Writer’s anxiety

Yellow shrimp plant

Yellow shrimp plant

My current life and the geopolitical world have left me lost for words. I have been feeling anxious about everything, which is part of my diagnosis, and nightmares have exhausted me. There is a short break before I start the Super Bowl work then I will stop feeling anxious because of focus and tiredness. Sometimes writing lifts me up or helps ease anxiety but despite taking more medication, I am like a cat on a hot tin roof, yawning with insomnia.

red-spike

I have peppered this short post with some final photos from Puerto Vallarta – just to take the edge of my writing. I work alongside people who have immigrated from Iran and Iraq and wonder if their American dream feels as ephemeral as mine. Even at the shops, people are talking in hushed tones about executive orders and I don’t know if they feel happy or afraid. When we went to Puerto Vallarta, we were seriously considering a retirement home somewhere in Mexico but now I doubt that they would want us. Do you think I have enough Mexican ancestors to request entry? Should I print out my Ancestry family tree?

umbrellas

Almost every week I soothe people whose relatives have been detained at immigration. It is usually something relatively minor such as an incorrect visa or a similar name. We were stuck in Egypt until the very last minute, whilst my husband’s employer desperately tried to get a work visa for him to go to the USA. I remember being at the airport in Cairo, wondering if they were going to accept our cats’ paperwork or my husband’s. I have an American passport, so I could go anytime. Nonetheless, it was terrifying, especially since it was during Gulf War II.

yellow-blossom

I can support passengers and myself by being as helpful as always. A smile can work wonders, for the recipient and the person feeling depressed.

Childhood Bullying

kerry

I don’t recall any bullying before I started Primary School but almost immediately was aware of the potential from the High School right next to ours. Ours was Catholic and the other was not. This was leading up to the height of the IRA conflict in the ’70s. From age 5 to 12, I was occasionally bullied by children of another faith on my way home. It would have been more sensible to have walked with a friend but sometimes I wanted to walk on my own and had to face the consequences. They threatened violence but didn’t follow through with me.

I looked very different to the children at my primary school and that made me feel alienated. There was some mean girl behavior but most of that is normal for our species. When I look at our cats, I see bullying and Alpha behavior all the time. When I was about 10, a new girl who went to the other school, moved into the house two doors away from me. I had to pass her garden to come home and she started bullying me. She was a big girl and would threaten to beat me up if I passed her house. She terrorized me and I sobbed to my mother at home. Rightly or wrongly, my mum said that it was time I stood up for myself and didn’t speak to the girl’s mother. I just went home by a different, longer route to avoid this girl.

When I was 11 and just about to leave primary school I was sexually molested by a slightly older boy at school. That was frightening in a whole other way. I have no happy memories of primary school whatsoever and had many days when I sobbed, asking to stay at home. Finally it was time to go to high school. We were annexed into girls and boys. Our classes were streamed for both IQ and test results. For once I was with like minds in Class A1 although there were still bullies… How do they know how to find the weak? I guess it is the same in every herd. One girl liked to stab safety pins into your behind or wherever she could reach. Another was verbally abusive. Other like-minded girls and the drama group was my savior. We clung to each other for safety and most of us are still friends. Later, a suitor commented that I looked unapproachable but I was just intensely shy and concerned about people looking at me. I had no idea I was prettier than average and was very aware of my faded poor clothing.

In five years I didn’t use a bathroom at school because I was scared of the mean girls who patrolled them – I had to run home to go to the bathroom after classes finished. I had a light bulb moment when I knew I was applauded for a speech that I read and my confidence was boosted exponentially. This is the link to the post. The day I knew I could write Our school decided we would all be safer if both boys and girls had self-defense classes because of the regular bomb threats and the ongoing hostilities between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland and parts of Scotland. That was what provoked me to make my comment on Kate’s blog aroused  That led to this series on bullying. It dramatically improved my fear of the world and the techniques are still with me to this day. This confidence regarding violence allows me to travel to unusual places without any consequence, so far… I use common sense as well.

Even then, there was one final bullying episode before I left school. My speech which criticized the Catholic Church had so incensed one of the senior principals that she refused to give me a reference for college and used a small infraction as her excuse. This time I refused to give in to her threats and got a reference from the bank manager. That wouldn’t have been sufficient for some colleges but it was fine for me.

