Music saves

I grew up in a butcher shop; a real butcher shop that my paternal grandparents owned and my father worked at. I remember the back room so vividly where all the processing was done. Most of all I remember the laughter listening big band music like Glenn Miller and diving head first into my grandfather wanting to dance on his feet. We swayed and laughed and had an amazing time. I remember the basement of the shop being the scariest thing I had ever seen, but it was the only place where the restroom was. It was so dark down there.

I remember my maternal grandmother’s love for the big band music that she eventually died to listening in hospice. I remember the time that I went to a wedding and her and I took the dance floor for a spin. My music levels have always been diverse though because of my daddy.

We lived in a house when I was young that he and my maternal grandfather built, and funny enough my husband and myself almost bought. My father had this giant music player that was equipped with a record player for the vinyl, an eight-track, cassette player, and an AM/FM radio. We would listen to Red Red Wine while I stood on his feet and danced (it’s the one thing that helps me forget).

I remember living in California with my ex-husband and going to my best friend’s house to hang out. We would listen to Marley over and over, Stir it up in particular, while we just danced around the house and cleaned. That was what military wives did, we stayed at home and cleaned.

I remember being introduced to Sabbath, Zeppelin, Janis, Jimmy, Jim, Marley, and all of the greats. I mean the greats of the time. Then I was introduced to different types of music. Scream metal, death metal, electro, and some of the newest forms of music that I am not sure even have a name. One of my favorites is “pray” by Terror Jr. My sister sent it to me saying me it reminded her of me. You see, when people ask you to listen to music, they want you to listen to the lyrics. “Deep in the shadows, that’s where I live, I can be your daddy, preach for daddy, pray for the pussy, whip me like a caddy”. How funny, but it makes sense…”A long way from God, but we can still pray here”.

I am going through a withdrawal of Xanax right now, the worst symptom being the insomnia and this constant ringing in the center of my head. I could not sleep so I came downstairs to listen to music and now I am in a better mood. Is that not the way that it typically works if you find the right kind of music you identify with?

I think that is the place where I began to understand that music soothes you in a way that nothing else can. When you are having a horrible day or night what do you turn to in order to amplify the mood that you’re currently in? I mean, I know that I have PTSD and some memories are burned into me. I would rather remember the beautiful times that I had with music than the ones that remind me of the terrible things. Sometimes the horrible lyrics can remind me of a situation but I never let that stop me.

You’re having a bad day? Get in your car, or room, and blast your music. It is called distraction when you are having a particularly hard time. Case in point: my oldest son was having horrible anxiety after my grandmother passed away. He was screaming and posturing, he could not stop crying. I threw him in the car, let him sit in the front seat, and blared his favorite rap songs. Bass turned all the way up. I must admit that this had two reasons…I was afraid I would need to take him to the hospital if I could not get him to calm down…we listened to Blackbear on repeat and drove around until 12:00 a.m. He calmed down and fell asleep in the car.

Play some music and lighten your load.

Thank you as always to Jenn Bovee.

Light up the Darkness,

TheLotus

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SAD

I am always so tired during the winter months and there seems to be little remedy for it. My depression peaks at this time of the year, as it does with several others. Seasonal Affected Disorder. Four to six percent of people may have winter depression or ten to 20 percent have mild Seasonal Affected Disorder (“Seasonal Affected Disorder”, 2000).

What I am trying to get at is that you are not alone if you feeling this depression. You may be tired, gaining weight, feeling alone, feeling overly sexual, feeling no sexual want, wanting sweet or even salty food. It is a constant struggle for me to continue to get out of the house and continue.

I do have tricks up my sleeve though that may be able to help you! I know that sunlamps may be expensive, but I can tell you that it is all worth it. Even just fifteen minutes a day can help you wake up in the morning. The feeling to want to rely on caffeine is undoubtedly a thought for many people during this time but it can also make the problem worse (at least it does for me). I notice if I intake too much caffeine through coffee that I become tired and sluggish. Slowly fading away into a nap for reasons unknown to me; until I started doing some research on a brain chemical called adenosine. This chemical and the transmitters is the reason behind being sleepy. Coffee makes you urinate, and when you urinate your blood thickens; when your blood thickens, there is a little less oxygen in your brain to help it to keep functioning (Scott, 2016). Doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggest to only consume 2-4 cups of caffeinated drinks. This includes soda, and to limit your sugar intake.

