FWF, Kellie Elmore. Fire.

 

 

HER

 

Everyone says that teenagers are moody.  I’m not. I’m depressed or nothing. My shrink says I’m in a “Clinical Depression” my parents say I’m very depressed. I don’t care what they call it, I just don’t want to live anymore.

I’m 15, I hate my life or well, I used to, now I just want to leave and not exist. I have no friends.

 

Her

Her (Photo credit: Forty Photographs)

 

Not that anyone would miss me, my parents just wanted to commit me to a crazy hospital and lock me up or drag me to church, every single day and night. My little brother, Billy, well he is okay, he’s five and to him I am,  everything, silly jerk. He didn’t think I was as crazy as a bat but what did he know, he still sucked his thumb.

 

I wasn’t the shrieking, breaking- glass bloody kind of crazy you see on television, or the raging mad screaming in the streets throwing knives and pulling out my gun, feeling ugly angry. Nope, It’s like I lived in the air. I existed, I blended in with the beige lockers in the middle school hallways. http://magicinthebackyard.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/campfire.gif?w=290&h=290&crop=1

My secret plan kept me going, it was the only thing I had looked forward to for over six months now. Today was November 11th, my favorite day and I knew where I would be  tonight. I knew where I would go tonight after dark. I had the place, I had the alibi, people didn’t care about me and I didn’t care about them anyway. I didn’t feel loved or hated. I didn’t feel anything at all. I read that’s the worst kind of crazy-bad or maybe it’s something my shrink said. I don’t remember.

She once said that if I could have cried, “released my inner emotions” maybe it would have been better but I had no inner emotions that I knew about, nothing that I was hiding, no conflict or cover-up, no tragic past. I felt nothing, bad or good, I didn’t complain and I didn’t want attention. I was just empty, all the time.

All I wanted was to go to sleep forever, and I loved playing with fire. I wanted to leave this world in a way that made me disappear for good. I wanted a quick death so months ago I stole a can of lighter fluid from the hardware store. My plan was to spray my clothes and jump, go poof up in flames.

The fire was still burning strongly, I opened the can of lighter fluid, smelled it and it made me cough. I hadn’t squirted it on my clothes yet. I walked closer to the fire, just a tiny bit. The long hem of the left leg of my jeans caught on fire as I edged closer accidentally but instead of jumping in all the way I instinctively fell to the ground and smothered the flames.

What the hell just happened?  I didn’t know, why did I do that? Why didn’t I just go into the fire as I had planned 1,000 times and burn to a crisp? Couldn’t I even get death right?  I really was a loser, I couldn’t even succeed in offing myself.

 

Ian's Big Boy BedI had been waiting all along for a sign WHEN to jump in. Could that have been the real sign? I told myself, that if I was supposed to die I would have. I wouldn’t have instinctively dropped like my old doll, Raggedy Ann, on the ground to get rid of the fire and save my life. THAT was the sign! I started feeling strongly about this. I moved away from the fire and after sitting there a while, I made sure the fire was out. I was not feeling happy but I was feeling something. It was a lot more than what I started out with.

 

I felt like I was in a daze, confused but I knew deep down I think that I wanted to live. I started walking up the hill, eating a granola bar that was in my pocket,to get to where I parked my car. I sat there for a few minutes.  I took a few deep breaths and drove home really slowly. Before I got to my room, I opened Billy’s door, he was wearing his favorite cowboy pajamas and yes, still sucking his thumb. I tiptoed over to him and ever so gently, kissed him on his head.

24-Hour Crisis Hotline – The Samaritans

samaritansnyc.org/24-hour-crisis-hotline/

  • The Samaritans of New York
     

    Samaritans 24-Hour Crisis Hotline (212) 673-3000. With the goal of helping people in distress and preventing suicide, Samaritans free, confidential.

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What, Exactly, Is Happiness?

