impotent rage…and holiday cards!

On Mondays we still have some of the after-glow of the weekend to get us through. Wednesday are the mid-point in the work week and we’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Thursdays often involve starting to plan for the impending weekend. Fridays practically ARE the weekend – any time after noon on Friday is pretty much gravy.

But Tuesdays…Tuesdays are for impotent rage, I’m convinced of it.

On Tuesdays you can’t just throw your hands up and blame shit on still being hung over from the weekend, and you have way too many days left in the week to just bury your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. If Monday is a dumpster fire, Tuesday is the fully involved three-alarm structure fire that the flash-over from the dumpster has caused. It’s not just a little smoke and the lingering smell of burnt hair…it’s your propane tank blowing up in an eye-searing blaze while you stand at the end of the driveway clutching your shivering dog and wondering what the fuck went wrong.

I don’t like Tuesdays, in case that wasn’t clear. And this particular Tuesday has been especially rife with fuckery of highly non-amusing sorts (although my propane tank didn’t actually blow up or anything, thankfully). It’s mostly work stuff so I can’t really get into it, but just trust me when I tell you that if I could procure a boat right now, I’d name it the S.S. Fuck Right Off, pack it with as many boxes of Pop Tarts and bottles of Rex Goliath merlot as I could afford, and shove off from the nearest dock to start my career as a small-time pirate queen. Imagine an obese female version of Jack Sparrow. That would be me. I’ve already got the eyeliner and the struggling to remember words down pat.


I need to do something to counteract the angry. Sending people mail makes me happy, so tonight I’m going to go home and address a bunch of holiday cards.

If you’d like a holiday card from me, you can add your mailing address to my address book here and I’ll happily send you one.

Although, caveat: if you’re international, the card may not get there by Christmas because I’m very bad at judging how long international mail takes to get from point A to point B and also sometimes I have every intention of getting my ass to the post office but then get distracted and end up carrying a bunch of cards around in my bag for an extra week. Just so we’re all on the same page.

Also, you have my solemn oath that I will not sell your address or use it for any other purposes, nefarious or otherwise.

And if you don’t want to give me your address, that’s totally cool. I still love you, and I’ll just beam you holiday cheer with my mind instead.

I should probably pick a specific day and time to do it though, otherwise you’ll spend the next few weeks wondering if every random warm tingle and whiff of gingerbread you notice is me beaming you that cheer I promised you.

Or you might maybe start to worry that you’re having a seizure or a stroke, and I don’t want to do that to you, because after all, I might be a small-time pirate queen, but I’m not a dick.


Mmm, cheer.

We don’t need no stinkin’ Pilgrims

We don’t go around the table saying what we’re thankful for at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

We don’t say grace, we don’t make toasts. There’s no pontificating about the ‘founding fathers’ at our table because that’s not what Thanksgiving is about for us.

Our Thanksgiving is about laughing as much as it’s about eating.

It’s consistently sitting down to eat at least an hour after we said we would, no matter who is doing the cooking…and being totally fine with that because no one has anywhere else to be.

It’s dogs begging for table treats and people picking at leftovers long after they’ve proclaimed they couldn’t eat another bite.

It’s my husband and my dad watching football together – except my dad falls asleep about ten minutes after he sits down.

It’s my mom and I putting away leftovers and immediately doing all the dishes because that’s how my Nana rolled when my mom was growing up and some habits are worth keeping.

It’s three kinds of pie when we said we were only going to have two, because come on. More pie is ALWAYS better.

Pilgrims and Native Americans don’t factor into our Thanksgiving in the least. Some people might say that’s wrong – that we’re not remembering why we’re here in the first place, that we’ve lost the true meaning of the holiday. I don’t feel the least bit bad though, because I’ve got the three most important people in my life at my table eating and laughing together for another year. Life is short and often brutal, and time is our dearest commodity. Spending it with the people I love is always what I’ll be most thankful for.

Also, did I mention the third pie?

You CAN’T feel bad when there’s three pies available. Well, not mentally, anyway. Physically…maybe.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends…whatever that means to you.


