Sunday, April 23, 2017

"I'm fine, but I'm bipolar. I'm on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I'm never quite allowed to be free of that for a day. It's like being a diabetic."

Let's talk about depression.  I know it's everyone's FAVORITE subject, but, it's my blog so don't be a dick.  In all seriousness, it needs to be discussed more.  Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27)   Women experience depression twice as often as men do, and  regardless of racial or ethnic background or economic status. The lifetime prevalence of major depression is 20-26% for women and 8-12% for men. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1996). So it's chemical and it's prevalent in our society. 

I just had an exchange with a co-worker about my mood change,  "You're in a good mood today.  What happened?"  How do I answer without outting myself?  Better yet, why should I be concerned with anyone knowing that I suffer from a mental illness?  Because, "I'm Bipolar and someimtes adjustments in my medications can be severe on my mood,"  should be a legitimate response.  But, fear takes over and I stumble around trying to come up with a reason why I'm noticably happier today.

Mental illness shouldn't be shameful.  It's a medical condition.  If I was hobbling around on a broken leg, I wouldn't attempt to hide it and hope no one noticed my crutches.  I also wouldn't expect myself to heal immediately and with no symptoms or pain.  So why is it, that when I have a depressive episode, I worry about what people will think?  Sometimes I need help.  I have brain in need of healing, instead of a limb, and my crutches are often words.

I can't always function at full capacity.  However, even talking about it gives me anxiety that I'm burdening people.  This isn't uncommon with mental health.  If brain chemistry was a person, it'd be a sociopathic son-of-a-bitch.  It often skews my perception of the truth and gives me a sense of duality that can be frightening.  What I know to be true and what I feel are often contradicting.  Depression wants me to believe that nobody cares to hear about what's happening, that there is an encumbrance in expressing myself to loved ones.  But I know there are people willing to help and listen. 

So I'm promising myself to be less timid about my experience.  This blog is a fantasic outlet because it doesn't directly put pressure on friends and family regarding how I'm feeling, but allows me to freely relay this reality and inform those who may not understand how someone like myself operates.

I speak for myself.  I can't know how anyone else happens to feel during their expriences, but I hope to capture some of the common sentiments of those who can't come forward.  I want people to understand that the stigma around mental health is not scary.  I've lost friends admitting that I suffer depression.  The sadness of this, is that some people mental illness is dangerous.  There is a fear of instability that I even buy into at times.  However, I just have mood swings, sometimes within the same hour, that are more dynamic than simple joy or sadness.

When I'm depressed, I have trouble waking up.  I'm drained to the point that getting up, even sitting up, is nearly impossible.  I have to rally for a good while--convincing myself that I'm even physically capable.  Sometimes I nap for hours, then go to bed for an extended period.  On my day off, I slept for 15 of 24 hours this week.  I could NOT stay conscious.  If that isn't enough?  There's the mental pain that accompanies the physical symptoms.  Hopelessness, exasperation, loneliness, numbness..the list is ever growing and changing.

So what do we do?  Start small.  Read.  Project Helping is a great place to start.  Or if you are willing, be brave and share your story.  It might inspire someone else who is feeling alone in their battle. It might save a life.

Today's subject line quote is from the late Carrie Fisher.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I can excuse anything but boredom. Boring people don't have to stay that way.

I'm going through a strange phase.  I've never experienced one like it before, either.  Lately, I've been overthinking (no, that's not the unusual part), but as a result, I end up sensoring myself and remaining silent.  It's as if I'm convincing myself that nothing I have to say either 1.) makes sense or 2.) is pure stupidity flavored word vomit.

As a new person at work, I usually jump to introduce myself and tell everyone the minor details of daily Cassidy.  So far, I'm becoming miserly with my self info.  I could withstand interrogation and not give up anything.  That's NEVER been my reality.  "Hi, I'm Cassidy and I can taste metal in my throat when I hear change jingle."  Seriously, that's something I would tell you and is coincidently true.  I spent hours in the car last weekend between my L.A. trip and going to Berkeley for concerts.  I feel like I barely spoke.  Even as I'm writing this, I'm wondering if there is a point. 

Perhaps I'm bored with myself on some level.  I have a fairly regular schedule of redesigning myself and I've been consistent the last few months. (Ignore the super short, awful haircut in this instance.  It was accidental and not a welcomed change.)  The reinvention keeps the depression from settling inm too.  Most of my profiles I've used over the years have drastically different appearances on the user pics.  When I was still using dating sites, that was a frequent observation--my look is different in every picture. 

