Depression is an Abuser

Here’s a novel idea: Maybe I’m not actually a terrible person who’s basically a lazy sinner?

No, but really though. This is something that, at 36, I am just now digging out of the muck of my psyche. In fact, this is such a recent and active mental archeological site that the use of the word “sinner” up there surprised me and then led to a WHOLE BUNCH MORE ARTIFACTS. Disclaimer for those new to this blog: there is a lot that is beautiful about Christianity, and certainly a lot of Christians actually act as Jesus would have, but the churches I grew up in were more focused on control and hate than on the love they pretended to preach. And, as it turns out, I just found a new layer of pain from having grown up with the belief system that if I wasn’t perfect I was sinful (full of sin, apart from God, alike to darkness, bad).

But backing up a few months. Sometime last winter my hands were doing the thing they do sometimes where they go numb or tingly or tingly-numb. I have been told this is stress. And lord knows it could be. But it also seems entirely unrelated to anything. It happens on its own schedule, independent of anxiety attacks. I don’t know. But I hate it. So every so often I’ll take a moment to re-Google it, in case I am missing something. And this time I fell down the autoimmune disease rabbit hole and, oh my goodness do I have a lot of symptoms. Throughout my adult life, at one time or many, I’ve had sudden exhaustion, weight gain or inability to lose, hair loss, and on and on and on and seriously on. And a lightbulb went off: mayyyyyybe when I get suddenly too tired to do something, it’s not just that I am a lazy sinner who’s just the absolute worst – maybe there is a real reason for it?

And of course, the thing is that there IS a real reason for it. I’m not feeling terrible just cause I think it’s super fun. And, regardless of what the spiritual leaders of my youth would say, there actually isn’t any such thing as sin.

And then just last week I read this (from this post).

Until I started taking my antidepressants, though, I didn’t actually know that I was depressed. I thought the dark staticky corners were part of who I was. It was the same way I felt before I put on my first pair of glasses at age 14 and suddenly realized that trees weren’t green blobs but intricate filigrees of thousands of individual leaves; I hadn’t known, before, that I couldn’t see the leaves, because I didn’t realize that seeing leaves was a possibility at all. And it wasn’t until I started using tools to counterbalance my depression that I even realized there was depression there to need counterbalancing. I had no idea that not everyone felt the gravitational pull of nothingness, the ongoing, slow-as-molasses feeling of melting down into a lump of clay. I had no way of knowing that what I thought were just my ingrained bad habits… weren’t actually my habits at all. They were the habits of depression, which whoa, holy shit, it turns out I had a raging case of.

I read that and started bawling. The bolded bits clearly came out of my own heart.

At the beginning of the summer I had that, for lack of a less cheesy term, breakthrough that helped me so much. And I felt pretty much instantly better. And at the time I wondered if that wasn’t just the high of a release after having been trapped in my own head for too long – and it turns out that, yes, that probably is exactly what it was. I had a terrible week the week that Robin Williams died and all that terrible shit in Ferguson was happening, and I haven’t really felt consistently good since.

But there is still a difference. Because things are clearer now. I can see what I am dealing with (depression) and I know that it lies, and I know that it’s real, and I know that it isn’t me. I may not feel good, but I am working to change my inner dialogue so that it reflects the truths. Instead of, “Ugh. I am so lazy today and can’t get anything done!” I say, “Wow. Depression is strong today. That’s okay. Tomorrow might be better. If not tomorrow, certainly one day in the near future. Depression comes and it always goes.”

For the record, I am also working to find meds (or something) but for reasons I won’t go into right now, that’s currently at a standstill, and anyhow, hasn’t been a simple process for me this year.

And then, this week, I started noticing that the bad thoughts were sinking back in. The abusive ones. (I nearly wrote self-abusive, but it’s not me doing the abusing and I will no longer blame the victim.) But I could see them for what they are. Nearly, anyway. It was like trying to spot ghosts in the mist – I knew they were there and I could almost make them out clearly. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t need to be able to take a clear photo, I just needed to know they were there so I could work to stop them and to change my internal dialogue. To take back my power.

Late last year I wrote that I am so sick of writing about depression. And then shortly after that, I wrote about how everything was good again and depression was totes gone forever and ever. That has been the story of my entire adult life. Depression -> having a good day and feeling like Depression was gone -> being depressed and being embarrassed -> overly hopeful that the depression was gone for good this time for reals. And feeling like I let everyone down if I was, in fact, still depressed (oh look! Another new artifact!).

Aw, how dearly innocent I was 11 months ago. It’s embarrassingly hilarious that I didn’t see what was so obvious.

I think I see now that I’ve just always been depressed. It’s hard to see for a lot of reasons. Partly because it looks so much different than my mom’s did. Partly because it doesn’t let me see it (it lies, remember? it’s an abuser, so it puts the blame on me). But also partly because it’s not really that bad. I allowed it to let me believe that I didn’t suffer from it enough so I didn’t really have the right to be gentle with me.

