Life is not black and white. It’s chocolate.

Depression treetriggerwarningIt moved in with the fog, this dark shadow of mine. Rolling in from somewhere cold and fetid, almost frightening in its stealth and direction. For some time I’ve been doing rather well, surfing a wave of lightness and clarity as energetic as the sun. Luminous. So to wake with the weight of it all upon my back, kicking and squealing fit to burst a saints sanity and patience … wasn’t what I saw coming.

It seldom is. At times I can feel the sinister lick of depression hissing at my heels, jumping and snapping at my every move, freezing me into immobility with the threat of a lightning fast strike… and I wait it out. Watch it. See where it’s going so I can move away from it. Other times it arrives with absolutely no warning. Not so much as a hitch or bump to alert me of its arrival. Deadly in its silence.

depressionI’ll level with you, sometimes I get incredibly tired of writing about this stuff. Talking about medications and the wearying paths my brain is taking…. but someone has to. Sometimes the only thread that keeps us tethered to this reality, to our life, is the knowledge that we aren’t alone in our nightmare. So I’ll take up the laptop and hammer it out as it comes to me. Trying to reach out. Stabilize…. because often in the writing about it I can conquer it, and if it helps someone else at some point, then that’s a bonus.

The medication I’m taking, Nortriptyline, has proven to work incredibly well .. which was a surprise to me, as so much of what’s out there doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what it is that preys on people like me. But with every golden ticket comes a price, and the price for this one is steep. The lows aren’t simply a mellowing of joy, but more of a sudden drop from a thousand foot cliff, and on the way down – on that rise from slumber into consciousness, the echoing cries of the past come back to life in frightening reality. Things I thought long-buried and gone… some entirely forgotten, and for good reason. They flash like quicksilver before me, depositing their vile memories and emotions in that brief second of recognition before being filed behind the next rush of fresh torment.

lost in depressionA mind has little recourse but to retreat, behind walls of safety pitted and scarred from previous battles …. and sometimes those walls fail. Crumble into sooty piles at our feet that leave us exposed and trembling.

Today my wall of self-worth has fallen. The lingering pulse of images, past abuses bruising and breaking me at their will. The impact of hitting; walls, furniture, the floor … anything solid. That snap of fear racing white-hot through your body that leaves a chalky cloud of instinctive knowledge that something important has been broken …. and it isn’t always your body. A few moments of numbness before the pain creeps in… so you let go. Follow the mind into its foxhole and wait. The pounding may continue, but at some point it doesn’t matter… what was important has been lost to chaos.

That is where I awoke today. Revisiting the lower bowels of hell, alone, and aimlessly wandering. The intensity of this revisit can only be attributed to the new medication, as life has been going rather smoothly .. even with the state of some relationships. The lows I’m experiencing are new to me… because I’ve been in the bowels of hell before, but never has it been so in the moment. Time usually adds a layer of protection. A lack of detail. But it’s all there, right in front of me, leaving the skin as hot and tingly as it was when it happened…. the fear as real and fresh … the retreat as swift and acidic around my skull, spiking down my spine before falling flat into my stomach, and leaving me shaky. As tired as the weight of battle is heavy.

surviving treeBut I’m not broken, and I can figure this out. Experience has taught me I’ll get through this; everything is temporary. These shades of depression and self harm can be circumvented. Waited out. And, unlike when it creeps in slowly .. so slowly I don’t notice I’m infected until it’s too late, the swiftness and violence of this new route and way the depression strikes puts me on the defensive. The fight response is triggered, and I’ll duke it out.

But.

