First Impressions…

It’s a little different in person than online. Sometimes when you meet a person, you just feel off, and sometimes it’s a really good idea to listen to that feeling. Sometimes you feel like you’ve known them for lifetimes, and it’s good to listen to that too.

Online, however, first impressions can be completely off base. Just because the first time you interact with someone, you’re on opposite sides of a debate, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have things in common. It doesn’t mean you can’t become dear friends. Sometimes the first time you interact with someone is on a friend’s post and you agree with everything they say… but when you talk one on one, you realize that maybe that one thing was all you had in common.

I know most people know this, but I want to bring it up because I want to remind you to give people a chance when your first thought is, “Omg, what is wrong with this asshole?” Leave your mind open enough to be surprised by the kindness or empathy or complete and total dedication to the same fandoms … We are all multi-faceted.

I am not saying to let people disrespect you, or to ignore insults and attacks… I am just saying that a disagreement can forge a friendship if you let it.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Simple Gestures, Complex Meanings

Sometimes “I love you” doesn’t come out as three words. Sometimes it’s not a hug or snuggling before bed. Sometimes “I love you” is not passionate kisses or a quickie before work. It’s not only found in a kiss on your forehead from your dad or your mom cuddling with you on the couch.

I love you takes a thousand forms. When you hear something a million times or do something repeatedly, sometimes you wonder if it’s love or just routine. If you watch and listen, though, you can find it in other words, in other actions.

I have a doctor’s appointment today and I am not pleased with how things are  going with him. I am having mood issues that I wholeheartedly attribute to a change in medication that I don’t think should have happened. C was with me five years ago when I had to find a new psychiatrist. He helped me by speaking with them when I no longer could and walked out. He knows today will be hard for me.

“Am I going to have to talk to this guy today?” In these words, I hear “I love you” because there’s really no other reason for him to even offer… He knows me enough to know this will be a hard day, enough to know I may not remain calm, enough to know I might need help, and enough to know that by the time I do, I may not be able to ask, so his question is a preemptive offer. It shows he knows all these things about me and cares enough to offer assistance because asking may be too hard.

I love you may be cooking you your favorite dinner, or knowing you need comfort food instead. Sometimes, it is simply asking how your day went, or checking in about future plans to make sure you’re all still on the same page. It could be knowing you won’t be home for Easter because it’s an important family day for you and it is knowing that he has to work that day and not giving him crap about requesting off.

I love you is not always “8 letters, 3 words, 1 meaning…” It is a thousand gestures, a simple cup of coffee, a question. It is your favorite movie when you’re sad or reminding you to take a shower. Maybe it’s reminding you to take your meds (while NOT arguing – seriously please don’t ask us if we’ve taken our meds when we’re arguing), or reminding you to eat.

I love you is everywhere, please don’t forget to open your hearts to receive it.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

5 Things to Stop on Social Media

(aka “a few ways to get less people to unfollow you”)

There are obviously more than five, but earlier today a bunch of women made me remember that I am awesome and that I matter, so I wanted to pass on some wisdom that I feel matters.

1. Guilt trip “cut and paste, don’t share” posts. Yes, I really am one of your REAL friends, I do love my mother and I support those who have fought and are fighting cancer. No, me cut and pasting a status doesn’t prove any of these things. I don’t know about you, but I get annoyed at people that insinuate that I don’t care because I don’t follow the herd.

2. Answering security questions inside of innocuous surveys. Often questions like “What was your first car? The name of your first pet? Your first school? Where were you born?” come up in “cute, fun, ‘I was bored’ surveys. Not all at once, but if someone wanted your information, chances are you’re posting it without thinking about where it can be used… like to access a bank account, hack your email or other accounts by “forgetting your password.”

3. Using the word “trigger” casually. A trigger is something that severely affects someone’s emotions. They may have a severe panic attack, a painful one that makes them feel as if they’re having a heart attack. They may fly into a dissociative rage where they lash out and remember nothing. They may have flashbacks of assault, or times when they’ve self harmed. A trigger is NOT a concept that offends you, or irritates you. Using it that way is an insult to those of us who have actual severe reactions because of our past or mental health. It’s not cute. It’s not funny.

4. Reposting fake hack warnings. It’s really easy to check if a “new hack” is real or simply a chain letter that’s been going around for years. Snopes is an easy place to check whether or not a hack/threat/change in your privacy policy is real. If you google a couple lines from it, you can find out from other sites as well. Most of these have been going on since people emailed them around through AOL. They’re annoying and there’s no reason in today’s world to generate any more fear.