In fact, yes, let’s take a look at some of the more subtle signs of abuse (from this list), here are the things my depression did to me:

#2 Incessant lectures. Your partner constantly tells you how you’re so flawed and how you still need to improve in so many ways.
#3 Painful comparisons. Your partner constantly compares you, either with your more prettier or successful friends, and tells you how much better than you they are. (Also comparing me to those who are “more depressed”.)
#5 You get blamed for no fault.
#7 Your self esteem is crippled. Your partner constantly tells you how bad or worthless you are.
#10 The humiliation.
#11 Big demands.
They set unreasonable expectations and make big demands from you.
#19 Emotional memories. Your partner constantly reminds you of all the times you’ve screwed up each time there’s an argument or a discussion.
#20 Your achievements don’t matter. Your partner glorifies even the smallest of their achievements and proudly brags about it. But on the other hand, no matter what you achieve or do, your partner always mocks your achievements and makes you feel silly for celebrating it.
#21 Denial. Even when you point out their emotionally abusive ways, your partner doesn’t accept their emotionally abusive ways as a flaw. Instead, they convince themselves and try to convince you that they’re doing all this only to help you become a better person and stand on your own feet.

I don’t know what the future holds. I know it will hold a lot of ups and downs. I know that depression will always be a part of my story and a part of who I am. I hope that I will continue to be able to make the distinction between it and me, but I also know that abusers are crafty and that I might not sometimes. I believe that the more I dig and the more artifacts I discover, the more I will be able to separate myself from the depression, even if the depression is here to stay. So, even though I feel like crap today and told Facebook that I was having a hard time humaning and was, instead, turning into blankets, I feel so much clearer than I did last year. And I’m holding on to that feeling.

Filed in Depression/Anxiety

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Just so you know... This exists now.

The past few weeks I’ve been exhausted. Like. EX.HAUST.ED. Like where I feel like I’m wearing a suit of weights and I cannot make it through the day without a nap. I have always had moments or days like this but never for a stretch this long. I have various other health concerns being checked out so I figured I’d have to bring this up to my doctor, too, and hope to god it’s not something deadly (mild hypochondria mayyyybe).

But then.

Earlier this week, I ran out of this super delicious iced coffee Starbucks sells in grocery stores now so I did my old standby of making an iced coffee out of a packet of Via. I felt great all day. I was so relieved to think the exhaustion might finally be clearing up. I even had the energy to run to the store to buy more iced coffee.

You know what’s coming right?

THIS STARBUCKS ICED COFFEE DOES NOT WORK. I REPEAT: THIS STARBUCKS ICED COFFEE DOES NOT WORK.

It doesn’t say it’s caffeine-free, but IT CLEARLY IS.

THIS STARBUCKS ICED COFFEE IS A DIRTY, DIRTY LIE.

I Googled but no one else online seems to be talking about this very serious problem. Of course, that could be because no one online seems to be talking about this coffee at all?

IDK WTF you did here, Starbucks, but I, for one, am personally hurt and I’ve lost some trust.

My lovely readers, spare yourself weeks worth of health-related anxiety and don’t buy this coffee even though it’s got a warm and rich, slightly nutty flavor. Sigh. What a loss.

Filed in Just Life, Ranting and Raving

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compassion

So last week was terrible.

I kept wanting to write about the Ferguson shit, but I couldn’t find any words because I was so sad about the Robin Williams shit.

Things I found myself arguing about on Facebook:
~Whether suicide is selfish or cowardly.
~Whether Robin Williams “just didn’t try hard enough” to overcome depression.
~Whether white privilege exists or not.

And the thing is that I don’t really understand why any of these are arguments at all. Because people who struggle with depression have SAID WITH THEIR MOUTHS that you can’t just decide to be happy and then *poof* the depression goes away. So why are you still arguing about who tried harder? (Watch out, I feel some bad words coming on.) And, do you know how hard it must be to get to a place where you suddenly decide to not live anymore? Millions of years of evolution and your entire biology will do absolutely anything – including cutting off your own arm in certain cases – just to not die. So how can people still say it’s a selfish or cowardly thing knowing what desperation must have been present? (No, really, here comes the cussing.) And the white privilege thing is really pretty fucking clear. (THERE IT IS.) Even before we knew that Michael Brown had, in actual fact, been shot no less than six times from a distance, there was Eric Garner and two others.

Super embarrassing to admit: When I was an ignorant teenager being raised by a woman who later in her life would subscribe to multiple Bill O’Riley email lists I didn’t get the need for Affirmative Action. After all, my education taught me that Rosa Parks and Dr. King fixed the racism problem and now we all lived in a happy world where we could totally share the drinking fountains. (I had similar ignorant ideas about feminism. I KNOW.) But, honestly, how the hell would I ever have known that racism was still alive and well? I never had to live it.