I need space. Time. Peace. … which sometimes is hard to come by around here. I’ll retreat and use silence as my means of recuperation, and that usually upsets people … even when they know why I’m doing it. And the timing …. it’s almost comical…. the husband gets home today, as opposed to the usual Saturday evening – leave Sunday morning thing he does. I sometimes feel like life is laying down events just to stir me up some days…. Normally when I need him, his help and support, he’s nowhere to be found. However, at these weird times when the best thing for me is isolation and peace. Silence. … He’s here, wanting to follow me from room to room, insisting I engage even when he comes home in a bad mood. … Why, I wonder, can’t he ever just bring home chocolate instead? It doesn’t even have to be expensive.

black-and-white-candy-chocolate-kissesSome days. …. SOME FREAKING DAYS …. I guess I can’t have it both ways, eh?  Damn.

Time to run off on the bike then. I need to be well-worn out by the time the house is full of people tonight. Need the ability to retire early into the unconscious embrace of sleep.  And thankfully this medication responds extremely well to the effects of exercise.  Not many do, but this one … it knows how to grab those endorphins and boost them.  It’s been a good thing.

So today, make a point of being nice to someone, even if they come at you ornery or sad or outright stupid. You never know how much kindness can change someone’s day, and someday, it may be returned when you really, desperately need it.

24-Rough-Hands.jpg-Jane

In defense of the husband, he’s not a horrible person.  He’s a person who is struggling to work through a few things, and some people deal with trials horribly… he is one of them.  This isn’t right or wrong, it just is what it is.  That’s all.

Update

I’ve returned from the ride.  It was a real challenge to keep going, to push myself to the end, but I did it, and as a result my mind has improved quite a bit.  I’ve still got a ways to go but I’m no longer bottoming out – that is always a plus!  Glad I went.

Posted in Decoding Marriage, Mental Health, Mountain Biking, Trigger Warning; mental health, Uncategorized, Writing about mental health | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Burning Down the House… to kill a spider. TRUE

Shoe TreeWe’ve all heard it, the urban rumor that somebody somewhere knew someone who burned down their house to kill a spider.

If you haven’t heard it yet, you’ve not been spending nearly enough time with the teenaged population in your town. The same population who do things like create a shoe tree with all of their friend’s expensive Nikes.  Or videotaping cinnamon challenges, and concocting general mischievous stunts meant to give authority the bird and shock the older generation…. Such as painting an iconic town attraction, like a chainsaw carving of a trout walking about in trousers, flesh-colored. (Evidently the powers that be who OK-ed the public “artwork” in the first place, had no idea of it’s slang based sexual suggestiveness, despite the overall weirdness of the carving in the first place.)

"Is that a trout in your trousers, or are you just happy to see me?"

“Is that a trout in your trousers, or are you just happy to see me?”

So back to point; a house, a spider, a fire, an overreaction to a simple problem. It just so happens that yesterday that very thing occurred up here in the sublime Northwest.

I kid you not.

Yesterday, on July 15, 2014, a man in the southern part of Seattle, Washington used a can of spray paint and a lighter to kill a spider trying to escape into a cranny in his washroom. The plan, I imagine, was to create a blowtorch, roast the spider, and feel incredibly smug and clever when later relaying the event to friends over a joint and latte at the local Starbucks.

Disclaimer: Starbucks does not, in fact, have anything to do with marijuana.

Disclaimer: Starbucks does not, in fact, have anything to do with marijuana. Sorry Washington.

The unfortunate outcome was less half-baked and more blazingly stupid, as the spokesman for The Seattle Fire Department, Kyle Moore, explained.
The spider tried to get into the wall. He sprayed flames on the wall, lit the wall on fire, and that extended up to the ceiling.” He also added, “I don’t want to encourage people to do this, but that’s what he did.” He then went on to elaborate, should anyone question the effectiveness of such a method, “There are safer, more effective ways to kill a spider than using fire. Fire is not the method to use to kill a spider.

Good to know.

But more importantly, did the man actually kill said spider? Moore answers that probing question too.
I’m pretty sure the spider did not survive this fire. The whole wall went.”

(You can read the entire article by Phuong Le of the Associated Press for The Kitsap Sun here: Man starts fire using “blowtorch” to kill spider.  They even have pictures.)

