Having my mental illness properly treated helped fix my cracked tooth. This is a true story. A long time ago (but in this galaxy and not one that was far far away) I had a giant filling in one of my molars that cracked. And because it was giant, it also cracked my tooth so that I essentially had half a jagged tooth.
I was supposed to have the dentist do a bunch of procedures that would "restore the tooth" but seemed way to scary for me to think about. So while there was a temporary filling (intended to last for just a week or so until they could prepare the tooth for a temporary crown) I just ignored the problem.
I continued to ignore the problem when the temporary filling came out taking with it some more jagged bits of tooth.
Ugh. This is a terrible story.
Whenever I thought about going to the dentist, I began spinning out in an anxious whirlwind of AAAAGHHH! And so I figured I would just ignore the gaping hole and its jagged companion. I could not bring myself to go to regular dental cleaning because I knew that they would notice and comment on Big Jagged Gaping Hole and then I would have to acknowledge the problem.
I much preferred just pretending that it wasn't an issue.
What if the dentist laughed at me and made me stand up in front of the whole class and told them what a terrible dental patient I was.
What if I got lectured about what a terrible plan it was to ignore this tooth.
What if they told me that not fixing the tooth had led to some horrible disease that was terminal and contagious and I would need to be quarantined immediately from my family.
What if they had gone back to using Soviet-era dental practices that involved no use of anesthesia for painful procedures. As a deterrent for future dental missteps.
Knowing that these are all imaginary was not helpful whenever I thought about going. Also there is the financial disincentive. There was always something else I would rather spend the money on than fixing the Big Jagged Gaping Hole.
So this week the last remaining parts of the real silver filling started coming separate from the tooth, creating a horribly sharp crevasse to trap food and my tongue and any child who happened to walk past the Big Jagged Hole.
And I decided that I needed to brave the imaginary horrors of the dentist in order to combat the problem I had ignored for far too long.
What does this have to do with mental health? And why when I sought treatment for my mental health did I not have tooth fixed forthwith?
Being able to get my anxiety under control and being able to suppress the irrational voices of fear surrounding what is really a routine thing... having one's dental health seen to.
Ah! There is the connection with mental health! They rhyme!
So anyway, now I have a temporary crown which will soon be permanent. And I only almost cried while I was waiting for them to examine my tooth. And I only almost had a panic attack imagining that I was going to suffocate while they were taking molds of the inside of my mouth.
I did tell dentist about anxiety and he was good about checking in with me to make sure I was doing okay. I don't think I am the only person he has dealt with who has some trepidation about having a power tool in their mouth.
I may now have to schedule regular cleanings instead of hoping that ignoring my teeth was something I could get away with since there were no grown-ups in charge of making sure I did right by them (the teeth).
Grateful Crap: modern anesthesia and improvements in the dental arts
took care of Great Jagged Gaping Hole in my tooth
meds: 200 mg lamotrigine
The Inauguration has not been kind to me. I have allowed my anxiety over the current commander in chief to... I don't know. I have been in a slump.
Mostly I think since November. I have done a terrible job of taking care of myself... all sugar and no exercise.
I have not been getting enough sleep, or drinking enough water. Or doing routine things that need to be done.
November and December were dedicated to Beading and Beading and Beading. I beaded countless safety pins at the behest of F/friends who were wishing for an outward symbol of their angst and a way to show their support of people who were feeling at risk.
But I felt conflicted about beading these items because my Facebook feed was clogged with people railing against the empty gesture of anyone wearing a pin as if safety pins could cure all ills.
None of my safety-pin wearing friends believe that a pin will cure all ills.
But there was this widespread horrible hue and cry over who had the right to feel scared. Who had the right to be concerned, fearful, devastated by the outcome of the election. I saw people being attacked by others for their fears because their privilege was too great. Because you have it so good, you don't have a right to feel bad.
This presumes that I will only be concerned about myself.
One of the privileges that comes with privilege is that you are in a position to worry about things beyond where you will get your next meal or whether or not you will be shot by the police when stopped for a routine traffic violation.
I am not just worried for me.
If I could keep my worries just about me, maybe my anxiety would not be so large. But I am worried about me. And about you. And that other guy over there.
