It’s a Tea Kind of Day

Today I had to have tea instead of coffee. This really has no major significance other then I’ve started my day with coffee for as long as I can remember. It has me thinking about how much can change with just one slight alteration in one’s life. So today I’m trying to be mindful of what is different then normal, my mood, my motivation, anything at all. Maybe I’ll be a tea person from now on because it changes my whole day? I’m not really sure. It isn’t likely, but really who knows?
Maybe tea isn’t going to change my whole life, but the thought still remains. What could one little change in my past do to alter my entire life? What change in the history of the US, or the world do to change our current time lines? I’ve thought about this a lot recently when trying to process some stuff that happened to myself and some friends back in the day. Like if I changed one thing about the situation, what would have been different?
Dangerous lines to go down, I do realize this. The past is just that, the past, and it can not be changed, no matter how much we’d like for that to be the truth. That is, until time machines are a real thing, in which case I have a few ideas for alterations for my personal life and for that of the US and the world. I might not be a high ranking official, but I’ve got a pretty good idea on a few things that could lead us into a better life then we have now. Also- I want to be selfish for once and change some of the bad decisions I’ve made. Who wouldn’t want that?
Do you ever find yourself wondering about these things? I do it a lot. I try to incorporate that into my writing, because the choices I’ve made are what shaped me into who I am. I can’t help but wonder who I would be if things were different. It also makes me hyper focused on the decisions I make now and what the results may end up being, because I have a feeling my future self might be analyzing these moments to see where I went wrong just like I do now with my past decisions.
This is quite the rabbit hole I get myself in. You make so many decisions in your life, how do you know what ones really got you where you are? It could be something so little as what you wore that day that ended up with you on spouse number 3 10 years later. You don’t know, I don’t know. It could be anything, couldn’t it? Maybe my tea isn’t what changes my life, but maybe it is.
All I know is I currently miss the kick of my coffee. Tea is great, but it is not something that I can add espresso too and even drinking it black doesn’t make it feel strong enough, but it is yummy. So who knows, maybe I’ll get used to it!

Brief Thoughts

With all the crazy crap happening right now I wasn’t going to write anything yet. I need time for my mind to calm down and to be able to put thoughts together coherently, but then I thought, if I don’t talk about this then that makes me complacent and right now, complacency is not the route to go. I’ll keep this post short, and I don’t care if you don’t agree with me, I’m going to say this anyway.
What happened in Charlottesville is wrong. Am I surprised? Hell no. It isn’t like incidents like this are new. It isn’t like this vile hatred and racism is new. If you are shocked or saying this isn’t America then you, my friend, haven’t been paying attention. Open your eyes and look around you. Racism and violence against minorities has never gone away. Ever. Don’t try to tell me it has. It is disgusting and the fact that we are giving these (call them what they are people!) Nazis a platform to spread their hate is more disgusting.
We need to resist. We need to speak up and take action. I don’t care how small you think you are and if you think you can’t make a difference. You can. You will. Do something!

If you don’t know how to help, ask someone. I’m sure there are a million people around you who can tell you one way that you can help. Just do it. I can’t really stress it enough.
I’m not going to go further with this post. There is so much more I want to say, but like I mentioned in the start of this post, my thoughts are not coherent right now. I will writing something much more in depth in the future. For now, I just want to say this RESIST.
I will leave you with a video, and I will warn you in advance, this is rated E- for explicit, but it sums up my feelings a bit.

Dog Things

I’ve wanted to write something about this for awhile, but never have. This subject has nothing to do with writing, books, or anything even remotely related, but it is important to me.

I have this wonderfully amazing dog. Her name is Idris. She is a Pit Bull- German Shepard mix and we adopted her from our local Animal Shelter about 4 years ago. Before the Animal Shelter she was a stray and when we adopted her she was about six months old, she had no training and had never (as far as anyone could tell) had an owner.

Idris took a bit of time to adjust to having humans. She nipped and played too rough. She chased the cats so badly some of them would try to climb the curtains, but with time she became better. She even now knows that the word “Ow” means she stops what she is doing immediately and calms down- even if she wasn’t playing with you roughly.

