couldn’t hang around for the chocolate cake; you had places to go.  You stuck it out as long as you could.  But anyone with a brain in their head could see that you were finished.

You were my hero.  I adored you, and I still adore you, and I always will adore you.  My tiny house on wheels is adorned with photos of you and your art.  It’s a rolling monument; you have no other, since you chose to be incinerated rather than buried…I always thought you’d make an ash of yourself….

I chuckle when I think of the horrible puns you managed to dig up on every possible occasion.  You and I would roar with laughter while Mom twisted up her face in disgust.  I wanted to punch her, but you either ignored her or said, “Aw, come on, don’t be such a fuddy-duddy.”

The week before you died, you complained of boredom, so I brought a book of short stories that I had given you many years ago.  I began to read my favorite, then realized with horror that it was a very black story about death!

I said, “Uh, Dad, do you mind some black humor?”

Through blue lips you croaked, “The blacker the better!”  And we had our last good chuckle.

You never laid a hand on me in anger, except for the one time you gave me a real over-the-knee spanking, at my mother’s insistence, for the crime of running away from her (again).  But your anger was not at me, but at her, and after the deed was done, you left me crying on my bed and closed the door.  I heard you tell her to do her own dirty-work.  Then my door opened and you came in to make sure I was all right.  You never touched me again, except for your bear-hugs and rides on your shoulders.  I loved it when we came to a doorway and you would shout “Low bridge!” so that I would know to fold myself around your bald head, and you would crouch down so I wouldn’t get bashed.

Your body betrayed you, but you squeezed the last drop of your strength to make your beautiful art.  It was only when your mind finally failed that you made your last body of beautiful work, walked out your studio door, and never returned.

You mourned your work, as I mourn mine.  Our conversations about that laid to rest your bitterness about my leaving practice, and my bitterness that you thought it was out of laziness rather than disability.  Once you had tasted the bile of being unable to do the work you loved, you apologized to me, and the sweetness of that apology erased my pain, although I grieved the fact that you had to live my experience in order to learn it.

After I left home, and my mother disowned me, you would sneak and visit me, wherever I happened to be, on pretense of work.  We reveled in our stolen fruit. 

Once when you came to dinner, I slipped on the kitchen floor and spilled the whole pot of home-made spaghetti sauce, full of sausages and mushrooms and wine, which you must have known had cost me a month’s worth of wages to buy.  You made your “tsk” sound and grabbed pot and spoon, and scraped that sauce right off my kitchen floor.

“You mean we’re going to eat that?”

“Damn right,” you grinned.  And we sure did, and chalked up another of our secret treasures.

And that time in Chicago, when you had dropped a machine on your hand and crushed it, and had it in a cast; and I had had a soccer injury, and was on crutches; and Chicago had had one of her epic snowstorms–we tottered around town, holding each other up, a couple of cripples, hilarious at every near-miss slip.

Oh, you taught me how to scare minnows from under their rocks and catch them in my hands, how to tuck a frying pan and some bacon and cornmeal in my creel in case one of us actually hooked a fish, and how to make a smokeless fire on which to cook it, if it came to that.

You taught me to chew tobacco (yuck), how to smoke a pipe of tobacco (blech), and how to get roaring drunk and laugh and talk philosophy till the wee hours (yum).

I could go on and on writing about the gifts you gave me, and someday I just might.  However, since I know you want me to save some for later, I’ll just sneak these in:

Honesty, integrity, genuineness, ingenuity, and never, ever to do anything just to “go with the crowd.”

And to live and love fiercely.

Your loving daughter,


PS I miss you


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,188 other followers