Barbed Wire, Concrete, & Sarcasm

When I was very young, and I’m talking single-digit ages here, I was an extremely gregarious, open, talkative, & mostly-happy child.

Me, about age 9, horse-whisperer.

I had friends, I was involved in Girl Scouts, even had a “boyfriend” (in 10-yr old speak, that meant we spent a summer talking about horses & riding horses around town.)

In 1981, after we moved from Iowa to North Dakota, I started to change.

Through no fault of my own, when I started school, I was immediately tagged as “other”.

Small town, everyone knows everyone, & either they’re related, or their families have been friends for generations.

Me – I was smart and didn’t play their traditional sports, so automatically, a geek, and a loser.

Mind you, I could’ve ridden circles around them on horseback, but put both my feet on the ground?

Completely uncoordinated & awkward.

Anyway, I got bullied a LOT in middle & highschool.

So, I started building defenses.

And while my first defense was to retreat from social interactions, after being “Mean Girled” multiple times,

Sarcasm was one of my favorites languages.

I just kept my comments low, usually one-line zingers, so that only the closest people to me could hear.

And, I wrote.

A fuckton of bad emo poetry.

And some interesting essays, that I still enjoy re-reading, sometimes. Ahh nostalgia, you saucy, philosophical bitch.

Once out of highschool, I went a little bonkers.

Of course, this was post- 16-yr old trauma, but… Some of it was me, searching desperately for my younger, more outgoing self. And, it was the late 80s. EVERYTHING was overblown in the 80s.

The hair, the clothes, the makeup, movies, music, hell, even the jewelry.

And, so was my Attitude.

With a CAPITAL-FUCKING-A.

I drank, I partied at one particular fraternity in college (TKE, love your house forever), and, after I left college, I partied harder.

I spent a lot of time perfecting my “fuck off if you don’t like me” persona.

When, in reality, I cared a whole mess of a bunch.

Emotional defenses are some of the most difficult to break through, both from outside AND within.

And it affects the reasons why you do the things you do, as well as how you react to things around you.

My current defense mechanisms are strong, and mostly unconscious.

And with this being Mental Health Awareness month, I’m gonna spill some of my deepest-held secrets.

Buckle up.

Words, Sounds, and the Beat Drops

I emote a lot through music. It’s just one of the ways I can gauge my own emotional capacity & wellness.

Basically, what I’m currently listening to, is a pretty good weather-vane into my mindset & mental health.

(And yes, I’m always looking for new music, everywhere I look) A lot of what I find, I will either grab off my Amazon Prime Music, & put it in my playlist for work, for working out, for Roadies. Or if someone tells me about a song & I can’t find it on Amazon Music, I’ll go look for it on YouTube, to see if there’s a video. (There is almost always a video)

Here’s my latest favorite play list:

The Vengeful One – by Disturbed. I’d love to hear someone make a delicate, soft, feminine remake of this. It’d be creepy as hell, & make a great soundtrack for a vicious heroine/villainness.

Therefore I am – by Billie Eilish. This gal has such a grand presence with her soft, whiskey voice. It’s hard to sing along to, sometimes, because I want to sing at volume, but that’s all wrong for this one.

Lemons – by Brye. This gal’s song I first heard a snippet of on TikTok, & fell in love with the lyrics. I finally found a Demo version of it on Amazon Music, & had to buy it to keep. I know the whole song by heart, & funny enough, it’s my notification sound on my phone.

Jekyll & Hyde – by Five Finger Death Punch. I want to be Jekyll, but I’m always fuckin’ Hyde… as the song says. Both live in my head, along with all the other varied sides of my Gemini personality. Jekyll can be logical, but pretty cold, too. Hyde is much warmer, emotionally, but likes to burn things… like relationships, bridges, ya know… the “easy-to-fix” stuff… *rolls eyes at self*

Phantom – by Allen Mock. This is a “get-out-of-my-own-head & just feel the rhythm song. And when that beat drops… dayum.

Overwhelmed – by Royal & the Serpent. This – is my anxiety in a nutshell. It’s so damned fitting.