Rice pudding bowl

Rice pudding bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought the  rice pudding that my husband bought me from the diner would make me happy but it just made me feel momentarily content. Twice. Now, there’s only one small portion left from the giant trough that he brought home on Sunday night. One, huge, tub of home-made rice pudding, the Reddi Whip had already melted, making it look like a floating swan on water, peaceful, gliding, making no trouble at all. A sensory satisfaction of taste.

It appeared to be a raisin and cinnamon revolution. Rice pudding with no raisins and no cinnamon? I was briefly unnerved but it was so tasty, rich, sweet and creamy that I really couldn’t complain. Tonight, the last night, I added my own raisins and cinnamon. For my tasting pleasure, now it is gone.

I need strength to feel settled tonight. I’m scared, there are just too many potential problems for too many people going on in the next three months. I’m much better when the time is NOW than weeks ahead of time but inside I know I am freaking out. Trembling as my bones quiver from the inside out, shaking so that anyone who knows me can see.

Too many people I love are sick at the same time. I am feeling at an all time low, physically and emotionally. My shoulders ache, the pain in my back still digs into me, not letting go or it moves to surprise me, to the side. Poke, Stab, Poke. Winter, does not just weigh heavily on the branches of the naked tree limbs but also on my tightened shoulders that lock in place; it takes hours for the heating pad to barely loosen them. I’ve tried the steamy hot baths, bath salts…nothing helps.

Maybe, I should just give up on Winter. This year, I was promised that I  could go to someplace warm to soothe my aching bones and muscles, and again, another lay off. No one’s fault. It’s just the way the world works these days. Trust no one. You are not safe.

Protect Yourself.

What is happiness, anyway?

It’s elusive.

A distant memory, aging photographs, some distinct thoughts of the past. Maybe it’s age or money or just a state of mind. I can’t seem to see it at the moment….

If I don’t have it, it doesn’t mean I don’t want YOU to have it, it just makes me a little sad to see those with luck, get luckier and those who are down on their luck, stay there and go deeper under the icy cold, black abyss.

My real friends understand, I don’t need to tell them I am hurting, they know. Or, if I mumble a quick “fine” or “I’m good” they will look into my eyes, the pathway to my soul and understand. THEY don’t look away. They stick with me through all days.

True Friendship.

True Friendship=Happiness

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FWF: Kellie Elmore

Sad Little Girl

Sad Little Girl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

everything i could never tell you

I’m sorry, baby girl, I was barely a teen then, I didn’t know there was a name for what your mama had. I just knew she closed herself in her bedroom, turned the lights off and had me babysit you every afternoon. She hid under the covers because she was really sad and all you could hear from her bedroom was her sobbing. I kept the television on to try to protect you from the sounds.

You know, back then, it didn’t even have a name, just crazy. Your mama was chronically depressed and it is like every other illness but years ago it was shameful. Thank God, now, people know more and there are medications and no shame involved.

When I would walk up one flight of dusty, gray stairs, your smile would brighten your entire face like sunshine and your cheeks would turn rosy pink as soon as you saw me. Your mama would scream sometimes, but she couldn’t control herself. Oh, I know you pity yourself but I’m sure it was not easy for her, she was very sad every minute of every day. Yes, it WAS hard for you but you are a grown-up now, can you now think about what it was like for her?

What I remember most, for some funny reason, is that she used to make two pale chicken legs in the toaster oven. Oil or butter turning into bubbles on those nasty looking legs. You must have eaten them after I left but I kept thinking “where was the rice and the salad?” Was there bread and butter to eat?  I could picture you and your mama eating one sickly yellow chicken leg each and you drinking your glass of milk.

Your mom never let you have candy so with my babysitting money I would hold your hand and take you into the candy store and let you pick out a chocolate bar and tell you it was our secret. I didn’t care about lying to your mom, she wouldn’t even have noticed. I just wanted you to have a little happiness in your life, I wanted you to be able to be a kid for a short time, anyway. Your eyes would glisten like stars on a dark night, with happiness and excitement, you were lit up like electricity in a lamp.