But, is it just complacency?  Or have I reached a point in my life when I'm literally out of shit to say?  How can I challenge myself?

I had some fantastic and life altering experiences this weekend, but I just can't even bring myself to try and describe any of it because every time I write out a sentence, I immediately quit and think it's the dumbest formation of words in English history.  And we have Donald Trump for president, constantly speaking out of his orange, baboon-ass-face hybrid.  How is anything I have to say more ignorant than his ignornant tete-a-tetes with his fellow, priviledged douche canoes (who seem to think they are the only ones living here on Earth).

Maybe later I'll give it a shot.  Right now, I'm blogging at work in the middle of the Toyota showroom.  I love my job.

Today's subject line quote is from Hedy Lamarr.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I have your car towed all the way to your house and all you have for me is LIGHT beer?

I did it.  I'm officially a grown-up, for the first time, at 32.5 years old.  What's the big change?  I got my first (yes, seriously) full-time paid position.  This gal is the new face of Victory Toyota as the newest reception team member.  It's not rocket science, but it is steady work at an almost sustainable pay rate and room for growth.  Well, it might be rocket science.  I haven't actually started working the phone system yet.  It could be a prerequisite for NASA applicants, for all I know.

What I do understand, is that I had a panic attack within 20 minutes of leaving my orientation today.  I've had harder work being a full-time parent, for sure.  Remember....anything from this blog circa 2008-2012?  I should be able to handle 40 hours of answering phones and making coffee.  And yet, I sat in my car breathing heavily as if I had been asked to defuse a bomb in the parking lot.  My best guess?  I want to be a Toys R Us kid.

I'm not just working a part time gig to get me through.  I'm a real adult, supporting 3 kids.  This may be an entry level position, but there's room for growth.  It's very likely that I'll end up in an HR position. So, this is my welcoming party into adulthood.  Do I get a banner?  And cake?  There should always be cake!  Maybe even pony rides...wait...this is an adult party.  Strippers?

So in pure Cassidy fashion, I started off my first day coming of age with a court summons for a lost speeding ticket.  I may be seasoned now, but I'm still a walking disaster.  Some back story:

Dom and I split last year and I moved out and bought a mini van around last April.  Life got in the way of things and I ended up procrastinating my registration in an epic way.  By December, I was pulled over for speeding, my car was towed, and made FIVE trips to the DMV over two days.  The physical ticket for the whole endeavor was in my possession for approximately 5 hours before it was declared dead.  No idea what happened to it, as I don't really care.  It was probably stolen by the Russians, eaten by a child, or maybe it had an epiphany and decided to finish it's degree in marketing.  I wish it the best of luck, wherever the fuck it is.

So today, after work, I get a letter from the Superior Court of California stating that I owe them a ridiculous amount of money and my dignity.  The best part is that a month ago, my boyfriend kindly reminded me to figure this shit out before something of this nature took place.  I checked for my ticket online, it was nowhere in the system, so I was all, "Not my problem!  Whoohoo!"  Like a JACKASS.  I wonder if he'll give me a hearty, "I told you so?"  Regardless, I paid my debt and learned my lessons.  That's what grown-ups do.  We aren't impervious to mistakes, we handle them.

Today's subject line quote is Biff Tannen, Back to the Future.  

Monday, January 2, 2017

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

In popular theory, 2016 was the year born of the depths of hell, bred of Lucifer and Wet Socks and set loose on the world to watch it consume itself with fear, grief, anger, and some indecipherable emotional standards that, likely,didn't exist previously.  But for me, 2016 was something else entirely.  Don't get me wrong, I'm setting fire to my calendar with a maniacal laugh--just like everyone else with a soul.  My sentiment is simple. This was the year I was created.  I can't help but feel grateful for my existence post self discovery, but like any newborn I've had infancy struggles.

I'm trying not to dwell on said struggles, so I'll just say that if your year was a rabid dog that bit you square in the ass then mine was the Demogorgon from Stranger Things.  

Moving forward, here are some gems that I've learned about myself in the recent months:

* I am not as organized as I once thought.  Perhaps it was the imposition of my ex-husband and his desire for perpetual planning and loathing for chaos, but I am impulsive and generally uncaring about the "how's" as long as it happens.  I have many superpowers, one of which is the ability to procrastinate at a professional level.  Like the time I put off getting my van registered for 10 months and it ended up impounded and I had to go to the DMV a total of 5 times before it was all taken care of.  But it got done, didn't it?

