growinghumans


The Curious Death of Joey the Cat
November 17, 2016, 7:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of my cats –Joey–died last week.

I want to talk about it.


 

Last year Joey suffered from a stroke; a pretty bad one. He went to jump up onto our bed and missed and fell onto the floor, with no use of his legs whatsoever. He couldn’t get to the food bowl, he couldn’t get to the litter box, he couldn’t get anywhere.

We packed him with soft blankets and pillows in any room we were in at the time and waited for his inevitable death. 4 days later, he was up and walking around. He was a little off balance,  a little scattered, but 100% not dead.

He maintained this sort of mentality for maybe 9 months, then this year–a few months ago–he started having terrible seizures. They started off as just happening in the middle of the night and at first we didn’t even realize they were seizures. We would hear him yowling downstairs and turn on the light and he would be sitting in a puddle of pee. When we finally witnessed him seizing–spinning around, stumbling, moving into the corners of rooms and then yowling uncontrollably after–we thought, again, that death was fast approaching. Our Tiny Human, who we had already prepped for pet death during the stroke, was shockingly level headed through the whole thing. She would sit with him, pet and love on him, and told us it would be okay for him to go because then he wouldn’t feel so sick.

Again, this cat didn’t die. One day he just stopped having seizures. Like it never happened.

When I was growing up, we had a cat named Smokey who had graves disease and hated basically everything except for my mom and dad. He died when I was a teenager and I remember my parents being so prepared for the moment. My dad moved him into the kitchen when he could no longer walk, and placed him on some blankets and towels and my sister and I sat beside him and watched with morbid curiosity what death looked like. We stroked his still soft and shiny fur up until the end. As his little cat heart stopped and he was fading from us, he stretched out his entire body–like he was leaping towards something. We all gasped watching him move in such a strong manner when moments before he couldn’t even move his tail. When he was as stretched as he could go, he took his last breath. He died in his house, warm and safe, with his family next to him.

Last week, we noticed Joey was missing from the house. Cats are a weird pet to have in which you can never really pin point the last time you saw them. Mia was the first to notice that night, when feeding the animals, Joey did not come down to eat–and he was not one to miss a meal. I also thought this was weird and we searched all over the house. Closets, under beds, in the garage, by the hot water heater, the crawl space. We shoot the food bag which made my other cat go mildly crazy, but there was no sight of Joey.

We then went to search outside. It was dark and cold out at this point. Oscar, the other cat, is the one who likes to escape outside and hide under our porch from the other cats, pretending he is a wild animal in his natural habitat. Joey very rarely would venture out of the house. He knew where the food was. He wasn’t a moron. When he did sneak out, he would be pawing at the door about 12 minutes later, having had his fill of nature.

None of us could recall him getting out that day, which was concerning but nothing that we panicked over. I stood in the middle of my culdesac, shaking the food bag as Tiny Human and my husband patrolled the back yard, shaking a bowl of food.

As I mentioned in another blog, a skeptical and possibly magical cat appeared at the sounds…but no Joey.

It got very cold that night and dread started to sink in.

I started asking my neighbors the next day if they had seen him. Our elderly neighbor, who feeds all of the cats in the neighborhood had also not seem him but said he would keep an eye out. Everyone says that. Everyone says they will keep an eye out do whatever they can to help.

My neighbor wasn’t lying about it. The next day, in the afternoon as I was leaving to go pick up Tiny Human from school, he stopped me in my driveway. “I was asking some of the people who live behind us if they had seen your cat. The woman who lives directly behind me said that she had seen him on her porch a few days ago,” he started telling me, giving me hope. “I started looking around the wooded area between our houses. There is a storm drain tunnel back there…I found a dark grey cat in there…” he started to drift off for a moment, searching for the words to tell his neighbor that he had found her dead cat. “I don’t know if he’s your Joey, he certainly looks like him. He wasn’t alive…I have him over here, covered up. I’ll lift it up so you can see his face, but I won’t show you the rest of his body.”