How does one take care of their oxygen levels though? Water, exercise, and mindfulness. The more cardiovascular exercise you can do the better. Although yoga is an amazing attribute to add to your daily journey, perhaps adding in a vinyasa yoga practice would help to raise the blood levels to your brain. Exercise frees the blood to flow more energetically to the brain.

Look, I know it is hard. Believe me, I know how hard it is to get motivated when you’re already in a slump, but if you start to make a routine you would be amazed at what you can do. Do not make it a resolution either, make it a lifestyle. I know that in the past years I have found that my SAD has grown to progressively rising levels, but I also notice the more I do (the more active I am in my lifestyle) the better I end up feeling towards the end of the day.

Today I had three cups of coffee and crashed hard and had very little water to follow it up with. My dietary needs were also not met. I am a vegan and need to ensure that my protein levels are high, but I did not do that today. Instead I fell asleep and woke up feeling like shit. So, tomorrow I intend on following my daily routine over again.

Thanks as always to Jenn Bovee.

Light up the Darkness,

TheLotus

References:

Scott. (2016, April 16). Why does coffee make me sleepy?. Driftaway Coffee. Retrieved from https://driftaway.coffee/coffee-make-sleepy/

Seasonal Affected Disorder. (2000, March 1). American Family Physician. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0301/p1531.html

I’m fine, the most often used lie.

So, what’s happening? What’s going on? Are you okay?

I have heard these questions for a while now, and I am getting more accustomed to them. I wish there was an easy answer to give to everyone. Trauma and my post-traumatic stress disorder make it difficult for me to cognitively put everything into place where it needs to go on a time line. I will attempt to address it.

I had been fainting, and honestly believed I was dying there a couple months back. My doctors finally hooked me up to a month-long heart monitor (portable EKG, or “event monitor”). Essentially, I was wearing two long cords that attached to a device that tracked my heart’s every move.

We all know that my grammy passed away. I was there for her death, but the shit that gets me is that I wanted to go see her and didn’t. I didn’t because I did not want her to see the heart monitor and become upset or disturbed. Looking back at it now, she probably wouldn’t have cared. My oldest wanted to get her Calvin and Hobbs comic book for her, and couldn’t wait to present it to her. Well, the heart monitor came off, and I couldn’t get that visit. You know the one, the infamous “one last time,”. I never got it, but you better be damn sure that Calvin and Hobbs comic book is buried with her. It was hard to see the once matriarch of a family dead, her mouth open and resting on the pillow. The nurses kept checking her vitals and damn it I kept expecting them to say ‘OH! We have a heartbeat!’, that never came. The woman I love so dear is gone, and I will carry that pain and the visage of her face in death with me.

As it turns out the heart monitor did find a weird defect or whatever called inappropriate sinus tachycardia. Apparently, my heart was beating rapidly (over 100 BPM) and having an arrhythmia even while sleeping. It is genetic and needs to be treated with a beta blocker. So, my first impression was great another medication to be on.

This all happened when I was on the medication of Abilify, which did not go so well. I had no impulse control, and went outside of my boundaries and slept with my ex-boyfriend. Funny how the universe works sometimes, but it turns out my strings or the mirena was a bit dislodged. So, lucky me, I became pregnant. Although I was frightened, I told my ex-boyfriend what was happening. He said he was scared too but would be there for me no matter what. Okay, good, because that is what he needed to do. I told him that while I was in the first trimester that neither of us should be dating so I did not become stressed out. He said he agreed. I tried everything to become pregnant last year, but the stars were not aligning. Jokes on me, almost every conceived child on a mirena will end in miscarriage as it turns out. The baby, or zygote, or fetus, came pouring out of me in a gush of blood. I bled for a long time. I had not had a period since I had the birth control placed so it was interesting. I told my ex-boyfriend and this person told me it was relief because he wanted to start dating and finding his white picket fence. I found out he had been lying all seven years of our relationship. I am forced to see one of lies every day at work. Every time I see that lie (a person) I relive the moment the child was expelled from my body and how relieved he was. I went through the pain myself.

So, heart condition, grandma dying, miscarriage, and being told to fuck off by a person whom I had carried and a lost a child to…I can handle this right? I’m fucking wonder woman of mental illness, and do not let it define me.

Back to the beta blockers. Due to the beta blockers I am able to come off the benzodiazepines one milligram at a time. This is wonderful news for me. I hate taking medicine, and knocking it down to maybe two well that sounds amazing. Then it happened.