Villain – by K/DA. This fictitious group is represented on YouTube with CGI videos for League of Legends. They’re some of the female characters, supposedly. The gals who sing are a mix of Korean K-pop stars & English/American/British singers. They’re phenomenal, & this isn’t the only song I love, just the current song in rotation.

Boys Ain’t Shit – by Say Grace. My Beloved Nephew turned me on to this one by sending me the YouTube video. I love this song, & know this one pretty much by heart too.

The Devil’s Bleeding Crown – by Volbeat. More heavy metal. There’s a lot of that on this list. Heavy metal helps me when I’m angry, stressed, depressed… so, pretty much most of the time. I’m thinking it’s the drums, because those always just send me into a zone. And the screaming. Yeah, the screaming helps.

People I Don’t Like – by Upsahl. I just love how don’t-give-a-fuck this song is. Pretty much how I feel in crowds anymore. Like parties I’m obligated to attend. Yeah, not my favorite timesuck.

No Scrubs – version redone by Unlike Pluto. This is a retake on the original by TLC. It’s just got such a sway to it. I love it better than the original.

Protocol – by Leon Else. This song was referred to in a book I really like, so, since I’d never heard of it before, & liked the way they described the feeling of it, I had to look it up. Yeah, it’s that good.

This is the New Shit – by Marilyn Manson. Yeah, I know he’s getting a lot of hate these days. I still love the irreverence of this song.

Wrong Bitch – by Todrick Hall. I LOVE TODRICK HALL. But this is one of my favorite MOTIVATIONAL songs. Don’t at me, just don’t. Cuz I won’t hesitate. Watch the damn video. Do it.

Purple Hat – by Sofi Tukker. This song is just so “mellow LSD trip” (or what I would imagine one would be). It’s bizarre, which Sofi Tukker likes to do, the beat is definitely catchy. Now if I could just understand all the damn words!

Why Do You Love Me – Charlotte Lawrence. Again, very “Bad Bitch” vibe. Definitely sassy & probably psychotic, but I still love the vibe.

Did Ya – by BoA. She’s a South Korean singer, songwriter, producer & actress. I love the message of this song. “You should have appreciated me when you had me in your life. You didn’t. So I’m out. Suck it.”

Out of Hell – by Skillet. Pulled this one back into my current lineup from my archives. I went on a “Skillet spree” a while back & bought whole albums. Some days, it’s just how I feel.

And… last, but most certainly NOT least. I found this band through TikTok videos, & have fallen in love with quite a few of their songs. These 3 are currently on my “most listened to” rotation:

Falling in Reverse – Yeah, the lead singer spent some time in prison. He paid his dues & doesn’t deny what happened, or his part in it. But make sure you hear both sides of the story.

The songs I love of theirs right now are:

Just Like You – I’m an asshole. You’re an asshole. Everyone’s an asshole – sometimes. It’s just true.

Losing My Life. This one is a little off kilter – with the “time travel” referencing. But the beginning of this song… it inspires me.

And… my MOST FAVORITEST RIGHT NOW –

Popular Monster. This fucking song. Right here. Go listen/watch it NOW. I could probably listen to this 20 times a day right now & not get tired of it. Just go do it. Damn.

There are other “filler” songs on my work list, but these are the ones I’m bopping my head, tapping my toe, dancing in the office (yeah you read me) to.

And I really don’t care if people think I’m weird.

Cause they’re right, & I’m proud of it. I worked damned hard, for a lot of years, for that moniker. I wear my freak flag with fucking PRIDE.

So, those are the songs. If there’s something here you’ve never heard of, go check it out. Go. GIT! Expand your horizons. And if you have a favorite song not listed here that you’d like me to check out (Yeah, I take suggestions – I love finding new-to-me music), comment! If you think it’d be a good therapeutic fit for me, tell me about it & I’ll check it. (As long as it’s not country… just no.)

AU

I imagine there’s an alternate universe where I became a horse trainer, & lived alone on a farm with all my animals.

I imagine there’s an alternate universe where I died from suicide at the ripe young age of 16, because – emotional trauma.

I imagine there’s one where I became a published author, famous or not, I finally finished writing a damn book & sent it toddling out into the world, instead of having children.

