Things No One Seems to Understand

What it’s like to be dependent on others for wheels, for things beyond shopping.

How hard/impossible it is to make commitments when you aren’t vehicle independent.

How hard/impossible it is to make commitments when you work a full time job, and your schedule/shifts change every weeks.

That even knowing your schedule doesn’t mean it won’t change even a day before the shift.

Which makes it impossible to get involved in the community.

What it’s like to ask people for help, when you are afraid you are asking too much or too frequently.

Even if you never ask.

What it’s like to worry that someone just feels sorry for you, and that’s why they won’t hang out with you, even when you know that is 90% unlikely. Or how to stop asking, if you think it might be true.

What it’s like to look at the phone, knowing  you have an important phone call to make, but can’t physically make yourself pick it up. Because you know, it’s not that hard to beat anxiety. Everyone is a little anxious at making phone calls…

What it’s like to be afraid of the future, because you might loose your sense of worth. And that sends you spiraling.

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Not Able-bodied Or Disabled

So, I am one of the many people in the world who have invisible health problems. Some people only have one, some people have a lot. Some people are more effected by their one issue then another’s many issues. Which is why I’ve come to realise that, like sexuality and many other things, able-bodied and disabled isn’t “one or the other” it’s a spectrum. One I don’t have a clear spot in. Because I’m neither injured or sick enough to be disabled, nor will I ever be well enough to consider myself able-bodied. But I’m also one of those who have multiple health issues that effect me.

The reason I do not consider myself disabled is fairly simple. First my issues are relatively invisible, the only time you will see evidence of them is when I’m at work, where I get 2 very minor accommodations. And my accommodations make me seem lazy, rather then disabled/injured; I get to kneeling on a step ladder when standing still at certain tasks, and sit down on a stool for other tasks that would stress my lower leg. The only other effect is that certain activities trigger my asthma, but I either avoid those tasks, or I wear the proper protective equipment everyone else ignores. So, when I think disabled I think of a person who has health issues severe enough that it actively impedes on their daily life, not something they occasionally give a thought to.

But then you go to the normal side, and I don’t fit there either. Maybe if I had fewer, or different, issues I could consider myself normal. But my health issues do impact my life, and I do have to consider them in any plans I make. They just don’t usually significantly detour them. And even a couple years ago, my answer would have been different, before I realised that there was/could be a middle ground.

So, what are my health issues? To start with the least troublesome thing, allergies. I have a genetic predisposition to forming severe allergies. I haven’t so far, but it is something I’m concerned about, since I’m very sensitive to Tylenol (and anything else, like Buckley’s, that has acetaminophen in it), While I can handle small doses (like 200mg) with out very noticeable effect, more then that and I’m feeling at least 10x worse then before I took it, it’s hard to describe since I’ve only taken it when I was already sick (and the last time it made me extremely drowse in addition to feeling worse). I also have infrequent allergies that trigger my asthma immediately, though I am usually fine as soon as I remove myself from the triggering environment, or remove the allergen from my environment. The things that trigger this reaction are certain lip glosses or chap-sticks, certain scents (in any form), and a cleaner my store uses on their oven (sprayed into the air).

Then there is my sight, which isn’t bad when I use corrective lenses, but wearing glasses actually impacts my life a fair bit. It effects my depth perception (the glasses make things look a bit smaller and thus in a different spot when they leave my “corrected” field of view), I cannot see clearly without them, more then about 4-6 inches in front of me. Which makes it hard for me to go swimming, see small dangerous objects (or large ones if my glasses fall off), and gives me tunnel vision. In the winter I have to decide if I want to breath or see, since wearing a scarf causes my glasses to fog up, but not wearing on triggers some of my worst asthma attacks. My eyes are also fairly light sensitive, so if I’m wearing contacts I have to wear sunglasses, even when it’s completely overcast. And my glasses are expensive, first most frames are at least $100, then the basic lenses are usually the same price as the frames, then the traditional coatings I get (anti-glare, anti-scratch, anti-smudge) add more, then I get the transition lenses to combat my light sensitivity, which is also more. The last pair I got was at least $500. When I just get new lenses, it’s still more then $100. And as my eyes are still getting worse, that is an expense I’m going to be paying for regularly for the rest of my life (even if my eyes to finally stabilize, I’ll have to get new glasses when that pair wears out).