And now we can collectively get on with our lives, safe in the knowledge that we now know someone first-hand (As first-hand as reading Kyle Moor’s statements is) who was witness to someone, somewhere, burning down their house to kill a spider.  Though I should probably mention it wasn’t his house.  He was renting.  So someone somewhere burned down someones house to kill a spider.

Welcome to Washington people! If this doesn’t convince you I live an a strange and creative local, nothing will.

And.

You’re welcome.

-Jane

Posted in Baking, Odd News, Olympic Peninsuala, Sarcasm / Humor, Seattle, Social Climate, Stupid People, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s More Than *Just* A Ride

new-film-women-of-dirt-will-feature-top-female-mountain-bikersThe path slips beneath me, bike tires crunching and pinging over the remnants of rock a volcano laid out eons ago. We live in its shadow, ever aware of its every move and grumble.

Life, in these mountains is alive, and tenuous, all tomorrows hanging by a glistening gossamer thread, as it has always been.

I pedal faster, legs burning, twin blurs through sun dappled ferns and the rich folds of moss suspended from ancient towering trees that scratch the heavens with their boughs. Momentary flashes of light, blinding in their intensity but quickly swallowed into shadow, as I race towards the furthermost margins of my strength.

A heart beats furious, sheltered and humming under my chest. Screaming. But only the birds know to answer.

I listen to the click, and echoing tick of my bike as I freeze my legs mid-stride… standing crouched on those thin steps, legs straining, as I rocket down a mud slicked hill, dodging roots and gravel and tasting the dust of the earth glaze my teeth … the bike bucking, bouncing, and jarring, breath hitching … I try to catch it in that brief moment of eternity. It is a gritty breath I am breathing today, earthy and primal.

trail-cowI am running. Not literally, but it stands the same. In a world as big and puzzling as it is, there has to be someplace reserved for peace. At the moment I only find it in those brief moments of suspended exertion, when the fierce biological need to survive overwhelms the brains desire to haunt and play. A heartbeat. Breath. Lungs heaving and flexing their rhythmic strain against exhaustion, forcing life into this body of mine.

If I wear it out, push it past what it thinks it believes to be its limits, I can sleep with the weight of the dead. Avoid the voice of anxiety that whispers in my ear at 2 A.M., leaves me gasping and staring at a ceiling that blocks my view of the stars. Eternity.

And so it goes.

Today I’ve painted and patched the nicks and wearing edges of this house. Freckles of white dot my arms, slide carelessly down my legs … a rather large patch on one thigh. I frown at the delicate hint of footsteps I’ve left across a bathroom floor. I’ll have to clean those up so nobody will ever know I was here. Erase all vestiges of life. Vanish.

I wash small hands under the sluice of frothy dish soap, naked, save for these wrinkles of paint. I notice the calluses that have sprung up as a result of the bike. A smile escapes… So many things our hands can tell us.

And now I’ll return to that familiar seat. Spinning pedals. The hiss of the road beneath me and the flash of life around me, and vanish, back into the world that birthed me…. if only for a little while.

keep moving- Jane

Posted in Mental Health, Mountain Biking, Writing about mental health | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Permission to Fly; knowing when to take that step.

wild-weird-wonderfulI’ve never been a morning person, my brain preferring to stew in a stubborn, flatlined state of unconsciousness well into the day. “Morning”, for us non-morning people, is sometime around noon.

Lately, with this new medication, morning can start at 2 A.M… or 4… or …. whenever. I would complain about it but I’m not tired. I’m not tired! (This is big for me people, Bigfoot big!) The usual brain battery drain that mornings have been has been replaced with “Get Ready. Get Set. GO!”  Which has been fantastic for getting this old carcass out of the house and onto my bike .. well, the daughter’s bike.  Anyway.

With this being another new round of medication, there have also been a plethora of confusing mind stews that bubble up to the surface again and agin. This particular one brings back old hurts, slicing me open anew. Memories of past traumas as fresh as road rash, bleeding and stinging and filled with grit.  For whatever reason this new med keeps bring them back around over and over, and I’m not appreciating it much … I have to say.