I imagine there’s one in which I actually finished college, and became a psychologist, only to realize I got too depressed over my own problems to help anyone else effectively.

I imagine there’s one where I stayed with my love of acting, even with crippling stage fright, & became a bit actress, only to become a diet-pill junkie, who died from complications due to extreme yoyo diets & depression.

I imagine there’s one where I became a famous horror writer.

I imagine there’s an alternate universe in which I have more friends than I know what to do with, because I can be so extroverted with the emotion switch “on”, and a complete recluse, with the switch “off.

I imagine there’s one, where I retreated into the woods to become the swamp witch of my dreams, leaving everything behind to live off-grid, because I had no one left, after pushing everyone I knew away due to emotional issues telling me I’m not worth loving, which is why everyone leaves, refuses to commit, or plays on my heart strings until I collapse & lose my shit, running screaming into the void.

I imagine that there’s an alternate universe in which I am living a happy life, with someone I love, who loves me back.

Wild imagination.

Hives, but no Bees

Ok, I’m ready to talk about the health crap I’ve been going through for the last few months. It’s not pretty, but also not lethal. Except to my mental health.

It really started at the end of March, when I came down with bronchitis. I thought it might be covid, because many of the symptoms match, so I got tested. Obviously, it came back negative, so I got on antibiotics & recovered from that.

At this point, I started working from home, since we were planning that anyway at my office, & I wasn’t the only one from my department that was going to be doing work from home. We hadn’t planned on me starting so soon, but it worked out.

Then, I got the flu about a week later. Good thing I was working from home, as I was able to log in & work when I could, without having to travel to the office, feeling like crap, & possibly infecting coworkers.

Then, a couple of days later… I started to notice hives.

Just a few spots to start, they quickly seemed to spread, until they covered most of my body in extremely itchy, raised red welts.

And I do mean covered.

As in, at least 85℅ of my body was itching, welted, or felt like it was extremely sunburned.

These are pictures I took to show my doctor. They are just of my arms, and aren’t of the worst days.

I went through 2&1/2 bottles of calamine, and was double dosing myself with antihistamines. (I can’t take anything with diphenhydramine in it, like benadryl, as it makes my heart race, so I had to take what I can)

I also ended up with chemical burns from all the calamine. It dries your skin extremely well, so well, in fact, that if you use it for 2 months, you get dry-skin burns. And believe me, they hurt. It took copious amounts of lotion to relieve and reverse this. Don’t overdo calamine, folks. Trust me.

Think of it like pouring hydrogen peroxide into an open wound. After the bubbling stops, it turns white, right? Because it’s dessicated the tissue. Dried it to oblivion.

I also found a lotion that has menthol & camphor in it, which helps to kill the itch, & makes your skin feel extremely cold in the process, which helps with the burning feeling the inflammation causes. (It’s called Sarna)

My doc put me on prednisone, to help with that, as well as another issue, & it seemed to help.

During all of this, I tried to figure out if the hives were a reaction to a medication I’d started taking for my depression, or if it was a new allergy. Joy.

I stopped taking the antidepressant, on recommendation of my doc, and my emotions went haywire again.

I stopped eating the one food I thought might have caused the allergy. (I’m extremely picky in my eating, there aren’t a lot of things it could be, anymore)

And… The hives started to go away. It took a while, but it seemed to be working.

Then, last weekend, when I had my Schnicklefritz for the weekend, I ate something I hadn’t had for a while, & the hives flared again that night.

I thought this was my answer!

I’d found the culprit, and eliminating this would stop the hives, right?

I made an appointment with an allergist, anyway, just to make sure, but I was fairly positive I had my answer.

After seeing my doc this last week, I told her my theory, & she agreed with me, that it was probably a food allergy, had nothing to do with my med, & I could start taking it again, so I did.

That was 2 days ago.

Yesterday night, I noticed a couple of hives – on my face – and some itchy, raised patches on my thighs. I treated my legs with calamine, & my face with hydrocortisone cream.

This morning…

My legs.

I can’t show you pictures of the other places I found hives, because it was the back of my scalp, & along the back of my neck. Kind of difficult to get pictures of that, but believe me, I felt every welt.