All of the things that Idris did that made it difficult for us she grew out of. At least most of the things. She does still bark and growl if someone comes to the house, but to be honest, I’d rather have her do that then ignore it when strangers come by, I don’t exactly live in the greatest of neighborhoods.

There is one thing though that no matter what we’ve tried, she just can’t get over.

Idris is horrible on her leash. Not in a she pulls too hard kind of way (I mean she does, she is super strong, but that isn’t much of an issue). Idris has days where if anyone comes near us, she will bark and growl and act a fool- and if they have a dog, forget it. Some people call this ‘leash aggressive’ and I won’t deny that when she acts like this, that is what she is being, aggressive, but I also know that if the person or dog were to actually take the time to come see her and let her get close she wouldn’t be aggressive, she would put her tail between her legs and hide behind me.

So I guess, the whole reason I want to write this is not because I want people to walk up to a dog that is barking or lunging at them. No, that’d be silly (don’t do it), but what I want is for you to understand that just because a dog does this doesn’t mean they are actually an aggressive dog. Idris would never hurt anyone unless she thought they were hurting me, and even then it’d have to be obvious they were trying to harm me.

I see the looks Idris gets when I walk her, even when she doesn’t act up. I know what people are thinking about her, and about me and it hurts me to think that anyone could look at my baby and think she is vicious. Yes, I get it, she isn’t putting her best foot forward on the days that she acts like this (which is not every time I walk her, it is actually getting to be more and more rare). Even when she is the best behaved dog, people see her and see what breed she is, or maybe they’d seen us before on one of her bad days and now that is all they think of when they look at her.

I’m not asking for anyone to look at a dog that is being aggressive and assume they are the sweetest baby. What I’m asking is that you remember that they are someone’s loved pet, and yeah, they’ve got some issues, but as owners we do try our best to limit these instances but even a leash aggressive dog needs to be walked.

I usually walk Idris super early in the morning or just before dark at night because I know that is when there aren’t many people out, but every now and again there is, and on one of her bad days she’ll do what she does. I can’t help it. It is just a part of who she is. Sure I bet one of those more aggressive types of training could work it out of her, but I don’t agree with their methods. I have tried every humane way I can think of to help her, but she is after all an animal, and she is going to go with her animal instincts.

I’m not looking for training tips, or advise. It’s cool if you think you know far more than I do and want to give me some super amazing advise, but you don’t know me, or my dog and I’ve tried damn near everything already, so kindly, if you are reading this, keep your advise to yourself. I appreciate the thought, but I don’t want it. I haven’t given up trying to help Idris, this is a long process and it isn’t going to work right away, but she is getting better so I’m at least on to something.

What I want out of all this is some understanding. I want you to think twice next time you see a dog that isn’t perfectly behaved and know that the owner is probably trying everything they can to help their dog feel more comfortable on walks, but this process is trial and error. Know that the owner, is so embarrassed that their dog acts like this and they wish more than anything that everyone else could see their beloved pet in the way that they do. A little bit of understanding goes a long way. Even a knowing nod when you see them notice you down the road and turn down the first side road they can see.

And while this isn’t an advertisement, the more people that know about The Yellow Dog Project the better. This is so important for people with dogs like me, and it is a great way to let your neighbors know that your dog needs special care when out and about, for various reasons, and that just coming up to them isn’t always a good idea. You should always ask someone before approaching their dog no matter what, but this way you know it is an extra good idea to do so.

 

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My life consists of D&D now

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I’m in a really odd place in my life right now. I’ve just started playing D&D, a lot. I would say on average I play 3-4 days a week in a mixture of Homebrew and Adventurers League. With my anxiety medication actually working it makes it easier to go out and be semi social, even if I am pretending to be someone else while I’m there.

This is great for me on many levels. A big one being I’m actually getting out of my house, and for those of you who don’t know me, that doesn’t happen often. It is also fuel for my imagination, which is always helpful considering my imagination is what keeps me going most days.

All is not great though. I have noticed, with my new schedule that I’m missing out on a lot of things. Sleep being a big one, but my writing is also suffering. I am still working on figuring out a way to fit it all in, but I’m getting there. I’m forcing myself to get up in the morning, which currently is hit or miss for me as mornings are not my favorite thing, but hey, at least I’m trying right!