I followed him up his driveway, feeling numb. A grey cat. There are plenty of grey cats. I was sure this wasn’t going to be our cat. As promised, he lifted up the black garbage bag covering the body. The face was Joey. Tiny black nose, impossibly small, sharp teeth, yellow eyes. It was like getting kicked in the stomach and I immediately burst into tears, kneeling down next to him. “Can I see the rest of him to make sure? He had a pouch under his tummy…” My neighbor cut me off there. “I won’t let you see the rest of him. It will upset you more. There is a pouch, I can tell you that.” I nodded and remained down next to him, sobbing for a few more seconds. His name came  pouring out of my mouth, begging an explanation. “Why were you out here? Why did you die alone? Did you leave knowing that we loved you?”

My neighbor, single and no kids,  grew kindly awkward and kept saying ,”I’m so sorry.” I eventually stood up and got myself together. I thanked him and gave him a hug, which was even more kindly awkward in it’s blatant surprise of affection. “Do you want me to bury him? I have two cats already buried back there. He can rest with them, if you want.” I said yes that would be lovely.

I went and got my Tiny Human from school and of course the first question out of her mouth was “Did you find Joey yet?” I tried to lay it off, with my voice slightly quivering, “We will talk about that when we get home.”

When we pulled into the driveway, my neighbor was digging the hole for Joey on the side of his house. Well. I guess we are doing this now.

I turned around and took Tiny Human’s hand. “We did find Joey,” I squeezed her hand, perhaps more for my benefit than her’s. “He was not alive anymore.”

She looked back at me with her wide brown eyes, unflinching for now.

“Not alive?” She asked quietly.

Shit.

“No, he was hiding in a tunnel and had died, love.”

She nodded and started blinking quickly. She was trying not to cry. This-of course-made me burst into tears, which then moved her tears along, as well. We sat in my car, hands clutched and crying for a few minutes.

“Can I see him?” she asked.

Shit.

“Let’s go ask if we can see him one last time,” I answered, praying that she wouldn’t need much therapy after this.

We walked over to where he was digging the little grave. The body was already in there, the first layer of dirt outlining his body. I told my neighbor that my Tiny Human wanted to say goodbye to Joey. He nodded but didn’t seem to know what to do for a moment. Then, he knelt down and brushed away some of the dirt. Not a lot–not enough to show his face or really anything, but he brushed off enough to see the dark grey fur of our cat. Tiny Human teared up again and nodded. “Goodbye, Joey. I’ll go tell Oscar that you are gone. I’ll give him a hug.”

 

That night was emotional, to say the least. Watching a 6 year old come to terms with death in that sort of horrifying way made my heart feel like it was full of pebbles; little cairns stacked inside of my rib cage.

We sat on the couch and ate some popcorn as a family, which was Joey’s favorite treat, and tried to come to terms with the lack of closure we were given with our well loved pet. I kept lamenting on how he was cold and wet and alone when he died. I couldn’t rationalize that. He never went outside. He certainly never got lost. I couldn’t make sense of it. Pets, loved ones, anyone, should never die alone. They should pass peacefully holding someones hand and hearing reassuring voices.

My Tiny Human, the old soul that she is, slowly spoke up. “Mommy, you know how you tell me you need privacy when you are in the bathtub?” Yes. I sure do. “Well,” she continued, “maybe Joey just needed privacy.”

 

Maybe Joey just needed privacy.

I knew it was a thing. My mother had warned me to look out for such a thing. She told me that when cats die, they will go into hiding. They will get into little places with no intent of getting out. Certainly at the time we thought this mostly was contained to an in the house death, nothing with the grandeur of leaving your property and getting just far enough away from us so it was impossible to find, at first.

I realized it. It all clicked. He knew he was going to die. He somehow got out of the house–a planned escape–and found the best place he could to give up his precious life.

The idea horrified me. How could anyone want to die alone? But, then I started thinking about my own mentality when I am in the deepest depths of depression; how I feel when the madness of suicide is nipping at my heels.

I isolate myself.

I don’t answer calls.

I shy away from any sort of physical affection.

Maybe, deep down, we are all like cats. When faced with life’s hard–and perhaps final–challenges and decisions, we would all decide to hunker down and not be a bother to anyone else. No pomp. No circumstance. Just the sound of your own heart slowing down and then whatever it is that happens as soon as it stops.