Then there is my mental illness, which is a lot better then it has been in 12 years, but still something that hampers me, probably only second to my asthma. Because Depression and Anxiety have really effected my life, and my anxiety is still trying to prevent me from doing necessary things (like getting to the doctor’s or dentist’s).  But it’s not something that’s physically there, so I rarely have thoughts like “what if it just snaps one day”? like I do for the next two issues.

I have Plantar Fascitis, I had it for years before I got treatment, because it was ignored by my mother. I have what I call “atypical” plantar fascitis, because I have no heel pain, rather I get arch pain, either sharp stinging, or aching arch pain. Sometimes, I get hints that it’s going to be hurting, and I can act on it to prevent it from getting worse, other times, I take a step, and *poof* sharp agonizing pain. And my $400 custom orthotics help, but they aren’t prefect (and I think I’ll need to pop out another $400 next year (because  I don’t have the money this year), since my feet have gotten a bit better, so they might need a better cast,) and so sometimes I have to stuff my shoes with something else, either to prevent movement above my foot, or to help support the arch by placing something between it and my arch support. Which stops the pain, sometimes (and sometimes, I have to do the complete opposite, and loosen my shoes….).

Then in march 2013 I fell and landed on some rough ice. My leg hurt and I went to the doctor’s, he said I just bruised the bone. Well I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it took 6 months and a new pair of shoes to get it to stop hurting, and it still occasionally ached. Now it’s acting up again. Which is so lovely *sarcasm*.

Last of all is my asthma. Technically, my symptoms aren’t severe, but it’s rather easy to trigger. I sweep/mop the floor at work too hard and poof I have an asthma attack. I walk the two minutes to work, and depending on the weather/temperature I can trigger an asthma attach. walking up hills, biking, running, all trigger asthma attacks really easily. pollution triggers horrible asthma attacks, where I’m coughing every couple seconds, and each time this happens it is worse, and takes more to stop it (okay I’ve only had it happen 3 times, but the last episode lasted 4 months. I think I’ve narrowed it down to high levels of pollution and wood smoke (like from forest fires, or really wet/cold summers)). My last big asthma attack even changed my symptoms a bit. Rather then just get tightness of the chest, or difficulty breathing, more frequently they are coughing asthma attacks. Which I didn’t suffer from before. And they don’t always respond to my inhaler, so I have to take advil cold and sinus, since it was the only thing that worked on my last big asthma attack. Which makes me feel like a friggin pill popper since I need to have them (and regular advil for random head aches or other pain) on me at all times, along with my inhaler.

So yeah, they are things people don’t see, things that make my life just hard enough I don’t consider myself normal, but they aren’t bad or visible enough for me to feel like I can call myself disabled. Especially since I have ways to fix/fight/control most of them.

Happy Update (anxiety thought triggers)

So, I have these pills. I refer to them as my “Magic Happy Pills”. And no they aren’t illegal drugs. I don’t get them from a illegal drug dealer. They are low dose anti-depressants (citalopram), and I got the prescription  from my doctor, and got them from a legal drug dealer. One of the local pharmacists. (sorry I couldn’t help it). At least that’s the short story.

The long story is that I finally started to realize how much my anxiety was effecting my life. How many decisions I couldn’t make, that I needed to make asap, because of it. I was almost at the end of my rope, though I didn’t realize it. And I was also realizing, that no, my emotional disconnect probably wasn’t normal (left over from depression). But I couldn’t call, stupid phone-phobia/etc., I had to find some other way to get to my doctor’s. So I mention it to someone at work, she claims she’ll do it, but another coworker ends up phoning the doctor for me (hey I did write out what to say, and get the number). I go into the doctor’s and he asks me a few questions (including the “well why are you getting help now” question that pisses me off), asked me what treatment I wanted, then poof I got my prescription and at the end of the week I started taking my “magic happy pills”.