I try to step back from them, retreat inside myself to wait out the storm… keep everyone else from being caught up in the squall. I am agitated. Desperately wanting to run. Actually run, as fast and far as I can, to the point I vanish into the ether in a blinding flash somewhere on a distant horizon…..

With the 4th of July weekend just past, I’ve had this little family under the same roof for more than a day, for the first time in … forever. Normally I would be thrilled, but there is a quiet residue of bitterness that has built up between the husband and I. (I believe I may have mentioned this at some point – ::eye roll:: )  Sometimes it feels as though he’s looking for a fight, a reason to take off and leave again, and with this chemical stew in my head right now it’s all I can do to keep from fanning the flames. I want to call out all the times he has walked away. Left. Set the writhing mass of problems life has thrown at us directly in my lap while he buries himself in his job … so I can clean them up.  And I am trying…. so incredibly hard to let all that go … because that’s what you do to keep a marriage afloat… isn’t it?

I’m trying to give this whole situation a fresh chance. See if he will let go this bitter meanness he’s picked up along the way…. he didn’t used to be like this … I would have never guessed him to be so easily beaten down …. always feeling like I was the weak one. Stupid and incapable because of this mental monkey I get to tote around.

Here’s the thing about trials in life; they either make you stronger, or they destroy you, regardless if you have mental monkeys or not, and whichever one that ends up being … it is a choice. The only difference between winning and loosing in life is attitude.

happiness is a choiceSure, we’ve all been in the gutter from time to time, but we have the choice to be swept away into a filthy abyss, or try to climb back out. But, we have to face the trials head on. We can’t run from them, and we can’t expect someone else to just take care of it so we don’t have to. To fix it. To conquer the feelings of frustration and failure and grief that those trials carve into our heads. We have to do that ourselves, each of us as individuals…. and that is something he can’t, or won’t grasp. Leaving my chaotic brain to clean it all up, and deal with the ugliness and reality of any given situation… he’s still carrying the weight of all the trauma. It sticks to you like rotting flesh, eating away at your heart and mind until you either beat it, or start to decay completely.

It truly breaks my heart when someone can’t see they have choices… because the negativity, the meanness, the bitterness … I can’t have that in my life. Living with this depression, this thing that drives me to inflict pain upon myself for feelings of failure, that pushes me to the very act of suicide… I can’t have more negativity heaped upon me by someone who is supposed to uplift and feel a mutual joy with me. I would dearly love to be able to just handle it. Work with it until he sees he needs to drag his own self out of the mental gutter, but I don’t have forever to wait. I still have the chance of life in front of me. I have waded through these trials alone, fought my way through, and though I may be scarred and more weary for the fight, I have fought. Made it through. Have even shown myself how much I am capable of. (And we all are) I can’t go backwards and sit in the filth of bitterness and regret.  I won’t; that is my choice.  And though I know he’s still in there somewhere, and worthy of love and respect … I can’t make him see that, and I can’t survive – actually survive – living under such bitterness with a brain that constantly wants to self-destruct.

move-forwardThus, here I stand on the threshold of life. I feel like I am playing a game of real-life chess. I am moving myself into a position where I will have support, and the security of family around me, so that if this man I am married to continues in the harmful direction he has been, I will be able to stand, even if he falls. And for that I feel no small measure of guilt. I feel like a betrayer.  Sometimes self-preservation feels like that; allowing yourself to love and respect yourself enough to know when to walk away.

But. I have discussed all this with him. I speak in plain English. I don’t mince my words or play games, even if I’m using one as a metaphor. I don’t know how else to be… sometimes I wish I could figure out how to live a bit more gentle … but I am who I was created to be. I am who these trials have shaped me into… and I like this strong person I am… even if he resents her for emerging from this cocoon of challenge and change with her own wings.  The ability to fly.  To reach higher and live happily …. The thing is, she was there the whole time, and if he’s honest with himself, I believe he knew that.