* More years of my life have been spent overweight than disgustingly thin.  I had a period of approximately 2.5 years (not even consecutively) when I was supermodel skinny.  But in my mind, that was my true self.  In reality, I am an average-sized woman.  And that's perfectly fine.  And with that, I've also come to terms with the fact that I am actually attractive, especially since dating again.

* Speaking of which, I'm 32 years old and I have never said "I love you" first.  Ever.  In fact, in every adult relationship I've had, save one, the other party has dropped the love bomb within the first 2 weeks of speaking to each other.  I don't know what that means.  Maybe I just choose emotionally unstable individuals?  Maybe I'm an irresistible love goddess?  Perhaps it was just indigestion and they were all very confused.

* My spacial awareness is only slightly better than that of a Roomba.  I continuously run into doorways and stationary objects.  This is both useful and frightening in roller derby. 

* After a lifetime of struggling, I was finally given a diagnosis in my mental health.  It's an illness and I have to treat it.  It isn't a rough patch and it isn't anything to be ashamed of.  It just is.

* This last one is ridiculously cheesy, but it's the most important.  I am the poster child for resilience.  This year's challenges have been hellish, but I've survived them.  I've broken down and become very familiar with my own mortality, thanks to my self destructive talents.  But I've always picked myself back up and moved forward.  There isn't anything I can't handle--I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

So, bring it 2017.  New life, new challenges as a single mom.  I will not simply survive this year, I'm going to live it.

Today's Subject Line Quote is from Lao Tzu

Sunday, September 27, 2015

“You don't look fake when you unconsciously pretend.”

Confession Time:  I am a really good actor.

I mean, I am phenomenal.  When I was in elementary school, I was given the best speaking lines in the church pageants.  In high school, I attended all the forensics tournaments and directed segments for competition.  I was voted "Most likely to win an Oscar" my senior year.  But I'm not talking about acting on stage, where it's safe to be a character and praised for being entertaining and obviously engaged in pretend play.  This is about putting on a face and presenting myself to the world on a daily basis.  For this, I am colossal.

The best role I've ever cast myself in, is a bubbly blonde whose snark and wit often earns her big laughs.  She's a smiler--been described as inspiring and confident.  I've been portraying her so long, she often feels real.  Most people don't seem to notice that she part of a life-long improvisation.  We all know what "normal" looks like and I've done research, like any other actor worth her salt.

It's easy to show people what they want to see; they usually do the majority of the work me by ignoring subtleties and discontinuity.  It's not hard to change my words to fit what I should be feeling or how I understand what needs to be done to cope with stress.  I've lied to therapists, friends, family, and occasionally myself in this aspect.

The truth beneath this persona, is that I am tired and frightened.  I don't know what reaction I'll receive if I am unabashedly candid.  That perhaps my mood is so easily corruptible, I'm viewed as unstable, weird, or the dreaded crazy.  Because I am unusual--often feeling broken and unfixable--there is no place for me outside of my own mind.  I do not want to answer your ritualistic greeting with, "I'm fine."  But because, "I feel overwhelmed with minor grievances and daily living is exhausting." is a bit of a harsh bummer, I tend to retreat into the likeable and healthier version of myself.  I am a real adult, with responsibilities and obligations.  But I seriously have a hard time getting my shit together most days. 

Today's subject line quote is  ― Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut

Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's like stepping into a dream you've been dreaming for as long as you can remember and finding out that the dream is more real than your life.

     I have a recurring dream where I'm shopping in Target.  Suddenly, as I'm pushing the big red cart full of my children and our novelties, my left leg locks up and I have to stiffly limp across the store.  Eventually, I try to run but only end up progressively rigid from the hip down.  It doesn't happen every night.  And when I do have it, I often don't remember the details until I see something that sparks my memory.

     Four weeks ago, I woke up and felt incredibly fatigued.  It hasn't been unusual in the last six months.  I had a baby, after all.  I don't recall having my usual dream this particular time, but it could have been lost somewhere in my subconscious.  I kept falling asleep every time my eyes closed, regardless of what I was doing--watching t.v., sitting in the car on the way to church, waiting for the teens to finish a sentence as I was volunteering with them during the service, while eating my Nachos Supreme at lunch.

     Our house was trashed from a typical weekend of parenting.  Dom was pushing hard for us all to get up and start wiping off the gooey hand prints from tables, fold the laundry forming peaks in the dining room, and pick up the infinite tripping hazards strewn all over the floors.  No one was terribly motivated, but I felt a migraine coming on.