I am fairly in touch with my brain, and how it feels, so I noticed something fairly quickly. Might just be placibo, but I have no way of knowing. The first two days, while nothing changed, my brain felt different, like it was getting strengthened, more support, or something. Things started to connect to each better (how I think it fits best), which lead me to feel a bit more energy (and I was nervous), and made it hard to sleep (even though a side effect is sleepiness). I also saw a tiny increase in my ability to focus. By the third day I had noticable results, I could climb ladders without being terrified of falling, stand on counter tops without thinking that I was going to break my neck. And my emotions returned. Like, they weren’t gone before, they were closer then when I was in a full depressive episode, but they were still not there, I had to think hard to know what my general mood was, or my mood at all most times (short bursts of happy/sad/angry/mad excluded). These made me so happy I couldn’t shut up about my beautiful wonderful magic happy pills for a month (even now, occasionally I climb something and go “oh yeah look at me I’m not terrified).

Did it remove it completely? No, and while I had a 99% improvement so fast, part of it was because I cautious in testing myself, so my initial response wasn’t completely accurate. But my improvement is still in the 90% rate. How it worked on me is hard to explain. Most of my anxiety is gone, but I still have a few issues, where it’s still like 7-9 (phones…..), but it’s like a 4-6 was pre-meds to do. like, all the simple anxiety (like fear of  hights) is gone, occasionally I still have the bad thought patterns, but those are like “big whoop” and it’s gone. Some are rational anxiety, so harder to deal with. Then there is phoning and planning my future. I would still prefer to waste gas and time to avoid making important phone calls. Now some of the main thoughts for this are logical/acceptable – before they weren’t. Which makes it harder to deal with on one side. The other is that this issue is so large and complex of course the meds couldn’t do much for it. So it still feels as massive as it did before. The difference is, I can make the phone calls. And I did, twice. Though I did pass one off to my grandma (it was just a price check with her mechanic), it wasn’t due to my anxiety. Because I was finally able to figure out how I’m going to approach my future:

1) get a car

1.5) learn to drive

2) get my N

3) get better job

4) pay of car loan/save money

5) go to school/move out (job, pharmacy tech)

6) go to school/move out (which ever wasn’t step 5)

7) say good bye to family. (may occur anytime before, between, or after steps 5/6)

8) save for retirement and enjoy life

Stop (Poem)

Stop you say

Stop feeling that way,

get over the past,

don’t take it so seriously.

Stop,

I’m over reacting

taking it the wrong way

dwelling on things best forgotten

Stop means

you don’t want to apologize

Or admit to being wrong,

being held accountable for the pain you caused.

Stop,

I’m wrecking your fun

reading the truth you don’t want me to hear

making you face the truth

So stop,

please stop.

Stop, Stop, Stop saying stop!!!

Remembering Myself

So, I don’t know if anyone else feels this way. I have at least mostly gotten past my depression. I still struggle with my anxiety. Which is my own fault as I’m not really doing anything to get over it. But otherwise I’m feeling the best I have since I was 10. Yup 14 years of struggling through depression. almost 24 years of suffering with anxiety. So most of my memories are tainted by the emotions triggered by (or triggering) my depression and anxiety. Sometimes, remembering the past is fine. I hate how much I dwell on it, but There isn’t really much I can do, besides avoid talking about it. Which I do (when I can control that impulse). Other times, usually when I’m more reflective, I think back and I can still feel the depression feelings. And it scares me, really scares me. To know I felt that hopeless, that confused. And I hate it. It triggers my anxiety; I’m terrified that my depression will come back, and that this time I won’t get help. That I will be too hurt, too broken, too depressed to get help. Or if I do they won’t help me, or it won’t work. Generally I can ignore the feeling that it’s right out there on the edge of my conscience waiting to pounce. Waiting for me to get weak again. But when I think of the past I can’t ignore it, because the feelings, they don’t feel old then, they feel fresh, my mind brings them back, and it makes me want to cry. It’s scary, to me it really is.

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

^this is totally how I’m feeling right now^

So, I just needed to vent.

I want to wake up one day looking forward to the the present and the future.

I want to get out of bed knowing it will be a good day. I want go through the day feeling like I’m actually feeling, not a shadow or fake feeling. I don’t want to worry about how other’s are going to react to my behaviour. I don’t want to feel like crying without knowing why (but yet unable to do so).

I want to know that everything I’ve done is or was done because it was the best choice I could make for myself. to live with certainty rather then panic. No longer double guessing everything I do or think. To live without this anxiety that I was born with, yet never had a name for.