I won’t be successfully completing Camp NaNo this month, but that’s okay. What this non-writing time has provided to me is a ton of ideas and an almost endless supply of even more ideas. That to me, is far more important. The words will come eventually, I don’t have to rush them. I don’t have any kind of deadlines anyway. Writing is just what I love, I don’t have to rush for anyone. I write for myself.

That is all for now. Maybe I’ll have something more thought provoking next week.

 

Another Post About Mental Illness

Hello again everyone! I’m back with another post on Mental Illness. Why? Because it is so important to me that people understand that there is no reason to hide or be ashamed to talk about their MI, but also because I was asked if there was any way I could write something about how to be a good friend or supporter for someone with MI when you yourself don’t have one. I think that it such a great idea that I have started trying to formulate ideas right away. I’ve even done research (sort of!), for those of you who haven’t realized it yet, research is not my favorite thing to do. I’m more of a write what comes to mind kind of person, but I wanted to have resources out there beyond just what I can write about. Every person is different and every one with MI is especially not the same. What might work for one is not always going to work for another, so keep that in mind as I tell you what helps me.
I have Bipolar II, what that means is I can often become severely depressed, even to the point of mania. I can also be so happy I’m almost euphoric, but those states don’t last as long. Yeah there is a whole lot more with B2 that I could mention, but this post isn’t about what I have, this is about how, as a friend or family member (biological or chosen) you can be there for me, and for others like me. The reason I tell you what I have is because it is important to know. It is important to educate yourself when you can. Don’t believe the misinformation that is out there, and there is a lot. Try to find resources that you know are going to be telling you the truth not trying to push some kind of stereotype.
If you are comfortable enough, ask your friend. Sometimes they won’t want to talk about it, or sometimes they won’t even know they have a MI. For the longest time I thought I was a fairly normal teenage girl. My angst and my mood swings, they were normal because if they weren’t that mean there was just one more thing about me that people could use against me. I didn’t accept what I had until my early 20s, which wasn’t soon enough, but it was better than not knowing I guess. I continued un-medicated most of my adult life thus far, as you can see in a previous post that is no longer the case, but that isn’t what this post is about.
So other than educating yourself what can you do? For someone like me it is as simple as letting me know you are there. Letting me know that you understand that sometimes I say things I don’t mean because I’m not exactly in the right frame of mind to think clearly. I’m a fairly solitary person so my Manic episodes are often unnoticed by those around me and that is fine I’ve spent a lot time dealing with it myself, but as my friend if I call or text you and tell you I need someone, just try to be there. You don’t have to respond to my 6 AM text message, but respond when you can. I just need to know that you are still there and you still care.
When I’m Depressed I often just need to hide away under the blankets, but I can’t because real life gets in the way, so I get up and I do what has to be done. I need extra attention in these periods and they usually last much longer than when I am Manic. I am mentally and often physically exhausted after only a few hours of trying to do anything. I can cry at any moment, and for any that know me, I’m not a crier generally but when I’m depressed it could come at any time.