So here we are. I will be doing even more over the next few weeks to get this house packed up. I will set aside bruised feelings, dodge any fresh bruises he may inflict, (not literal) and wait. I will offer him the opportunity to rise up. To meet the next challenge head on with me, though he may chose not to, and that is his choice.  If so, I will have to set him free, and I will need time and space to be able to forgive myself for not being enough to keep us both afloat…. because it will feel like a failure. It will inflict pain… and I would go to the ends of the earth to never do that…. that is not my heart’s desire… but it is what it is…. I still have to honor and respect who I am, who I have become, and accept that doing that is okay.

it'sokay

-Jane

Okay.. enough with the deep, sad stuff.  On a side note, I’ve sold more of my copper pieces and am getting closer to getting that new bike.  Go me!  ::Woot!::

 

 

Posted in Decoding Marriage, Mental Health, Writing about mental health | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week in Photos; Mountain Bike Rides and Stupid Old Art

I’m trying to improve those phone pics, (really) and other things… thus today is all about conquering things I suck at, or never finished, and trying not to get too wound up in over-thinking them, or believing everything has to be perfect.  Sometimes we have to accept things for what they are, and try to find the value in that… even if it’s painful.  And embarrassing.

Try it.  I dare you.

PtGamble-WAI found a path through the woods, a little rough hewn, and wet, but inviting.

small-fallsSplashed with small discoveries draped in green.
(Lesson: what might look great in real life, doesn’t mean it translates to a photo.)

PtGambleWhile other twists in the road unveiled a forest trying to recover.
(Lesson learned here; don’t take pictures when you’re breathing hard.)

Mushroom-cap

Yet still full of vibrant life in full swing and bloom!

Mushroom-logMushrooms on a log.  Gross, but interesting.

dancing mushroomThe mushroom is wearing a skirt.  A skirt!

Now, a small dose of accepting past failures

that I took back out…

to finish the best I could.

(I am actually covering my face here people.  Face.  Hands.  Hiding.)

colored-pencil-flowerThe ugly-ass, colored pencil flower I started years ago, and destroyed with some sort of medium. (I don’t remember what.)  It’s been staring half finished at me, forlorn and forgotten.  Now I don’t have to think about it anymore, because I’ve finished it the best it’s going to be.  (See!  A positive!) .. But I truly hate this thing.

boston terrier

Watercolor pencil; another old project, to entertain a nephew a while ago.  I was showing him positive and negative spaces.  Lesson: look at the picture of your subject more, and make a note of the colors you used if you’re going to set it aside for any length of time.  Or you’ll forget. (Every stinkin’ time!)
::Sigh::

(You have no idea how hard it was not to point out all the faults and flaws!  Seriously.)

Now, I’m going to post this before I chicken out.

::Elvis has left the building::

 -Jane

Posted in Art; term used loosely, Mountain Biking, Olympic Peninsuala, Photography, Realistic Exercising | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Periodically I Grow Puppies.. and stuff

the-dog-tableSome days I really need to get over myself, like today, for instance.  I woke up after a night in which I had dreamt I was, for lack of a better term, the local procurer of all things slobber filled and wiggly. Specifically, I grew puppies. Grew them. Like Professor Sprout grew mandrakes in the Harry Potter stories.

I had a large ornate greenhouse filled with dogwood trees (what else). Each tree sat in a clay pot with a gargoyle face sculpted onto it, and each of these pots sat on row after row of log hewn tables that stretched as far as the eye could see, even so far as to produce a horizon littered in dogwoods, tables, and clay pots.