     The whole morning I had been in a fog.  It was hard to come up with the right words to express myself.  Earlier, I spent a full 25 seconds trying to stall for the word "formula" while talking about following preset patterns in literature.  Eventually, reading became too difficult--even trying to decipher Facebook statuses was making my brain feel like a useless pool of jelly. During lunch, the family was watching the "Left vs. Right" episode of Brain Games;  I was totally killing it in a game similar to the concept in this video:  
     I confessed that it was my newly acquired superpower of not being able to read that got me the lead.  Dom had a seriously puzzled look on his face and suggested we go for a family walk.  Two houses down on our trek, I felt deliriously happy.  The grass was the most beautiful shade of brown, the sun was casting a halo of euphoria everywhere I gazed.  My children looked like little glowing beacons.  What was I just doing?  I glanced to the stroller that I was pushing, up at my husband and son ahead of me.  I'm going for a walk with my family.   
     We cornered the block and headed toward our mailbox.  It was Sunday, but we rarely remember to get the mail every day.  What am I doing?  Oh, I'm going for a walk with my family.  My stride slowed a bit.  I'm taking a walk with my family.  A few more steps.  What was I out here for?  The kids zoomed past me, racing for the mailbox.  I am on a walk with my family.  

     My hips felt tight.  I pushed forward, still looking around the neighborhood in its new glow of blissful light.  I am taking a walk with my family.  I am taking a walk with my family.  Something was wrong and I was finally queuing into it.  My left leg was feeling a bit sluggish--not heavy, but it seemed to be running it's own pace compared to the rest of my body.  Whatever foot was attached to it, it certainly couldn't have been my foot, bent inward and refused to straighten.  This was my nightmare coming true.

     Dom!  The thought was there but the words wouldn't follow.  Again, I tried to call for my husband but only a breathy sigh came out.  Finally, after coaching my mind and vocal cords to collaborate, I was able to meekly stutter it out.  
     He immediately shuffled me into the car, buckling our kids' tiny, terrified bodies into their car seats.  Michael was holding back tears as he asked where we were going.  After three attempts I was able to answer, "Hospital."  Dom was speeding South down Highway One, telling the operator on the other end of his cellphone "I think my wife is having a stroke." 

     Tears were plopping onto my cheeks as I thought This is really happening.  Is this REALLY happening?  Dom hung up and grabbed my thigh, "It's okay.  You're going to be okay."  I heard him say we were only ten minutes out from the E.R. and we were better off driving ourselves than to wait for an ambulance.  Ten minutes?  Isn't that too long?  I'm going to stay like this.  I'm going to get worse.  My eyes met the windshield, the outside still looked surreal.  I am going on a walk with my family.  No, that wasn't true any more.  I am going to the hospital.  Staying grounded was priority.  I am going on a walk--No.  I'm going to the hospital.  

     "Ask.  Me. Quest-ions."  My demand was in a slow, deliberate cadence.  I was able to name my children by their first and middle.  There were more that I aced, but I don't recall the specifics.  In my fuzziness, I just remember thinking about how a mother could ever forget the names of the babies she made from scratch.  And then I felt a pang of dread in my stomach because that might just be what was happening to me.
     A nurse greeted us at the entrance with a wheelchair and helped drag me up the three steps to sit down.  I survived the staff inquisition, all with my one word sentences and hand gestures.  I passed the grip test.  I could swallow.  And eventually my head CT showed that there was no indication that a stroke had occurred or if a tumor was present.  
     Sitting on the bed, the pace of my words came back to normal as time passed.  I felt drunk, but at least I could express that verbally now.  The doctor on duty seemed a bit perplexed at my symptoms.  After his initial examination, he explained that it was likely anxiety related.  

     Once everyone left and I was wearily laying on the bed, completely exhausted, I started crying.  I felt as though this whole ordeal was my own mind's elaborate practical joke against myself.  Thinking that I put my family through such panic over nothing was agonizing.  After being able to explain my symptom progression and disposition for migraines, the doctor said it was likely a migraine equivalent.  Since I hadn't felt a headache through any of the fit, it was a rare event.  

     I've since followed up with a neurologist (who looks incidentally like the portrait of Edgar Allan Poe printed on my tote bag) and has sent me for multiple MRI scans of my head and neck.  I've been cleared of any clots, tumors, lesions, or other scary diagnoses.  His only concern was that my motor skills were lacking in my examination, which ended up being a combination of sleep deprivation and a misplaced disc in my neck from (what was likely) an injury that happened when I was 16 and ended up to catching a color guard flag toss with my face instead of hands.  He was on board with the migraine theory and has recommended physical therapy for the old marching band injury.  