So here is the big secret about how I learned about white privilege and feminism and depression:

I FUCKING LISTENED TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY TALKED.

It turns out – and this may shock you – people tend to share their feelings and thoughts and experiences. Sometimes they do this when asked, and sometimes they choose to start the conversation. But you have, to paraphrase Mark Twain, twice as many ears as you do mouths. SO FUCKING USE THEM OKAY.

There is no fucking way this earth is ever going to get better, there is no fucking way humans will ever stop being terrible unless we have fucking compassion. You already have everything you can possibly need to make the world better, you have the ability to fucking change shit, and all you have to do is fucking LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY TELL YOU THINGS.

If someone you know says you are struggling with depression, you DON’T say, “Well, try harder!” Or “Have you tried being happy instead?” That shit shuts down the conversation and alienates people which, as it turns out, doesn’t really help depression. Weird, right? Instead try something like, “How can I help you?” And “I love you so much and you mean so much to me.”

This listening trick can work in literally every aspect of your life. Know someone who’s overweight? Listen to their feelings and experiences and help to end fat phobia! Know someone who’s trans? Listen to their feelings and experiences and help to end trans phobia! Know someone who’s a different religion than you are? Listen to their thoughts and experiences and help to bridge the massive gaps we have in religious and culture differences. Just shut up and listen! It’s amazing! It’s free! It’s revolutionary!

The word compassion just keeps coming up for me this week. Everything has been about people lacking compassion for other people. Compassion. Compassion. Compassion. Fucking focus on that shit right now okay? It will fix everything. Not right away, of course, because there are a shitload of other steps that need to be taken first, but fucking COMPASSION IS THE FIRST FUCKING STEP AND IT IS VITAL TO FUCKING EVERY SITUATION EVER.

Here are some good articles about the Ferguson shit and white privilege. Fucking listen, okay?

Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person.

Explaining white privilege with funny memes so you don’t have to word too much.

America is not for Black People (I kept being very confused about how people would show pictures of tanks in America with the caption that “this is not America” because, actually, it IS America. I mean. Very clearly it is. You mean that you don’t want it to be – which is also kinda shitty because what that’s really saying is “keep your mega violence in the Middle East so we can pretend MURRICA is totally radical, okay?”)

Things to Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered by Police (I was somewhat heartened when I saw these things being discussed more and more as the week went on. Some of you are listening. Go, you!)

Some people have suggested that we stop calling it “white privilege” because, I assume, it scares white people and makes them think they have to feel guilty for being born white. I mean. Whatever. I guess. I don’t really care if you call it something else, but I do think that white people should STFU, stop being whiny babies, and just take a moment to (say it with me!) LISTEN and understand what the phrase actually means. It’s really got nothing to do with YOU and everything to do with the SYSTEM. Which even our history books do not deny was built by white people. Here’s an article that puts it much more politely.

Stuff you can do to help:

Ten Things White People Can Do About Ferguson Besides Tweet

In addition to the link just above, if you need to actively do something, here’s a Tumblr post with some ideas.

AND THIS. This is a petition to the White House (which they have to look at since it’s reached the needed number of signatures) to have cameras worn by all law enforcement.

And listen. Just fucking listen. Have compassion and just fucking listen.

Filed in Ranting and Raving, Social Justice

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I am so, so sad today.

Logo

I am rarely hit so hard by celebrity deaths, but losing Robin Williams was, as someone on Facebook said, a punch in the childhood. His suicide has renewed the cultural discussion on depression and that is a good thing – so long as people listen with compassion to those who have experience in this area. The minute you start throwing out words like “coward” or “selfish” or saying that he just wasn’t as strong as everyone else the conversation is halted. From that point on, no one listens anymore and the words of those who really understand are minimized or disqualified. And that makes me angry.

I recently wrote about how I am coming out of a bad place. A place where I wholly believed I’d seen the only happy days of my life and I’d never be really happy again. It was a bad place. And I wasn’t even close to suicide. I can’t even imagine the level of despair that a person must have to get to to reach that place.

Here’s the thing: depression lies. I wasn’t suicidal and I still couldn’t see the truth. If someone had told me that good days would come back, I would not have been able to even HEAR them over the depression screaming at me about how terrible everything would always be. I was so fucked that I didn’t even realize until I came out of it, that those were conscious thoughts I was having. I mean. I might have even verbalized those thoughts, but it didn’t make me aware of them. Depression is like that person that tries to pick fights in your family and they isolate you and tell you what everyone else is saying but don’t let you actually speak to those people and clarify things yourself – except that it’s keeping your own mind and soul from you. It’s like those estranged parents I always heard about growing up who would abduct their own children and say, “Mommy didn’t want you anymore” often enough until the child finally believed it. Except that it’s your own brain telling you that your heart left forever.