5. Comparing your life to what you see around you. You’re seeing what people want you to see. This isn’t their whole life. It rarely includes all of their struggles, it often highlights small things to make them seem important, and there’s often unintentional misrepresentation. I’m sure your friend Suzy looks like she has it all with her smiling children and her handsome husband. I can’t think of a friend named Suzy, so we’re going with that.. What you don’t see is that Suzy’s just fed up with trying to get ready for work while getting the kids ready for school and her husband is exhausted from the night shift and can’t help. They haven’t made love in a year and Suzy is considering filing for divorce because drifting apart has become arguing daily and she hates her life. She envies that you can go out with the girls and have a drink with dinner without feeling judged.

Honestly, there are many things to give up and many reasons why, but a couple of these were weighing on my mind today. I am a member of a facebook group and I posted that I felt like I didn’t belong. Those women I mentioned in the beginning reassured me in ten ways that I do belong, and I matter. I just wanted to share the feeling that someone gives a damn about how you feel and the ones around you feel. Since social media is often how we relate to each other, I thought this may be a way to share that feeling. Know your loved, show others they are as well.  Also, please add your own “Things to stop on social media” in the comments!

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Pain, compassion, and frustration

As I sat here contemplating a DIY lobotomy, trying to figure out whether or not to take the pain medication I was prescribed, I realized I had therapy in a couple of hours. I, then, tried to decide whether it was better to go in severe pain as it coursed through my head like a pulsating rod from behind my right eye into the base of my skull, or go while I was loopy and entertained, but definitely not in a position to absorb information. I called to cancel last minute. Well, it was still a couple hours off but I do not like to cancel at all, especially the day of.

For me, creating a doctor’s appointment is creating an obligation and I try so hard to keep all of my obligations regardless of my mental and physical states. I try to make the necessary phone calls, show up at the necessary times. I try to drink enough water, to take my medication, to eat. I try to go grocery shopping through depression or anxiety because I do not think it’s fair to let my disabilities take away my ability to at least try to function on some level.

Days like today frustrate me. There was little I could do, I was not going to be able to function at the mental level needed for an effective therapy appointment. I could have wasted both of our times, but why? My neurology appointment is still a couple of weeks out and, as I am not having any ocular auras (and my kidney function labs were redone and fine), I have not gone to the hospital. This does mean that we are treating my intracranial hypertension (high brain pressure, there is an issue with my cerebro-spinal fluid) with pain management as long as it’s not affecting my sight. I honestly thought I could keep it from affecting my other obligations.

Obviously, I was wrong. The medication has worn off and although I can still feel pain, it’s a pain I can tolerate and maintain some function through. Six years ago, before this was ever an issue, it’s a pain I would have taken OTC painkillers for and whined about on the couch until it dissipated. Our pain tolerance changes with our life.

The same is true of emotional pain. What we could not handle ten years ago may be something we can cope with now, or due to manifesting disorders, or even simply new stressful situations coinciding with it, we may not be able to cope with them as well. All of this varies with time, situations and especially from person to person. While I would not expect a random stranger to be able to cope with this headache pain easily, this stranger may have already experienced worse pain and be prepared to handle it. It is as likely they have not, and it would temporarily incapacitate them until relief came. For all I know, you are experiencing the same level of pain right now.

Maybe I pass you in a parking lot, smile, nod, say “Good morning” and you reply with the same smile and greeting. Perhaps both of us are hiding immense pain behind that smile. Perhaps neither of us are. Maybe that cranky old man in line in front of you simply has his arthritis acting up and what you see is him coping with his pain. Not fair to the guy behind the register, maybe, but then the pain we experience isn’t fair either.

Over and over I see memes regarding not knowing the pain another is hiding or their struggles and it feels so cliche to write it, but at the same time, I have been in so much pain lately … Maybe you see me stare off during a conversation, you think I’m not listening, that I am ignoring you, but maybe it just hurts less if I let my eyes unfocus for a bit, maybe you’re sitting under a bright light and I just can’t bring myself to say, “Could you switch seats?” because I’m tired of my pain affecting me and I don’t want it to affect you.

All I really want to ask is for the benefit of the doubt, not just for me but for anyone you may encounter in your travels. You know my pain because I put it here on the screen. Not everyone is so visible with theirs. In this day and age of zero fucks given, I’m just asking that maybe you save one to give.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

No, thanks.

We’re told to do so many things throughout the days. We’re told what to do on social media and by friends, by relatives, by strangers passing by. The reality is we don’t have to do what they say and we don’t owe them an explanation.

