Things Better Left Unsaid

There are some things you just do.not.do to a person who suffers from depression and anxiety. Some things you just do.not.say. Believe me, we hear it all the time as it is — from our own minds. Our “sock monkeys”, “jerk brain”, “psychotic roommate”, “demon”, etc. Many of us have a term for those voices in our heads that, if we’re somewhere close to stable, have managed to dial down to faint hum but are always in the background, muttering.

Muttering things like, “you’re not good enough”, “no one wants you around”, “why even try?”, “maybe you should make another attempt, and do it right this time”. A friend of mine had a bad day, and posted about her anxiety sock monkey giving her a hard time. Her friends commented, boosting her up, sharing their experiences with the same kind of thing….doing what friends do. Doing the RIGHT THINGS for someone that was suffering and having a bad day. Another friend posted about having a tough time accepting herself — and the same thing happened. Compassion is a beautiful thing to see, especially in relation to anxiety sock monkeys.

Then I posted about mine. I said I was feeling lonely – and whether it was loneliness caused by my anxiety sock monkeys working overtime or some other reason…I was also treated with compassion and other friends shared that they too also felt the same way at times. It helped to a certain extent, knowing I wasn’t alone — even though the loneliness remained. There’s no magic pill that suddenly makes everything better, especially when you’re already suffering a downturn in depression.

(I’m coming to my main point, but this is an important tangent. Part of all this is that I was told I “share too much”. Really…I wonder how many of my readers — those who are actually on my Facebook and consider themselves my friends — know just how deep into a depression I’ve fallen. Have I shared that? Can you tell? Have I actually said anything, to anyone? I don’t think so. Not until this very moment have I said one thing to anyone…that’s how close I play it. I post a lot but rarely do I “core dump”. This….this is a core dump.”)

Ok, where was I? Oh yes. So I made the post, went on with my life. I didn’t expect anything from it – I was getting something off my chest, letting out a little of the darkness and I felt better. Now, one of the cardinal sins in mental health is giving an actual voice to those sock monkeys — literally say to a person who is suffering: “Maybe you’re lonely because you really are {insert anxiety reason here}”.

*record scratch* *blinkblinkblink*

WAIT. WHAT? SAY THAT AGAIN?

WTF Jackie Chan

It’s taken me an entire day to process this entire conversation. I’ve slept on it. Talked about it with other friends. Gone over it in my mind, word for word. Made sure I didn’t take it the wrong way. Nope. Armchair psychoanalysis is DANGEROUS, man. Dangerous. And it’s a damn good fucking thing I’m as stable as I am (even though I’m struggling, STRUGGLING, right now). I realize I’m struggling. I know I’m struggling and that I’m hurting and depressed and freaking falling and I know the abyss is over there, in the corner, beckoning. That’s STABLE, because I KNOW IT. I’m so fucking aware of how close to the edge I am. I’m grounding and centering and BREATHING and meditating and doing everything I can to keep myself together.

And I’m suddenly told, “Maybe the reason you’re lonely is because {insert anxiety reason here}”. Jeez, lady. Why don’t you just hand me the fucking gun? Why don’t you just put a pharmacopeia into my hand? ‘Cuz you just freaking pushed a suicide survivor (and you know the recidivism rate on those?) two more feet toward the edge….and “I like to psychoanalyze people so I’m really just trying to help you.”

First off: I have a therapist and psychiatrist, thank you. Second: I have a psychology degree and post-graduate education and training. Only thing you’re qualified to analyze is rocks. Third: Fuck you. Really…fuck you. Seriously? ARE YOU SERIOUS? You actually thought that saying that to me was HELPFUL? How, exactly, was that supposed to be helpful? I’ll wait while you come up with an answer. Especially since I’ve ‘overshared’ and you already know my past and the reasons I suffer from PTSD and all the shit….so, come on. How was that “helpful”?

Whew. OK. I’m done being pissed off and writing about this because people — really — THINK before you speak. Chris Cornell just committed suicide, so all the memes and posts about suicide prevention are going around again. As a survivor, I can tell you that when someone is really, truly ready — they’re not going to call a hotline or a friend unless they have a moment of clarity and those moments are fleeting. And if a person is struggling with the decision, or just struggling in general and are having thoughts — a careless, thoughtless, “helpful” person saying something like what was said to me just might be the ammunition needed to push them over the edge.

This is a warning, so to speak. If you have a friend or acquaintance that is depressed and suffering and you don’t know what to say or do, and you’re afraid they’re possibly going to attempt suicide — GO TO THEM. Don’t wait for them to come to you because they won’t. Don’t berate them, don’t list all their character flaws or all the ways they make you crazy or frustrate you. Don’t criticise them or tear them down. DON’T use their honest Facebook posts against them. DO tell them they matter, that you care, that you love them, that you want them around even if they’re sad or anxious or feeling like a slug.

Words matter. How you use them matter. The people you use them with, and to, matter. Think before you speak.