I want to know that I have a future I will love. No longer fearing the future, or lack of one. To know I have a place in this world, rather then feeling like I really shouldn’t be here. That I’m taking up space and resources that would be better used for some one else. That I’m doing something meaningful, rather then the gruelling labour I do now, with no purpose but to allow my boss to go on vacation for a good part of the year.

I want to feel free, free to be me. Free to choose what I want to do or be, not what others think I should do or be. Free to laugh without worrying about explaining myself. Free to cry, even if I don’t know why. Free to run up and down the hall, without getting yelled at. I just want to be free.

What Mental Illness is to Me

This is something that’s really hard to describe, what mental illness is, as it varies for every sufferer, every illness, every diagnosis. As some know from my last post, I suffer from depression and high anxiety. Lucky I’m slowly “recovering”. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully recover, but I’m doing some healing. And I doubt my path will be smooth, without some dips back into the hell-hole of a major depression episode.

for my personal experience (not my view of other people’s experiences that will be the next post), well I know what I felt, what I didn’t. I’m going to try and figure out where to start, when it took over my life, or when it reached the point of no return -get help or slowly die. For the background information, please see my last post, as it has a brief over view of the challenges I faced growing up (it would detract from the point of this entry). a pinnacle point for me was the one time I felt really suicidal, I was in so much pain, I was scared, and I wanted it all to stop. but as I set everything up, and wrote my note it all started to leak away. And I found something in me that would stop me from ever considering suicide, or feeling suicidal again. I was in gr.6 at the time. It was some time before my father was arrested, same year as 9.11 . I was not better, in spite of no longer feeling suicidal, actually, my pain would only get worse. I started writing poetry, a lot of poetry. I’m still writing  it. when I have my latest piece finished I’ll YouTube it (the first piece I feel good enough about to do so). all the poetry that was written for myself, rather than school, talked about clouds, dark clouds, loneliness, and sadness. when I reread it I can feel the pain I felt at the time. but something was happening with my emotions at this time, as people stopped listening, and the bullying at school and emotional abuse at home increased, I started to be unable to write, to access my emotions, to feel them. I was becoming numb, in a bad way. from gr.9 until spring 2010 I was numb, so numb I didn’t realize it. I hurt, but only for a breif time, I was still depressed and in pain, but I couldn’t feel it anymore. every few months though I would reach the boiling point, and cry. great racking torrents that I would have to hide from my mother (because she wouldn’t understand, since she was one of the causes). The summer of 2007 was the summer of mistakes for me. I was offered a job, in my home town, where my mother worked (the only job she ever held while I lived with her). I should not have taken it. because what I didn’t know was that those summers saved me. they literally saved my life. by the end of gr.12 I was a mess, because I could not get away from my mother. I also was having health problems, as my asthma had decided to flair, along with needing new glasses, and having sore feet (which I now have custom inserts for). that year, my mother decided not to go back on welfare when she lost her job. she bought pet food over human food, and by the time I graduated I was lucky to get one meal a day.

it got a bit better the next year, because she wasn’t around as much. but my anxiety didn’t take notice of that. my depression didn’t thaw. why, because until the fall of 2010 I was sleeping on the couch at home, with no room for myself or my stuff (and my grandma has this strange idea that only her stuff belongs in sight). so I was trying to go to school, and sleep. when my brother would try to have friends over, or game. it got worse the next year, in 2009 I got a job working at the same store my grandma worked at. by the end of the year I could barely function. My depression and anxiety was ruining my life. my mother’s visit tipped everything over the edge. she was only there for a full day, and I broke down, cried really hard, and packed everything up so I wouldn’t bother them anymore. (and had my grandmother stepped up, rather than tell me not to tell my mother to shut up, this might not have happened. as my mother was trying to say she should be able to irritate me, via tickling me (which I can’t stand), or high-pitched sounds, because she didn’t see me very often). I really should have mentioned this sooner, but for most of my life this has played though my head “YOU are Worthless, you are not worthy, you are nothing”; “you are only a drain on the family, you can do nothing right”;” you weren’t even planned, you were a mistake”;it’s your own fault you don’t have any friends”