This is one of the holiday cacti I inherited when my Nana passed away in September. This one was in full bloom for Thanksgiving. She always did like to be on time.

broken bits

I started writing this as a post for World Mental Health Day, which was on Monday…but it turned out I had a lot more to say than I originally thought and thus it took me a while to finish the post. Better late than never?!
Also, a quick warning – there are mentions of self-harm (though no graphic descriptions), and allusions to suicidal thoughts below. If you find these subjects triggering, best stop here.

My ‘official’ (ie: documented by a health professional) history with mental illness goes back about 11 years, but it has been with me a lot longer than that.

As a child, I’d often get overwhelmed by emotions and I’d cry. I couldn’t adequately explain to anyone why I was crying, so I was told to toughen up. For the record, my parents were both brought up in pretty emotionally repressive families themselves and they didn’t really know any other way to be. I get that and I don’t hold it against them. They did the best they knew how.


Because I believed that I wasn’t supposed to cry without a ‘good reason’, I instead developed a habit of hitting, scratching or pinching myself, or sometimes biting the insides of my cheeks. when I started feeling like I was about to cry. It was a way of distracting myself and hopefully heading off the imminent crying jag. It didn’t always work, but it worked often enough that it became habit. Self-harm isn’t something I would have understood had someone explained it to me at six or seven years of age, of course. Hell, it’s something I still don’t always understand 30 years later. But that’s what I was doing. I was purposefully hurting myself in an attempt to cope with emotions.

The first time I started to realize I probably wasn’t OK in the head was around age 15. That was when I started having trouble in school (due in large part to ADHD that I didn’t know I had), and I was sad a lot. I had always been a very smart kid that could keep up despite my focus problems, but as the workload intensified in high school, that all came crashing down and my identity as a smart kid was something I began to seriously question.

By senior year, I was in real danger of failing a required English class and thus not graduating. I had gotten pretty good at playing a character – a funny, flippant music nerd who simply didn’t care about academics. But inside, I was a stew of insecurity and self-loathing. I felt like a failure and a disappointment to my family. My brain started convincing me that I wasn’t actually smart at all, that all my teachers had lied in order to spare me from realizing what a no-good loser I was. I believed that the few friends I had were hanging out with me because they felt sorry for me. Things eventually came to a head when I was no longer able to intercept the mail the school was sending home about my being in danger of flunking out. The look on my mom’s face when I had to tell her I might not graduate still makes me feel bad almost 20 years later. It was like watching something I loved being crumpled up and stomped on. This was the toughest woman I knew and I had managed to break her with my inability to be normal, to just do what needed to be done like everyone else did. That certainly didn’t improve the tenor of my already negative inner dialog any. I did end up graduating, though I was FAR from prepared for post-secondary education. Going to college that fall had mistake written all over it…but off I went, undiagnosed mental issues and all, because that was where smart kids were expected to go after high school.

College was pretty bad. I’ll spare you the gritty details but the gist is that I was there for two largely unpleasant semesters before I was told I didn’t need to bother coming back. Anxiety was my constant companion through the first semester and by halfway through the second semester I was experiencing my first full-blown depressive episode – not that I knew what it was at the time. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on and I didn’t get any help. Instead I floundered, flunked out, and went home to find a job. I didn’t know how to deal with the resultant feelings of guilt and failure, so I just…didn’t. I stuffed them down and distracted myself with experiencing the fun parts of a college experience via my best friend, whose school I visited almost every weekend.

When best friend moved away after graduating college, things started to fall apart again in a big way. The brain weasels were soon running rampant, telling me that I was the only one of my group of high school friends left in town because I was a failure, a fuck-up and a disgrace. I self-medicated with booze – a LOT of booze. The chorus of self-loathing that I’d been living with for the past ten years was now getting louder by the day. It told me that I didn’t deserve my job or the things that I had, that I wasn’t worthy of the love of my family or my long-distance boyfriend. It told me that nothing I did would ever be good enough, that I had no friends because I was terrible to be around. It told me not to bother trying to do any of the things I used to love – making music, writing stories, painting and drawing – because I was never going to be any good at any of them. It wanted me to believe that there was no point in even living anymore, and for a little while there, it had me pretty well convinced.