I became increasingly tired, and could not get up out of bed. The doctors decided to do a two milligram drop of my Xanax this time (I had been on 8 mg for over a year). Biggest mistake I have ever made. The physical pain that you go through is rough, but that’s just puking and shakes and not feeling good. You know it won’t last though so you just keep pushing on and putting up the good fight. The symptoms fade after two weeks. Ha.

I was still increasingly tired when they removed me from the two milligrams of Xanax, and my depression has become extreme. Extreme enough for me to hate myself. All the wrong things I have done, even if it was a deserving reaction. Everything about myself I have started to hate. I cannot go on living like this. Off to the psychiatrist we went. She was confounded because when you lower a medicine the anxiety increases and you are more awake. Well, not with me. It caused something physiologically to happen with my PTSD. Everything that I have just stated above and more started roaming my head day in and day out…still is. I do not want it to be there, but there it lingers.

They had to put me back on the two milligrams to get me back up to six milligrams a day of Xanax to have a baseline of what is happening. Yay, more medicine…more medicine cocktail. Then they plan to remove me slowly, half a milligram at a time. They wanted me to go to a hospital that specializes in trauma and ptsd. Well, the program is thirty to forty-five days long. Guess who has two kids, and animals to look after? Me. I do not have time for that.

That is what is going on, that is what is wrong. I am trapped in my own head. Filled with shame and the what ifs. I am there, in the dark. After I realized that there was nothing but the dark, I was able to say fuck it. I’m going to go to work physically tomorrow (I have been working from home) and suffer through it. That’s what I do, suffer in silence, fake a smile, say I’m fine, just wishing someone could see me drowning in my life water.

Off to sleep for me.

Light up the Darkness.

TheLotus

Well, this sucks

I cannot do it anymore. I do not know how else to put it. I have been so lost, and have nowhere to turn. I should be happy ya know? I should be exhilarated with my life. I have two wonderful children, and a husband that really cares for me. I work for a company that has helped me so much in the regards of mental health it baffles me sometimes. Yet, I’ve been bombarded with a plethora of shit in the past few months, and I believe that I am just going to unload because we all need to do that sometimes.

My youngest son was diagnosed with autism almost a year ago. It does not make him a different child, but being as active as we are in our children’s life the amount of therapy is insane. We have been lucky enough to be taken on by a university here to help him with speech and talking to his peers. It has relieved a lot of pressure knowing we are doing all we can, but knowing what his meltdowns are like I cannot help but feel overwhelmed. A meltdown in autism is essentially a panic attack from cognitive overload. As a person living with an anxiety disorder, and a parent, you never want your children to face the same heartaches that you yourself have had to endure. Yet, here we are. I believe that every parent with a child on spectrum somehow blames themselves. There is no formal way to say what causes autism, but there are speculations that it may have something to do with the cortisol levels while the child is in utero. Well, I had plenty of cortisol while I was pregnant with little man and it haunts me.

I finally said goodbye to my parents. I know it was for the best for all of us, but I cannot express how much I miss my father. I am starting to rebuild a relationship with my younger sister, but that will take a long time and patience. My older sister and I are talking, and she keeps checking in on me to see if I am doing okay with everything going on. I appreciate the effort.

My sister mom lives in four hours away. I believe it is cruel for us to be so far from each other. I honestly did not know it was possible to miss someone so much that was brought into my life through my ex-husband. She came to help me for a while when the psychiatrist took me off meds. She sat there and taught me how to be vegan, something that I have wanted for a long time and something I never thought I would be doing after being raised in a butcher shop. She let me be myself, and slowly encouraged me to drive with her and to go out into public again.

I have the best therapist in the world. I can contact her at any time and talk about anything I need to, but I am feeling ashamed of how depressed I feel lately. I know she would not judge me…she’s Jenn “no judgement woman”; yet, I cannot bring myself to make an appointment to actually speak about everything going on in my brain.

I have three best friends that I could reach out to, but I do not want to bother them. I have only told one about the amount of depression I am going through. The insomnia, the fainting, the mental fatigue. I do not know why I have not told everyone. It is not something to be ashamed of.

My oldest son is having one of the hardest times in his life and is set up with a cognitive therapist, child psychologist, guidance counselor, and a psychoanalytic psychologist in November. I have a very hard time not going through the phone and smacking him for everything he is doing to our son.

My husband is amazingly supportive. I could not ask for a better partner.