And I wasn’t even close to suicide.

I don’t know what to say, guys. If your ears aren’t open and listening to your fellow humans when they need you, if your heart isn’t open with compassion… then you’re the real problem here. End of story.

FYI: Since it is sometimes hard or impossible for people to bring up the subject of their own suicidal thoughts here is a list of warning signs. Talk to your loved ones if needed. And you know what? It’s gonna be fucking HARD. And it’s gonna feel shitty. But if they know you’ve got their back no matter what, maybe you can save a life.

And if you are struggling with depression and think of suicide as an option, please know that you are valued and needed and that we – I – want you here on this Earth.

I don’t know if it’s the sad news I can’t tear myself away from, or if it’s the fact that it’s so hot again this week that I don’t want to cook or move (especially because not doing basic daily things can be a trigger for me), but today I am having a hard time remembering that tomorrow I might actually feel great. Today the depression is louder than my logic. So I am going to do some things for me:

1. Tell you guys how I am feeling.
2. Stop listening to the news about Robin Williams for now, even if it means staying off the internet.
3. Be extra nice to me today even if all I can do is breathe.

I hope that, if you are having a hard time right now, you join me in doing some things for you. Knowing you’re out there will help me, maybe I can help you.

Filed in Depression/Anxiety

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Um. Hi.

So I had that major breakthrough moment almost a month ago. And, while there is still some depression, and varying amounts of anxiety, and while I’m looking into meds to treat all that, I am still feeling worlds better. It’s profound how terrible I felt. I wholly believed that I’d never have a good year again and that everything would always be terrible for the rest of my life. All that shit has been lifted and I can think more clearly and see positive possibilities on the horizon after all. Thank god.

But I haven’t been writing here.

Because I’ve mostly been playing video games.

And video games are weird, you know. Cause, like, Hermione will be trying to save Harry’s life during that quidditch match where Quirrell was trying to, you know, kill him, but first Hermione’s got to stop and put up decorations along the way.

I feel like I should make some sort of joke about her priorities here. But I feel like that’s already been done.

(I AM HILARIOUS, YOU GUYS.)

And then I’ve been playing the Sims. Because I heard someone say it, and someone else said “Lost” and naturally my first thought was I SHALL GIVE SAWYER AND JULIET THE HAPPY LIFE TOGETHER THAT THEY DESERVED. Except then Sawyer drove somewhere in his car and walked home and I looked EVERYWHERE for that damn car and could NOT figure out where he parked it. Several Sim-years later I found the car. In his pocket. I mean. I know Sims have a really hard time, say, using the bathroom if there is, for instance, a plate on the floor in the way. But I do believe that forgetting you put your car in your pocket is a new low.

It helps me feel better about my problems. I mean. There’s still a ton of shit going on that I have to somehow deal with, but at least I don’t accidentally leave my car in my pocket.

Filed in Depression/Anxiety, Geek

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The sunbeams were crazy awesome tonight.  Like the sun was grasping desperately before being dragged down into the underworld against his will. Or something less demonic. Whichever.  Adjusted in #snapseed

I’m in the midst of cracking shit open right now. The cauldron of my psyche is boiling and shit’s bubbling up to the surface that I never knew or consciously realized. I feel like I’ve been in that dark forest that a hero is supposed to head into to fight the monsters and I’m finally finding my way to the caves where the monsters live instead of just hiding in the darkness, too overwhelmed with all the new sensations to move.

I think my writing style is to throw as many metaphors into as small a space as possible with the intent to dizzy my prey readers into thinking I’m a better writer than I am?

Ahem.

As a child, I definitely had perfection issues. If I created something and didn’t like it, I considered it a failure. More often, if I created something and never finished it, I considered myself a failure. But when I was around middle school-age I started noticing imperfections in others around me and I saw that they could be beautiful. Messy handwriting, a botched-then-fixed art project, an unconventionally-beautiful body shape. And the more I began to notice imperfections, the more I began to realize that perfectness is bullshit. So I let all that shit go.

Except. Just a few weeks ago I realized that for the past few years I have been clearly and consciously, and very seriously, trying to choose what my character flaw will be. Will it be my flakiness? That’s adorable and forgivable. Maybe it’ll be my various superstitions – eccentricity is quirky and cute. It could even be my anxiety. I fucking love my anxiety. It defines me and I don’t even know who I’d be without it. The anxiety has to stay. (To be clear – there is actually zero sarcasm in that last point. Which is probably super fucked up.) But I cannot allow my other flaws – my desperate need for constant approval, my inability to be there for people when they need me sometimes, the fact that I sometimes miss jokes if they are too dry – those things have got to go.

