Healing with humour-Weapons of math destruction

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Thanks to Kat for the reblog on her site. On my mobile, can’t link to her blog…:( but this is sooooo funny for us geeks!

Originally posted on Multi-Me:

At New York’s Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, the Attorney general said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

“Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,” the Attorney general said. “They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like “x” and “y” and refer to themselves as “unknowns”, but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

“As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to…

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Today Is Another Day: Rapid Cycling

As you may remember, yesterday I was painting my toenails in the middle of the night.

Alas, that was not to last.  I woke up this morning with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

After I finally went to sleep last night, with the aid of more Seroquel, I woke up a bunch of times because my arms were numb and tingling.

Fuck, you know, this has been going on in one form or another for several years.   I’ve been writing it off as probably due to my arthritic collar bone, but this is different.

My medical experience gives me all kinds of terrible fears.  MS is the main one these days.

I remember the day in medical school when they taught us all the bad things that can possibly happen to breasts.

My then-husband came home to find me huddled in the bed hysterically crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

“My breasts!  They’re a ticking time bomb!  I want them off right now!”

“There there,” he said, not knowing what else to say.

The next day I ran to the Student Gynecology Service to get a pre-operative exam.  The kind Nurse Midwife examined me and assured me that at the moment my breasts were not explosive, and offered to re-check them whenever I started feeling breast-anxious.

I felt rather foolish, but relieved that at the age of 29, nothing was wrong with my breasts.

Why do I make these digressions when I’m depressed?

Maybe it’s because I don’t really want to engage with the depression.  I know it will pass, and something else will take its place, but when it’s on me, it’s literally on me, and all over me, and in me, and I can’t shake it off.  All that happens is I start crying and feeling like someone is trying to rip out my guts, and doing a pretty good job at it.

Then it passes, just as quickly as it came.  What follows might be a period of “normality,” meaning, neither hot nor cold, and this is heavenly.  But it never lasts.

Hypomania, or frank mania with psychosis, tends to raise its ugly head at night, about bedtime; which for me is at 9 pm because my meds take 12 hours to wear off.  Actually they take 13 hours, but that is an embarrassing amount of time to sleep, so I actually set an alarm for 9 am.

I can tell the (hypo)mania is on its way because my bedtime knockout cocktail doesn’t do a thing.  I’m awake playing Solitaire on my iPad, which usually bores me to sleep, except now I’m totally awake: uncomfortable in my skin, twitching, restless.  I don’t want to look up because sometimes my wallpaper turns into ugly faces.

I follow the protocol my shrink and I developed for these very occasions: more Seroquel.  Another 50 mg till it knocks me out.  And a double dose of my benzos for good measure.

Sometimes it takes a couple hundred more milligrams of Seroquel to do the job.  I have an incredibly low tolerance for Seroquel, so my maintenance dose is only 100 mg.  I know, I know, some of you take 600-800.  That would put me to sleep for several days.  I usually get to 300 before it’s knock-down time.

The good thing about hypo/mania is that it can be controlled, if recognized early enough.  Depression, though…that’s another beast.

Bipolar depression is different from “regular” depression for reasons I don’t know.  I was treated with regular antidepressants for years, and was pretty much suicidally depressed the whole time.  Vitamins “L” (Lithium and Lamictal) saved my life, quite literally.  Blessings upon the quirky head of my neuropsychiatrist, who was on call when I was hospitalized the first time, and got my bipolar figured out.

The only adjustment we can do for the depression part of the roller-coaster is to up the Lamictal by 50 mg, which puts me at 200.  More than that pops me over into mania.  It’s a delicate balance, as you can see.

So the only thing I can really do with this depression is to wait it out.  Sometimes it does get suicidally bad, and then I have to think about my dog and my son, and what my suicide would mean for them.

I put them in that order, because my dog is helpless without me (although yes, I could put her in Rescue, but that thought makes me cry harder) and my son second, because even though it would tear him to pieces, he is at least able to provide for himself, unlike my dog.  I know that makes no sense but that is how it happens to fall out in my brain.