A horizon people. An actual, freakin’ horizon! Anywhat….

dogwood-tree-flowerCome spring my little trees would sprout fuzzy, white flowers with such an alluring scent that people would come from the furthest reaches of the earth just to smell them. Then, once the greenhouse was filled with humanity, the pots would start to wobble, and wiggle, and shake madly, like all hell was about to break loose! People would clutch their children and look around startled, trying to figure out what was happening. I’m sure a few may have started to cry, but it’s completely possible I’m making that part up for effect. (Effect actually plays a big role in today’s post… work with me here…)

clay pot-faceSuddenly, the pots would begin to sing some sort of bass toned Bavarian lumberjack hymn, which actually did make a few of the more delicate persons in attendance cry… but those were mostly small children and easily excitable flamboyant types. Thus, when everyone was wailing and clutching like mad hatters at a unbirthday tea party, the trees began bursting from the pots like bottle rockets, and from the dirt emerged hoards of wagging, shimmying puppies. All this, of course, was followed by much laughter and applause, and congratulatory adulations for my puppy growing talents.

I have seriously got to lay off the melatonin…

All this is the direct result of why I woke up feeling rather clever and invincible. Being clever led to the grand idea to do a post today involving one of the mad skills I actually do possess. (Aside from a vivid imagination and puppy farming.) Which is why I was going to take my culinary prowess, combine it with my inability to use regular toothpaste, and post a recipe for homemade toothpaste.. because aside from puppies, what else could the world possibly need?  It makes perfect sense!

Freakin’ genius!

Wrong!  It totally doesn’t.  And, homemade toothpaste tastes like what I would imagine a rats ass would taste like… at least my toothpaste does, but I assure you, that’s strictly out of necessity. As luck would have it I have an extremely sensitive mouth and teeth. Any kind of whitening product causes huge abrasions- In.  My.  Mouth.  Which also make my pearly whites even more sensitive to silly things, like eating, drinking, or breathing. These days it’s damn near impossible to find a toothpaste that doesn’t have whitening in it, even with the stuff made specifically for sensitive teeth. (Which is incredibly counter-intuitive, but big business isn’t in the business of being sensible, they’re in the business of following the latest trends, even if it destroys an entire generation’s teeth.)

toothpaste ingredientsBack to point: I collected my tooth polishing supplies and began constructing a recipe to post, complete with pictures. However, one thing I didn’t take into account was science.

DAMN SCIENCE! It foils me every time! Curses!

Note to Self: Chemistry 101. When combining calcium, water and liquid minerals … including chloride, be sure to factor in the extra addition of baking soda.
Because:2 NaHCO3 + CaCl2 => CaCO3 + CO2 + 2 NaCl + H2O; resulting in the excess energy becoming heat. (For the science geeks; heat = exothermic.)

elements copyIn plain speak this translates into: Have you ever seen the reaction of a Mentos candy dropped into 2 liters of Diet Coke? This recipe’s reaction was similar. (Yes, yes, completely different as far as science goes; I’m talking about the effects it produces.) Remember the “excess energy in the form of heat” statement? Well, heat has a horrible effect on several of the other ingredients in homemade toothpaste…. meaning, after exploding and hotly oozing all over your mixing bowl, it turns your boring toothpaste into fantastic modeling clay that would love nothing more than to harden. Quickly. Sort of like rocks. And, all this is why you get a post on my dream last night and a Chemistry lesson, in place of a recipe for toothpaste.

Perhaps I should stick to the food related recipes from here on out.

reaction 1 IMGP6177 IMGP6180I did eventually work my mishap into a usable product, but I didn’t bother to write the recipe down for posterity. Maybe if I concoct a better one the next go round I’ll post that. For now, enjoy the lovely pictures, go buy your damn toothpaste, and maybe pick up a puppy while you’re out…. I understand puppies are good for battered egos … even if they don’t grow in clay pots under trees.

-Jane

Fine.  I’ll include a few cute puppy photos; try to contain yourself.

german-shepherd-puppy-cute puppySee what I did there?  Genius.

cutest-puppies-brown-labBetter than plain chocolate.

…Now, after all this eye-candy I’m going to have to go brush my teeth with rat-ass flavored toothpaste.  Awesome on toast.

Posted in Culinary, Recipe, Sarcasm / Humor | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments