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~

The Fallen Soldiers

do not always fall in combat. You hear about a number of soldiers from your country dying in a war torn section of land that’s not your own. What you hear less about are the soldiers that die every day once they have come back home.

In many countries, Remembrance Day falls on what we in America call Veteran’s Day. It is the day that we honor those that have come home that are still with us. Memorial Day is this weekend for us and it is when we honor those that fallen. The fallen veterans from my life did not die in a far off place, they did not even die during the war they served in. Or perhaps a piece of them did and that is why they ended their life.

I can’t pretend to know the motives of my biological father or my friend Teresa. I can not say that their deaths were a result of the battlefield itself or of navigating the battlefield in their mind once home. I can, however, tell you I have yet to come across the family of a veteran suicide in ANY country that has said “Our country is doing everything they can for those that gave everything for our country.” We can’t control the budgets of the government but we can control our money, our time and our voices.

Not everyone has money to spare, but if you do, look around at the lives of the veterans in your country and find a place to donate it where it will do the most good. If you have the time and ability, find a place to give of yourself, to volunteer. If all you have is your voice – let it be heard. Talk about it. Use social media, write to your government. Let people know this issue is important.

For us, in America, this is not the weekend to thank a veteran for service. It is the time to stop and honor those that died for us, for our freedoms, for our rights, for our way of life. It is the day to honor those that fell in combat as well as those that have passed on outside of it. For me, it is the weekend I honor the fallen in my life and the time that I hope I will not have to switch anyone from Veteran’s Day to Memorial Day in my thoughts next year.

I would post a picture with this, but the reality is if it takes a picture of flag and a uniform with a crying family to move you, then my words won’t have any effect.

*In memory of David and Teresa*

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

“My pain doesn’t matter because…”

Since the bombing in Manchester, I have seen a lot of “but my pain is nothing compared to…” This should stop. Yes, there are people out there grieving and suffering from trauma. This does not mean that your pain does not still exist. This does not mean that your pain does not still matter.

I have had at least three friends in the past few days use this phrase, and even more acquaintances. The truth is that there is always someone grieving. There is always someone experiencing trauma. This does not mean your pain and your trauma are “less.” The only difference right now is that it is a mass tragedy. This means you are more aware of the pain of others because it has been amplified by the number of people currently suffering.

You are no less important. Your pain is no less important. Mine is no less important. I have spent weeks trying to grieve while being ill due to side effects of a medication for my brain pressure. I was no less sick because of world events. In fact, I may have felt more grief in my own losses because I know others are grieving for theirs.

I missed my fiance’s mother’s birthday because of how ill I have been. I missed my grandfather’s memorial because of how ill I have been. Am I to dismiss my own grief because others are grieving? No. We both grieve. We both feel pain. We both feel loss. It is okay to feel and not compare.

There is no real “more pain” or “less” because people each experience pain, both physical and emotional, uniquely. When you say “my pain is nothing compared to” you are minimizing your own worth. You are saying “I don’t matter because they hurt” and this is simply not true. Please know that you can experience what you perceive as ‘minor’ pain while others experience major tragedy and loss, and your pain is still real and it still matters because YOU MATTER.

We’ve talked about others invalidating how we feel, and how hurtful that is. This is you invalidating your own emotions and I hurt when I see this because you deserve to treat yourself better than that. You deserve to treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love. Your pain matters. You matter. You ARE important.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

It’s a little harder for us…

Things you stop taking for granted when you have mental illness:

  • Sleeping through the night
  • Showering regularly
  • Getting out of bed
  • Getting dressed
  • Leaving the house
  • Going to parties
  • Finding joy in your own hobbies
  • Talking on the phone
  • Being able to make your own appointments
  • Feeling loved
  • Remembering to eat
  • Caring if you don’t
  • Being mildly annoyed instead of severely agitated
  • Smiling
  • Going an entire day without bursting into tears

There are so many more, but having the attention span to read long lists would be one of mine. I’m not saying that people should consciously appreciate the things that we can’t do and they can, but I wanted to just take a short moment to say, “Hey, we get that this comes easy to you, but it’s really hard for us, and no we’re not just saying that to get attention.”

What’s one thing you used to take for granted that you now have trouble with?

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Invalidation.

Yesterday, I was told that I don’t care about anyone but myself. This wasn’t by some random acquaintance or anonymous internet troll. I got told this by my mother. Last week we got into an argument, yesterday after a week of not speaking, same argument. She was telling me how to handle my doctors. I was telling her that I had it handled.

Any of you with chronic mental illness or chronic pain, you know the multitude of appointments it comes with. You know that sometimes you need to change treatment plans or doctors. I need to change psychiatrists and I am also going to a neurologist on Monday to work on a treatment plan, if possible, for my brain pressure that causes migraines. I’ve had all of this going on for weeks to months. The psychiatric issue has been half handled, the neurology is scheduled. Somehow I was being told that I’m not handling it correctly, that I’m not listening and that – and this one gets me good – I’m going to the wrong doctor for my brain. The reason that last one gets me is that she’s known about this appointment for six weeks.

Sometimes, yes, I do ask for help when it comes to where to go when I am unable to do it myself. This time, however, I had a plan. I had appointments. I hadn’t asked for anything. For some reason, this plan that my mother had been made aware of weeks earlier was not good enough.

This has happened before about a lot of things in life. It’s probably happened to you as well. You make a decision and people support you and back it and then they change their mind. Maybe it’s about a job and your best friend doesn’t think you should quit even though you already put in your notice. Maybe it’s about a guy and your dad doesn’t approve when you get engaged… Whatever it is, all of the sudden it’s as if your choices aren’t good enough. Obviously, being treated this way is going to create disagreements.

Sometimes the change of heart is because of something that is happening or has happened in the other person’s life. It’s okay to change your mind and change your views. It’s not okay to invalidate someone else’s choices because you change your mind though. It’s not fair to either of you. If you want them to hear you, you may need to hear them too.

I work hard to advocate for myself. I work hard to advocate for others. I am assertive when it comes to anyone’s healthcare. I want us to find the professionals we need to get the treatments that are necessary. I have also spent the better part of seven years running peer support on facebook. I have stayed with family to help care for them when they were unable. I have acted as extreme emotional support for people who have been unable to get it professionally. I have shown up on the doorstep of a suicidal friend so they would not be alone. I do these things partly because I can, I have the knowledge and capacity. I do them because it helps me cope with not working. I do them because I love.

So, now, I’ve been treated like I can’t deal with my own medical treatment and told I don’t care about anyone but myself. Honestly, I have been in pain for over a month almost daily. My medication was incorrect due to a differing opinion with a doctor, and a friend of mine has passed away. I don’t really have the emotional capacity to handle the problems of others that I usually do. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It simply means that I need to practice self care right now and have boundaries.

I draw the line at anyone invalidating my choices in life, my choices in healthcare and my opinions on how our interactions are going. Why am I telling all of you this? Because people WILL invalidate you in life, and I want you to see that it’s okay to stop letting them. This is me trying to explain to you that it is okay to make your own choices and your decisions ARE good enough.

~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~