I’m starting to feel tired now, which means this part of the wave is coming to a close–I don’t know exactly when–and what happens next I cannot guess.

OH NO!!!!

Hello, dear readers.  I think I have flipped.

I caught myself giving me a pedicure at 11:45 PM.  And really enjoying getting artistic about it.  It came out brilliantly, if I may be so obnoxious.

Hm.  Something does not feel quite right.

So I smoked half a joint, meditatively.

That’s when I got it.

I have been a slump since last Wednesday.  Well, not exactly a slump.  I would call it a triggered, dissociated, PTSD’d mess.  But it seems that under that pile of oozing slime, the Black Dog was lying relaxed, head up, tongue hanging out and dripping, waiting.

As I was enjoying my joint it hit me:  Silly silly, you have been depressed all week.  I mean, you have felt terrible, am I wrong?

But now have no fear, because Hypomania has made her entrance.  What fun!  Actually it is, if I don’t ruin anything important in the process.

Who knows how long I could stay up tonight, answering mail since last fall and calling Israel to check on the abysmal state of my bank account, since I haven’t been back in almost a year.  I could, in fact, put away the unspeakable piles of **stuf** that has collected on every flat surface.  I have to push objects away on the table in order to have space to eat.

No, not really that bad, most of the time.  Just during the down spells, where I have no interest whatsoever in that big envelope that promises instant gazillionair-hood.  I throw it all on the table.

Then if I’m lucky I’ll have a nice productive flip.  If I can stand still enough I can get all sorts of things done.  But **sigh** there is little danger of that.  Plenty to do in the big world!  Now, if I can just find a way to stay in this pleasant condition and not get into a mixed episode (shudder) or pop all the way into mania–not fun……..but now for the extra dose of Seroquel so I can get some sleep tonight….

194

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Clay’s comic rings all kinds of bells.
Speaking from my experience as a bullied depressed suicidal child, I suspect that most bullying starts at home. It did in mine. The bullied child is the scapegoat. His or her self-image is formed practically in the womb (I have my theories about that), or at least in the pre-verbal period. S/he has no words to describe herself apart from what he has been told: **you’re worthless, you’re useless, you can’t ever do anything right, why can’t you be more like your sister/brother** et cetera. S/he’s a sitting duck at school, for all the reasons Clay illustrates here.

Originally posted on depression comix (WP.com):

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Time Slave

Dearest Readers, I don’t know where to begin.

Everything in my life is a cliche.

Meekly I cave in to my mother’s demands, even when it means harm to me, physically and emotionally.  She publicly denigrates my role as my father’s caregiver.  The Hospice nurse coordinator visits.  I try to explain my situation as a person with spine injuries who cannot physically help my now paraplegic father.  I can’t transfer him from wheelchair to bed–“I can do it,” my mother interjects, with a snort, a face twisted with disgust.

I explain to the nurses how many, many times my father has fallen during my mother’s attempts to transfer him–how many times the on-call nurse has had to find their well-hidden home in the middle of the night, because once my father is on the floor, she can’t get him up.  How many times EMS has had to come, to check him for injuries and get him back into bed.  How many ER visits, before he went on Hospice and no longer goes to the hospital unless he has broken a bone or something else fixable.

Her glare reminds me of her intolerable cat.  He was re-homed three times before she got him at the shelter.  You know what they say about pets resembling their people….it’s that people are attracted to pets that share their personalities, is all.  That’s clear.

I see what her body language (and her face, twisted with disdain for me) says:  the same thing it said so many years ago, before I left with the intention of never returning to the parental hell-hole: “You’re useless,” she used to say then.  Now she says it again.

If I mention my disability, I get a “Hah!”  Which means to say, “You’re just lazy, a parasite on The System.”  No amount of stuttering defense on my part that I worked very hard in my career, that I loved my work, and would never have left it except for my disability–her head turns, face twists–my stomach climbs into my esophagus, I feel sick but can’t do anything about it.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, from 11:30 am to whatever time she gets home in the late afternoon, I take care of Dad.  Yesterday was Wednesday, and he had a dentist appointment at 1:30 pm.  We usually call for the rural transport van to take us to appointments, but this time she decided that the caregiver who comes in the mornings to get him out of bed, shower him etc. (this she cannot do) would help transport him in my car.  I was not consulted, but told, with a large dose of sarcasm, that this is what would happen.  She said she had called the transport, as she said she would do, 48 hours in advance of when we needed them.

