Farewell to Robin Williams: a thank you note

I don’t remember a “celebrity”, i.e., someone I knew of but didn’t actually know, who’s death has hit me as hard as this. I’ve been crying for hours. Paradise will be funnier, that’s for sure.

Lisa Jakub

robin

Robin Williams died today.

It seems surreal to write that.

But since writing is the way I process the incomprehensible — I find myself writing.

Everyone is tweeting and facebooking and calling into radio shows about what a great talent Robin was.

Yeah. He was. But that wasn’t what I adored about him. It was the fact that he was an incredibly kind human being.

When I was 14 years old, I went on location to film Mrs. Doubtfire for five months, and my high school was not happy. My job meant an increased workload for teachers, and they were not equipped to handle a “non-traditional” student. So, during filming, they kicked me out.

It’s devastating, at 14, to have your formal education terminated. I felt like a freak and a reject. When I arrived at work the next day, Robin noticed that I was sad and asked me what was wrong. I…

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Drunk on D

I admit, since moving to Texas, I’ve struggled with my depression like never before.  One would think that things would be getting better….I no longer have to work in cubicle hell, I’m able to stay home and homeschool our daughter, like hubs and I always talked about.  I can devote hours and hours to things I care about, like my drawings, and the garden I planted.  Yet I find myself so deeply depressed some days, I can barely get out of bed.  The good news is, at 6 1/2 years old, my daughter is old enough to feed herself with the fruit and vegetables we always have around, and she entertains herself with reading, playing with legos, computer games, etc. The bad news is, she’s 6 1/2 years old….old enough to see my struggles and to know something is wrong.  It breaks my heart when she approaches me and gives me a comforting pat on the arm.  

My life took a seriously craptacular turn when *I* was six, and the events of that time and the years that followed left me with a seriously weak foundation from which I’ve done nothing significant with my life.  I’m filled with self-loathing and regret.  One of my biggest motivations, one of my ONLY motivations right now, is to help my daughter build a better foundation for her future than the one I had.

Towards that end, I’m on yet another new medication, but I’ve really come to believe something I read some months ago.  Depression could be less about a “chemical imbalance” and more honestly just our body’s reaction to being fundamentally unhappy.  So many of us are unhappy, often about things we seriously have a right to be unhappy about, but we take these pills to numb that unhappiness and make life liveable.  Then we say things like “depression lies”.  Well, yeah, sometimes it does, but sometimes, isn’t it spot on?  Depression tells me, “you’re a failure”.  My husband argues with this, as would many who love me, but, really, haven’t I failed to meet most if not all of the goals I’ve set for myself over the years?  Yeah, I’ve done some neat, even terrific things. I went to Paris, by myself, not speaking the language, and had a fabulous time.  Still my favorite memories/actions.  I’ve managed to keep from drinking alcohol for coming up on nine years.  I’ve been cigarette/nicotine free for over ten years.  I’ve got a husband who loves me, and an adorable and smart daughter.  But there’s still something missing.  Something very big.  And it often sits on my chest like that elephant in the COPD commercials.  I’m “happy” when I work on my artwork, but otherwise, life seems a bust to me.  I’m fortunately still able to laugh on occasion, but most days I’m operating on auto-pilot.

Before I’ve described depression as living at the bottom of a 20 foot hole.  These days, I feel as though most days I’m about 5 to 10 feet down.  Some days, it’s 20 feet.  And, at least a couple of times a month, I feel like I’m two or three feet from China.  On those days/nights, I don’t sleep, at all, and stay in my ultra large bathroom, curled up on my chez lounge, crying into a pillow so as not to wake my husband.  Everything I think of leads to tears, and I feel like my brain is on fire from a chemical compound made of ultra-negativity and self-loathing.  It’s horrendous.  

The other night, during one of those “digging to China” moments, I pulled out my tablet and started to work on some self-portraits.  A couple of days later, I pulled out my tablet to draw, and happened upon my work from a few nights before.  I was startled by what I saw.  I hardly recognized myself, and barely recalled having drawn them.  It’s like I was intoxicated, and drunk dialed one of my ex-boyfriends.  Mortifying.

Image

Thankfully, I haven’t been that low in a week or so, but it’s disheartening to know it will probably happen again.  Maybe I need to keep the drawings going, as a way of tracking this.  Maybe try to draw myself when I’m NOT feeling that way.

I hate feeling drunk.

Hoisted by my own…what?

In my very first blog post, I tittered at the fact that most blogs I’d found that dealt with depression/mental illness don’t seem to be terribly active, and that that made sense to me, since someone who can barely find the will to live usually isn’t all that keen to write about it.