So. Um. Maybe I still have perfection issues after all?

I have a fear of failure that I have been unknowingly nurturing and nourishing in the dark recesses of my mind. Coddling it and encouraging it to grow by secretly promoting this perfect me I wanted to create. The more I focused on becoming perfect in all the ways I felt needed to be perfect, the more anxious I became. Trying to hold it all together like a 1960′s Tonight Show guest with a few too many spinning plates, running more and more frantically between them. It’s exhausting.

I imagine that perfection is a goal that my Child of a Hoarder self set for me. From one extreme, I believed I needed the other.

I am pretty open about my various traumas, but I am seeing now that there are things I am still unwilling to talk about, at least until I feel I have a more perfect understanding of them, or a more perfect control of them, or a more perfect acceptance of how imperfect they are. I’m afraid to talk about dating in case a guy might not like me and my friends realize that I’m unlikeable, I’m afraid to show my personal creative writings to friends in case they find out I’m no good at it. I’m afraid to ask too much of people in case I become a burden and they stop loving me.

But obviously this keeps me imprisoned with only myself as cellmate, and I’m not always nice to me, or reliable in the things I tell to myself. And I don’t want that life. So I am forcing myself to write about things and talk about things. Transparency keeps me sane.

Those character flaws I considered keeping grew bigger and stronger, became my jailers, pacing back and forth in front of my cell all night long (and all my days were nights). I remember at one point last summer, in my deeply religious fear of Murphy’s Law, I nearly panicked when I dropped something and commented, “Dammit, gravity!” For a moment, I was literally afraid gravity would hear me and, just to prove a point, stop working and everything would float away. I immediately caught the ridiculousness of the thought and laughed it off. Mostly. A kernel of that fear lingered.

It is because of that general thought process, I think, that my entire spirituality has been shattered. Caught between the atheistic beauty of the tangible world and the metaphysical mysteries that also ring true for me, I couldn’t orient myself. And I was afraid to publicly stand for something that might not be understood by everyone. So I turned to science because no matter what science is unfailingly there and real and right. But in the process I lost my faith. After all, if there is no bigger message in the world, than what are the gifts I have been given? Why was I granted sanity when my mom wasn’t? If there’s no ultimate purpose, then maybe I am just a spoiled child? I still don’t know any more than I did before about what my spiritual thoughts and leanings are, but at least I can now see the pieces on the floor for what they are and I can take time to put them together in new ways to see what fits for me.

But I honed the good traits until I was crazy, too. My desire to see all sides of every story is a beautiful and important trait to have, but it grew so strong that I could no longer see which side was my side. Like a tulip made of glass mirrors, each petal was broken and on the floor, reflecting every thought I might have on a subject. I had no sense of north, again with no way to orient myself. I couldn’t find me anymore, lost in a sea of concern for balance and justice that was more important than having an identity of my own.

Over the last couple of years I’ve stopped talking and writing. All of these things were growing like weeds and muzzling me. Sometimes I was too afraid to speak, but sometimes I just didn’t know where to begin. Interestingly, over the last year, I’ve become physically weaker, I’m in more pain, I hardly sleep, my depression and anxiety are through the roof, I’ve been sicker, and I’ve gotten fatter. By coincidence (or divine intervention?), I got the chance to participate in an interview for an upcoming series on NPR about the ACE study. I met with the doctor here who has been working on this for close to 30 years, and we talked about how childhood emotional trauma can affect our physical selves as adults. Science has found a link. It’s there. It’s clear. But because it’s so intangible, I tend to discount it. I feel like it’s crazy to find connections like that, despite the fact that, apparently, they are there. Despite the fact that I have seen connections like that over and over in my own life and body, I still wonder if I’m making up excuses (probably, hilariously, a leftover trait of my childhood trauma. How appropriate).

I don’t know what science might have to say about Louise Hay’s book, Heal Your Body, but I looked up “feet” because I’ve been having various problems with mine – from internal pains to the fact that I cannot stop dropping things on them. The suggestion was that feet problems can mean that you are standing, or lingering, in grief. AND HOLY FUCKING HELL AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH.

All of this has come up in the past few weeks. And a lot of these words came out of my fingers tonight in the past tense, suggesting that I am healed from this Crazy. The truth is that I probably have more to travel on this particular trip into the dark corners of my psyche. Hell, the last few days have been a whirlwind of emotional highs and lows. But I do feel like a major shift has happened. Like I’ve got a map, or a flashlight, or like at least I know the monsters I have to fight on this journey.

I can’t ever stop talking or writing, you guys. It’s dangerous, both psychologically and physically. Now here’s hoping that pain in my foot goes away. You hear that, Psyche? I’m leaving the grief behind.