They were full up, she told me the morning of the appointment.  That has never happened before.  She was lying, as she often does.  She sees no evil in lying, if it suits her purpose.  She probably forgot.  Why else would she choose to pay the caregiver $12 an hour over the transport, which costs $4 for door-to-door service with the wheelchair and assistance getting through doors, etc.?

So to the dentist we all went, Dad, the caregiver, and me.  It was a quick appointment, so we were home within the hour.  The caregiver said his goodbyes and headed off.

His tail lights were still visible going up the drive when Dad announced he had to go to the bathroom.

This is a hard one for me.  I was trained up in extreme modesty.  I have seen my mother not-quite-naked once, my father never.  So now I’m expected to take care of his intimate needs.

But a need is a need.  Right now I’m more worried about getting him from wheelchair to toilet and back, than I am about what to do regarding the bodily functions and subsequent clean-up.

So I get him into the bathroom in his wheelchair, which is already a difficult job.  When it started becoming clear that he would no longer be climbing stairs to take a shower, some 3 years ago, I designed a wheelchair-accessible bathroom for downstairs (I love designing bathrooms).  I purposely designed it with a lot of open space for safely turning and maneuvering the chair.

My mother, who can’t stand open space, immediately filled it with chairs and bookcases for storing towels, even though I designed a closet area, convenient yet out of the way, into the layout.  I guess she needed something else to complain about, because of course the steam from the shower is warping her bookcases.

Anyway.

I got Dad into the bathroom, moving furniture along the way.  I got him to stand, unsteadily holding onto the commode frame I installed for just such occasions (and to keep him from falling off the toilet and getting wedged between the toilet and the sink, which happened twice before I put in the grab assist bars).  Dissociating quick, I pulled down his sweat pants and diaper so I could get him on the john.

But not quick enough.  He lost control of his bladder all over his clothing, the toilet, the floor, and–me.  He was mortified.  I was dissociated.

He apologized profusely, and I felt helpless.  We both felt helpless.  He said he was finished.  I saw he was soaked.

The next task was to get his sodden clothes off him (even his socks were wet!), wash his wet legs, and give him a washcloth so he could clean up his “delicate parts,” as I told him, which got a laugh out of him, at least.

Then I had to get dry things on him.  While he was cleaning his delicate parts I had laid out clean things for him: sweat pants, diaper, socks.  Draping a towel across his lap for modesty, I got his socks on.

But that was all.  I got his diaper and pants as far as his knees, but then he had to stand for just a moment so I could pull everything up where it goes.

He was too exhausted by the effort of standing the first time to get himself out of the chair.  I was too exhausted from the first time to pull him up–and I didn’t want to risk dropping him.   Why didn’t I think of myself, my disintegrating spine, which is on the same trajectory as his ruined vertebrae?  Why didn’t I just leave things as they were for the moment, cover him up, and go watch Westerns and have a Scotch with him in the living room?

My mother, is why.  I was afraid of the consequences of being too disabled to haul Dad around.  So I did my best, and hurt myself again in the process.  Today I am one hurtin’ puppy. My neck is in such a spasm I can’t turn my head.  Shit.

Why don’t I get it, and stop acting like a slave?

So back in the bathroom…after a couple of tries, Dad and I both called it a day.  I got his bathrobe and draped it over his lap, and we wheeled into the living room.  I put on the Westerns and he watched Bat Masterson shoot ‘em up without breaking a sweat while I cleaned myself up as much as possible.

I wonder if Bat Masterson has trouble controlling his bladder now that he’s old.

I dreaded the arrival of She Who Must Be Obeyed.  Trigger, trigger, trigger….faster trigger than Bat Masterson.

Luckily She had had a good day out, and didn’t humiliate the two of us on the spot.  But it will come, believe me.  It will come.

