Thursday, April 23, 2015

How My Cat Helped Save My Life



Greetings everyone. 

This fiasco with my apartment finally got to me. I became suicidal. But I have a little cat to think of. There was no way I was gonna leave the planet without having her taken care of.

I was in close touch with my wonderful case worker and doctor and Robert, my case worker, found out that the local animal shelter would take care of Pinky for up to ten days while I went to the hospital.


Robert met me at the shelter and then followed me to the doctor's office where I was going to leave my car while I went to a crisis stabilization unit. At the office I was met by my doctor and the two of them waited for the van to take me away.

It was scary. The place was an hour away and I had no idea what I was going into, just that once again I was gonna be in a mental ward.

The white van with the cage barrier behind the front seats scared me. I wasn't able to take anything with me but the bag with my medicine and the things I couldn't leave in my car, like my iPad and iPod and phone and purse.

On the ride there I was able to text friends that I was going to be without my phone for a few days. My sister had seen my desperate post for someone to take care of Pinky in a local cat lovers group and had texted me, so I let her know that I was going.

The crisis stabilization unit was a small building beside the hospital. Once I arrived I was made to shower and change into scrubs. They keep your clothes and wash them then give them back to you when you leave. I was put in the intake office and given a dinner. That was nice because I hadn't eaten all day and it was about 6:30 P.M. 

They took all my medications and allowed me to quickly write down phone numbers from my phone before it was put into my purse and locked up. I was allowed to take one book, so I chose Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which I was in the middle of. 

Then I was taken into the unit and showed my bed, 4b. After that I was on my own until evening group.

This was on Monday, April 13th.

The next day I teleconferenced with the Nurse Practitioner and she upped my meds and added an as needed pill for my anxiety.

And the days were groups, groups, groups led by different counselors.

A friend told me that I shouldn't just sit in the group and talk about Breaking Bad (Jesse was in a lot of groups in the series). Then when someone who had just got out of prison said he was in there for cooking meth I laughed and had to explain myself.

Up at 6:00 A.M. for meds and a self serve breakfast. There was yogurt, oatmeal, apple and orange juice, Nutri-Grain bars and coffee always available.

Lunch was at 1:00 and dinner was at 6:00, delivered from the hospital in styrofoam take-out containers. Those little picnic packs of napkin, salt and pepper and plastic utensils, but with the knives removed for our safety. The food was very good.

Lights out at 11:00. Each night I looked at my hospital bracelet and thought of Simon Pegg in the movie The World's End. "They told me when to go to bed! Me! Gary King!"

I read American Gods as if my life depended on it. I can't recommend it enough. It is weird but easy to read and keeps you enthralled. Some poked fun of me, Mary and her book they said. I finished it on Wednesday but started rereading it immediately.

I had all my phone numbers written on the paper I used for a bookmark. Talking to my friends always brought a smile to my face. The sign said two calls per day but it was not enforced.

There were tea bags for the asking, so I was able to drink a lot of calming cups of tea.

The only sweetener available was Sweet-N-Low, so I developed a taste for that and now drink it in my coffee instead of sugar.

The people working behind the scenes there were fantastic. They got me a grant that paid for two weeks at the motel where I am now. The nurses and techs in the unit were patient and understanding and very sweet.

The other people in there were a varied bunch. Some were there instead of being taken to jail, some were like me. I met a couple of ladies that I exchanged phone numbers with because we have so much in common.

On Friday the 17th I was allowed to leave. The usual stay is three days but it was deemed necessary for me to stay one day extra.

A white van took me back to my car at my doctor's office. I made my way to the hotel.

On Saturday I went and picked up Pinky at the shelter. They had taken very good care of her. It felt good to have her back. She has been sleeping with me and actually cuddled alongside me.

When I was suicidal she was the only thing I thought of. Not my sons, not my family, not my friends. I made a plan on how I would end my life. That was the scariest part. 

I am glad that I was honest with my doctor and my case worker. They quickly got me the help I needed.

The hotel is nice and I have a fridge and microwave and free wifi in my room. Each morning there is a free continental breakfast so I set my alarm and go down and have a cup of coffee and some mini muffins then bring a cup of coffee to my room.

I came through it. I survived. Taking the time to get my little cat taken care of kept me from doing something rash and horrible.

There is help out there if you feel there is nowhere to turn. Talk to your doctor, be honest about how you feel.

The crisis stabilization unit lived up to its name. It worked for me.

Ah, my Pinky cat is rubbing my legs, wanting to be petted.