I met you for lunch once when we were both adults, I didn’t know you anymore. You hated your parents,  you hated everything, nothing but hate and coldness inside you. This was way before your older sister became sick too and I adored her as well. I know you were wonderful to her, you did everything for her and everyone knew that, there was the goodness in you.That sweet little girl came back to be her sister’s angel, but when she died, it died too.

We didn’t know about the funeral, no one told us. As soon as we found out we raced to your mom’s apartment where your cold, icy, blue eyes looked through us. I wanted to hug you, but you didn’t let anyone close enough to even say we were sorry. Why? You were blaming us for something we had no control over but you were the queen of control, right?

You built a wall around you of law books and court rooms and tennis-playing friends. I hope you are happy now. But, I wanted to say something that I never could say before: I missed my sweet baby for a long time. The little girl you were, the innocent, happy child that would race to sit on my lap.What happened to her? My one question is “do you even remember her, that sweet sunny child, you were?” Because if not, that would be a damn shame. A damn shame.

Stomachs Speak

Antonio's Pizza

Antonio’s Pizza (Photo credit: The Pizza Review)

When I’m upset, I can’t eat. When its miserably hot and humid I can only eat certain foods, fruit, cold veggies and gazpacho, When I’m worried I don’t eat a thing. But, when I’m unhappy, I can eat the entire refrigerator plus everything in our pantry and then order a medium pizza with extra cheese and mushrooms. Why is that?

I guess you would call me an “Emotional Eater.” Lately, I haven’t been emotional so my weight has been low. No, don’t  do a cheer, don’t be jealous or wag that finger at me and say you’d like to change places because when I’m happy all those jeans that I just put in the basement fit me. I love food, I ENJOY f00d and fantasize about food and now I don’t care. For a foodie it isn’t fun. Trust me. Maybe I’m depressed?

I also don’t know my body image which is a little scary. I was talking to a woman outside a gym that I contemplated joining for two months and I said my concern was that there would be only 20- somethings and skinny girls there. This woman glanced at me oddly. I am, by no means, thin, but the way I was talking, it sounded like I was really overweight and that’s how I felt. Scary stuff. This nice woman was overweight and I only realized when I left I sounded like a crazy person. I think there’s a term for this Body Dysmorphic Disorder?  I’ll have to look it up but my sense is that you don’t act the way you really look or you think you look a different way than other people perceive you. I’ll have to ask my shrink.

Which basically gives my mother, yes, she the mother who “left the NY Times page open to the fat camp for girls” for me to see on the kitchen table when I was a young teen, totally perplexed. For all those years that she looked up and down my chubby, curvaceous body with a critical eye, now is lecturing me on being too thin. “You should eat more” she says, “how about dessert” Do I have a shot at winning here?  You really don’t have to answer, I know. Mother-daughter relationships can be very complicated, or am I the only one?

It’s too hot to eat but I’ve been drinking plenty of liquids to keep me hydrated. What I don’t understand is that even with the air-conditioning on, I still feel hot and I still feel the humidity.Does the fact that I have Fibromyalgia make things different? I can’t win because in a matter of weeks, months, I’ll be complaining about the cold weather, shivering, my bones freezing at the slightest wind and I will be wearing my down jacket in the fall. The only advantage of winter is that I’ll be hungry and will feel like cooking, pea soup, stews, banana bread, muffins.  Now? Not so much.

Glass of Lemon Water II

Glass of Lemon Water II (Photo credit: MEL810)

It Matters (Carry On Tuesday – After All, Tomorrow Is Another Day)

Shandi-lee X {pieces I}

Image by Shandi-lee via Flickr

After three days of cold, grim weather and not wanting to get out of the comfort of my bed, today I saw the first suggestion of sunshine, still hidden behind the trees. It was a hint, a mere lighting of the sky but it gave me hope. I stood by the window unclothed until I saw lines from the white venetian blinds stripe my body as if I was a lioness; I threw back my head and laughed with delight. I marched straight for the shower, feeling empowered just by the light of day, not held captive anymore by the banal, grey, humorless me.