Maybe, though,  it’s not that we don’t want to be alone–it’s that other people cannot conceive leaving US alone. I know that day when I saw Joey’s limp body in the driveway, all I could wail on about was not being there for him in his last moments.

Not being alone has less to do with what the person wants themselves and more to do with how everyone else around us copes.

It is those people who insist on you not being alone, those people who will drag you from your bed kicking and screaming, who will text you every hour on the house, who will email you loving inquiries, those are the people who are really doing the hard work. Laying still and fading alone is easy. Convincing me to not do that is hard.

Life is hard.

Depression is hard.

Admitting you need help is hard.

But once you get past all of that, being alone suddenly becomes hard. Feeling hopeless and beyond help becomes hard. Giving up feels hard.

Life is hard. Love is easy.

Thank you for the lesson, Joey.

 



What It’s Actually Like to Have Treatment Resistant Depression
November 14, 2016, 12:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I read an article this weekend. It was titled “What It’s Like to Have Treatment Resistant Depression”.  I’m not going to lie, these days I scroll by 80% of the posts that have anything to do with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and anything in between. Most of them are posts that are more or less titled “What you need to know about a person with…” or “What you didn’t know about…” or “How to love a person with…”

It’s silly to think that someone could put something so personal like how someone might love me despite–or in spite of?–of my mental disorders. Of course none of it has ever applied to me, which is fine. Maybe it’s applied to someone out there–but there isn’t just one way to love someone, regardless of their emotional issues.

BUT I DIGRESS.

I am not here to simply rant about the state of internet coverage of things close to my heart.

I am here to talk about that post I mentioned all the way up there. Anyway, like I said, I usually pass on most things, but this caught my eye. I am mostly drug resistant and it’s not something I have seen spoken about in any sort of length to give me information or hope or a high five.

So, I clicked the link

 

and immediately regretted it. It was half a page of a girl saying she had tried 9 medications in a row and nothing worked and that she decided to stop medications and that deciding if you want or need to be on medication is right for you is a big choice.

That’s it. Those were the shining words of hope for people out there who feel like a prescription drug dumpster. I was irritated.

I am irritated.

 

So, allow me to tell you what it has been like for ME to deal with having treatment resistant depression.

I was diagnosed 2? 3? years ago with bipolar disorder after living under the impression that I had manic depression. The diagnose came as an extreme relief because all through college I had tried different anti-depressants and nothing seemed to work at all. I was hyped. Pumped. Let’s do this thing. Shut up and take my money and hand me some pills.

The first round of medication prescribed for me didn’t work. I went in to see my new psychiatrist about 4 times between two months to make sure I wasn’t making it up. I felt no better, no worse, nothing. Ok. Let’s taper down off of this and start a new one! It’s just a matter of finding the right fit!

The second medication made me break out in a rash. Ok. Let’s taper down off of this and start a new one! It’s just a matter of finding the right fit!

Imagine this, off and on, for 2 or 3 years–a number I probably have a hard time remembering because of all of the medication I have been on.

If you look up the basic list of anti-psychotics or anti-convulsents–you will see my life story. The list of meds in my chart needs its own page. We would start my sessions with “Ok, what haven’t I given you yet? How about this sublingual tablet? It’s flavored!”

I was on THAT medication the last time we went to Disney. Not only did it not work, I was at a level of depression where I was having to actively remind myself to be happy. If you suffer from depression you know what this is. You find yourself surrounded by something that should most definitely make you happy, but you feel nothing. You smile. You force yourself to smile the entire time hoping that you will trick your brain and sometimes this even works.

But, so, I was at Disney like this, taking these dissolving tablets that were supposed to taste like black cherry but tasted more like probably what those rainbow puddles of car fluids you see in parking lots taste like. I’m just guessing here. It was mostly terrible.

I went off medication. Twice .And I cannot even begin to imagine what deluded thoughts I was having before the second time because the first time was a horrible idea. I pretended that I wanted to be more organic with my emotions. That I was losing touch with myself. That I felt like a robotic pill taking machine. Maybe at the time, these were all true, but then I went over the cliff. If you ever decide to go off of medication all together like this to “detox” or whatever, you will go over the cliff. You may be able to bounce back, I don’t know.