And I’m not allowed to take any antihistamines. None.

Not until after my allergist appointment – next Wednesday.

So, I have literally zero idea what’s causing the hives.

No product changes, everything I use from soap to shampoo to laundry detergent, is stuff I’ve been using for years.

There are about 4 or 5 foods that I eat right now, and none of them have caused this since I cut the last one out. (It was barbeque, both chips & sauce, which is probably going to make me very sad, because I love barbeque. It’s one of my favorite condiments)

Most of the hives have settled down again tonight. Probably from the facts that, A) I applied calamine to every affected patch of skin I could reach, except my scalp; B) I used lidocaine spray on ALL of the welts. If it’s numb, I can’t feel the itch, so I won’t scratch, which just makes spread; & C) I haven’t eaten anything all day, but one of the few meals I know for a fact has nothing in it that will affect me.

But…

I’m frustrated.

And tired.

And depressed.

I’ve had so many problems with allergies over the years.

And now, to add hives into this?

What if the allergist can’t figure out what’s causing them?

I have enough trouble with getting people to believe me about my allergies.

I need a large change in my life.

I want to move.

And I want to get a job where I can work from my home.

I’m tired of other people pissing on my feelings, & endangering my life, because they want to eat something I’m sensitive to, something that could possibly kill me.

I’m tired of having to excuse their lapses in memory.

I’m tired of turning the other cheek when their actions impact my health.

I have an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, which impacts so much more than just stiffness & pain in my joints. And I’m tired of people not believing me when I tell them that, too.

I need an out.

And I need it soon.

Or my mental health is going to continue to nosedive, antidepressants or not.

A Learning Thing

I – am sick. And, this fact has unpacked a whole lot of thoughts & emotions in myself, as well as the people around me.

Now, to preface this, I don’t yet know if I have covid19 or not. So, let me start at -the “beginning”.

For a few days, I’ve had various body aches & a runny nose. I wrote them off, because

1. I have hayfever, so spring allergies usually start around this time of year. Stuffy, runny nose, is norm for me, along with sneezing & scratchy eyes.

2. My shoulders have, for some reason, been popping in and out of place when I move my arms a certain way, or raise them above my head. As such, the muscles in front of the joint -fucking hurt.

3. I have rheumatoid arthritis, so achy joints, especially with the barometer bouncing in spring, as it does here, is totally normal.

See how easy it is to dismiss things when you’ve gotten used to pain?

Anyway, yesterday I woke up with a sore, scratchy throat. Again, I dismissed it, as, if I sleep in a cold room, my throat hurts the next morning. Guaranteed.

I had a headache, but that, too, is normal. I brushed all these things off & went to work.

Midmorning, I started feeling feverish. My stuffy head got a lot worse, and I started feeling the various aches & pains more. Fevers seem to bring every little owie forward, magnifying them. Doesn’t it suck how that works?

I knew I had to leave work.

I don’t want anyone else to get sick because of me, no matter what it is I have. And especially now, with the way things are…

So, I told my supervisor that I wasn’t feeling well, & was going to go home to take my temp. Who knows, maybe it was low-grade, & I’d feel better after some fresh air?

Yeah, not.

Anyway, I had to call in after I did that, because I did have a fever, & knew I couldn’t go back. I wouldn’t expose anyone further. I felt hella guilty, tho, as there were reasons I was supposed to be in the office next week.

Instead, I worked on setting up my laptop as a wfh station, & got my TV to act as a 2nd monitor. (Cool as shit, let me tell you. HDMI cable & a couple clicks, et voila! )

Then, I called my parents. I felt bad, bc my dad’s birthday is next week, I have a present for him, & with everything, I can’t get it to him. But, I digress.

My mom chewed me out for not having called my dr. already, so I could get tested. I knew she would, that was part of why I called her.

Nothing like a nurse mom to kick your ass about taking care of yourself, am I right?

So, I called, got shuffled to their covid response team, & told when & where I could go to be tested. It was a drive-up in the parking lot deal, & I didn’t even get out of my car.

If I hadn’t felt like warmed up roadkill, it might have been morbidly funny.