I am worried about all of my students who moved here from other countries as refugees and asylees. Who came by boat and by plane and across deserts to get here. I am worried about people who are already here and have made a life here for their families and what anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies will mean for them.
I am worried about setbacks in LGBTQ progress toward equal protection under the law. About an administration that seems to feel a need to know a lot more about what is going on in our bedrooms and bathrooms than they have a right to. I am worried that social norms are going to slide back into ever-increasing bigotry and division. I don't want people to feel the need to pretend to be someone they are not just to avoid being victims of hatred and discrimination.
I am privileged. I am a white married woman (with a male spouse) living in a white picket fence and a trio of children living in a safe neighborhood. My husband and I are both employed. My children attend public schools staffed by an excellent teaching staff.
My biggest complaint? I have too much stuff. Talk about privilege.
So does this mean that I have no right to feel abject terror over the prospect of an administration whose positions run contrary to my own?
My fear does not make yours less. This is not a contest that I am having with you.
When I knit a few dozen "pussy hats," it does not mean that I am super excited about wearing something on my head evocative of female genitalia. For me it is a tongue-in-cheek jab at the pussy-grabbing comments made by our sitting president.
Knitting them in the days before the inauguration gave me something to do with my anxiety. The fact that friends, coworkers, members of my faith community, members of my family all wanted me to make them a hat made me feel a member of a tribe (including humans of multiple ages and genders).
I am tired of people attributing meaning that can't exist on a grand scale. "This is why people marched..." or "This is who was there..." or "This is who was missing..." from the Women's March.
People marched because they wanted to for one reason or another. And there were many reasons. And it is complicated. And that is what it means to be human.
Ugh. This is very preachy and ranty.
I gotta stop. More later. I need to catch up on my posts.
okay, so i don't actually have a big brother. i'm just having one of those moments where i feel like none of us should ever write anything true or heartfelt or meaningful on the internet because it is sure to come around and bite us.
this is of course why people told me that i was "brave" for not blogging under an assumed name.
it is probably that "brave" was a stand-in for "stupid" or at the very least "critically naive."
where is this coming from? don't know. i am being bogged down in political crap. because wherever you happen to fall on the whole political spectrum, the election in the US this past year was a mess and more people than just me are jittery.
my daughter was a die-hard hillary clinton supporter at age six. she was personally offended when anyone said anything mean about hillary. she was the one who was adamant about getting a yard sign. we never get yard signs. she was deeply disappointed in humanity when they did not choose hillary as our next president.
funny, my son at age four was a fervent supporter of obama. neither spouse nor i are terribly politically verbal so i find it interesting that our children have taken such an interest.
anyway, daughter's latest Kazoo magazine for girls has an page about hillary clinton's journey (almost) to the white house. i was reading it to her last night and found myself choking up, not sure i would be able to read the whole thing.
then i got to this part
"To all of the little girls, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."
which really did do me in. because regardless of why you think the results of the election were what they were... the campaign process revealed great swaths of anti-feminist, anti-female hateful crap that i cannot unsee. and that is what makes me sad.
in fact i was going to just quietly stop reading entirely before i started crying uncontrollably. after all, i was supposed to be reading bedtime stories and helping her get to sleep. not having a meltdown.
but as i faught back tears and felt my voice give out, my daughter said in a hushed and excited voice
"This is the best part, Mom!"
The article ended with "The position of 'First Woman US President' has yet to be filled. Will it be you?"
daughter answered with a great deal of scorn. Of course not. I am only a child.
Here is how I am spending my few days of break (where children are at school and I am not)...
Tuesday - moved furniture and vacuumed under couches. Then moved couches all around the living room before deciding that there really is only one orientation that works for them. Also assembled a new shelf and hung it and put stuff up. Shelves are helping control the clutter... moving things not often used up into more decorative shelvevs so that the bookshelves can be used to actually put things away that we need access to.
Wednesday - binge watched Timeline and knit a whole bunch just for fun (not beading to build up my stock). It was fun. Now that I have decided to only do a few shows a year I feel less pressure to bead all the time. And more able to flex between artsy things. Also got a haircut at a local shop. From someone who lives a few blocks from me. Nice to support the neighborhood.