Shortly after my 25th birthday I experienced a bout of costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs where they connect to the sternum. Imagine someone sliding a knife between your ribs right up near your breast bone and then slowly trying to turn the blade vertical, prying your ribs apart a millimeter at a time. Super funtimes! It also caused a lot of referred pain into my left shoulder, neck and breast. Being a life-long fatty and having a history of heart disease in my family, it really wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine that particular combination of pains being symptoms of a heart attack. The doctor in the emergency room and my primary care doctor both told me that my heart was fine, but I couldn’t stop thinking that there was something very wrong, that I was on the verge of dropping dead. I felt constantly sick to my stomach, I would have spells of not being able to breathe, of feeling cold and clammy…all secondary symptoms of a heart attack, coincidentally. It got to the point where I would end each day at work by writing a series of notes with directions for what to do in my absence because I was absolutely convinced that I wasn’t going to be there the next day. What I know now, of course, was that I was living in a constant state of panic attack…but that was never even mentioned as a possibility at the time.

After a couple months of limping along like that, I finally broke. I went to my doctor and sobbed about how I was so terrified of dropping dead that I was starting to have trouble leaving my house (because, you know, death can only get you if you leave the house? Brain weasel logic is weak at best). She told me I was depressed, wrote me a prescription for Wellbutrin and set me on the 10+ year path of exploring everything from medications (five so far) to exercise, special diets, supplements, and a variety of self-help plans.

Finally being diagnosed with ADHD and being properly medicated for that has made a huge difference in my anxiety levels, but I still struggle with depression regularly. I’ve finally started learning ways to help myself, though. Talking with people who’ve had similar experiences reminds me that I’m not alone no matter what the brain weasels want me to believe. Meditation helps me to just be where I am in this moment and not worry so much about the future or feel so bad about the past. Yoga helps me move my focus out of my head and into my body, giving my brainmeat a little much-needed rest. All of these things compound over time and help me to realize that the way my brain works is not all there is to me…but it’s part of who I am, and that’s something I’m learning to be OK with.


“When I’m feeling down, I like to chew my foot. Sounds weird but it helps.”  – Junior

If you’re struggling, know that you’re NOT alone, and that people truly do want to help you feel better. The world needs you in it, so please stay! If you need immediate help, start here (you don’t even have to call, you can chat with them online! Isn’t that handy?!)

Anti-Trump bucks

A couple weeks back, a funny thing happened. A good friend of mine who also happens to read this blog sent me a private message on Facebook, and the following exchange ensued:

Friend: Sooo…I have a slightly awkward question for you.

Me: Oh, fun! I love those! Hit me.

Friend: Ok. I feel like we know each other pretty well in a lot of ways, but politics is something we’ve never actually talked about and I’ve just kind of been wondering…do you support Trump?

Me: WHAT? NO. OMG. No, no, no. Uuuugh. (barfing noises)

Friend: O…kayyyy…

Me: What, uhhh…what gave you the impression that I would be a Trump supporter?

Friend: Almost every time I go to your blog, there’s a Trump ad at the bottom of your post. Like, nine times out of ten. It got weird enough that it started to make me really wonder.

Me: Holy shit. Thank you so much for telling me. I must find a way to fix this.

A matter of hours later, another friend who DOES know my political leanings pointed out that he had seen a Trump ad on my latest post. Two days later, several more folks brought it up as well. My guts churned every time someone else piped up about it.

I was livid. I pulled up my WordPress account and clicked all around looking for an ad filter, preferences, ANYTHING that would allow me to stop the Trump ads from appearing on my posts. It turned out that the only option was to upgrade from a free account to a paid one.

It didn’t take me long to decide that that racist, narcissistic, tax-evading dumpster fire is NOT getting the benefit of the eyes of my readership, however small it might be. I’m not saying that you have to agree with my politics in order to read my blog. I’m just saying that I will not knowingly provide his campaign with ANY avenue to further spread his hate-filled rhetoric. If you can even call what he says ‘rhetoric’.

So, long story short: I just coughed up $35 real, actual dollars from my bank account to upgrade my WordPress account so that you guys wouldn’t have to keep seeing Trump ads at the end of my posts.

THAT is how much I love you all. At least $35 worth.

lizard brain

Apparently I slept in a way last night that caused a muscle or nerve in the back of my neck to seize up. Not hugely uncommon for me – I tend to carry all my tension in my neck and shoulders, plus I type eight hours a day and have relatively poor posture while doing so.