The test is not fun. They stab your brain through your sinuses with swabs, giant-ass Qtips, & make your eyes water & your sinuses burn.

The well-covered (rightly so) nurse told me I should get a call within 48-72 hours with the results.

Here’s praying it’s bronchitis. That I can take antibiotics for, & I’ve had it many times, so I know what I’m dealing with.

So, where’s the learning moment, you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you.

I am the ultimate introvert.

I go to work, the grocery store, the gas station, & home. That’s it.

I don’t go out to eat, I don’t go to the bars, I don’t attend church (obvi, being Pagan), I don’t do sporting events, & in general, hate large crowds.

People don’t stop by my house very regularly, & it’s usually just me and the cats.

I also wash my hands multiple times a day, always have, & wash them the same way I was trained to as a CNA many years ago. Universal Precautions for the win.

So, IF I do have covid, where did I get it from?

This is the moment things started opening up for me.

The store? Sure, I could’ve caught it there. I’m generally pretty careful about touching stuff in the store, I’ve been wearing my gloves thru the store, & washing as soon as I get home, but, it’s still possible.

Work? Well, we’ve been really careful there about cleaning, not touching door handles, no customers allowed inside the building, etc. But, sure, someone else could be an asymptomatic carrier.

Gas station? I usually pay & fill at the pump, using my card, & wearing gloves, because I don’t want the smell of gasoline on my hands. So, unlikely.

At home? Well, can’t get it from the cats, so, I think I’m good there.

The thing is, you don’t know what’s in the air around you, especially when you go to public places. And being cleanly & careful will only get you so far.

Sometimes, you get sick anyway.

And, frankly, the stigma of now being someone who’s sick, possibly with the corona virus, is difficult.

If I do have it, then I didn’t know that until late Friday morning. As soon as I felt off, I left for others’ safety, & saw to getting tested & setting up my self quarantine.

Which means, yes, I could have been carrying this in my system for days, incubating. But, I am NOT to blame for this. I did NOT ask for or seek this out. I’ve been as careful as I could be, practiced social distancing, the whole 9 yards, and I still got sick anyway.

Now, think about what you’ve been doing to avoid this? Do you think it’s enough? Could you do more? Is any of it enough?

That last question I’m still stuck on.

But, right now, I need a nap.

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Follow the 6 foot rule. Stay home if you can. And, if you have faith – any kind, I’m not judgy – Pray.

Hope you all stay healthy. ❤

– _ –

In 20 years, I’ve never said these words out loud about *this* subject.

I don’t care anymore.

I’ve been struggling for over a year, now. I fell into the deepest depression of my life for over 12 months, and no one noticed.

No one cared that I pulled away, that I chose isolation over socialization. That I chose silence instead of community. No one cared to try to talk to me about it, or to help at all.

(None of this refers to my Nephew, or my children).

I’ve been having a really difficult time since I had to stop taking the antidepressant. My moods are all over the map, no matter what I try to balance. I swing wildly between crushing grief & borderline rage, all the while, flailing chaotically with a happy-faced smiling mask, trying to distract the masses.

Trying desperately to NOT break down into tears at my desk.

I’ve been patronized & ridiculed for my mental illness, told “You should do –*this thing* — and you’ll be Totally healed. If you don’t do this, you obviously don’t want to cure your anxiety, depression, migraines, etc.” #theyknowallthesecrets #becausetheysayso

As though I’ve never done any research into the medical issues I have. Who, ME? No, I don’t do research….. *oozing sarcasm*

As though mental illnesses that are exacerbated by a chemical imbalance can EVER BE CURED COMPLETELY.

I’m so fucking done. I feel like tossing all of my social media platforms (barring WordPress and tiktok) onto the ground before me, dousing it in mental gasoline, & burning those fucking bridges to ash.

I am quickly reaching endgame.

That point where, when you have nothing left to lose, you throw every-fucking-thing to the wind in a last second Hail Mary pass.

When the unknown is preferable to what you can see in front of you, it’s time to light that match, cross that bridge, & toss the flame behind you.

I’m done sitting down for others to try to walk over me.

I’m making plans, & cleaning house.

The silence only gets deeper from here.