at this time I was also coming to terms with my sexuality, and mental health issues. as in I’d finally accepted that I was an asexual aromantic, and that I needed to get help. I just didn’t know how to get help, I have no driving license, and didn’t really know how to get anywhere. but in February I finally wrote down the number,  and about two weeks late went in for intake evaluation, and probably a month after that had my first counseling session. during those last few months, before I got help I was at my numbest, I can’t really think of how to describe it. for me it’s like my head it a semi-circle, and the only emotions I could feel were at the edges, at the top, the rest was a void, numb icy void. sadness, happiness couldn’t be felt.  And while I wasn’t suicidal, I also didn’t think I should be alive. that I deserved to live. I also didn’t know I had anxiety until my first session with my first councilor. (which is why it’s bare of anxiety symptoms). after that, know that people believed me, knowing I was going to get help, I immediately started getting better, though it’s taken two years for me to feel that I’ve made any sort of progress.

Who I am, Why I am Mentally Ill

This topic is hard for me to talk about. Yet it comes up for me a lot.

I suffer from chronic depression and high anxiety. Yet I’m only 22, I’ve been suffering for over a decade. I know most people won’t believe me, when I say I thought about killing myself when I was eleven, or that from the time I was 8 I dreamed of running away. Not all the blame is due to my child hood, which I’ll go into at length. Some of it is genetic. At least two other people in my maternal family have been diagnosed with mental illnesses.

most might think I’m some spoiled middle-class kid, who doesn’t know how good she has it. I’ve been accused of that before. I’m not, My mother is a welfare bum, who refuses to get treatment for her own mental illnesses. She was a welfare bum when she decided to get pregnant with my older brother, and when she accidentally got knocked up with me. When I didn’t live with her, I lived with my father, and the kids he was raising (the eldest, my half sister, the other two my step sister and step brother), so I was living with 6 other people, on a mill-worker’s wage. When I was about 8 or 9 my stepmother OD’d, and that was basically the last I saw of my step siblings, who went to live with an uncle of theirs.

when I was seven my mother was diagnosed with cancer, for ever changing her. before that she cared a bit. now she hated me. Or at least she loved me less than she had before, and loved my brother and everything else more. In the following years as we all know, I began to think and loose the innocence of my youth. I began to puzzle things out, to realize the world isn’t perfect. During this time my mother was starting her emotional abuse, if she hadn’t always been abusive. She and all my family set the stage for my mental illness that I deal with today, because I was such a serious person. I was told not to cry, that it’s bad to cry. I cannot let myself cry any more. I was told that the only reason my mom kept me was for the money. I was made to fear welfare, as “I would never see my family again” if they took me away.

then when I was 10 another abuse started, though both my depression and anxiety had already developed. I was now getting sexually abused by my father, while I slept. I won’t go into details, as I’m not ready to delve into that yet, but it made things worse. I didn’t even really know what was happening, because I was so young, I wanted to dismiss it all as a dream (and did so for years). When I was 11 we moved in with him. when I was 12 he was arrested for abusing my stepsister years before. we were even worse off then we had been before we moved in with my father (we could no longer live with him). we had moved from where my mother’s family lived, to a small village. We now lived out of town, with no way to go anywhere (or at least, my brother and I couldn’t. My father could still drive my mom around), as my mother had never bothered to get her license. so from gr.7-10 I lived in two places, school and home. no escape, except to visit family on holidays, if possible. nor was school all that good, though I much prefered it to the mother who told me to stop bitching about the bullying I was experiencing. In gr.10 we moved even further away from town, thankfully my mother could now drive me to important things.

sad thing is. she didn’t consider me important, and had to be ordered by welfare to take me to the dentist, refused to take me to the doctors for asthma meds, or to the optometrist for new (FREE) glasses. She also preferred to feed the animals before feeding me, and now that my brother was gone, made my life a living hell (thank god my father had given me his computer before he went to jail, else I would not be here today.)

so two years after moving out, and in with my grandma and brother, a year and a half of sleeping on the couch, combined with a visit from my mother dearest saw me have a mental break down, though no one knew about it. I almost lost my job, ’cause I couldn’t function well enough to do my job properly, and I ended up getting help through my government’s free mental health care.

EDIT: If you read my newest post (04/07/2013, If You Think Something Is Wrong Tell Them) you will find out that my grandma knew I was suffering and did nothing positive to help me (emotionally)