Adventures in Dog Containment

As I mow my lawn and look at the disconnected electric wire fencing, I wonder why I’m keeping it. I could just take it all up as it would certainly make lawn maintenance easier. I disconnected the transformer after adopting an elderly chihuahua, because if the actual electric shock doesn’t kill her I think the shock of being shocked might. Gypsy, my whippet mix with the high prey drive and massive play motivation for whom I installed it still won’t go near the wire, even though she knows it isn’t working anymore.

It’s funny, really, to watch the interactions between dogs and the wire. Pix the chihuahua goes under it without a care in the world, touching it, doing her thing. Gypsy looks at her, aghast: “OMG, PIX! DON’T GO THERE!!!!!” Joker knows it’s not connected and ignores it. Bella the rottweiler has had her experiences with it live, and respects it but seems to forget it often enough that she has to be reminded so now that it’s disconnected it no longer registers. Only Gypsy remembers; only Gypsy is smart enough to realize that the tumbleweed of wire near the tree is safe while the straight piece of wire by the bushes might not be safe. Gypsy doesn’t take chances, she won’t go within a foot of the hot wire if her ball lands there on the off-chance that it’s live.

The transformer is a new one and it HURTS. I’ve tried to teach Pix about the wire, but since it was disconnected when she got here she doesn’t see it as a threat. “Why?” when I tell her it’s dangerous. There’s a regular fence behind it; she can SEE that so why should she respect some not-scary wire that does nothing? She’d have to experience the zap that all the other dogs have experienced to understand why it’s to be respected. But — there’s the danger that it’ll kill her. So I guess I should just be grateful that Gypsy is mostly still suspicious of it.

And also be grateful that Gypsy hasn’t jumped the fence. I’m pretty sure she knows she is able to do so. She knows she CAN, but she also knows she’s SHOULD NOT. The fact that she mostly doesn’t CARE that she SHOULD NOT is a REALLY BIG DEAL in Gypsy-world. Because she hasn’t.

REALLY. BIG. DEAL.

Do to Live

I got out today.

I forced myself past the pain. Past the desire to stay in bed and wallow. I pushed against it.

The abyss beckoned, said, “Stay here. It’s more comfortable”. (Such a lie. It’s not easier to stay in the dark with you. That is the lie you tell me to make me a slave to your whims. )

I got up, shut out the agony, closed it off as best I could. No, you will not get me today. I’m going. I am going to live today.

Out I went. Out into the world, into society. Which tells me I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m NOT ENOUGH. Or maybe it’s me telling myself that. Either way, the abyss is always there telling me not to go out there, it’s scary and horrible and safer to stay home in the darkness.

No, I went into the world. Just for a brief moment, I went into the light.

I’m holding onto that small pinprick of light. For the next time the abyss beckons and lies to me, “Stay here with me in the darkness, it’s easier than going out there. Nobody wants you out there, but I want you here.” No. I have this… I went into the light and kept some of it. I have that. I DID that.

And I’ll do it again. You just wait.


	

You Kept Me Here For This?

Two years ago, I attempted suicide. Failed, spectacularly (unless this is all a dream upon my death bed, which would explain A LOT and if so, I’m truly sorry to all that are experiencing the horrors of my subconscious) and the entire saga of my hospitalization and subsequent recovery is available publicly on my Facebook starting here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/jackie-beltaine/anatomy-of-a-nervous-breakdown/10153338627833098 because I believe that mental illness is not something to hide and if my story helps one person, then it’s worth any potential embarassment.

Part of why I did it is because I didn’t want to live the way I’m living now: in poverty, struggling to survive on SS disability; with a chronic pain condition that keeps me from enjoying what little I *can* do and now with our current political climate it seems as if things are only going to get worse for people like me.

I posted this earlier to my Facebook, along with the link to the New York Times article referencing Trump’s EPA pick.

capture

I’ve kind of gotten to the “Acceptance” stage of grief, if grieving is what I am doing. I guess I am. I’m grieving the end of life as I’ve known it, the end of my country, potentially the end of the world since Trumpelthinskin has gone against all diplomatic advice and practices in his interactions with heads of state of other countries. It’s just…baffling. I’m no longer surprised, just resigned that each new day will bring some new ridiculous tweet or appointment.

And I have to wonder…why did the Universe spit me back out when I tried to end things on my terms? For this? Had I not suffered enough? Did I have to TRULY suffer first?

I tell you what — should it come to an actual war, I shall sit outside and watch the bombs fall. I’m too old, tired and in pain to bother with my old “I’ll never give up, fight to survive” bullshit. I’ll hug my dogs close, shut my eyes and let the blast take us.

SMH. And here I keep fighting off the cockroaches. I should let them have my house. They’re gonna end up inheriting the entire world anyway.

We Survive, We Always Do

Last night, I started watching “The Man in the High Castle” on Amazon again. Consider it “research” on how to survive the coming years; and not just the next four, as the ramifications of this election will linger on well past my lifetime. Combine our political climate with that of Brexit and the resurgence of populist stances in France, the alleged meddling of Russia in our election and so forth…it just seems as if a sort of refresher course in how to survive under fascism seems prudent.