What led to this? I was diagnosed with a heart condition, the same as my father. They started to treat my heart condition, which has allowed me to come of the copious amounts of benzodiazepines I am on. As it turns out, when you are on these meds for so long and at the amounts I was on, the symptoms of withdrawal are intense. One of the symptoms is severe depression. Your brain has to readjust to supplying your body with dopamine. I am waiting for that day.

Until then, I am just trying to go moment by moment.

Thank you as always to Jenn Bovee.

Light up the Darkness,

TheLotus

I do not remember the last time I was this tired.

The teachings of Buddha remind me that life, and everything, is impermanent. Yet, I am struggling with the loss of my beloved grandmother. She left this plain of existence today at 1:00 p.m. Gods, did I love her. We were so accustomed to going to see her at the nursing home, and I would pick flowers for her as she loved wild flowers.

She was raised in the south during the great depression on a horse farm, and this is what made her stubborn as all hell. She taught me how to journal, crochet, and most of all to speak my own truth. Not just my own truth (dharma), but to say it loudly and proudly.

She suffered greatly in the end, and I was glad they had hospice called in to provide her morphine so that she would not feel the pain of her body shutting down. She was so frightened that she would suffer through death as my grandfather did. My grandfather suffered for nine months in and out of the hospital until he finally passed.

A story to show you how morbid our family’s sense of humor is: my grandfather’s body started to shut down from the bottom to the top. They found fecal matter on his sheets and he thought this was a good sign, because bowel movements are good. He excitedly called his wife and had to leave a message as my grandmother had not made it home yet from the hospital she had just left visiting him. It said, ‘good news, they found a spot on my bed and I may be able to come home’ followed by the ‘this is your last message’. I may have just dated my age, but that is what answering machines said prior to smart phones. Well, it was my grandfather’s last message as he died promptly after that surrounded by his wife and some of his children. At grampy’s funeral they concluded the ceremony by this message (including the ‘this is your last message’) promptly followed by a jazz rendition of Amazing Grace.

My grandmother fell and shattered her pelvis months ago, and the doctors said that she had very little chance of making it out of the surgery alive. She, being who she is, chose the surgery. She not only lived, but she baffled the doctors by getting up and walking with a walker the next day. She could no longer live on her own though, and had to go live in a home. This was not her option, but it was the only option that she had. We had offered to take her, but we have stairs in our house to go to either of the restrooms. It just was not a viable option.

I received a phone call last night letting me know she was not doing very well, and thank you to my tribal sister for coming and helping by watching the kids so that I could go and see her. I brought her flowers from the garden, as I always do and sat with her. The family was there, and it was fine. We were told it would not last much longer. I was told they (family) were all at the hospital today, and holding a bedside vigil. I walked in the room and saw my baby sister kneeling in front of the bed with one hand reached up to her and the other hand folded to make a cushion for her head. It is a moment, a mental image, that I will not forget. It was so beautiful. From what I understand Grammy did the same thing with my father and my aunt last night, hugging them and running her hands through their hair. While I was there last night she kept saying ‘child…birth…worth…it’, and then saying, ‘I love you’.

I drove to the makeshift vigil, and about an hour in I heard it. The sound I had heard with my husband’s grandmother. The sound is amply named the death rattle, and I alerted my father who thought she was just snoring. Her heart beat was fast and irregular, and she started to sweat profusely. They decided to change her, and my brother (who was a paramedic) told them (my aunt and father) to stay in the room because moving her could very well kill her. I am glad they stayed as she died right there and then, at 1:00 pm.

I attempted to touch my father, but he is strange when it comes to emotions. I do not believe he likes to show it a lot. He put a hand out to stop me, and I stopped. He was crying, my aunt was crying, my brother was crying, and the most heart wrenching for me my baby sister was weeping. There was nothing to be done, and I left about an hour after her passing. I sat in the parking lot in my car sobbing and listening to music. I finally got home which took over 30 minutes because I was driving so slowly, and promptly set to college work. My father called around 4:00 p.m. wanting to know if I would come over to have dinner with him, and the brood. He then asked to speak to my husband, who had been to the home earlier in the day to drop off soda for him and my aunt. My father tried to say thank you, but he could not get it out and started to cry. My husband then cried, and it threw him back into when his father died.

Fuck. She led an amazing life, and will be missed dearly by myself. I remember her putting me to sleep with a game called sleepy eyes the sandman’s coming, and that is what I will be hearing tonight as I think of her while I drift into my own state of unconsciousness.

Thank you as always to Jenn Bovee.

Light up the Darkness,

TheLotus