I really don’t have to (and neither do you, if you choose not to):

  • Smile! I’m pretty anyway, thank you. I am pretty when I’m pensive and sad and angry even if they show on my face. I’m pretty in a store, and I’m pretty in a picture, even when I don’t turn up the corners on my mouth.
  • Just think positive! I have depression issues, it’s not always in my control. Sometimes I am going to be negative, and sometimes being realistic isn’t positive, and thinking happy thoughts won’t make me fly like Peter Pan.
  • Stop worrying! Sometimes my anxiety doesn’t let that happen, sometimes I have things that concern me even when I can’t affect the outcome. I’m allowed to have things on my mind that upset me.
  • Cheer up! I am allowed to be sad or gloomy or grieving and FEEL my own feelings. If I could just ‘cheer up’ on command, I wouldn’t take so many medications.
  • Stop smoking. Okay, yes, it’s really bad for my health, and I really don’t care that you think i’m prettier without a cigarette, and I’m sorry for all of your losses, but this is my body and my decision. I will do it when I’m ready and your little speeches aren’t making me quit any sooner.
  • Lose Weight.  For some people losing weight is a medical issue. For some it’s aesthetics. For some of us, we like how we are now just fine! Or maybe we’ll do it when we’re good and ready to find a lifestyle that not just helps lose weight but that we feel we can maintain. I’m glad that those diet pills worked for you, they’re really not an option for me. I’m happy for your progress at a gym but I am not comfortable going to one. This is personal and not your decision, it’s mine.

 

I could go on, but quite honestly, it might get a little repetitive as some of the things that you may say out of habit, or because they’ve been said to you so often, they all have the same answers. No. This is my body, my mind, my choice. I’m totally okay with the fact that you’re vegan or christian, that you love to smile or you’re ready for bikini season, it doesn’t mean I want to change the way I live my life or even that ten seconds of my day.

I don’t want to, I don’t have to, and I don’t need to tell you why. Honestly, I shouldn’t be forced into that position and neither should anyone else. Throughout your day, consider that others simply are not you and maybe we don’t fit society’s mold of ‘normal’ and maybe we don’t want to put on a false happy mask just to please you. Maybe we’re tired, depressed, anxious, sad or simply have resting bitch face.

We’re allowed to ignore your unfair demands… and some of us are simply tired of smiling. What do you hate being told to do most?

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Reconnecting.

It’s most often talked about by parents who either send their kids off to friends’ houses or hire a babysitter so they are free to go out to a movie or have a few drinks. It’s also talked about by parents of grown kids who are out of the house. It’s something that many of us don’t talk about and maybe we should more. Date night.

I don’t think date night has to be every week. I don’t think it needs to involve alcohol or going out to a movie. I also think that while it may be more necessary for couples, it’s something that one should do if they’re single too.

I believe date night is about reconnecting with someone. That person can be yourself or the person you’re living with. It doesn’t have to be your spouse of 25 years. When C and I were first living together, we had ‘taco night.’ Taco night was tacos and margaritas and a DVD movie. When we ran out of margarita mix, it was ‘tacos and tequila night’ and after we ran out of tequila, we kinda let date night run out as well.

It wasn’t that we needed the alcohol, we just didn’t really have ‘marker’ for that night where we put the keyboards and phones down. I tried a ‘no computer’ night thing. This didn’t work so well for us because, at the time, I was doing too much on Facebook with my page and my groups to not check the computer and it wasn’t fair of me to expect C to stay off the computer if I wasn’t willing to. I tried to restart ‘taco night’ but each of our lives kept getting in the way.

Date night now for us is not every week and not always the same thing. I do still try to find ways to make it happen even when he’s working a lot of hours, when we’re both stressed about the same things and different things, when we don’t have the money to go out for dinner. It’s a little easier than it used to be varying it because I’m no longer as terrified of crowded movie theaters or places I haven’t been to before.

For one of my friends, it’s just grabbing fast food and eating it in the car outside the house. For C and I, sometimes it’s going to a local casino (and spending their money – Comp dollars – to gamble with), or maybe he comes with me for an Ingress thing (which is often at a diner or part may be), maybe we go out to the movies, or maybe we put on a movie we know we both like and play the same game on our phones together, so we can talk about how good or horrible we’re doing and connect a bit that way… maybe it’s a night centered on intentionally going to bed before either of us are tired.

There are pros and cons to any idea for date night. If taking care of the house is a stressful thing for you or your partner, having date night outside the house can help them stop thinking about it for the evening. Unfortunately some ideas, like going to the movies, outside the house cost money and if money is tight, that could be stressful too.

I think it’s important to find the stressors and plan around them. If you need to get out of the house and you don’t want to spend extra money on dinner, you could pack dinner and bring it in the car with you to a park perhaps. Even if your car doesn’t make it out of the driveway, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the intention.

Earlier I mentioned I felt this was important if you were single as well. You don’t have to call it date night, however if you’re not living with your parents any more, chances are your life gets stressful for you too. It’s important to find things that aren’t part of your every day routine to connect with yourself and enjoy your life so you’re not just surviving it. You deserve to feel the joys of reconnecting no matter who you are connecting with.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

The Clock – inspiration through despair.