I didn’t bounce back. I went over and landed splat on the pavement and stayed there until I peeled my sorry ass up and skulked back to the psychiatrist.

We started all over again. This time, we tried combining medications. Sometimes a second one to counter a side effect, sometimes a second one to take just for fun to see what would happen. This mostly kept me afloat and for some of the combinations, it helped for a little bit–maybe 2 months. Then, I would buckle again and my mind pushed out any help whatsoever. Again, I threw a hissy fit. I can’t do this! It’s affecting my short term memory! (it was) I’m having a hard time concentrating! (I was) I’m losing track of my thoughts or having a hard time thinking of specific words! (I was)

So, I went off again. Actually, exactly a year ago today I went off my medication for the second time. And began one of the most difficult years of my life. I went over the edge much faster, hit the pavement much harder.

I remember literally feeling like I was face down in the mud–like in those military training courses ,crawling under barbed wire–and that a boot was firmly pressed between my shoulder blades. I wrote about it as often as I could but for a little bit I grew silent online. I gave up hope for a little bit. I thought about killing myself in a serious manner for the first time in my life.

I–at the mandate of my loved ones–went back to my psychiatrist at some point in the midst…probably pretty early on. She threw me on one of the strongest and most commonly known medication for this sort of thing as a sort of hail Mary. Let’s just keep you alive for a little bit, ok? We will deal with the side effects once you stabilize. It took a while to stop wanting to kill myself. I had people around me, not many, but some who I could report to when I was afraid. I felt afraid a lot. I knew I was having these thoughts and that they were absolutely not me. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t get any better for a while there. She kept upping my dosage  and with it came a whole new slew of issues.

When you are drug resistant, the normal recommended dose rarely applies to you. The milligrams you pump into your body are high and disturbing for some people who don’t understand. Even then, sometimes it still won’t work. Sometimes your brain is just that big of an asshole.

I don’t know how long it took me to at least get my head above water. I eventually did. I woke up one day and my heart felt a little lighter; or rather, it felt something. It wouldn’t be a consistent feeling, at first. I would have two good days and then be low for the rest of the week. But, it was something.

Eventually, I was able to come off the MILLIONS OF MILLIGRAMS I was taking of this ridiculous medication. Withdrawing from a medication that just minimally was able to do its job for you seems like a cruel joke but ISN’T THIS ALL JUST ONE CRUEL JOKE?

I withdrew. I started the combination I am still currently on. I did hard things and got myself out of the damn mud.

When you are bipolar–or at least my version of bipolar–you have big upswings and downswings. Medications work to make that central line stronger, easier to stay at. Being resistant made this stabilization hard, but I kept at it.

My center feels stronger these days, but I still have the occasional downswing. The upswings are harder to come by, I imagine it’s like a heart working harder to bring that blood back up from your toes into the center of your body. It happens. I get happy. I get excited. There are things in my life that make it easy almost to feel at peace and more than content. But it is still hard work. I can constantly feel my brain trying to form a wall between me and the help of the medication I am on.

I know I am still resistant and that I will never be able to find the perfect medication for me. I have learned to be patient, strong, open minded and willing to cope in different ways.

So, if you are struggling with finding the right medication for you–for anything you’re suffering from–know a few things that post failed to mention:

It sucks.

It is okay to admit that it sucks.

It is frustrating and you will have to work harder than everyone else to feel okay.

Do not back down. I whole-heartily endorse NOT GOING OFF OF ALL YOUR MEDICATIONS.

If you are feeling out of control or disgusted with your body–like I have in the past–listen to your doctor. Mine tried to convince me to at least stay one a low dose of something to keep me buoyant. I was too proud to take her up on that offer. TAKE YOUR DOCTOR UP ON THAT OFFER. You may think you will learn more about yourself off of medication but I promise you it is nothing you ever want to know.

You can live like this. I have come to realize I can live a life where I am using a slew of defenses to keep myself safe. Complicated people require complicated treatment.