Filed in Children of Hoarders, Delving into the Psyche, Depression/Anxiety, Onwards, Spirituality, The Zebra

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person person meh

Yesterday I was stricken with some mysterious fatigue. Probably it was my body’s intuition that the SCOTUS had done another horrible fuckass thing and I should just make a point to stay in bed and not try to join in the human race yesterday. But tiredness isn’t a clear enough language so I got up anyway, read the news, and then decided to go back to bed.

So that’s basically why I didn’t post yesterday.

But here are some thoughts I have after having read and maybe participated in discussions/debates on the topic on various friend’s Facebook pages. (Sorry, various friends. I really tried to limit myself as much as possible.)

1. People kept saying, “But people can CHOOSE not to work for these corporations!”
I think the people who said this are probably simply innocent and merely lacking the facts here. Obviously they have slept through the last 15 or so years and entirely missed the economic news. We should speak quietly and get them some coffee. Once they catch up, they’ll understand that people can’t just pick and choose which jobs they want. This isn’t the 1950′s anymore. Shit’s fucked, you guys. People stay unemployed for months and months or even years and then when they finally get a job they are gonna take it and not even care if birth control is covered because at that point the fact that they will be able to buy frivolous items such as “food” will take precedence. Anyone who says people should just work for those corporations that hold their own personal views (and by “personal views” I mean “provides basic human rights such as health care”) simply have no clue what the world actually is like. And good for them, I guess. Either they slept for the last decade and a half or they live in their own little protective bubble (or they don’t, but they hold views that go against their own personal lifestyle), but they just have no clue. Here’s a tip: grow some empathy. Think outside of your own brain for a moment and try to imagine how it is for people less privileged than you are.

2. People kept saying, “The government can’t just step in and tell a private corporation what to do!”
Except. That last I checked, the government enforces rules about making a job safe and possible for people with disabilities. And the government has rules set in place which don’t allow private companies to discriminate against people of other races, genders, or sexual orientations. So, dudes? The government does, in fact, butt in when it comes to protecting those who need it. You know. Except women.

3. People kept saying, “Birth control isn’t a basic human right!”
Well, aside from the whole Catch-22 attitude wherein women are forced to not have birth control, not have abortions, not have health care to support them through their pregnancies, and not have financial help for a child they weren’t ready for. I don’t know if that kind of birth control is a basic human right, but I’m willing to argue that sex is.

The bottom line here is that their science is bad. At BEST they grossly misunderstand how these contraceptives work. Preventing an ovary from releasing an egg is not, in fact, the same thing as abortion by any means. The fact that the Supreme Court backed up this pseudoscience bullshit is, at the very minimum, absolutely terrifying.

3a. Someone even said, “Health care is a privilege, not a right! People should make the choice to find a job that provides them health care!”
This is the part of the day where I just zoomed right off the plane, way out into outer space. Because if health care is a privilege you are LITERALLY saying that only rich people should be able to be healthy. You are, IN ACTUALITY, saying that poor people should just all die. I mean. You didn’t even bother to pretend very hard that you don’t feel that way. You very clearly feel that way. And you know who very clearly did not feel that way? JESUS.

3b. People kept saying, “But Hobby Lobby is still providing most birth control, just not these ones they don’t believe in!”
But you know what? That doesn’t mean they aren’t blocking birth control. Cause they are. It may not be every kind of birth control, but some women need specific kinds which may be one of those banned. What it comes down to is that a woman and her DOCTOR, not her EMPLOYER, should be the ones to decide what contraceptive a woman needs.

4. People kept saying, “But these forms of birth control cause abortions!”
OK. Let’s talk about the morning after pill. That form of birth control does NOT end a pregnancy. It inhibits ovulation just like regular birth control pills do. Without ovulation, there is no pregnancy. It ONLY works if the woman takes it before she’s ovulated, otherwise it’s useless. The pill RU486 is the pill you are probably confusing the morning after pill with. RU486 is a pill that causes an abortion. But it is called a medical abortion, not a birth control pill.

Doctors have created a distinction between abortifacients and contraceptives. Contraceptives do not end a pregnancy – they prevent one. There is a distinction. And it’s a distinction that seems to be grossly misunderstood by the majority of people who claim to support Hobby Lobby, and in this case, the SCOTUS upheld this bad science which is fucking terrifying.

So. You made Jesus cry. And you made the rest of us turn into rocket ships in our rage. Hope you’re happy.

(I was going to draw you a picture of me, as a rocket, leaving the planet, but I’m bad at drawing and all my rockets just looked like dicks which, I think, is against the spirit of this post. Next time I leave the planet I’m leaving in a vulva-shaped ship.)

But here are the facts: This law doesn’t protect corporations from having to provide other medical care that they feel is against their religion. Companies run by Jehovah’s Witnesses are still forced to provide blood transfusions, Christian Scientists are still required to provide for vaccinations. If this was actually about protecting religion, this would cover all medical-related things that all religions avoid. But it doesn’t. Because it’s not about religion.