The muscle or nerve in my neck that’s unhappy happens to be right near the base of my skull, so every time I move just right, it sends this pain up into my head and my lizard brain is like ‘WAAAAH, MENINGITIS! WAAAAH, STROKE! WAAAAH, TUMOR! WAAAAH, PARASITIC AMOEBAS EATING MY BRAIN!’

Ten years ago I was a pretty much full-blown hypochondriac and wouldn’t have been able to stop thinking that I was sitting here slowly bleeding out into my brain pan or something. I would have eventually worked myself into such a panic that I’d have made myself physically ill. Nowadays I can identify that lizard brain is the culprit when I start thinking a random ache or pain is Something More Serious. I can’t put lizard brain totally on mute, but I’ve gotten a lot better at not letting it control me.

Or maybe that’s just what the parasitic amoebas want me to think…



Amoeba aliens. In my brain.

When in doubt, apply otters.

There are big blocks of time that it feels like I don’t remember.

I say “feels like” because I know that in reality, you can’t ever remember everything that’s happened to you because that’s not how the brain works. Long-term memory kind of acts like a card catalog in a library. You go to the catalog with a subject in mind – ie: “summer camp”, and that’s like giving your brain-meats the Dewey Decimal Number for what you’re trying to remember. Your brain-meat then acts as librarian, taking that card and running up and down its stacks at lightening speed (or slightly slower for some of us…heh), pulling memories of that thing from the shelves for you to inspect.

In other words, long-term memory isn’t a constant loop of all the moments of your life being played over and over again, just waiting for you to hit “pause” on the one you want to access at that particular moment.

Think what life would be like if that WAS how it worked, by the way. I imagine it would be like the worst possible case of ADHD ever. You’d never be able to get anything done because your brain would constantly be like “Hey remember that one time, at band camp? And Aunt Mildred’s dog? And Easter morning, 1978? And the day you were born, and the 47th time you skinned your knee falling off your bike, and the drive to the cemetery when Grandpa died, and the smell of the lake at night and how your first kiss felt and smoking weed behind the gym between classes and the words to that song from 3rd grade music class and and and…”, but multiplied by literally all the moments of your entire life.

That sounds kind of horrible. I’m pretty glad it doesn’t work that way, now that I think about it.

I should probably take this opportunity to point out that I’m an accountant, by the way, NOT a neurologist. This may actually not be AT ALL how memory works. I didn’t even finish college and I’m also prone to making shit up, so…probably don’t use me as an academic citation on your fancy brain science term paper or whatever. Show-off.


So, it feels like there are these chunks of time that I can’t remember, and sometimes it bothers me. When it bothers me, I start actively trying to recall things from my childhood in order to prove to myself that no, I was NOT in fact just beamed down from the Mothership. Except, then I start worrying about how maybe aliens have the technology to basically pre-populate our brains with just enough memories to make us think that yes, we DID in fact have childhoods and that the idea of being beamed down from the Mothership is preposterous, now be a good drone, keep incubating those trillions of bacteria and stop questioning reality. And really, THAT’S a can of worms I can’t even really handle on a GOOD day, so that’s when I usually start just looking up pictures of baby otters online instead. Two or three good baby otter video clips will put me right back on track.


I would literally pay for this experience.

Well, as on-track as I ever get, anyway.

turns out I may be part raccoon

Sometimes, on the way back to my office from having gone to get my lunch out of the staff fridge, I’ll realize that I need to make a pit-stop in the bathroom. I blame this largely on the fact that the bathroom is directly in front of me for the entire route from the conference room fridge back to my office. I can’t NOT see it, and my bladder is nothing if not strongly subject to suggestion.


So, sometimes…in fact, we’ll say often…I find myself in the bathroom with my lunch in hand. Our bathrooms are individual ones, like half-baths in a home, and the one upstairs by my office even has a little sideboard type thing with drawers and small cabinets in it. So it’s not like I’m bringing my lunch into a bathroom stall and setting it on the toilet tank or the toilet paper dispenser while I take a leak, you know? But, every time I exit the bathroom with lunch in hand, I can’t help thinking that people must kind of wonder.

Like, ‘is there a fridge in that bathroom?’

