Love at first sight…

“I love you!”
“I love you more!”

I was working in the countryside last weekend and I met a lovely horse.  It took me ages to persuade the horses, calves and donkeys to come close to me.  Then it gave me great pleasure to show my colleagues how to handle livestock.  Did you know that horse’s eyes magnify images so you are much larger and scarier than you think you are?  We gently blew into the cattle’s noses and they blew back.  The delight on my city friends’ faces was a joy.

I lived in the countryside for many years and part of my heart is still there.  In my last post I said I wasn’t blue but it took an appointment with my psychiatrist this week, to realize that I am low.  Dang those chemical imbalances!  A medication has been added to my daily potion for a short time and I hope to be back to my old self soon.  Every time this happens, I am taken by surprise; perhaps it is a self protective mechanism in my brain.

There is no particular reason for it other than working more hours than usual and being stressed.  The change is seasons affects me too and the stupid daylight savings time.  The additional drug makes me sleepy but I can feel it’s influence already.  Aren’t we lucky to live in the modern age of medicine?  Teddy was so ill recently with a systemic infection that they gave him antibiotics that are used to treat the Plague!  That scared the life out of me.

I may not post or read blogs as much as usual but I will be back (Arnold Schwartzenegger voice).  Sometimes this medication elevates my mood more than it should, so my posts might be more interesting than usual…

Hasta Luego!
donkeys.jpg

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Welcome home, Teddy!

New flannel sheets!

My husband used to travel much more frequently than he does now but he recently went to Austin for a conference.  By happenstance, the new flannel sheets had arrived; they not only look lovely but feel amazing.  Why flannel sheets in the subtropics, you ask?  Teddy was a Princess Prince in another life and I discovered decades ago that he could really feel a pea under 20 mattresses.  The bed has to be soft and comfortable, yet perfectly made.  My mum knew how to look after him with perfectly ironed sheets and underwear…

SO FLUFFY I COULD DIE!!!

In the back of my disturbed head, I have a secret fear that he will leave home and live in a hotel if I don’t provide a clean, freshly made bed on his return.  Teddy hates hotels so the fear is not based on truth but more of my own distaste of returning to an imperfect bed after staying in hotels (which I love).

Wine and soap

On the dresser you can see a bottle of Pinot Noir and some handmade soap that were my gift for his birthday.  Shortly after I moved to the USA, I started a new anti-depressant that made me ‘high’ and I was finally able to make soaps (a long held desire).  I am so good at it that friends asked me to sell them.  There were a couple of orders for baby shower favors which made me gasp with horror.  Not only did they know the sex of the baby but they had chosen a name!  In the UK we only gave gifts after the birth just in case the baby did not survive.  How do you know if she is going to be Apple or Peaches or Trixiebelle until you see her adorable little face? Eventually I had to come off the euphoric medication and realized I am allergic to the soap fragrances (even the best quality).  Now I just make them on special occasions and never use them myself as I have a prescription Sulphur wash.

So what is the point of this blog?  I love my husband so I make him comfortable and that is one of the secrets to a long marriage.  I make him soaps even though I get a headache and I can’t drink red wine but buy him his favorite.  That said, Teddy is currently in the wilds of Utah, Idaho or Montana – I don’t monitor his movements.  When he comes back, he will have another fresh bed but he is going on a diet because his shirts are tight…  Guess who is going to eat all the meat and booze that he can in Brokeback country???

Mental illness is a REAL illness


This is not a political post; I am all too aware that the Affordable Care Act was anything but. Unless something miraculous changes in the Senate, mental illness will no longer be included in the new health plan. So…not only do I have a variety of pre-existing conditions but the one that makes me most ill (and yet is least expensive) will not be covered. For some reason, addiction and mental illness has been put in one category. From my work and personal experience, mentally ill people often self-medicate but they are not the same. I have a clearly inherited condition, much like heart disease, and there was no element of choice. I am not criticizing anyone who has an addiction – there is enough blame to go around.

Let’s take this past week. It started on a high with Teddy’s birthday and then rapidly went downhill. Why? Even I want to slap myself because it was no good reason at all. Our roof has been leaking and the contractor took three days to repair the ceiling, leaving me trapped in the master bedroom which has a large bathroom and closet. Toffee (my elderly cat) and I had to go there so that she wouldn’t escape or get in their way. I had great plans; I would write blogs and binge watch girly TV shoes. Mentally I was paralyzed. Thoughts started spinning in my head about how fat and useless I am. I am neither of those things. I couldn’t watch anything other than old Bones episodes because I couldn’t concentrate. Then the physical pain started to set in. When you sit in an anxious state, you start getting cold and stiff – it was almost 90 degrees outside but the air-con was on for the contractor.