Next post is bullying in sexual relationships

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Katniss, the feral cat

Katniss, the feral cat

I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers (that’s said in my best Southern belle accent). None of you are strangers, of course, you know more about me than most. One of my dear friends was concerned that I was revealing too much of my soul when I started being really honest on my blog but I think it is good for me and for any one person that may be helped by my revelation and insight.

I hoped today might be almost back to normal but Zhenny the crazy cat had one of her occasional pancreatic attacks with blood in her urine. They happen dramatically quickly so we rushed her to the vet this afternoon. Both the new veterinarian and the assistant were AMAZING. They listened to me (treat her like a wild raccoon and pump her full of injections), the assistant who had lived in third world countries held her like a baby so she did not have to be tranquilized and then rocked her like a baby. In 12 years I have never been able to rock her like a baby. If she does not recover quickly (she probably will) or has another attack soon then we have all made the sad decision to send her to meet Grandma Kathleen in heaven. One of my mum’s many saving graces was that she adored animals.

We are back at home now and I thought you might like to meet Katniss (above). She left for about a week but has been coming every day (and now twice or three times a day) for dinner. Our weather has switched from too hot to freezing so she needs a little extra food although she is a perfectly good hunter. As you know, I am trying to tame her a little so that I can neuter and release her. Then I will cut back on the feeding as there is plenty of prey just in my back yard…

Katniss is the daintiest little girl with a tail longer than her body. We previously called her the slut (kittens, many kittens) but she sits like a lovely little lady with her tiny toes tucked in. Sometimes I imagine she is wearing a black satin dress with some white pumps. It worried me when my husband named her because we only ever have three cats and it felt ominous. Right at this happy moment we have three indoor cats, one on massive pain relief, and a contented Katniss.

You have all been so wonderfully uplifting in your comments about my illness and husband being laid off that I thought you might like this hilarious tale. He has applied for endless jobs which will not be looked at until after the holiday period. One in particular was in Saudi Arabia. We are doubtful about this because their retirement age is 60 (how civilized?) and they rarely take anyone over 55 unless they have specific skills. He certainly has the skillset and some Arabic but there are plenty of contenders in this slump. Two nights ago he noticed a missed call from Saudi Arabia on his cell phone. He waited until it was morning and then called the number back, with some excitement. Can you believe it was a wrong number? What are the chances of getting a wrong number from the exact town in Saudi that you applied to? With our current luck he was phoning the local branch of Al Qaeda and we will get even more strange clicks and cut-offs on our phone line!

Thank you all so much.

Invisible Illness

kerryisill

Today I have retreated to bed for the day. As hard as I try, it is very difficult for friends and colleagues to understand the peculiarities of my mental illness. You have all seen me with my happy face on, sometimes it’s forced but mostly it’s not. My mood today is nothing to with our current circumstances. I have days like this every fortnight or so and somehow I will have to relate this in an application form to apply for Disability Benefit. If only you could just attach a photograph, eh?

My intellectual capacity and usual appearance will undermine an application so I expect to be refused at least twice even with the backing of my psychiatrist who has known me for 11 years. I saw him yesterday and although he cannot take any more patients he said he would continue to see me no matter the future insurance. What a sweetheart he is.

The holiday season always takes its toll on me. I take on too much, forget that no amount of wine will take away my social anxiety and everyone tells me how great I look, ironically. I was looking forward to going to work today despite feeling tired. My ‘healthy’ appearance at the Christmas party had fooled my boss into giving me an extra duty that I always excel at but it wipes me out. When I got the schedule last night I wanted to cry – I just couldn’t do it.

The extra duty was training. I have a variety of post college training certificates in this and myriad other fields (the oddest was funeral counselling skills). When you are feeling mentally exhausted, you may as well be climbing Everest. I am annoyed at myself, at my boss, at the world and at my genetics. It is so frustrating to see other people working normally. My psychiatrist is the same age as me – he had worked at a hospital in the morning, was seeing out-patients until at least 6.30 pm and looked as fresh as a daisy. He was mentally sharp and even made me fall over laughing at his wit.

I didn’t write this for pity but you can sympathize if you like. Tomorrow, I will be back to my usual self and focus on physical tasks such washing the deck. I suppose the exercise gurus are correct about exercise being good for the brain and body but personally I love the satisfaction of completing a useful task. If anyone has any cows to herd, I will be available… 🙂

The Christmas Letter

zed in snow

Zhenny in the Christmas Snow

For some reason I thought it was perfectly okay to announce that my husband was laid off on the world wide web before telling family or friends. It is as if I am writing a diary to a special friend instead of hundreds of people. Once we started receiving email attachment and snail mail letters my husband thought that I should compose one. I had actually written a short note to put in my overseas mail but they were sent before the bad day. It was impossible to think of a way to write a letter. Should I do my usual, list our vacations, health issues and then just finish with ‘and BTW my husband was laid off’? I finally decided that humor and straight forwardness was the best bet. This is, more or less, what I wrote to friends and family (leaving out some personal details). My husband is A.