The hell-cat, who never makes an appearance when She is out, came down the stairs demanding food.  She clucked over him and fed his already bloated body, while Dad sat half-naked in front of the TV.

The Whole Social Media Thing

To begin with, I can’t see sh*t.  That is because I got new glasses about a month ago, with the usual promise that “I will get used to them.”  Having worn glasses for 53 years, I do have some experience with that phenomenon.  These are wrong, and I’ve been round and round with the eye people about them, so until I get that straightened out (probably by forfeiting the $385 they cost me and going elsewhere), I have about a centimeter of lens in my left eye that I can actually see out of.  So if I make typos (horrors!) here, please forgive Little Miss Picky because she is mostly blind at the moment.

Social media: WordPress.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Google Hangouts.  Google Plus.  Or is it Google+?  I don’t care.  For some reason it infuriates me.  Perhaps it’s the feeling of chaos that overcomes me when I know for sure that I have no control whatsoever regarding what little groups, or big, or medium groups I get included in.  I’ve tried posting on Google+ that I don’t want to be included in it.  Of course that generated discussion, good-byes, and affirmations that people would respect my wishes.

Not.  I keep getting family photos, adorable pictures of the new baby sister, etc., all on Google+.  I don’t respond to any of it, so the way I know it was heaved in my general direction via Google+ is when I get an irate, or disappointed, or whatever negative emotional reaction, in my actual email inbox.

Other people try to send me stuff (or register their displeasure at my non-response to Google+) via Facebook.  I look at Facebook, oh, maybe once every two or three months, except when there is a war and then everyone in my country uses it to communicate so I am on several times a day.

Quiet returns, I’m no longer there.

Oh right, Skype.  F*ck Skype.  They send me all kinds of communications in I think Icelandish, by the look of it.  I don’t understand that language.  I do use Skype once or twice a year, but I sure as hell do not leave it open so that it can start ringing and disturb my train of thought.  Anyone who knows me well enough to Skype me knows my email address.  We can make an appointment.

Twitter.  Yeah, I’m sure it’s really useful, especially in times of war and natural disaster.  It’s just that, people, I am on the autistic spectrum and I just don’t care about most things.  I care about my family, my dog, my son especially, my ethnic group, the scary situation with the honeybees, the scary situation with the bats (another very important creature that most people don’t even know about), the bad things that are done to whales by our “Defense Department(s),” and other things I’m quite sure most other people don’t know about and might not care about even if they did know about them.  I do not give one shit or Shinola about my mother’s hellish cat.

So Twitter, unless there is a war or natural disaster that you want to keep up with, is just plain intrusive.  I finally figured out how to turn off audio notifications in my current flavor of Android (who the f*ck cares whether it’s “Ice Cream Soda” or “Strawberry Suppository”?).  They’re just trying to keep up with Apple’s infuriating system of naming their big operating systems after big cats.  Jeeezus K. Reist (thank you R. Crumb), not only do we have to figure out how to stop the effing Apple Store from taking over the whole damn computer, but in addition have to remember what CAT we’re running?  I HATE that.  “Hello, Applecare, there is black smoke coming out from under my keyboard.”  “Oh I’m sorry to hear that, are you running Leopard, Snow Leopard, or Abominable Snowman today?”  “There’s no such OS as Abominable Snowman.”  “Oh yes ma’am, you’re right, I was just fucking with your head.  Now how may I help you today?”  (I discreetly send reverse amplification to their dumb and dumber terminal, causing a chain reaction on their side that blows every circuit in their personal MacBook Pro Titanium, and also gives them a hell of a toothache.

So.  No, Twitter gives me a headache.  Use my email if you want to talk to me, OK?

There’s an email in my right sidebar.  You’re welcome and encouraged to use it!  And of course I fastidiously monitor and respond to comments on my blogs!  That’s where I really feel there is a personal connection.  It’s great for people on the Autistic Spectrum, because you can interact on a personal level without ever having to do air kisses, or hug people you don’t know, or try to avoid people crushing your arthritic hands in their “firm handshake,” or smelling their idea of perfume that makes you gag, or making eye contact for any reason.  Right.  It is a panacea for all of the threatening forms of social intercourse, while opening space for actual exchange of ideas and, yes, emotion, Dr. Spock.