     I'm trying to control my stress levels, but it's difficult being home alone with three kids.  And sleep is number 1 on my wish list, but breastfeeding an infant doesn't let that come easily.  Handling the depression just makes it all 1,000 times more difficult.  So I'm living task-to-task, partaking of the sweet moments as they come. 

Today's subject line quote is Game of Thrones (2011-Present TV Series)
Episode: A Man without Honor (2012).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tell Giles...tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay.

"The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it."  In the episode "The Gift,"  Buffy Summers gave this sentiment to her little sister.  It was an epiphany--for both of them, I'm sure.  For me, too.  I've always spent my life waiting for Happily Ever After.  Movies, TV, books?  All these outlets gave a younger version of myself brief immunity from reality.  But as younger versions of ourselves are less matured and educated, I mistook the life pauses for life expectations. Happiness is not constant; it comes in and out of swells of grief, indifference, and discord.  And, like Buffy, we all battle our demons and celebrate the victories as they come.

The last few years have been a particularly confusing era for me.  The endless hills of emotions have been brutal.  I settled into an amazing community, caught some kindred spirits to share our joys and concerns.  I kept them in a heart-shaped jar and, one-by-one, watched them flutter away to the next home.  It's the occupational hazard of being a military family, befriending other military families, that I hadn't expected in the beginning.  I made friends.  Friends moved.  I moved on. 

With the help of those beautiful creatures, I was able to overcome a lot of my insecurities and anxiety.  I started exercising and lost the remaining college-marriage-baby-ate too much taco bell when I worked there-weight.  I no longer cared if people saw me without makeup.  My paintings were selling at craft fairs and customers wanted me to sew dresses and capes for their kids.  My kids were happy and my marriage seemed to be slowly solidifying into a steady rock.  So we decided to add another family member.

About 4 weeks into the pregnancy, I was nauseated by everything.  Barfing was my newest talent and I was perfecting it.  By 6 weeks, I had developed a hemorrhage behind the baby and was told to park my ever-widening-ass until it cleared up.  I watched Supernatural via Netflix on my bed all day, next to a lime green puke bowl as I let the downstairs t.v. raise my kids for the summer.    I felt myself slinking closer to a dark place I hadn't been to in a while.  Was I becoming depressed again? 

I told myself it was just circumstances getting me down, mixing a cocktail of hormones in my brain and that any day I would sober up.  Eventually, Willow was born and I was ecstatic!  She's perfect.  Nurses well, sleeps great, smiles constantly!  The older kids love her, as does her daddy.  So why was I suddenly, after two months of pure bliss, feeling so defeated?

All I wanted to do was sleep or cry.  My body had exploded to 200 lbs. during the pregnancy and I had even gained weight in the hospital, despite having a 7 lb. 7 oz. person surgically removed from me.  My office is an abandoned wasteland of crafting supplies because time is a precious resource and I now have 4 other people in the house that need mine.  A hollowness had taken over.  I let my mind marionette me around, mimicking my old emotions, but it was just a performance for the spectators.  When I was alone, I was hung up and lifeless.

It's just the Baby Blues.  Every mom gets overwhelmed and exhausted with a newborn.  It will pass.  My thoughts ticked on with time.  When I hadn't had any local visitors, they evolved from I guess everyone is giving me time to get settled at home all the way into nobody cares that I had a baby--no one even wants to meet her.  Eventually, I believed there was no reason to exist.  I actually uttered a daily mantra--Nobody cares if you are alive.  You don't do anything but screw things up.  Maybe everyone would be better off without you.

I was holding Willow, post afternoon feeding, when I whispered it to myself; that's the moment I recognized where I had gone.  This was that lonely, awful place I had been sequestered to as a teen and again as a young adult.  Hormones may have played a role in my return to depression, but it certainly wasn't going to fade without intervention.  It wasn't right.  A person who literally depends on me for life--who's whole existence would fade without me supporting her, feeding her, loving her, was staring up at me and I couldn't allow myself to truly feel it.

I've been on medication since April.  There are days that I still struggle.  This might be the monster I fight for the rest of my life.  But, I'm fighting to make it a long one. 

"Be brave. Live.  For me."

Today's subject line quote is Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003 TV Series)
Episode: The Gift (2000).


Follow me. I might lead you somewhere you haven't been.