Unfortunately when I called a family member for help he told me to "get rid of that damned cat". I told him that 'that damned cat' just saved my life. Not everyone will understand your mental illness, ever. Sadly, it is just something that you have to deal with.

Thank you for reading. Be strong. Get help if you need it. And I am here if you have any questions about my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety or my experience in the unit.






Friday, March 27, 2015

A Brief Break Before All Hell Breaks Loose



Even though I can no longer work I am going on a little vacation. Yay!

A couple of dear friends that I have known for 39 years have invited me to their home in the hills of North Carolina. 

No internet, no cell service, just the woods and good friends.



Although it will only be for a few days I plan on recharging my batteries fully.

I got a notice of eviction today and have 14 days to replace the carpet in my apartment or I am out of here. Funny how the manager didn't serve me with it until she knew that I had plans to be out of town for two weeks. She has changed her tune quite a few times. Even my psychologist and case worker were taken aback by the new developments. So, my plans have changed a bit and I will be back sooner than I had planned.

Hopefully a dear friend can help me with the costs. If not, well, I don't know what. That bridge will have to be crossed when and if I come to it. I can't reach him until tonight, so I just have to be more nervous until then.

Right this minute I am frozen with anxiety. I still have things to do to be ready to leave tomorrow morning, so I am trying to get up and get moving. I am trying to breathe. I am playing the movie "Hot Fuzz" off of my dvr. 

Sometimes I feel like, "What more does the world want from me? Why is this happening to me?" I am kind, I help people and animals whenever possible. I don't cause trouble. I pay my rent on time every month. Because my poor old dog left some stains on this old, worn out, indoor-outdoor carpet I may be kicked out.

But - crying woe is me won't solve or help anything. 

I will go visit my friends, who I haven't seen in over ten years, and allow myself to be loved and have real conversations and drink in the mountain air. 

And when I get back I will deal with the situation and with that mean-spirited bully of a manager. That is what she is, pure and simple, a bully. As soon as I told her that I needed my case worker to be with me when she was telling me these things she slammed the phone down and decided to just evict me. Also, to bully a person with a severe mental illness takes a certain kind of shit for a soul.

I am taking pen and paper with me to note specifics during my time in the mountains to share them with you on my return.

Please wish me luck.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Favorite Poem - Antigonish



I can't let World Poetry Day go by without sharing my favorite poem.

It is Antigonish by William Hughes Mearns.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there

He wasn't there again today
I wish, I wish, he'd go away...

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn't see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away...


Hearns wrote the poem in 1899 as part of a play for Harvard University. In 1939 it was made into a song with credits by Harold Adamson and Bernie Hanighan. In July of the same year the Glenn Miller Orchestra made it a hit.

Bits of the poem have been included in many songs and movies. My favorite is in Identity. An actor that I love, Pruitt Taylor Vince, mutters the first stanza and that is where I first heard it.

I have written about the poem before, in my blog post No Sleep For Me.

Reciting it helps me when I am anxious.

Do you have a favorite poem? Do you have one that helps you in times of anxiety and/or depression? Please do share in the comments.


It's World Poetry Day!



In 1999 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared that March 21st would be World Poetry Day.

Before that it was celebrated in October to mark the birth date of Virgil, the Roman poet, and there are still national and international poetry days held then.

To celebrate I would like to share one of my poems with you. I wrote this for my grandson Connor.



Bedtime For Connor

Read me a story
He said with a smile.
I'm not sleepy yet.
It will take just a while.

I'll read you a story.
We'll cuddle and hug.
Then you'll go to sleep 
When I tuck you in snug.

Read me two stories
He said with a grin.
I'll be sleepy for sure and 
I'll go to bed then.

I'll read you two stories.
I'll lie here with you.
You'll be very sleepy
When I read you two.

Read me three stories
He said - about space!
I might be sleepy 
After a moon race.

I'll read you three stories.
We'll fly to the moon.
But we can't stay long.
You'll be asleep soon.

Read me four stories.
He said with a yawn.
I'm sure I'll be sleepy.
The sun is all gone.

I'll read you four stories.
But that will be all.
I have housework to do
And people to call.

Read me five stories.
He said in his sleep.
Then while you do your housework
I won't make a peep.

I'll read you five stories
My precious, my sweet.
The people can wait and
The laundry will keep.



I hope you like it. Thank you for reading.

Please feel free to share your favorite poem in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On Love And Panic Attacks



Today is day three of the Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey 21 Day meditation experience. But since I didn't open the laptop yesterday I did the day two meditation first.

It is "Success Increases Love". The centering thought is "I am here to bring more love into the world."