Beyond my B2 have Anxiety. So that requires a bit more understanding. My anxiety manifests in a few different ways. The first and most common is making plans with friends and canceling last minute. It isn’t because I don’t want to hang out with you, I do, but after making the plans (which I was totally into at the time) I realized that I just can’t do whatever it was we had planned to do. There could be many reasons for this change, but most often it is that going out in public is something that can often be really difficult for me. At least when I feel like I have to be “turned on” in the process. Turned on is not a sexual phrase, I am using it to describe the feeling of having to be present and engaged with another human being, a process that comes easy for most, but not for me. It is exhausting and sometimes I just can’t do it. Now if you want to come over and sit quietly and read books and drink tea, I can tell you I am almost always down for that, but having to be engaging and in public, that takes a whole lot of energy and most days I just don’t have it.
I have just recently started to be able to go out and do things in public by myself. That is a huge step for me. I don’t generally do anything alone and often require the presence of another who fully understands that sometimes I just need you there with me, but I don’t want to have to be engaging. I have a few people that I can do that with, and it is wonderful, but I’ve been trying not to need them so much because I know, especially for my husband, it can put a damper on their plans sometimes. So I’ve been able to go out and do things, and that is great. The reason I bring it up is because I need my friends and family to understand that just because I can do something alone, does not mean I can do it in a group of people. I can sometimes do it one on one, but not always (see last paragraph).
My Anxiety also loves to tell me horrible things. It tells me I’m a burden, it tells me that my friends often don’t actually like me, it tells me people are talking about me, sometimes it tells me that my family doesn’t care. I try my best to remember when my brain is telling me the truth of when my Anxiety Brain has taken over, but sometimes it isn’t that easy and I will say or do something stupid because I fully believe what my Anxiety is telling me. This is a perfect time for you to set me straight. I don’t often like to be told when I’m wrong, but I need you to point out when my Anxiety Brain has taken over, but still be kind, just firm. Reassure me that yes, you are still my friend and that no I do not want to quit writing. Tell me that I need to stop and think about what I’m saying for a moment. It often helps.
I also have Anxiety Attacks, they are less common currently but I’ve just started new medication so that is normal. If you aren’t familiar with Anxiety Attacks let me describe it to you (keeping in mind this is my experience and may not be the experience of others): My heart races and I feel like everything around me is hopeless. I cry, I rock back and forth, my brain is telling me all these things and I’m believing it. Everything is horrible and I can’t handle much of anything and can often not form clear thought. I’m overwhelmed by everything around me and I just need to hide, or get away, or some how remove myself from whatever situation it is that I’m in. These aren’t super easy to deal with, but the one thing I can tell you, unless I request otherwise do not touch me. Many articles I’ve seen state to get behind someone having an anxiety attack and hug them and don’t let go no matter how much they struggle. I can tell you that I, and almost anyone I’ve ever talked to with anxiety do not want you to do this. For me, it will make things so much worse. Don’t do it, you are not helping if you do. If I ask you to hold me or hug me, that is different, but unless I clearly ask for it, touching me is off limits. Just talk to me, try to be as calm as you can, because I’m freaking out enough for the both of us. If it is in your power to remove me from whatever I’m doing, then that is appreciated. Otherwise just talk to me, be my friend.
Honestly for me all I need is a bit of understanding. You don’t have to know what I’m going through. I don’t need you to understand. I need for you to be my friend. Yeah sometimes I require a bit more effort than most, it is true, but I kind of think I’m worth it. That is really all I can say on how to deal with me and my MI. I’d love to see any others share how to help them, if they are comfortable doing so.