Sure, it’s fiction but science fiction writers like Philip K. Dick are astoundingly prescient in so many ways. Either that, or society seems to catch up to them making science fiction into science fact. (Personally, I really wish we’d catch up to Roddenberry. The world presented by Star Trek is my version of a utopia — I want to live in a future like that. Please Scotty, beam me up. Find a fold in the time-space continuum. I’ll even battle the Borg.)

In the episodes I watched last night, Season 1 eps 6-7, one of the characters Frank Frink, a part-Jewish man who unsuccessfully hid his Jewish ancestry and so his sister and her children were killed, meets with another Jewish man and his children. This family still practices their religion, which is forbidden (they live in the Pacific States, held by the Japanese) and they hold a Mitzvah for Frank, reciting the Kaddish, which finally allows him to surrender to his grief. At some point, Mark tells Frank that he is raising his children Jewish in defiance of the laws, because (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember it verbatim): This is who I am, this is who my ancestors were. You can’t live your life in fear. We were being murdered because we were less than human. We wrapped our weapons and buried them, vowing revenge, and ran. I’m raising my kids. Hitler, the Nazis…I don’t care how it looks. It won’t last. One thing about my people, we have a different sense of time. These may be dark years, but we’ll survive. We always do. You’ve just got to find something to hold onto. 

The bold part…that stuck with me. I’m not Jewish, not by religion. I wasn’t raised Jewish, I was raised Methodist. But on both sides of my family, I am of Ashkenazi descent. Both sides of my family have suffered as a results of WHO THEY ARE, because they were Jews. My mother’s paternal side: German Jews. My father’s paternal side: Russian Jews. The very idea that we survive, we always do rang out as if I was standing inside the Liberty Bell as it was struck.

Now the man was speaking about faith being what he holds onto. That’s not me. I have faith of a sort. But my Gods aren’t the kind that will comfort and protect me. I don’t have a book to look to for guidance or even a church/community to go to for words of wisdom. I’m the elder in some cases for many. I’m the one folks will often look to for comfort or guidance and shit, I got nothing right now. The High Priestess is just as angry and scared and utterly clueless as to how she’s going to manage to survive the coming storm, so yeah, I got nothing. Except a glimmer of hope from a reminder that came from a TV show that somewhere in my DNA is “we survive, we always do”.

It would probably be a lot more comforting if I knew the spiritual/religious rewards behind that survival. The “chosen people” and what that means but since I’m only ethnically Jewish but not a practicing Jew (nor do I plan to be – Yahweh hasn’t touched me but Lilith has…and I’m pretty sure Yahweh frowns upon that lol) it’s only my genetic makeup that will 1) cause me to continue to fight for survival and 2) be the reason that I HAVE to fight for survival should it come to the point where ethnic cleansing practices occur again. Because no matter how white I look, no matter how Gentile I can pass for…I have more than 50% Jewish blood. Plus you add in that whole “disabled, latinx, queer, pagan” thing going on.

These may be dark years, but we’ll survive. We always do. You’ve just got to find something to hold onto. 

Find something to hold onto. Whatever that may be for you … find it. Hold onto it. These are going to be some dark years, even if by some chance the election results are overturned and Trump ends up back under the rock he crawled out from under — his legions of white supremacist believers have been empowered and the fight against such darkness has just begun.

 

My Internal Struggle

As a Witch, I am used to being a person of action. We are those that Do. We create and weave the spells that Make Things Happen. Our Work is in connection with our feelings, or those for whom we are working for, so emotions aren’t suppressed or repressed but felt fully and embraced. Sadness, anger, happiness, love — all of them given equal reverence.

As a Witch, I can rage and scream and hurl curses and hexes if I so desire just as I can sing and chant and send healing and protection. As a Witch, my ultimate goal is balance – light and dark as One. There can be no light with darkness, no darkness without light. Together, they are Whole.

The Witch in me is raging. The Witch in me is still screaming. The Witch in me wants Action, wants to hurl curses and hexes or at the very least – DO SOMETHING.

The Buddhist in me seeks peace. The Buddhist in me seeks compassion and understanding and wants to find a way to look upon those that chose to harm me with that compassion. I’m *supposed* to love them, even though they hate me. I’m *supposed* to have compassion for their suffering, because their suffering is the reason they have no compassion for mine and why they are causing suffering to others.

The Buddhist in me wants to sit and contemplate ways to put more peace and love into the Universe in the hopes that it’ll fall where it’s supposed to go and light the way out of the darkness.

The Buddhist in me is crying. The  Buddhist in me is looking around and wondering, “how can I help, what can I do, why,”

The Witch in me is pragmatic, while the Buddhist in me is idealistic. Both of them ultimately hope and believe in love over hate, good over evil, giving more than taking.

Right now, the Witch side is winning. She is raging and angry, protesting and raring to fight back when threatened. She is telling my Buddhist side to sit down and shut up and let the Work happen that needs to happen.

I’m inclined to listen.

When I need to find peace and calm myself, when I need to find balance and quiet the storms — the Buddhist rises and drags me, occasionally kicking and screaming, to find a moment or two of Zen. So that I can rage again.