And ‘is she so antisocial that she actually eats lunch in there?’

And ‘is she part raccoon and dousing her lunch under running water right before she eats it?’

Being part raccoon would actually explain a lot about my life though, truth be told. My poor eyesight, my body shape, my eyeliner preferences, my propensity for eating garbage…it’s all so obvious now that I think about it…

Quit hittin’ yerself

This morning I caught myself being a judgemental jerk about something I saw online and it got me thinking.

As I read the thing that set me off, I was initially thinking, ‘This is terrible. How does this person not see that this is terrible?’. That led me to wondering whether the author was just supremely self-confident and literally gave no fucks about what anyone thought of what they wrote, or if perhaps they were that rare type of person who is truly naive to the fact that they may not actually be any good at the thing they’re trying to do.

At that point, I realized a couple things.

First, it dawned on me that I am, in fact, deeply jealous of most confident people. People who go through life doing what they want to do and not worrying about how it looks to anyone else tend to annoy me because that’s how I would like to be. It’s like the whole teenage girl phenomena of hating the pretty girls because they’re pretty, you know? We tend to resent people who have the things or traits we want for ourselves. And yes, I absolutely understand that jealousy is an enormous waste of energy, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to shut off.

Second, and far more importantly, I realized that I am the asshole that I am most afraid of. I am not just the loudest one running myself down but in fact often the ONLY one running myself down. I talk myself out of all kinds of things because I worry that I’ll be seen as ridiculous / pathetic / unskilled / a failure, but it’s really only ME that will repeatedly tell me that I’m any of those things anyway. My husband doesn’t do that, my parents don’t do that, my friends don’t do that…hell, most random strangers don’t even do that. It’s pretty much just me.

I’m in an abusive relationship with my own mind, basically.

Soooo…yeah. There’s that. Leaving the situation doesn’t really feel like a viable option currently (and I am grateful every day that that’s the case, trust me), so I guess that means I have to learn how to not be that asshole to myself anymore.

If anybody has any tips on how to go about that, feel free to lay ’em on me.


“Look, I can keep listening to you but it’s going to cost more peanuts. Chipmunk therapy ain’t free.” – Steve the Chipmunk, MD


Let’s face it, the world has been pretty extra fucked up lately. The 24 hour news cycle only serves to exacerbate things, and social media is never so busy as when there’s a tragedy or a polarizing debate. You have to be pretty determined in order to not hear any news or opinion over the course of a whole day.

There are some people who thrive on this constant stream of information, these depictions and descriptions of sometimes downright terrible stuff. They enjoy reading, if not participating in, debate and they would much rather be connected to what’s going on than disconnected. There are others who don’t get so actively involved. They see things and just take them in stride. Or maybe it’s that they know their limits and can walk away when they need to. Perhaps they’re even detached and ambivalent – just observing what goes on in the world around them without ever getting “sucked in”.

Then there’s people like me. As much as it often pains me to admit it, I’m sensitive.

Being sensitive wasn’t considered a good thing in our family when I was a kid. My people are an exceedingly undemonstrative people and I had to learn to at least fake toughness, if not actually toughen up. I tend to feel things very deeply and they stick with me for a long time. I cry ridiculously easily. I get over-stimulated by conditions and situations that a lot of friends and acquaintances often don’t even notice, let alone get bothered by. These traits all work at direct odds with that toughness I was taught to cultivate growing up, which leads to a near-perpetual cycle of me beating myself up over getting upset, then trying to fake normalcy, then getting overwhelmed and getting upset, etc.

There are situations, people and things in life that I’ve finally learned to just avoid if at all possible because of the mental fuckery that I know will result if I don’t…but sometimes…

…sometimes I can’t help myself. Sometimes the lure of doing the “normal” thing is too strong. Or, sometimes I know damn well a thing is going to set me off but I care enough about it that I keep subjecting myself to it anyway.