I was determined to do better the next day but the anxiety was rising. My thoughts were, “what do I really need to prioritize in my life?” My ridiculous conclusion was that I would be really happy if I got back to 1** lbs. (about 6 lbs. less than I am now). I joined a free weight loss internet club which told me I was already within my BMI range and that I would have to eat 700 calories a day to lose 2 lbs. a week. This is a glimpse into a world of disordered thinking, especially with eating. Then the sciatica kicked in. I was fully aware that I could have sat in the yard, watered the garden or tidied my filing system but again – paralysis.

By the third day, I had drunk a small glass of vodka with anti-anxiety medication because the paint didn’t match (our ceiling has not been painted in 13 years). I spoke to poor, long suffering Teddy who could hear a panic attack coming on and he agreed that we would ask them to leave. Teddy would finish the painting after our roofs have been replaced in the next few months. As soon as the contractor left, I sprang into action, steam cleaning tiles, polishing our leather suite and assembling everything back in the room. My sciatica really hurt after all that but endorphins got me through. All throughout the 3 days and nights, I had horrifying nightmares that meant that I was really sleep deprived despite being in bed most of the time. My eating deteriorated to almost nothing except snacks and vodka. Perhaps I should revise my thinking about putting mental illness and addiction together?

Now it is all over and I am on the way to feeling better. I ate properly, stopped drinking vodka and went walking to help with the sciatica and general good health. Then, I lost my sunglasses. It felt like the end of the world – I searched the house and garage. It culminated in texting my husband in California to see if he had seen them. Finally, good sense prevailed and I ordered another pair from Amazon at $7 – less than two lattes. I am still hugely annoyed at myself for this whole week. Why couldn’t I just deal with it? This is the true cost of mental illness, a life mostly wasted because of tortured thoughts. Mine are benign, as are the majority of people with mental illness. There is real physical pain, too. The only time I felt happy with an illness was when I was in a full leg cast for almost a year. For once people could ask me what was wrong and not be embarrassed about the answer. Sometimes you need sympathy for an invisible illness.

If the act passes without amendment, mentally ill people will end up in and out of psychiatric hospitals or often prisons because they haven’t been able to access regular help at their psychiatrists, psychologists or doctors. In the end that costs more than a quick visit to the shrink.

I can’t participate…

tornado

Some of you may know that we have had some extreme weather in the Houston area. I live a little north of the main Houston area and on Tuesday evening/Wednesday night we had a tornado just a few miles from our house. I heard the cell phones go off with yet another storm warning (we have had so many recently). I ignored it and the really loud thunder and lightning. The next morning we discovered that a 62 year old woman had been killed in what looked like a pre-fabricated house when a tree fell across her home. I was envious.

I thought, ‘How lovely to die instantaneously with no sickness or problems’. I am 55, so she is hardly much older than me. This is how you feel when you have major depression. My thoughts are filled with death and the longing for it, yet I am not suicidal. I have been unwell for months and my doctor is trying to address it with both an increase and addition in medication. It is working, to some extent, but time is a major factor, as is reducing stress which is out with my capabilities at the moment.

I have a new job and I enjoy it but worry about it incessantly. What if I make a mistake, what if they don’t employ me again? I am trying to be supportive of my husband who is looking for work and setting up a new company but it is as if someone has cut my brain stem. Every so often I come out with a brilliant idea which thrills him but I know I am capable of so much more. Things are beginning to look more positive with the possibility of clients but I don’t care.

My recent cataract surgery has been successful but my chronic dry eye condition has made me feel miserable. I finally went back to the surgeon today and he gave me steroids to help. My husband was with me and thought the surgeon was sympathetic. In my mind, he was saying, “Put your big girl pants on”. This week I got a corporate gratuity from one of the companies I work for (which I suspect everyone got) but I started worrying about how much I had flirted, was it appropriate?

My friends are trying to help me and some are more successful than others. One is constantly giving me encouragement about daring to join the workforce when I feel so ill and others tentatively pace around me. I know that they don’t want to say the wrong thing or upset me but they can’t. My emotions feel deadened and yet raw. I feel as though my life will never be the same again although logically I know it could be even better.

I have been down this path so often that I know I will recover but each time I feel I lose a little bit of myself. I suspect the opposite is true and I evolve into a kinder, more compassionate person after each episode. My blogging is stop/start and then I feel like I am being excluded when that is not the case. When you stop blogging, followers probably think you are busy getting on with life.

I can’t participate right now… but I will join you later.