With Easter approaching, I want to share with you the story of a friend I lost on Good Friday years ago. I don’t think I could tell her story any better now than I did in 2011, the year she passed away. I had already lost friends who had taken their own life, as well as my biological father whom I had never met. I’d lost family and friends to natural causes. Michelle’s passing was different, is different. If it could help just one person understand that this is the only life we have and we’re meant to live it, I know she would want her story, our story shared.

Beloved Friend – June 2, 2011

I’d been running my facebook support page for months. It had grown to the point where it needed multiple admins and to be checked multiple times a day instead of the once every few days back in the beginning. We had hundreds of members instead of the handful I expected. I guess I didn’t realize how many people there were like me, that couldn’t get to a face to face support group, or needed more when they were home.

I first noticed Michelle because her posts were a little hard to understand. She was using her phone to access the page, and her typos and missing words were always a part of the posts. She was very far down, there were no okay posts. Only down ones. She would say she couldn’t take it, she would say it hurt too much.

After a few weeks I was talking to her in inbox messages as well as on the page. We had added each other as friends. I read a note of hers that was titled “Read only if you are strong.” She never wanted to bring others down or put things on them that they couldn’t handle. She told me to make sure that I was doing good before reading it. It was a description of what she’d gone through recently. Her son has Dravet’s Syndrome – a child seizure disease. She was constantly overtired because he would have fits through the night as well as the day, and during the day there was no rest because her daughter was awake. She suffered multiple types of abuse by her ex husband, some worse than I want to remember reading, even after the divorce.

She only had one really close friend who would visit when she could, when she wasn’t working to help take care of Michelle’s son. Other than that, she was pretty much on her own. Even her family was not helping much regardless of her son’s health and her mental health.

She made a post one night when I was overtired. As I said before, sometimes her posts were hard to understand. It had something to do with finishing a handful, and I didn’t know what she meant. I am not even sure what I responded with but she said it was good that I didn’t understand her, and she deleted the comment. I realized that she was meaning to finish an overdose that she’d just been starting. I sent her messages in her inbox asking her not to, and begging her to call a crisis line, giving her the phone numbers (she was in the U.K. so I had to look them up, but I did as quickly as possible). I was pleading to a non-responsive screen.

The next day she apologized, she thanked me. She told me she flushed the rest of those pills. About a week later, we got a message that she overdosed and was in the hospital. She messaged us again when she was out of it, she left as soon as they took the needles out of her from the I.V. and left the room. She hated hospitals…

A week later I was messaging her again, I’d seen on her friends wall that she was “going to visit her friend for the last time.” I saw on her wall that her friend would be there soon. I asked her why this would be the last time. She messaged me back saying that she’d tell me the next day maybe. I assured her that I was doing good that Saturday morning, and that my boyfriend would be with me all day and all day the next day, so if I might need support, this was the best time to tell me.

She told me she was dealing with the consequences. I asked what that meant, and she said that her liver was failing. The two overdose attempts weren’t the first. The damage she’d done to her liver was irreversible and because of the reason for the damage, there was no chance of a transplant.

After a couple days, I finally got the courage to ask her friend how long she had, because through the conversation, Michelle gave no real indication. A couple weeks maybe… My heart sank. This woman suffered through so much between her ex husband, her mental state, her children’s health and she had tried to end it all, each time she’d lived she would ask God why, but say that he must have a reason. If she thought one of her friends was already depressed that day, she would inbox another friend with problems instead of posting where everyone could see. Even when she told me she was dying, her main concern was whether or not I was going to be okay with finding out. As the days passed, she would post things on the wall still of the support group. One stuck out in my mind the most.

“i wish i could turn back the clock but i cant”

Michelle English, mother of two, beloved friend, passed away on Good Friday less than one week after she told me she would pass. I’m not a Christian, but she was, so that is how I remember the day. The date was April 22, 2011.

Many people have attempted suicide. Myself included. Sometimes people plan it, sometimes it is done spontaneously. This is a woman that attempted, survived, and then had almost two weeks to come to terms with the fact that she WAS indeed dying. There was no passing out and not waking up, no immediate death. She had to come to terms with what dying really meant. Her response to it? “i wish i could turn back the clock.”

She is missed. She is loved. It took dying to make her want to live and by then it was too late. I hope anyone that reads this looks for what there is to live for, even if it’s just a single person they love, and holds onto it with all their strength until they feel that life is worth living again. We can’t turn back the clock.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

P.S. Please consider sharing Michelle’s story. This isn’t just about one life, it’s about all of us. It’s a reminder not to let the depression win.

Also consider commenting in honor of someone you’ve lost to depression.