This is what’s been happening with me since Sunday, frankly. I knew as soon as I heard about the shooting in Orlando that I should just back away from social media and let information slowly trickle down to me from my short bursts of NPR exposure during my daily commutes. I knew I should make the conscious decision to not read certain peoples’ posts for a certain amount of time. But I couldn’t look away…I didn’t WANT to look away. I wanted to sit down every gay-hater, every racist, every Islamophobe, every 2nd Amendment spouting gun-nut, and every person who kept sharing that UTTER BULLSHIT post about Wounded Knee and how actually THAT was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history (you know, because it’s a fucking competition) and how it was actually a perfect argument for OMG MOAR GUNS (I’m not even anti-gun, but I am so, SO fucking anti-revisionist-history), and try to make them understand that the arguments they were making just didn’t hold water. Or at least to make MYSELF understand why people can believe such things.

By yesterday afternoon I was DEEPLY angry. I started snapping myself with rubber bands to try and bring myself back to the present, back to what I needed to get done (which, I know, that’s not exactly an A+coping strategy, but I was working with what I had in the situation). Unsurprisingly, it didn’t really work and I started getting That Feeling…the one I half-jokingly call ‘circling the drain’. It’s basically the realization that I’m rushing headlong toward a panic attack if I don’t wise up and get the fuck out of the situation I’m in. I knew that my husband was going to be away for most of the evening and I didn’t want to ask him to cancel his plans (even though I know he would have, had I asked, because he’s awesome), so I reached out to a friend. We met up for ice cream and, as we often do, ended up laughing, telling stories and completely losing track of time. It was 9pm by the time I got home.

And I felt better. SO much better.

It didn’t cure my depression. It didn’t make me an optimist who thinks the world isn’t going to hell in a hand-basket. But it DID help me side-step the imbroglio of anger and sadness. It was respite from the near-constant barrage of awfulness I had been subjecting myself to, and it reminded me of just how lucky I am. Lucky not just for the wonderful people in my life, but lucky to have a life full stop.

The people at Pulse were celebrating Pride. They were celebrating being alive, right before someone stepped in and took it all away. Mourn them, absolutely. Be angry, and rightly fucking so. Fight this culture of hate and bigotry with not just your words but with your deeds and your votes.

And in the midst of all that, try to remember how lucky we are to still be here. Try to remember to live.


Love is love.

bad brain days

It’s difficult to explain a bad brain day to a non-depressed person. They usually want to know what went wrong, what caused you to have a bad day. The thing is, I can’t usually answer that question.

I mean, yes…some days go to shit for very specific reasons that you can point directly to. And lots of days just kind of bob along in that nebulous area between “ok” and “not ok”.

But when you’re dealing with depression there are also these days that are just…bad. The things you normally get done with no problem become an epic struggle. Stuff that usually amuses you or cheers you up just serves to remind you of how fucking miserable you are. It could be perfect weather, your spouse could make you the best breakfast, you could have the most traffic-free commute to work while all your favorite songs played on the radio…and the day would still be shit, because your brain just isn’t cooperating.

Hence, bad brain day.

Today was one of those days for me.  I woke up in a fine mood, had a nice breakfast with my husband and my dog, got ready for work, and everything was copacetic. I was fine for about the first hour of work and then it just hit me out of nowhere.

First I was annoyed by someone not responding to an email in a timely fashion. Which, that seems semi-reasonable at first glance but the degree of my annoyance was WAY disproportionate to the importance of the issue the email dealt with. Like, if emails were gambling and I was mad about losing money, I was in the “I just lost $200” range when really the email was only worth about $5.75. Which made more sense in my head, but whatever.

Then I started berating myself for being mad about the email, followed swiftly by berating myself for berating myself (I KNOW…welcome to my world). Within minutes things had snowballed to the point where I was hiding in the bathroom because I couldn’t stop myself from crying.

What was I actually crying about? Existing, basically. That’s about as close as I can come to an honest explanation. It’s not even that I don’t WANT to exist. I do! I like existing! BEING ALIVE IS RAD! It’s just that sometimes it hurts simply to exist, let alone actually get anything done or have any kind of meaningful interactions with the world.

On days like this about the best I can do is let myself have a crying jag or two (or ten, ugh), try to get on with what needs doing afterward, and hope that tomorrow my brain gets back with the program.

How do YOU describe your bad brain days, your down days, your hide-in-the-bathroom-at-work days to others? Do you have some kind of code word or phrase you use to clue your loved ones in to the fact that you’re in a bad place? Talk to me, Goose.

Err…Geese, I guess, since there’s more than one of you…