 

Being drug resistant does not make your disorder a puzzle or a game. You cannot be solved; cannot win. There are no exact pieces to make you whole. Once you face that and accept what you will have to do, you will feel more like a piece of clay thrown onto a spinning wheel. You mold, you bend, you arch–sometimes you cave in and have to start all over again–but that wheel always keeps spinning you can always keep evolving–surviving–being.



Making Waves
November 11, 2016, 2:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I started writing a novel back in August. At first, I outlined it on a wall using post-it notes and index cards. It is meant to be historical fiction so keeping my timeline correct along with every other little detail possible seemed insurmountable without a visual aid.

Some of my friends knew I was working on “big project”, some new it was a book, most had no idea  I was even doing something like this. For weeks (months? it’s blending) I refused to tell anyone what it was about. They would ask for hints or titles or character names and I would not budge. –Not because I wanted it to be this grand, dramatic secret; but, because I was truly unsure whether or not it was a stupid idea.

You know that feeling? When you have a ground breathtakingly amazing idea and you realize that no one has ever done anything like it before…and for a little while you question, “Why”?

Why has no one covered this specific topic? It seems like a wonderful story waiting to happen. I searched to the darkest corners of the internet *just in case* I was missing something super obvious, but I found nothing.

I remember when I finally told the first person about the book. I had meant to just give a general overview–I explained the main character, the origin of the story, the basic plot line. They immediately got excited about it. “Now, wait.” I started. “I need you to be perfectly honest with me. Is this a dumb idea? Would people read this?” No and yes were the answers along with my original confusion on why this book hadn’t already been written. I felt validated and that I could finally immerse myself in this story.

I feel like life is a lot like this process. People have ideas that are great and obvious and doable in their minds, but for some reason when we are the only person with that idea, we balk a little. We second guess ourselves. Our initial response isn’t that we clearly must be smarter than everyone else but that the idea is not worth having. No one (well, maybe Hamilton) has ever pronounced themselves a visionary, a revolutionist.

If everyone felt this way, nothing would ever happen.

We wouldn’t have revolted against the British. We wouldn’t have started the underground railroad. We wouldn’t have landed on the moon. We wouldn’t have voted for the first female presidential candidate.

If you have a singular idea, do not be afraid of that. Protect it; rare ideas are dangerous and wonderful and make the largest cut through your life. Often it will be those ideas that define you for the rest of your life. Your courage and determination will inspire others to join in on that idea with you. It will become a movement, an experiment, a ripple.

We have to remind ourselves that it is worth being that first stone, skipping across the still water, leaving waves in our wake.



Hope in the Election Line
November 8, 2016, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I set my alarm clock for 5:30 this morning. It went off and for a moment I was confused. Was I going to work? I thought I didn’t work there anywhere?

Then it hit me.

It’s election day.

I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. It was pitch black out and the room had a chill. I checked my phone–36 degrees outside. Excellent. I through on some clothes, pulled on my seriously warm boots, jacket, hat, and drove over to my polling center which is almost basically in my backyard.

I pulled into the parking lot, it was only 6:15 at this point and there were not TOO many cars parked. It was hard to determine which entrance to use to the high school gym because there was no wall of volunteers to push brochures into your hands as you walked, half awake, into the building. There where three people who politely asked me if I needed information on their parties candidates. I said no, they said to have a good day.

I opened the door and a small line had formed, maybe barely over 50 people. I walked down the hall and took my place where the line was looping back up towards the entrance.

No one was yelling. No one was telling someone they were wrong. No one was being hateful or racists or ignorant. No one wore paraphernalia for whomever they were voting for. The man ahead of me turned around and asked me how old I was–which was a fair question because I was wearing a winter hat with cat ears on it. He was open carrying, with a badge attached to his jeans. I did not feel threatened. Another guy, on the other side of the line, wore an NRA shirt. That’s all the shirt said. NRA. Nothing about anyone taking his guns, nothing about giving teachers guns, nothing about having to take a class before buying a gun.

Just the letters.