It really was a lovely guided meditation but, and it's a big but, it was hard to do while on the verge of a panic attack.

For the last two nights I have not been able to sleep very well at all. I am waking up every hour or so and then my cat has taken to waking me around five A.M. to get me to give her some canned food.

This morning I thought that I would just fix me some coffee and stay awake like I did two days ago. Monday was a good day.

Nope. No such luck. As I drank my second cup of coffee I felt the anxious beginnings of a panic attack. So I stopped the coffee and thought that doing the meditation would help. It ended up being too distracting to fight.

I really do like the idea, though, that I am here to bring more love into the world. I love people and creatures and places and things. And I try to share that love in my writing and in my actions every day.



Then, on Facebook, I saw a nice article in Psychology Today about what love is. It discusses whether love is an emotion or an feeling or a drive.

My belief is that love can be all three of those things.

While writing this my dear friend Mark, whom I love, called to chat. Talking to him really helped disperse the panicky feelings.

So perhaps the meditation did work in a way. While concentrating on me bringing more love into the world, I received a bit and it helped me.

Has this happened to you? When you are having a panic attack have you received help in a serendipitous way?


Monday, March 16, 2015

A Review Of "A Boy's Life"


Why a review?

I recently saw a post leading to a blog with a review of the marvelous book A Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon. It was nice, but it was a paragraph. Please, allow me to elaborate.

What is it?

A Boy's Life is a novel by Robert R. McCammon first published in 1991. It is the tale of a year in the life of Cory Mackenson and his friends Davy Ray, Johnny, and Ben. They live in the town of Zephyr, Alabama in the early sixties. There are adults in the story, too; Cory's mother and father and grandparents and others, good and bad. Oh, and dogs. Where there are boys there must be dogs. It is a novel of magic and mystery, sad times and glad times and scary times, the best of people and the worst of people. But something in myself just wants to cry, "But it is so much moooore!"


What's the story?

At the beginning, Cory and his father are faced with a horrible event. This event shapes their lives that summer while other things are going on. There are stories of bikes and dogs and there's an awful flood. The elderly lady from the black section of town feeds a monster in the river. Cory finds that there are good and bad people, and sometimes what one person seems to be is not what they are at all. A dinosaur comes to the city with the fair. 

Robert R. McCammon's usual descriptive prose leaves you feeling the chill of an early spring morning and the pain of a playground fight. Your heart will ache but it will also soar. You will hold your breath at times and at other times you will laugh out loud, thinking, "I remember that!".

Who should read A Boy's Life?

Everyone who enjoys a good book would be happy reading it. Both of my sons got copies from me. I have reread it so many times that I now have two copies. For someone in that ten to fifteen year old age range the book would be marvelous. Boys AND girls, I would think. And for the grown-ups, oh, it is so wonderful to go back in time when we had the freedom of a summer off from school, the best friends we ever had, and there was magic all around us. When you want to be immersed in a great tale, pick up this book. There is not a dull moment in A Boy's Life. It flows so swiftly and is so easy to read that you may find yourself reading it two or more times.


Thank you for reading my review of Robert R. McCammon's A Boy's Life. I hope you enjoyed it and I also hope that you can read the book. You won't regret it. And it may ignite a spark of magic in you.









Happy Monday And Meditation



Even though today is Monday, I am having a pretty good day.

On Friday I got a call from the apartment manager who told me that I don't have to worry about changing my carpet until after April first. So the heat is off about that, at least for a couple of weeks.

Last week I finally got to go and get my little dog's ashes from the vet's office, so he is home again, in a way. Just having the dark wooden box sitting on my shelf makes me feel better. Makes me feel that he is close to me.



This morning I started an awesome 21 day meditation experience with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. I don't meditate often but this will give me an opportunity to have a guided meditation every morning. Today I felt more relaxed and confident after doing it. And my coffee has awakened me without the anxiety that most often comes with drinking it. The experience is free and I recommend doing it as an introduction to meditation or as a fun thing to do if you currently meditate.

The meditation got me interested in the greeting/farewell of Namaste. You can learn more about it here. I like the fact that it is acknowledging that in each of us there is the spiritually divine.

I have noticed that some Facebook friends end their posts and comments with "Peace and Love. Namaste." Who can argue that peace and love is not a concept to strive for? Just the thought is calming.

I hope your Monday is going as well as mine. I can only hope to continue feeling good. Usually I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes it does, but for today I am just trying not to think about it.

Do you practice meditation? Has it helped you deal with your anxiety or depression?

Namaste