As promised, links: (Don’t take these as a rule, just a way to start to educate yourself)

Supporting Someone With A Mental Illness

15 Ways to Support a Loved One with Severe Mental Illness

For Friends and Family Members

How to Help A Loved One

 

A Doctor Listened to Me!!!

It happened! I got a doctor to listen to me! Yeah I know this isn’t about writing, but believe it or not my life consists of more than writing. That may be blasphemous to say, but it is true. One of the things that I have to deal with more than anything beyond writing is my Mental Health. I have suffered from various ‘diagnoses’ that were never official and never fully treated (normally because I’d get frustrated and stop treatment).
After my brother died in December I went to my Primary Care at the encouragement of my Therapist to seek medication for my anxiety and the deep depression I had sunk into. This depression was/is beyond anything I’ve experienced in my life, and I can tell you I’ve had some pretty bad times in my life with being depressed. So my Doctor gave me medication to treat anxiety and major depressive disorder. I was hopeful, as hopeful as I could be for someone who could hardly make it five minutes in public without breaking down in tears. I just wanted to start to feel better. I would even take my normal depression over what I was feeling.
Four months, that is how long I took those pills. Two visits with my Doctor. I told him every time that the pills just didn’t seem to be working. Sure they helped my anxiety, but my depression was worse. I could hardly pull myself out of bed. I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything. I just wanted to hide away and drift off into nowhere. I couldn’t even write. It was horrible. I stopped taking the pills, because my Doctor wouldn’t listen to me and instead of trying a new approach he wanted to give me another medication that would make me feel happier, but would give me anxiety. That didn’t seem helpful since the current pill was actually working for my anxiety, why would I want it back?! So yeah, I stopped taking them.
Fast forward to yesterday, about two months off the first pills from my primary care. I met with a Psychiatrist, which yes, I know I should have done in the first place, but they are SO HARD to get into here. I finally realized my insurance covers Doctors On Demand, an online visit that I can do from home on my lunch break at work. (YES PLEASE!)
The appointment was quick and mostly do the point. I told him what symptoms I have, I told him a little bit of my back story, and I told him what I’m looking for (medication to help me stabilize because not being medicated at this point is not helping me). He asked me a series of questions to gain a more clear understanding. And just like that he understood why the pills I had taken made me feel worse. I don’t have Major Depressive Disorder, no I have Bipolar type 2 (which I had brought up possible Bipolar to my Primary Care but he ignored it). I was not surprised as this theory. It isn’t the first time I’ve been told that is probably what I have. I just never had a diagnosis of it.
New medication. New diagnosis. Things might actually stabilize for me, and that almost makes me hopeful. I know medication can take time, and it can even take time to find the right medication, but having someone actually listen to me, and take what I said into consideration when trying to find a way to treat me, that is important. That is something I wish every person dealing with any condition has, and if you don’t, find a new Doctor. Do not let them treat you for something you don’t have, you could be doing so much more damage then good!
So that is my non writing post for the week, it is also probably my first post that is in addition to my scheduled Sunday posts. Enjoy the extra look into my life!!

A Letter to my Younger Self….

Tash-

I wish I could tell you all the things that I’ve learned in life so far. I want to save you so much heartache and pain. Alas, that isn’t something that can be done, but wouldn’t it be nice if it could? I know you’ll never get this letter, it just isn’t possible, at least in this life time, for that to happen. That doesn’t make the act of writing this less therapeutic for me. Maybe I need this, to say these things to a younger version of me so that maybe I can understand, now, or in the future, why I am where I am in my life and where the decisions that you’ve made lead us.
I’m not blaming you for anything. Given the chance I’m sure I’d repeat the same decisions, mistakes, and successes. I’m not sure my life could have ended up any other way that it has, no matter what I tried to do at your age, or what I try to do now at mine. It is my life, and I’m just along for the ride.
Before I really get into it, there are a few things I’d like to tell you:
1. You are amazing, intelligent and strong.
2. Don’t ever stop writing or reading
3. You deserve so much more than you give yourself credit for
4. One day you will wish you hadn’t left, but it was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made
5. It is all worth it, even when you are depressed or manic, you’ll find that one thing to hold on to that makes it all worth trying
So, for the true purpose of this letter to my younger self…
You’ll never have children. I wish I could have known sooner. I mean really known, and accepted it. Sure, the Doctor told you that it probably wasn’t going to happen, but you didn’t always believe him. You’ve gone through cycles of being okay, and even feeling like not having children was your choice, even though deep down you know it is just a way to cover up. You didn’t accept what they told you, and instead would often let yourself believe it was going to happen. I can tell you, at this point in our life, there is no wondering, no hopeful tries. It isn’t going to happen. It needs to be accepted, and I guess in a way that is what I’m trying to do here.
I don’t want this to all be a downer, there are things that can keep you going when times get rough. You have amazing nieces and a nephew who stole your heart at first glance. The moment you see them, you’ll know that having your own children isn’t the end of the world because you have these beautiful beings in your life and they are all you need. They will be everything you ever dreamed up for your own children and you will love them fiercely. They will make everything worth it.
There are, of course, the less dramatic reasons that not having children works for you:
1. You are basically an adult child yourself
2. Video Games
3. You hate to wake up in the morning, and hate being woken up even more
4. You have a dog that is your world, and see needs you
5. You can do many things that can’t be done if you have children (though still limited by above dog)
That is only a partial list, but you can see that the world isn’t ending. You are smarter than I am I’m sure and you will be just fine. One day you’ll look back at this letter and laugh that it even had to be written, but for me, right now, I needed this.

xoxo Tash