Everywhere around me, people were engaged in earnestly polite conversation with one another. I live in a small town so it is possible that some of these people happen to know one another prior to this line, but some you could tell were small talk. There was a woman with a denim jacket with the American Flag bedazzled onto the back of it. She was laughing loudly and holding her Starbucks green cup. She made me smile.

I stood in that line for about 45 minutes until I reached the registration check-in table. For 45 minutes, the 2 years of absolute bullshit surrounding this election seemed to evaporate, or even better, seemed to not have existed ever at all.

It was enlightening, even. I felt the stress that I had felt since the night before lift off of my shoulders. For as much hate and division shown on social media (friends not even talking to one another), here in this line–the final frontier–no one seemed to even want to discuss it. We were all there, together, shivering and drinking our too hot coffee while waiting to change the country. Like we did 4 years ago. And 4 years before that. j

In that line, in that room, in that booth, I no longer felt afraid. It is out of my hands, I thought. I can only worry about what I can control, and that is who I vote for.

Even if the candidate that I didn’t care of wins tonight, I have been given a glimpse at the true span of the American people. They are not the screaming, violent, horrifying crowds that would appear at rallies. They are not the misinformed and overly confident  jerks on Facebook.

Sure, these people exist I am sure. But they are not the sum of the masses. I trust that right now. I have to believe that the majority of voters today will be like the ones I shared my experience with: friendly, non-aggressive, peaceful.

As I walked out of the building, still hearing no chanting outside or tense murmurs inside, it felt more like I was leaving church rather than my local polling place.

 

 

And I got my damn sticker.

 



Talk to Cats Because You Never Know if they are a Wizard, Guys
November 8, 2016, 12:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, my cats are assholes.

They are also impossibly fat assholes. So, when it is dinner time and one of them does not charge down the stairs like a slinky covered in fur, it’s something we notice.

This evening, Joey did not join us for dinner. It’s pretty regular for Oscar, our other cat, to escape outside and sit on our porch bench like he is king of the wild or something, but Joey has little interest in the outside. He’s suffered two strokes which almost killed and somehow didn’t, seizures, and general brain issues. In other words, Joey always seems to have one paw over the threshold of life and death.

So, when he didn’t appear for dinner, we immediately started searching the house. Usually when this happens, he’s gotten himself locked in a close or a cabinet or Mia’s playroom off of the back of the house. We checked all of the usual spots. Nothing. No trace of Joey. We walked around the entirety of the house, shaking the food bag, hoping to at least hear a “meow” in protest. Nothing. We heard nothing.

We finally went outside. At first I just stood on the porch, listening. The few times that Joey has gotten out he has made a mad dash back inside as soon as he hears the door open, probably yelling in cat language, “I HAVE MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE”. Nothing. No dashing.

I gave the food bag a good shake and made that clicking sound cat owners make to call their cats. He still would not appear. I walked the perimeter of our property, which is wooded, shaking and clicking. Clicking and shaking. No.

I was getting a little crazed and had unfortunately already used my daily Klonopin on some other emotional crises that kept on rolling in today, so I ended up standing in the middle of my cul-de-sac, shaking a bag of cat food, clicking and crying simultaneously. It was getting cold. He is not an outdoor cat.

A movement out of the corner of my eyes made my pivot on my heels faster than Ross Gellar with a couch going up some stairs. A cat! Catlike movement! But no, it was not my cat, but a mostly white one with orange ears. She sat about three feet from me, starring me down. No attempt to get to the food in my hand, or to be pet. Just sitting there, scrutinizing me.

“Do you know where my cat is?”, I asked the cat. From behind me, my husband who I did not know was out with me, “Did you just talk to that cat?”

I nodded, tears still rolling down my face. “She looked at me like Professor McGonagall. I didn’t want to risk not asking, just in case she happened to be a wizard.”

I was maybe only 29% joking.

I stood out there, in the cold with no shoes on and shaking that bag of cat food, for about half an hour. I was afraid he was trapped somewhere and couldn’t get lose. I was afraid he was dying or already dead somewhere.

No one’s cat should die alone. No one’s cat should be outside in the cold lost when they take their last breath.