In the meantime, well….there really isn’t any meantime, since you’ve already read all about it above!

Love yas all, peace…..

Ve’hi Sheh Amdah L’Avoteinu–In Memoriam

Ve’hi sheh amdah l’avoteinu

May the One who stood firm for our Ancestors

Ye’hi sheh amdah l’avoteinu ve’lanu

May He who stood firm for our Ancestors and for us

Sheh lo echad bilvad amad aleynu,

Because not just one has stood upon us,

Aleynu le’charuteynu

Upon us to completely destroy us.

Ve’Hakadosh Baruch Hu matzileinu

And the Blessed Holy One delivers us,

Matzileinu, mi’yadam

Delivers us, from their hands

Ve’Hakadosh Baruch Hu matzileinu

And the Blessed Holy One delivers us

Matzileinu mi’yadam

Delivers us from their hands

–from the Passover Hagaddah, set to music in the following video by my neighbor Yonatan Razel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqB4EuBvrbc[/embed]

In memoriam of the three teenagers who disappeared from a hitchhiking junction/bus stop on their way home, 18 days ago, and yesterday were  found in a shallow grave close by.  

We were all hoping, praying, that like Gilad Shalit, who was abducted from his Army post and held for 5 years in Gaza, the boys would be found alive; tragically this was not the case.

It is thought that the killers were some of the 1200+ prisoners released from Israeli prisons, 450 of whom had blood on their hands from bus bombings, suicide bombings of cafes (which have been rebuilt, and I have eaten in every one of them) and other acts of senseless terror against Israelis, in exchange for Gilad Shalit’s release.

Why are we holding back our hands?  In Samuel I, King Shaul is stripped of his kingship for disobeying God’s command to kill ALL of the Canaanites, including their women, children, and livestock.  Shaul had pity on the women and children, and also on the livestock, which the Hebrew army intended to bring as sacrifices to God, or so they said.  Because of his “humane” disobedience to God, he was sent off to live out his insanity in a place called “Givat Shaul,” or “Saul’s Hill,” which today is covered with banks and factories.  Worse than that, our failure to hold strong in carrying out God’s will has brought this plague of terror upon us.

No, I am not advocating genocide, God forbid.  I am advocating teaching the terrorist organizations that terrorizing Israelis with “rockets,” which are not the kind that fathers build with sons on Saturdays, but are deadly missiles armed with nails and bolts, and with kidnappings and killings by any means they can think of, teaching them that we are NOT the cowards they think we are.  We need to kick their arse so hard that they will crawl back into their tunnels and kill each other (which they are doing anyway) and never DARE to lift a hand against an Israeli child, woman, or man again.

I was thinking that I would again publish a list of the killings of innocent Israelis, children sleeping in their beds or playing in their yards, but the list has grown so long since I last published it that I would have to spend all night collecting data.

But, you will say, nothing trumps the 2009 Operation Lead (Dreidle in Hebrew; I don’t know what it got translated to in English) where 1200 or so Gazans were killed by Israeli bombing.  There were citations of how many “children” were killed in that war.  Please remember that the terror organizations consider it a great honor for their children to go to their idea of heaven by means of martyrdom.  This is part of their education, as can be seen on Al-Arabiyah and Al-Jazeera, and on official Palistinian Authority TV (in Arabic–not their mild English counterparts) and in numerous Youtube videos where mothers are saying that the best thing in the world would be for their children to be shaheeds, or martyrs.  These little shaheeds are sent to greet Israeli soldiers, wearing suicide vests.  The same with women, as you might have heard reported many times in Iraq.  So just because someone is under 18 and therefore classified as a “child” does not mean they are not armed and dangerous.  I will stop now: I know too much, unfortunately, and it is bad for my blood pressure.  The take-home point is that “they” do not think like “we” do.  And this is not some Islamophobic tirade; it is a simple statement of fact, unfortunately.

Why are we trying to throw water on a fire that is burning out of control?  Both Hamas and Fatah (let us not forget that Fatah and the PLO were the brainchildren of Yasser Arafat, who engineered the 1st Intifada in 1987 (he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994), which killed thousands of Israelis.)  In a public statement that later because part of the PLO.Fatah’s mission statement, he was quoted:

Our basic aim is to liberate the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. We are not concerned with what took place in June 1967 or in eliminating the consequences of the June war. The Palestinian revolution’s basic concern is the uprooting of the Zionist entity from our land and liberating it.
—Yasser Arafat, 1970

This was adopted by Hamas upon their formal organization.  Fatah and Hamas are now formally united, although there is considerable in-fighting.

Why are we tip-toeing around a barbaric organization that has sworn to push us into the Mediterranean?  We have been more than tolerant to a nation that has publicly sworn to genocide.

I am not concerned with losing readership over this post.  What I am concerned for is the Jewish State of Palestine, as it was known until 1948.  We have tried and tried and tried to co-exist, but they will not have it.  They want us out.  And what will they have, without Israelis to provide them with jobs, electricity, water, education, unemployment payments?  They will live like Iraqis, like Syrians, like Afghans.  And no one will help them, b’ezrat Hashem.

 

Can’t It Be “Just Because”??!?!?

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

I am SO on the same page. Stigma strikes again! Maybe the guy has a violent streak–does that mean he is mentally ill? Are character flaws classified as mental illness in the DSMV? I’ll have to look. But I doubt it. Some people are just jerks, but I don’t think you’ll find “jerk” in the DSM. Thanks for bringing up this REALLY IMPORTANT point!!!

Originally posted on Pride in Madness:

Won’t say to much about this but seeing an article called “Luis Suarez’s bite has many questioning his mental health” sends fiery rage through my body. Every time someone does something we do not approve of we have to immediately question their mental health status!

Sometimes people do things. They do things in the moment for whatever reason but it doesn’t mean we need to closely examine them looking for the “why’s”. JUST BECAUSE! Things happen!

STOP IT!!!!

I’m in no way making an opinion on Suarez’s mental health status and frankly, I don’t care. I’m making an opinion on how society (us) disapproval leads to the suspicion or diagnosis of a mental illness. This in turns perpetuates the stereotype that people with mental health issues do things we disapprove of and in some cases these things are violent.

STOP IT!!!!

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Enter The Black Dog

Normally I’m pretty good at cloaking my moods.  I’m trained in the art of dissembling.  One of the hidden maxims of medical training is, “Control your face.”  Don’t let the patient know that you’ve just found a….you’ve just done a……and barely got yourself out of it….your surgical assistant is the most beautiful thing in the world…you just farted.  Etc.

One thing it’s hard to conceal is The Black Dog’s visits: depression.  I’ve never been good at it.  I cry at the drop of a hat anyway.  So I’ve gotten good at noting which exam rooms are empty, so as to duck into one for a good bawl, and exit red-eyed.

“What’s wrong with your eyes?”

“Allergies.”

Yesterday I woke up feeling like somebody had clubbed me over the head.  I couldn’t tell where I was in time or space.  My brain felt like chocolate pudding, but not at all tasty.  Actually, I didn’t wake up at all.  If a friend hadn’t texted me at 1:45 pm, I would probably still be asleep.  Poor starving Noga lay next to my head, resolute.  If I had kept right on sleeping, I don’t think she would wake me up to feed her.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

I felt kind of like I felt when I took my bedtime medicines in the morning, except this was even worse.  I was hoping it would wear off as the day (what was left of it) wore on, but no.  At bedtime last night I resolved only to take those medications which if you do not take them you might get a seizure, which happened to be the same meds I go to sleep by.  How convenient.

I was quite sure that after a good day’s/night’s sleep, certainly whatever I had taken would have worn off, but no.  Well, it did, to some extent, but then I started feeling cross and weepy.  I yelled at my dog.  I’m very relieved that she seems to understand, and cuddled up with me for a lie-down-not-nap after I got from the grocery store.  I’m amazed that I got back, since I really, really should not be driving in this condition.