Festive Greetings friends and family
First, and most important, who sent the chocolates to Auntie M.? She thought it was me, so before any other relatives get embarrassed and have to say, “I haven’t sent you anything” please tell her who the culprit was.

I saw this marvelous quote from NBC News –‘Tis the season to get flooded with Christmas letters — often a litany of bombastic bragging disguised as holiday cheer’. I thought that is a tad harsh but sometimes I have thought that and you might have about our letters… So without further ado, as soon as we came back from a fabulous vacation in Baha, A. was made redundant or laid off, as you say in the States. His company has been really struggling with both the oil price and the hostile takeover. They kept moving him from job to job but I could see the writing on the wall.

A. has been given a good severance package and we figure we have a year to get him a job in Siberia or Saudi… At first you are devastated – what next – but then reality sinks in and you think, ‘I could be living in Syria’. He is most likely going to become an independent contractor and has been given a verbal offer of a contract in the next few months. Given how bad things are, however, we will wait until there is something in writing before we open the cheap wine.

We applied for Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act and are eligible, but not able to apply until our health coverage runs out (3 months as we are, 18 months on Cobra). I was putting off applying for Disability as my doctor suggested I do, so I will think about it seriously in January. In the meantime we had a laugh when my earnings were predicted to be more than A.’s in the next few months between the book earnings and my occasional job as a writer for a local magazine. So far, so good and I am onto my third article.
Blogging is keeping me sane so there are endless blogs for you to peruse when you are bored. This is the one about A. being laid off
A Bad Day
This is one about our vacation in Baha
The Exciting Bus Ride
Our oldest cat
Mrs. Stripe

So have a wonderful holiday season, Merry Christmas, Super Solstice, Happy New Year. I am working on the 25th then will come home and cook my Teddy something reasonably nice for dinner. We swapped offices yesterday and didn’t start divorce papers so all is well and we had great fun at my fancy holiday event.

Love Kerry and A. xxx

We have had a few lovely responses from friends offering commiserations to practical help such as visiting Mum in the Alzheimer’s unit in Scotland. Many people we know work in the oil industry so there is barely anyone unaffected by this current downturn. Misery loves company! I laughed when I read the quote about Christmas letters. We have no children and have traveled frequently so ours probably sounded a bit like that in the past. You tend not to say that you have had vajazzling or many psychiatrist’s visits… Still, this blog is a way for our friends to know more than they ever wanted to about our sex life, my bad mental health and all the other funny things I write about. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!

The series finale…

narrow sea

The Narrow Sea….(or maybe Vancouver)

I am afraid my Game of Thrones week has come a sudden and bloody end. That was literary exaggeration – it was just sudden although my fingertips feel bloodied. I have another deadline for a paid job and blogging life has to stop for a few days. Today I feel like Davos Seaworth, the Knight of Onions, who works so hard and loyally for his boss Stannis Baratheon. Stannis is deeply flawed and has made some dubious choices in his work and love life but also seems wearied by life.

I have two jobs, one paid and another unpaid. The unpaid one requires all my life experience and professionalism. It’s usually a pleasure to go there but this week it was one problem after another and the only thing that helped me was that I was wearing cobweb lacy stockings with my short uniform skirt. That added to my Scottish accent enabled me to put some humor into a mechanical problem (that was really irritating the customers) and blame it on the elves and leprechauns at Halloween. This is making me sound like one of Littlefinger’s ladies of the night…

My paid writing job is much more enjoyable but it is a steep learning curve and a very short deadline. I have spent the last day and night cajoling, persuading and working hard. I have six interviews with entrepreneurs in the next two days all mangled around the much needed one with the psychiatrist. All my plans of psychiatric flirting have disappeared in a haze of ‘what questions will I ask?’, ‘what is an appropriate outfit?’ (not the cobweb stockings methinks) and ‘do I have another UTI, really???’ So, at least you know my flirting will come to naught…

Ah, it will all be worth it in the end and winter is coming…