“My life sucks” – the end

Well, it’s been about 14 months since my last post here, and, yes, some of that time has been spent deep in the 20 foot hole.  But it’s also been spent moving my family cross-country, from California back to my native Texas.  So I’ve been busy, and my life has changed dramatically, and yet, the 20 foot hole moved with us.  Of course it did.

I’m long past the time when I could convince myself that “life will be so much better if I just moved to….”.  I told myself that about moving to Oklahoma. And back to Texas.  And California.  Wait, I told myself that once about OKLAHOMA?  To be honest, I love Oklahoma.  It’s where I was born. Born in OK, raised in TX, and most of my family are in these two states.  But, let’s face it, OK is permanently about 20 years behind the times, in my humble opinion. But, I digress….I knew that taking up residency in Texas (again) would not magically make me happy, though I have noticed a reduction in stress since not having to deal with crappy LA traffic.

I won’t go into all the goings on of the last 14 months right now.  Maybe, if I can fully resume my chosen form of therapy (this blog), I’ll share more details later.  But I will say that I no longer have to work in cubicle hell, or anywhere, for that matter, and am able to spend all day with my daughter and take care of my family and even spend time painting/drawing/repurposing, etc., and, guess what?  Still breathtakingly unhappy.

Aw, shit.

Up and down, up and down

My moods haven’t swung TOO wildly, but they’ve definitely been cyclical. I can’t remember the technical term for it, but my psychiatrist indicated my form of bipolar was on the milder end of the spectrum, i.e., my highs aren’t too high, though I’d be stunned if my lows could be lower. Well, that seems to be changing, and I’m wondering if it’s due to hormonal changes.

I’ve experienced about half a dozen truly manic episodes in the last several months, and I can see why some people are reluctant to take their meds for fear of losing those highs. I’d walk around feeling FANTASTIC for no reason whatsoever…far better than my circumstances would dictate. I couldn’t shut up. Every idea I had for the future was GOLDEN, and was CERTAIN to pay off. And I had enough energy I’d practically skip down the hall at work. I haven’t had one in a week or so. I’m kinda missing them now. 😦

My hubby and I watched a documentary called “Food Matters”, and it had some interesting things to say about electric cars. See what I did there? I made a funny. The documentary focused on what foods we consume and how they effect our health, and how nutrition is rarely considered in disease management. The idea is that for critical injuries, the medical profession has got it going ON, but for disease management, they get a big fat F. The SAD (Standard American Diet) has been shown to be detrimental to our health and we don’t eat enough healthy foods. They talked alot about super foods and one dude was very much into juicing and a raw food diet.

Hubs and I don’t like to drink anyone’s Kool-aid, so we did some reading on our own and decided we’d try some of the suggestions made by the doctors, professors, and nutritionists interviewed in the film. We bought a really nice juicer (my vegan co-worker has very impressed with it) and have been doing more shopping at the farmer’s market. I’ve always taken vitamin supplements and we switched to things like brown rice and whole grain bread years ago. Well, now we’re eating vegan butter and a) it’s fantastic and b) no way in hell we’re becoming vegans….it’s just a substitution we like. I’ve always eaten a lot of fish and very little red meat, so that doesn’t need to change.

But one thing I hadn’t tried was adjusting my supplement intake in an attempt to get off my meds, which I very much want to do. One of the things brought up in the film is the use of Niacin (B3) in the treatment of depression. After doing some reading, I found plenty of research to agree with this particular expert’s recommendation of at least 3000 mg. I also read through the warnings concerning overdose and the accompanying symptoms.

So, what did I do? What did I, college graduate, IQ over 140, thoughtful and reasonable person do? Did I start with the smallest possible dose and work my way up? Nope. As soon as I had Niacin in hand, I popped 3000 mg into my mouth and washed them down with abandon.

Twenty minutes later, my face started to feel hot. My arms and legs and hands started to itch. I go into the bathroom to see my face turning bright pink. By the time I got into the living room to ask my husband if my face looked red to him, I was lobster girl, and my face felt like it was on fire. My husband looked mortified as he directed me back to our bedroom (“we must not scare the child!”) and brought me a cold, wet washcloth.

About two hours later, I was back to normal. Well, as normal as I get. That, boys and girls, was my introduction to the physical phenomena of “flushing”. It actually wasn’t too terrible, because my mood shot up, so I was feeling a little manic while I burned. 🙂

Ten days later, I decided to try again, this time with the lowest dose. Derrrrrr. An hour later, I was flushing again. Maybe a bath in drawn butter would help.

Tales of a Plain Fool – Heh good lookin’

One of my favorite Helenisms – “I wish I was born rich instead of so darn good lookin‘”

No, my grandmother was not vain.  She was just “folksy”. And now I find myself saying that from time to time, just to give my heart a smile.  I even let my Okie/Texas accent slip out when I say it, just to add a little “oompf”.