I dressed quickly, as if I had a purpose, and rounded my dog up, leashed her and took her outside for a walk. “Come, girl,” I said, “I know, it’s a surprise for me too.” She chose the route and I breathed in deeply for that first attack of the fresh, cold, crisp air, like the first bite of a fall Macintosh apple. We passed a tree that had small, round inedible, red berries on it and I stood there for a few moments looking at them through different angles of my cold hands through the frail winter branches against an intensely rich blue sky.

I thought of what I had been through the last year and the first thought that entered my mind was that “it matters.” People don’t truly understand that when you promise something, and you give people your word, they believe you. They may never bring it up to you again,  but, they do remember. It’s not some hazy questionable memory either, it’s with alarming clarity. “You must come for dinner” people told us when we had no place to live but a single hotel room, “I will call you this week” they said soothingly as I sobbed on the phone, feeling utterly helpless, my husband just having had surgery, believing them.  They never called, they never came through on their empty promises or the promises they made at the time, apparently off the cuff. Next time, busy people, try to think it through because for people who feel homeless or displaced, we cling to the thought of an offer of a home-cooked meal, an offer from your heart when we feel we have nothing left.

“We’ll miss you, we love you” said the young replacement friends in the temporary home and of course, I am too gullible. I am too sensitive and too thoughtful and I take things too seriously. I believe people and even at my old age, I still have not learned that most people, the majority of people say things that they do not mean. Even one of my best friends knew I was in trouble and yet she did what most people would do and pushed me off into a corner until she had more time on her hands. I know my standards are high, too high, but I could not do that and sleep well at night; actually I could not sleep at all. Even when I was crying out for help albeit weakly, people acknowledged it and said “after all, tomorrow is another day” and turned their heads away.

Be careful of your words, be careful of your intentions, be kind to one another. Don’t offer things unless it is with a true heart  especially if they are vulnerable and lost unless you KNOW you can carry through. We have all felt lonely and sad and desperate one time or another. Remember that feeling when you see someone suffering like a child gripping her mother’s hand in fear. Remember too, that it could be you someday, that it could be you.

Unhappy Birthday To Me

birthday

I generally savor my approaching birthday all year-long. As soon as I have one birthday I start the countdown to the next. I love birthdays, anyone’s birthday, it’s a celebration of Life. I had thought briefly about having a party for my 55th birthday in our house; there is no way THAT is going to happen. First, I don’t have a house. We are homeless at the moment. It’s under construction, five minutes away from demolition if you ask me. Second, I’m a little depressed and I don’t feel like celebrating now and third, while I like being the center of attention once in a while part of me is very shy. The side of me that loves attention is totally unreliable and generally lasts a mere five minutes. Fourth, I HATE surprises. I plan to skip my birthday totally this year and it is not because I am turning double nickels, I don’t care about age; I care about feeling happy.

Our tiny cozy house is not a home anymore. What started as a kitchen renovation became a total house renovation. We are not living there but carpenter ants and mold are. Not healthy living conditions for us, and the fact that there are no bathrooms that work makes it just a little more complicated. There was a lot of hidden damage in our house, unbeknownst to us, so imagine our horror when one room after another needed work. Long ago, there was a movie called “The Money Pit.” Basically, we are those people.

This year, my birthday will be just  another day. My husband will still be on crutches after his Achilles Tendon surgery, we won’t be back in our home and overall, it’s been a very rough year. In addition to the non-house situation my birthday falls on the most solemn holiday in the Jewish religion, Yom Kippur. While my family does not belong to any temple, nor are we particularly religious, celebrating my birthday on the most solemn day, the Day of Atonement, just does not feel right. Besides, my mother would kill me.