I still have not put away the groceries, six hours later.  I have not put away the enormous piles of laundry that I took to the laundromat the day before the day before.  And I just read an article about the habits of Brown Recluse spiders, that they sequester themselves in the fingers of your work gloves (!) and in piles of laundry left on the floor (!!).  Well, these are in black plastic bags, if that helps.  (The reason I was reading up on Brown Recluse spiders is that I found one uncomfortably close to where I sleep, the other day.)

Last night, the night between Days One and Two of the Feel-bads, I had one of my thankfully rare episodes of chest pain.  They occur sometime in the middle of the night, and are so intense that I can’t move.  Even if I thought it was a heart attack, I would not be able to move to call the ambulance.  So I have learned to have the attitude that if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go, and I am a Do Not Resuscitate specimen anyway.  I toy with having that tattooed across my chest, but my religion specifically forbids tattooing.  I mean, come on, like 5,000 years ago there was a law against tattooing?  What, Moses was afraid we would all become, like, Goths?

Where was I.  Oh yes.  This episode of chest pain occurred between Days One an Two of the Feel-bads, and I was not at all sure I was going to wake up at all, but in fact my alarm did rouse me, as it hadn’t on the previous morning.  I rose, feeling hopeful, but a wave of nausea washed over me and I sat down on my bed again, uncertain, until I remembered that my mother had to go and have some tests at the hospital and I was supposed to go and sit with Dad so that the morning caregiver could go to his second job.

I managed to crawl out of the house at noon, after waking at nine.  Given that I don’t even have a shower to loiter in, which I would have done had I had one, I can’t account for the time at all.

My mother was at home already, triumphant that even though they had done the wrong test, it was negative and therefore she knows more than me.  But she needed tomatoes, so if I were going to the store, would I get her two?

I hadn’t really been planning to go anywhere, given my foggy mental condition, but I caved in to her request and got in my car, very slowly and carefully, and in that condition drove to the store, where I discovered that I needed at lot more than just her two tomatoes.

On my return to the P’s house I caught my wrist in the tailgate of the Outback as I was closing it, and my paper-like skin split over the back of my right wrist.  I didn’t notice the blood until I got home, though, which is what prompted yelling at the dog, because I was bleeding all over the place and she was blocking the passage between myself and the sink full of dishes, where I wanted to wash my wound and see how bad it was.  It could be that she knew something was up and was concerned about me.  That is probably the case.

As you see, I have diverted you from thinking about the fact that somehow or other, The Black Dog has made his way to my doorstep.  Ah, that was what Noga was bugging me about!  It was really as if it hit me right as I walked in the door: the wall of depression.  Smack.

I don’t know what triggered what, in the Feel-bads scenario.  Could have been either one, doesn’t matter.  This morning I took my meds as usual, and I think I did on The Lost Day before that.  If I don’t feel better tomorrow I’ll increase my Lamectil by 50 mg.  My shrink, who has been my shrink since 2001, he and I have protocols for everything.  Depressed?  Add more Lamectil.   Psychotic and/or manic?  Seroquel.  Anxiety?  Clonazepam or Lorazepam.  And so on.

But tomorrow is another day, and this one ain’t over yet.  My lie-down with Noga helped, and I know she’ll want to cuddle at bedtime–she always does.  She’s very predictable.  She runs on ritual, on routine.  And by default, she causes me to have a modicum of routine, which I would not otherwise have, being unemployed and an undisciplined writer.  She has just had her evening bit of obedience training–she demands this every evening at 8:30, not because she so much enjoys the training as she does the treats that accompany it.

And now it’s time for evening meds, brush the teeth etc., arrange the nighttime necessary things in the sleeping area: tissues in case of crying and its accompanying snot, bottle of seltzer (I really like my water to sparkle on the palate) bottle of Ouzo (I like a little Ouzo before sleep, if I don’t fall asleep from the meds before I have a chance to drink it), pee bottles (pee bottles?  Right.  I don’t have a toilet).  And one little fuzzy golden Lhasa Apso, who will no doubt jump up in the spot where my feet are supposed to go and give me the “Apso Look,” which is indescribable; if you have seen it you’ll know what I mean.  But what she means is: “Show me that you love me and haul my 13 pounds up to your face and give me kisses and hugs.”