Mrs. Stripe and the Pharmacy

stripe pharmacy

Mrs. Stripe, the oldest of our three Egyptian feral cats, has had a painful week. She is about 15 years old and has considerable muscle deterioration in her back legs from early acrobatics across the rooftops of Cairo. She is on Gabapentin but this week I noticed that she was struggling to sit down on her back legs. Given her age and feral nature, I was convinced that we were taking her to be euthanized but once again she was saved for a little while longer with an opiate injection, some NSAIDs and an increased dose of Gabapentin.

She was hilarious when she came home – feeling no pain, eyes completely black and looking for trouble! She also had the munchies and we had to keep feeding the beast. The other two cats, quite wisely, kept out of her way. At one point we found the rug my grandmother made at the other side of the living room. I guess she had used it in an Arabian Nights scenario?

I asked if we could take the prescription to our local pharmacy as they now do pet medications (the ones that are the same as human drugs). The cost dropped from about $50 to $8 a bottle, so it was a considerable saving. When I went to pick it up today, I wondered (again) why we decided to call her Mrs. Stripe instead of just Tiger or some such. “What is the patient’s name?” Giggles from me, followed by “Mrs. Stripe”, to which I got a raised eyebrow. Then I had to fill in a digital form which queried – SELF or AGENT. Now I was really laughing, “I guess I am Mrs. Stripe’s agent, then.” I have no idea why the pharmacy technician didn’t think it was funny too. I was going to say that Mrs. Stripe would have come herself but God had forgotten to give her opposable thumbs.

In a unusual moment of good sense I thought that my comment might offend someone from the evangelical south. Just as well God didn’t (give her thumbs) because she would be doing do-nuts in the Challenger, stealing credit cards from my purse and other dastardly deeds.

Blackout

blackout clipart

I had a strange day on Sunday. As most of you know, my husband has been laid off, my mother in law just died so we had to make a sad transatlantic trip and now I have a strange cataract to be removed. It all just hit me last week and I became ill. I spent a few days in bed and then ‘suggested’ to my husband that he take a small road trip just for a break. Both of us needed a break from each other and the situation. Somehow I can only clear my head and get my equilibrium back in complete solitude.

He was eager to leave… Off he went to north Texas, taking photographs and then asked if he could stay another night. “Of course”, I said and then pondered about how bad I had been to make him stay away. Yeah guys – there is no understanding women (especially menopausal women who are unwell). The first day he left, I slowly got back into normal life, got out of bed and cleaned the house. The GP diagnosed some kind of allergy to an, as yet unknown, substance – my tummy is really itchy but no rash. I have been trying to cut out foods, as suggested, to no avail. The result has been that my cleavage is getting smaller – why does weight always come off the boobs first?

By the time he came home on Sunday, I was my normal sunny Bunny self and had worked out a realistic plan for our proposed new business. He frightened me when he returned because our garage door started opening at 8 am! He hadn’t been able to sleep so had just driven back at dawn. We went to the mall for a coffee later and became fairly excited about prospective new plans which may or may not work. We both felt optimistic (and still do).

In the evening I made dinner but I just had some vegetables. We opened a bottle of Trader Joe wine to celebrate his return and the future. Before I tell you what happened next, I should explain that I have a very low tolerance for most medication and am on a child’s dose of anti-depressant and 3 x a cat’s dosage of anti-anxiety medication. Additionally, I have a low tolerance to alcohol… Since we moved to the States I have got ‘blackout drunk’ about 5 times. It only takes a few glasses of wine and usually a tummy upset. I have a permanent gastric issue from contracted Giardia (an amoeba) in Egypt and it being undiagnosed for 5 years. Thank goodness I have an understanding husband who looks after me.

Anyway, we go to bed and apparently I started to slur my words but instead of blacking out, I first start crying, for half an hour, about how upset I am at some of his mum’s relatives for ignoring her for 4 years in a nursing home. He comforted me although he was dead tired and just wanted to go to sleep. Then I got frisky and offered sexual favors that would make a Thai lady boy blush. Let’s just say that the number 69 came up a few times. Finally, after my predation was rebuffed, I fell into a dead sleep. No throwing up.

When I woke up the next day, I had absolutely no memory of anything after we went to bed, not the crying nor the predation. I could not remember sending emails a short time before we had opened the bottle of wine either. I am just so grateful I didn’t blog later. There might have been some shocked readers. Possibly I was also anxious about my first visit to the eye surgeon on Monday (more of which later) but the funny ending is that now Teddy would quite like to ‘play’ with Bunny but Bunny can’t risk a UTI or the antibiotics before surgery on the 24th. A Happy Valentine’s Day for both of us, eh? 🙂