Thursday - taking some time to write. Even thought my chromebook is missing the 5 key. I just won't look at it. Thankful for touch-typing. Also will not use the five key again. That just felt icky. Ugh.
Friday - meeting Spouse for lunch.
I think this is a good example of a balanced way to spend the break. I should be able to do things like this even when the children are present. Instead of just sitting around doing nothing while they play video games.
Elder boy wants to learn to make quiche. Might do that today.
I was thinking today of things that I have made in excess and then sold to other people:
button-jointed teddy bears
polar fleece baby booties
flannel quilt (okay there was only one of these)
felt christmas ornaments
What an odd assortment. Never sold any of my knitting, but i did teach classes on knitting socks, double-knitting and intarsia.
Grateful Crap: crafty stuff and a local coffee shop. Also, touch typing and the clunky QWERTY keyboard I have learned to love.
As some of you might be aware, I don't really do time. I don't mean that I don't "do time" in the gritty cop show kind of a way, although I'm not doing that either. I just don't buy into the whole concept of time and its measurement because it is just not helpful as a construct.
Except when you are trying to meet someone for coffee or hold down a job of any kind or pick up your children from the bus stop. Then I suppose it is useful.
Man, am I feeling abstract this morning.
I have a cup of chocolate mint black tea beside me and it smells delicious. Perhaps I can blame the fumes for my random thoughts.
I spent some time knitting during my break from school. I just got the urge to do so and found a lovely skein of yarn and went to town.
Perhaps it is my lack of belief in time that allows me to do ridiculous things like knitting with fingering-weight yarn and hand-quilting giant quilts and beading with those teeny tiny little seed beads.
It's probably also why I am rubbish at planning birthday parties and writing thank you notes. Or it is a convenient excuse. I'm trying hard to write those this year. It's not something I am ever good at doing and it is a neverending source of shame and guilt becuase I know there are people in my life for whom the thank you card is an important punctuation mark to the winter holidays. And I kind of leave them hanging there in limbo.
I am thankful. And I have no decent excuse for not writing that down and putting it in the post. I'll keep you posted on my efforts to adequately express my thanks this year. If I miss you, it is not an intentional slight. I think I need a spreadsheet next year. Although that would seem a bit odd during the present opening process to have my computer out so I can type in gifts, names and addresses (in case I can't find those).
It is likely that I have a guilt-ridden post like this every year. Because I have managed to make it more than four decades without establishing a habit of thank you cards despite coming from a family that values them.
I did an In Our Own Voices speech for NAMI at an adolescent inpatient treatment center for kids with dual diagnoses-- chemical dependency and mental illness. I left there thinking that the two people chosen to speak (me and a young man with childhood-onset schizophrenia) were the right speakers for the job. '
Because the two of us in many ways are on the outside edges. My story is not scary. My mental illness has been chronic and irritating but not acute and scary. His mental illness HAS been acute and scary. And yet both of us have jobs we love and have carved out a life that works well for us.
And for both of us the life (when working well) includes enough sleep, healthy food, no recreational chemicals (our own brain chemistry is recreational enough), and volunteering as mental health advocates for NAMI.
I wonder if the increase in numbers of people with reported mental illness is due in part to lack of sleep, exercise and healthy food on the part of large swaths of the population. Not that these things CAUSE mental illness, but can worsen the symptoms to the point that you get a diagnosis.
Maybe in days gone by when there wasn't so much "convenience" food and people had more physical exhertion built into their day, mental health conditions were easier to manage without medical intervention? And I know that before the electric light people got more sleep.
What if I turned the lights off when the sun went down?
That would mean darkness beginning at 4:30 pm right now. I would likely go to sleep out of sheer boredom even if I had candlelight to read by for some time. Hunching over the candle flame would pall after a while.
My sleep hasn't been too bad lately. Really nothing has been too bad lately. In spite of the fact that I am reading the news daily and there are external stressors. Internally things seem pretty much okay.
Grateful Crap: that Spouse's cookie-baking frenzy is coming to an end
taking it easy
having a friend help with decluttering
watching children play in a nondestructive way
Quaker, teacher, parent,