Which, of course, I will be delighted to do, at the peril of soaking portions of her fur with my tears.

Living Alone By Choice

I have lived alone for many years–since 2005, to be exact.  I had some roommate-type people in my life for about six months in 2008, but it was an enormous house and I had the entire top floor, which had a luxurious bathroom by that country’s standards: it had a sort of bathtub that you could fit into if you scrunched yourself up very tightly.  The only time I had contact with the roommates was in the kitchen, and that was bad enough: two Orthodox Jewish women who kept meticulous Kosher (myself and my favored roomie) and the other, a contrary Dutch woman who wanted to convert to Judaism but was too stubborn to accept its laws.

We were not permitted, by Jewish law, to use any of her cooking or eating utensils; and the other Jewish woman was Chabad, and they have different (and much more strict) customs than the stream of Judaism I practiced, so she also had her own set of cooking and eating utensils, which consisted of a frying pan, a pot, a glass, a plate, a fork, a knife, and a spoon.  I am the post-professional cook, so I require lots and lots of cupboard space.  Luckily there was plenty.

That is, until the snow storm melted and got into the walls, and the walls sprouted huge bracket fungus which released choking spores into the air.  Time to move.

Even though I adore the Chabad woman, with whom I maintain an occasional but warm relationship, I was eager to find a place on my own.  It took me a few moves to find the right place, but it happened, and I was very happy there for four beautiful years.

Then my father’s various disasters started happening with increasing frequency, so I moved yet again, to the other side of the world, to be near him.

Now I live in what is basically a reclaimed barn.  I have running water from a live spring that comes out of one tap.  There is a two-gallon hot water heater–I don’t know whose brilliant idea that was, but I can tell you it’s not enough hot water to do a few dishes, or to wash myself or my hair, which requires heating water in the kettle and using a pitcher to pour it over my head over the sink.  Washing the rest of me is easier, but I won’t go into the details.

Bathroom there is none, as you may have surmised from the above paragraph.  In fine weather the toilet is outside.  When the weather is foul or cold, I have an electric incinerating toilet (a consolation gift from my mother, very unusual).  I am loth to use it, though, because contrary to the blurb on its website, it stinks to high heaven and I am forced to spend a small fortune on incense.

But–I live alone.  I don’t have to put up with anyone else’s habits or eccentricities, arguments over whether it’s pronounced “almonds” or “ah-monds,” or some well-meaning recycling obsessive type who goes through the trash in case I threw out recyclables or compostables (!) each and every time I toss something in the bin.  I can bloody well contribute anything I like to the ever-growing plague of solid waste on the planet.  And I beg the question of whether or not to compost by pointing out the bear tracks near my barn.  I’m certain no compost bin is completely bear-proof, and at the very least it would end up at the bottom of the cliff.  So the small amount of compostable waste I generate goes right in the bin and I feel absolutely no guilt about it.

I don’t have to deal with someone else’s bong filling the air with blue stinking haze.  Now, I should be the last to complain about someone enjoying a little smoke, since I do it myself.  I guess it’s a matter of scale.  I am a lightweight when it comes to intoxicants of all kinds.  I drink, yes: about half an ounce of Scotch or Bourbon will do, and one or two tokes on a small pipe takes care of my ganja needs.  My air is not so thick that you need to part the curtain of thick smoke just to remark to your wrecked roomie that the smoke detector seems to have been deactivated.

All things considered, I am very comfortable in my barn, with no one to bother or to bother me, and no one to ask me questions, or rifle through the trash after me, or argue about the pronunciation of the names of seeds.  My air is clear, my kitchen is Kosher but not overly so, and my view of the river is obstructed only by the leaves of the black birch and beech trees, when they are leafed out.

If the whole thing were lifted up and carried to the other side of the world, my joy would be complete.

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