This law also continues to provide for such medically unnecessary things such as Viagra or a penis pump. It is literally only the things that apply to women that are included in this. Go ahead. Tell me how we don’t need feminism. Tell me how this isn’t misogynistic. Go ahead and tell me how women receive equal rights. Say it. I dare you. This is nothing but means to control women. Why the hell else would someone ever care what I do with my own body?

Filed in Ranting and Raving, Social Justice, This is a Woman

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oak leaves

For most of my life, I didn’t actively choose my life’s direction. I have often described it as allowing myself to be carried by the current of my own personal river, or by following the strong, yet subconscious, pull of my own Oak Tree. I don’t know if this was a good thing or a bad thing, to just allow myself to be passive about where I went. Is it even passive? Or is it highly intuitive? Is it a result of having been raised in an abusive home? That I had to let go and just go wherever Life took me? Or that my conscious mind shut down and allowed my intuition to guide me? My inner core of self-hatred would tell you that I’m just lazy and undriven. I don’t know what the real reasoning is or whether it is a good or a bad thing – and right now in my life, I’m right on the cusp of fully believing either (or both). Although I may have some regrets and, if I had the chance to re-do some things in my life, I might find that tempting these days, ultimately I do acknowledge that every thing I’ve done had led me to where I was supposed to be.

peaceful river

But I’m a grownup now (it took me longer than most people) and I felt like I should make some decisions about where my life should go. Last year I made some major changes and intentions for what I wanted my life to be and where I want it to continue to go. And this past year has been really, really hard. I feel like I’m suddenly swimming against a very strong current in my River. And I can’t help but wonder if that means that The Universe doesn’t want me making my own choices. I resent that idea. I want to be able to choose my own life now. I want to go to school and find a career and maybe not be broke someday.

And then how much of this is a desire to JUST BE NORMAL FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE? A side-effect of growing up in a hoarder home is that I’ve always been desperate to live in a way that at least appears to be a regular middle-class lifestyle. As I write this I am realizing this is also tied directly to my intense need to always be liked by everyone. My self-worth is the same as my appearance or the appearance of my home. (This is why I need to never stop writing. Remind me, okay?) So maybe The Universe feels I need to live an unusual and quirky life, and it’s trying to steer me from the life that isn’t supposed to be mine?

Fuck if I know.

I just wish I knew what I’m supposed to do next. What my direction should be, or whether I should stop trying to pick a direction at all. When I decided to get divorced, I was heading into a long tunnel I couldn’t see all the way through, but even then I felt more sure of myself than I do now. At least a tunnel only has one way to go. These days I feel more like I’m lost in a misty forest – I can see a lot of way to go, and I can guess at some of the outcomes, but I don’t know which path is mine or if I’ve even stayed to the one path or if I’ve skipped around, confusing the issues at hand. Does anyone know where the manual to my Life is? Can I get another copy from my manufacturer? I think I’ve lost mine.

(If you can count and navigate all those metaphors, you win a cookie. But a theoretical cookie. Unless you’re local and I’ll see you soon in which case just remind me and I’ll bring you some cookies. There are these really good gluten-free ones at Costco these days.)

Filed in Children of Hoarders, Delving into the Psyche, Depression/Anxiety, The Zebra

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Thoughts on Yosemite

view of the whole valley from glacier point

Google Maps might tell you that Yosemite is about 6 1/2 hours away but that is a dirty lie. Yosemite is actually 6 1/2 light years away and when you add in three or so breaks at about 20 minutes each you won’t arrive at your campsite until exactly 10 hours after you left the house at six am. And you’d want to stab all the people when you finally arrived except that YOSEMITE and you have actually zero desire to stab anything all all.

If you find a gas station in the middle of nowhere for surprisingly cheap it’s probably because you’ve fallen back in time to the only gas station left on earth that doesn’t accept any form of plastic as payment. Just save time and go to the overpriced Chevron down the street.

Bakersfield is, indeed, the armpit of California. I hated it. So much. And we didn’t even stop there. I could just tell I hated it from the freeway.

In the area there is a street called 7th Standard Road. Even Bakersfield hates Bakersfield.
(ALTHOUGH. When googling the road name to fact-check myself, Google asked if I wanted to know about “7th Standard Road Ghost” so it just became slightly more interesting.)

There is a town called Fish Camp. There is a town called FISH CAMP. THERE IS A TOWN CALLED FISH CAMP.

In Fish Camp there is a creek called Big Creek. Really.