We got Joey, both of cats actually, from the pet shelter in the town we went to college. We got Oscar first, as a kitten. As he grew older and ended up being a lone a lot of the day because we all had classes, he started to be depressed. He was a high energy cat at first. People would come to our place just to see him chase balls and run into walls. You could put him up on your shoulder and you could walk around with him like that. But then, he got withdrawn. He slept all day. He wouldn’t chase anything.

So, we decided to get him a friend. I wanted to get a little girl kitten close to his coloring. We went back to the shelter about a year to the day that we had first adopted Oscar. They had a whole basement there, full of kittens.

I sat on the steps, as I had done the year before, and watched them all run up to me, scratching my leg, pushing one another over. From behind me, I felt the gentle push of a cat rubbing up against you. I looked over and there was Joey. But, he wasn’t Joey then. He was Tex and he was emaciated. He climbed into my lap and curled right up to me. Clearly food was not the only thing he had been starved of. I didn’t really think anything of it, and kept picking up kittens for inspection. Tex stayed in my lap the entire time. One of the volunteers appeared beside me, “Poor guy. He’s been here for more than a year now. We usually let him in the front office because he loves people so much.”

To think that this cat was here last time when we got Oscar was depressing. I hadn’t even noticed him, considered him. It’s true, people don’t really want adult cats. I brushed my fingers along the top of his head and he leaned into my palm, and his joy was palpable.

Of course, we left with Tex. By the time we got back to our apartment, he was Joey. He brought love and happiness to everyone, Oscar most of all. He was a seamless fit into our family.

These cats, these tiny assholes, they have traveled with us where ever we have moved. Two apartments in college. My parents house for a time being. My in-laws house for  a time being. An apartment down in Durham. And then, finally our own house. They have always been there.

And now, I can’t find one. The sick one. The one who doesn’t know what he’s doing, if he is in fact outside.

I fear that if he is inside this house, that he stroked out finally and is dead. Every possible back outcome is running through my mind.

I don’t want to be the kind of person that asks you to PRAY FOR HER CAT, but guys.

Just send out a little signal–a breeze, a green light at the end of a dock, a passing thought. And hope that when the sun comes up we will be able to find poor, sweet Joey.



Medics and Banner Men
November 6, 2016, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When you are struggling with an extended visit of depression; when you cannot get out of bed or go to work; when all you can think about is how you want to die -but not in some dramatic, attention inducing way- but rather to just fade away like you were never there,

 

people will form a circle around you.

These people will be your tribe and they truly love you. They will hold your hand and ask what they can do to help, tell you that you can get through this day by day and to be strong. These people will vindicate that you are, in fact, a victim and validate what you have been thinking all along–you are at war with yourself and that you can either retreat or fight. They will check in on you. They will call you, visit you, text you, asking how you are doing today. They will ask what is hurting today. They will remind you that you can do hard things.

These people are wonderful and in the long (long long, for me) run, they will be a safety net for when you fall and they will help you get back on your feet.

 

However,

There are also people out there who will patiently sit across from you as you heave and sob and dump all of your emotional issues into their lap. They will sit very still and pick up your issues one by one, placing them on a table, pushing them back over to your side.

“Do you not want to help me? Why are you leaving me all alone to fight this battle myself?”, you will wail.

That person, that rare person, will simply look back at you and say, “Because you can beat this. You do not need my help. You do not need a gaggle of people to help you. Of course you are strong enough to get through this. You don’t need me. All you need to know is that I believe in you.”

This will churn around inside of you for some time. You will try to rationalize the advice. You will try to decide if you should be offended or empowered.

Of course, they will remind you, you aren’t going to kill yourself. You are going to get out of that bed. You are going to get dressed and go back to work. You are going to smile again. You do not need anyone’s help with that.

You will begin to understand what they mean. If my body can create  of these demons, I must trust that it can also provide me the tools to handle it. Medication and sheer willpower is not to be underestimated.

I know, in my case, I reach out to people in the last days of my endurance. Those are the days when I feel weak, helpless, pathetic. What if, instead, I opened up to people around me when I start to feel low. What if, instead of asking for help, I tell them to take note. That I am going to kick this bullshit right in the face.