I hope some day I will get back that child-like feeling about birthdays. It seems so sad to have lost that. Our house? I hope that I can also love it again the way I used to. Our house betrayed us, people we’ve trusted have ignored us. I accept that not being happy on my birthday is okay. There’s always next year.

The Sad Mom

wept

Image by the|G|™ via Flickr

I’m cold, terribly cold and I am not even outside in the twenty inches of snow we have. I’m in my bed with four comforters, a heating pad for my neck and shoulders and my feet are still freezing. I need to find those fuzzy socks that help tame the frozen beasts that are my irregular toes.

I’ve had Fibromyalgia for about five years now. In all this time I have tried many different medications and I have seen two or three Rheumatologists.  Still, no relief.  I am taking Savella and I am on the maximum dose and I swear it did work  for a while but now…..nothing. Does this happen with Fibromyalgia? I also keep getting new symptoms like my hands  and elbows and legs cramping in the middle of the night, symptoms that I was unfamiliar with but are now constant. I don’t understand this illness; perhaps nobody does.

Does Fibromyalgia encompass every symptom that has ever been heard of? Is it progressive? Why do I have more symptoms now than I did five years ago? I don’t know what to do. I don’t know which doctor to trust, if any. I also have an auto-immune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which complicates my overall condition. I’m not feeling too lucky today; I’m just feeling sad, with no hope.

I have read countless books and articles, each one of them bringing a little piece to the puzzle but none of them fitting together to make a full-fledged picture. Ask ten doctors advice, you get ten different opinions. If you are lucky to get a doctor that doesn’t roll their eyes in disbelief, you consider that a win.

I would be open to new kinds of treatment , massage? acupuncture? diet? but I am not sure where to start. Not only do I not know where to start, I can’t pay for it even if I did.  Everyone “means well” and adds their opinion:  my mother says I should “just get out of bed and exercise more” when she doesn’t realize that getting out of bed is in itself is a painful exercise. My husband thinks I should go back on auto-immune drugs but I’m the one getting all the side effects and chemicals. Nothing seems to work. Nothing.

The only people who understand me are the people I meet in Fibromyalgia/Chronic illness chat rooms. I fantasize of a cure, an Oprah A-Ha moment but know that is unrealistic. I don’t like being the mom that has to be dropped off at the door of college presentations for my son and daughter, so I can sit down. I don’t like being the mom that sleeps a lot, when I can, and groans walking up and down our staircase.

I could easily start weeping but stopping would be that much harder.

“Because I Am”

Black balloons

Image by stvno via Flickr

Tonight I am having a pity party for one; I am the guest of honor. You are welcome to join me but motivational speeches and happy clichés are not allowed. I’ve learned that the sun will probably not come out tomorrow, it will be cold, dark and windy just like the last few weeks. Some of my friends with chronic illnesses seem to be feeling the same way: Is it the weather?  Seasonal Affective Disorder? Pain and unhappiness? Other friends that don’t have chronic illnesses are also fed up and feeling down. I’m wallowing in self-pity and I am allowing myself to do so. Wallowing and venting are the main attractions in my self-imposed symposium.

1) Both my husband and I have been very discouraged because of the job market; he has been unemployed for a long time. He is always the best candidate, the one they love, the one they want. We get excited, euphoric even, and then the final news hits us like a tsunami: “We would love to have him but there is no funding approved for this job now” or “There’s a hiring freeze that just  started.” We plummet, like rapidly deflating black balloons.

2) I need to protect myself from future painful disappointments. While, in the past, I have tried to feel positive and hopeful,  I am now keeping my defenses up because it is too damn painful to feel excited and then let down over and over again.I am tired of feeling bad and blue and not having anything to look forward to. Yes, I have tried to be positive, I count my blessings and I list the things that I am grateful for: nothing works. A good friend of mine told me she was depressed last week and I asked her “why?”  “Because I am” she said. I now understand that completely.