Other names that might need reconsidering: Mosquito Creek, Avalanche Creek.

yosemite valley

I may or may not have cried when we turned the corner and got our first glimpse of Half Dome and El Capitan. The thing about these enormous rocks is that there is no way to fully capture their power and beauty in a picture. Even Ansel Adams, clearly the god of Yosemite photography, could not honestly convey how incredible Yosemite Valley is. You have to be there. To turn that bend and catch your first glimpse of the valley is a spiritual moment that neither words nor film will ever be able to convey.

Untitled

People yell “Elmer” across the campground all evening. Really.

Bears like soap. Bears like Chapstick. If you need Chapstick at 4:45 am you will have to leave your tent and fight an actual bear for it. Bears are clearly assholes.

Here is the thing about bears. When researching this trip, I found this on the Yosemite official website:

what bears eat

So, basically, don’t have any crumbs in your car or you will probably die and kill everyone around you with bears. That is the message I took from that. And, to be honest, I don’t even think I am stretching what they are saying too far. Luckily, I knew that bear sitings were fairly rare since the bears are pretty people-shy, so I wasn’t too worried. Until I arrived and signed my bear contract (seriously) saying that I promised to follow the bear rules and while we were discussing this, the ranger told me they’d had bears in the campground every single night for the past two weeks. Naturally then, I saw a bear. It was right outside my tent at 4:45 am, looking through the neighbor’s (empty) boxes on their picnic table. Probably looking for Chapstick.

Because I am an emetophobe, the bear was still less upsetting than the kid with the stomach flu in the next campsite over. I did not sleep at all that night.

On Monday I had the kind of day where I dropped everything I touched (usually onto my feet) and I tripped over huge logs that were not at all invisible and I had a really hard time with Capri Suns.

and then this deer asked for a picture with my humans

Animals we have seen (in order of size):
Bear, stag, deer, coyote, ravens, blue jays, woodpeckers, squirrels, chipmunks, squirrel babies, massive ants, slightly less massive ants, regular ants.

margie took this

The problem with learning to skip stones is that once you plunk it in the water it’s gone. And who has the time or patience to go looking for more skipping stones? NOT THIS CHICK.

On the other hand throwing stones as far as you can is fun.

panorama along the road to glacier point

Pros to being the driver on twisty mountain roads: Having control over not allowing the car to go careening down a cliff ending in the death of everyone on board.
Cons to being the driver on twisty mountain roads: Not being able to see the scenery while you carefully watch the road so that you don’t send the car careening down a cliff ending in the death of everyone on board.

reflection swimming in rivers

The trick to being in icy rivers is just to wait until all your extremities are too numb to feel anything. At that point it’s quite comfortable.

Rain in Yosemite is beautiful and I’m so glad I got to enjoy it. I’m slightly less amused having to lug home a wet tent and camping chairs.

it rained on the last morning

Los Angeles can have traffic at any hour of any day. But it will definitely have traffic at 9:30 on your way home after an exhausting trip. Especially if you were kept awake all night the night before by a crying baby at the site next to yours. Related: I feel somewhat stabby to those parents who walked their crying baby outside my tent all night.

When you leave cats alone for like five days, by the time you finally arrive home their eyes will be all big like they’re afraid they might be hallucinating, they won’t stop asking you if you are real, and once they are convinced this isn’t a dream, they’ll automatically get crazy and climb all the walls.

My mom’s high school best friend went to Yosemite for a summer job and never came back. I can see why.

forest yosemite falls

If you want to see the rest of the pictures, you can find them at my Flickr album here.

us

I visited here with my grandparents nearly 30 years ago and it’s been a beloved and fairly clear memory ever since. I’m so glad I got to go back, and to share the place with my children, forming their own beloved memories in the process. I hope that the next time we go will be sooner than three decades on.

Filed in Just Life, Places We Go

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Blog post coming. Don't you dare comment on this until you've read my threat.

Ode to Hard Boiled Egg Peeling

Fuck you, eggs.
Fuck. You.

Sure, the Patriarchy is terrible, but can we talk about how awful the act of peeling eggs is? I’m writing this post to give us a place where we can gather together to rage and support each other through those emotional times when we are forced to peel eggs. It’s just the absolute worst.

This post is NOT a place to suggest “new” methods of peeling hard cooked eggs because, unless NASA has just released an entirely new method this week, I promise you I’ve tried every single idea ever and it’s still just the worst thing on the whole planet. If you find that you absolutely cannot avoid offering suggestions, I will be forced to put a curse on you and all your subsequent generations which will cause bunnies to explode whenever you come near them. This would be terrible. And embarrassing. When people would ask you why the fuck bunnies were always exploding when you were around you would be forced to say, “I offered unwanted advice about eggs” and you would become a social outcast. So don’t, okay? Save the bunnies.

But if you, like me, hate peeling eggs with the fire of seven thousand suns, feel free to leave a comment. Extra points for inventing new curse words I can save and use in case of road rage.

Filed in Cooking

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