What if the notion that I can do hard things because I have been doing for my entire life became more helpful than treating me like a baby bird fallen out of a nest?

What if we all started treating one another like that?

Imagine how empowered we would all feel? How in control we would all feel even in our darkest moments? How unafraid we would become?

 

There is nothing–absolutely nothing–wrong with asking for help. There nothing wrong with supplying help.

But, let’s shift the support; instead of treating one another like we are shattered glass lets yell for one another from the sidelines during a triathlon.

 

You have done this before, brave girl, and you will do again still.

But what will always remain the same is that you continue to do it. Of course you can.

We do not always need medics. Sometimes all we need are banner men.



Petrichor
November 5, 2016, 2:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Some people are highly sensitive to textures, tastes, specific sounds. These things can transport them back to a time or a person who left such a lasting impression in their lives that they now associate a sense with them. That transcends having “our song” or “our movie” or even “our poem”. Songs, movies, words can all be erased. You can banish them from your mind and pretend that it never happened. These memories, good or bad, depend on things. Things that you can touch or see or hear.

 

I, on the other hand, am highly sensitive to scents. My memories can be charted through different scents. I can tell you where I was standing. What I was thinking.

My first scent association is the old school rubber baby bottle nipples–the big thick yellow ones. I don’t know how young I was –I also remember learning to walk so I’m a bit of a weirdo with memory in general–but when I bought a set for Mia back when we couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t drink formula, I sat in the rocking chair with her and pictured my childhood as far back as I could go.

One of the strongest associations I have is the scent of woods and sea. This is a smell exclusive to the Maine coast. There is a wonderful lay of land up the cold and rocky coast. We would stay all summer at a small cottage literally on a boulder covered beach. It was tucked away in a wooded area–you had to park your car in a clearing off of the road and then walk a path to even get to the house. Among those trees you could smell damp earth, eternally damp –petrichor, my favorite scent in the world, moss, pine trees. It smelled starkly clean but also deep. Deep what? I don’t know. Just deep. Like you had left civilization and you were buried deep somewhere. The woods literally backed up right to the sea. The lichen covered boulders where my sister and I would teeter on also had barnacles on them.Two elements violently colliding.

When you are that close to the ocean, the salty smell is thick. It reminds me of northeasters that would happen almost every summer. It reminds me cormorants sunning themselves first thing in the morning. It reminds me of  the juniper and small blue berries that we would pick and leave for the fairies that obviously had to live in a place like this. Forest and sea salt will always make me feel young and vast.

There are smaller associations, too. Overpowering leather as we stood in Dexter Shoes while my mother tried to convince us for the 60th time that we should really have boat shoes for school.

Lilacs for summers at my house growing up. Spending all day in the pool and then sunning ourselves in the driveway that was lined with lilac bushes.

Abercrombie Woods cologne during high school because I swear to god every boy wore it.

Old Spice for my father.

Some ridiculous German perfume for my mother, when she would go out draped in some fur coat that had been left to her.

Sandlewood and incense on a tee shirt.

The Sunflower scented candle that I don’t even think Yankee Candle sells anymore. I remember being in fifth grade, sixth grade and going through my witch phase–ladies, we all had that, admit it.

The scent of the hippie store in Maine that I would somehow always find myself. Naga champ, hemp, oils. I remember specifically my first year in college and being given money from my parents to buy Christmas gifts and my whole horde of dorm friends flocked into there. After, we went back to my room, which was highly decorated for Christmas, and we sat on the floor, wrapping our gifts and feeling like adults maybe for just one second.

Do you see? Do you see how the time line forms?  Sometimes when asked about the order of how things happened in my past, I have a hard time recalling in a conventional way. But, if I concentrate on the memory of scents, I am transported.

We all have ghosts. We are all haunted. It’s just a matter of conjuring them and how long you let them linger.

If you have a hard time remembering details; if you think you are not in tune with your past or with your own creativity, change the way you think about things. Don’t stand there, eyes clamped shut, trying to conjure how something or someone looked. Move on to the next sense. You will find what you are looking for.