4) Physically, I have no energy. I’ve been over-eating and sleeping way too much these past two weeks. I’m trying to sleep straight through to May but the chances of that are pretty slim. I stopped taking the autoimmune drug that was helping my energy level because it made my legs ache continuously and I wanted to rid myself of extra pain. This is what happens when I try to rid myself of drugs and toxins in my body. I end up asleep. I made the wrong decision.

5) The holiday season is not joyful for me. After my father died, the holiday spirit died with him. We go through the motions for the children. I’ve accepted this but each year after his birthday in November things start to go downhill fast, straight through to New Year’s Eve, the night he passed away. Why can’t I prepare myself? Why is it only familiar when it is happening again? Think of it as a long, a really long extended period of situational depression.

6) I’m having a default Thanksgiving in my house this year. My mom broke her wrist and I just couldn’t let her have it in her house. She is also depressed because of her broken bone and pain and having to be dependent on others, this affects me too. I feel bad for her. I can’t begin to talk about my self-involved sister, there is too much to say and at the same time, nothing to say. Thanksgiving is in one week, I have nothing prepared and I am both overwhelmed and underwhelmed.  I will rally for the holidays because I have to; it’s a necessity not a choice.

Let me tell you directly what I want:  Accept how I feel and allow me to have the emotions I do have. Don’t analyze, debate or criticize me. Try active listening. Help out during Thanksgiving and be kind to one another. I would truly be grateful if you could do just that.

The Tin Man Known As Me

The Wizard of Oz - March 17, 2008 - Act I_180

Image by Brian Negin via Flickr

I am in a world by myself  of chronic pain, fibromyalgia and thyroid disease, yet I coexist with many friends. Friends that have similar ailments, some have the same, others that defy diagnoses but the symptoms define them. I have learned we are more than the sum of our symptoms but I have not yet learned exactly how to deal with it emotionally.

There don’t seem to be medications that  I can take (or haven’t been told about) by the myriad of doctors that I go to help relieve my pain.  First stop, the Rheumatologist for my autoimmune thyroid disease known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and for Fibromyalgia. After that, to the Endocrinologist for thyroid levels. My Internist, the Pulmonologist, the Opthamologist to check for narrow-angled glaucoma. I have seen more “ologists” than a healthy eighty-five year old person and I am not complaining for a second; these are the facts.

If people ask me how I feel, I am at a loss to describe the symptoms. The latest comparison I can make is The Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, without the oil can. I am stiff, I hurt, I move at a slow pace. It is very hard for me to get in a car and get out, these are not smooth actions, often I am holding on and heaving myself up; sometimes once is not enough.  I have balance issues too. I keep trying new medications but haven’t taken one yet that truly works. These are immunosuppressant drugs that are supposed to help relieve the muscle pain and aches I feel all the time, the operative words are “supposed to.” They also take eight long weeks before they kick in…..I wait a lot.

Tomorrow, to “get me back on track” before starting the newest of medications that I don’t even have yet, I am supposed to take Prednisone, 3 days of 30 mg, 3 days of 20 mg, 3 days of 10 mg. I have been on Prednisone before and I have mixed feelings about it. While I had no bad side effects before, there is always that risk. The emotional risk, to me, is even harder. I felt SO GOOD on Prednisone when I needed it last year that when I started lowering the dosage, I actually broke down and cried. In a previous blog I referred to it as if I was in the old movie “Cocoon” where older people feel young again from a miracle and then suddenly a short time later they are themselves again, old, aching, and hurting badly.

Tonight I feel anxious, tired, discouraged and down. I think once I am able to sleep, I will sleep deeply. It is always a game: whether to nap or work through it. Today, I was determined to stay awake. I am  deeply worried about a friend who is very, very sick with cancer. I was too upset to nap so I decided to push through the pain and get busy.  I got myself out of the bedroom and went to the kitchen to bake home-made banana bread for my family. Mushy bananas, a little vanilla, some chocolate chips, some raisins and the basics, to occupy my mind, my hands, and most importantly, my heart.