Thursday, June 26, 2014

Please Vote For Me!

Yay! I have a story in this week's Iron Writer competition!

If you have a minute, please click here to go to the website.

Once there you can read the four stories in this week's contest and, at the bottom of the page, you can vote for your favorite. Even if you don't vote for mine, there are four good stories that only take a moment to read.

What is The Iron Writer Challenge? Each week four writers are given four elements to include in their story of 525 words or less. The writers have four days to complete their story and get it turned in. The winner is decided by four judges' recommendations and the popular vote. You can vote at the bottom of the page, just below the last story.

I am so excited! I think that they are all good stories, so my chances are slim but slim is better than none.

Thank you for voting, no matter whose you do vote for!

How Do I Emote Differently?

There has been a study done that those of us with tinnitus process emotions in different parts of our brain. Click here to read the article.

Although it didn't go into detail, I could have told them that. During those times that my tinnitus is going strong, sounding like a freight train going through my head, I don't really process love and goodness very well. If at all. I mean, I am grouchy.

I'm sure that is not the data they were looking for, but it's true.

Perhaps they could do a study to see if those of us who suffer with tinnitus also suffer from depression in larger numbers. I can't find any info on that.

In my opinion, they would find out this: those who suffer from tinnitus are more prone to depression and anxiety because it is so dog-gone aggravating! Emotions? I'll show you some emotion brought on BY the tinnitus. There's frustration and even anger sometimes. Bottom line is - tinnitus makes it hard to be warm and cuddly sometimes.

But I try. I smile when I really want to choke something, and that seems to help. I realize that explaining to those who don't experience it is hard to do. And it is not always a freight train, sometimes it is a dial-up modem or a hissing sound. So it is not very, very bad each and every minute. And I am grateful for that.

The next time you hear a train whining away in the distance, think about having that sound with you always. And then you could see how we might process emotions differently. Especially frustration!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

They're Doing It In England!

Well, doctors have been prescribing books for those with mild to moderate depression. While I don't think that it would help me, I applaud the practice. It's called bibliotherapy.

Apparently it has been going on for quite some time according to this article on

When I was an inpatient at a psych hospital we were given books to help with the majority of our problems. While none cured me, they did give me something to think about on my road to recovery.

Books themselves have always been a form of therapy for me, anyway. I can escape between the pages and my troubles are held at bay for a few hours.

It is only in my worst times that my mind robs me of even this activity. When I am very, very down my comprehension skills are nil and therefore reading is more frustrating than soothing. Even books that are old friends are no help in those times.

I have found, however, a new friend in audio books. I first started listening as a means to get to sleep. For years my sleep was catch-as-catch-can. I would have trouble falling asleep, and staying asleep if I did happen to drift off. Then I found out that I could put audio books on my iPod. I have always loved reading aloud and this was like having someone right there reading to me! And It worked!

Audio books make me concentrate on the words and my mind will stop racing. It helps when I am experiencing very bad tinnitus. Occasionally they have even helped with my panic attacks.

And I was thrilled to find some old friends available on audio. Stephen King books It and The Stand, The Shining and Tommyknockers are there, as is Robert R. McCammon's Swan Song. And I have about a dozen Dean Koontz novels downloaded. I also have newer novels like King's Under the Dome and Doctor Sleep. Can you see that I am a big fan of the horror genre?

Although I have an iPad mini that has a few free books downloaded onto it, I find that it is not the same to me as holding an actual book in my hands. So I have yet to be converted to that medium.

Even though the book you are reading may not be considered therapeutic, I believe that the act of reading is. Whether it's a new novel or one that you grew up reading again and again, I think that your mind likes that little trip into another reality. It is like a rest stop for your head.

I hope that eventually the practice of prescribing books becomes commonplace in the United States. So often people who are a little depressed are not aware of the fact that there are books that can help them. In my head my depression is chuckling right now, daring me to try to throw a book at it. It will not help in all cases, but it is worth trying in those cases where it just might.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Do You Have Invisible Hurts?

My hair is graying. I have to wear glasses. I am still 5'6" but no longer weigh just 115 pounds. I would have to say that I look like a normal human being.

I try to conceal any outward show of my struggle with my depression and anxiety. I will try to put on a happy face if I think that the people that I am around would be uncomfortable with my mental illness. It is part of the reason that I prefer not to be around people for the most part.

I am thinking of all this because I came upon a wonderful blog about how the face of mental illness is the face of a normal person. You can't tell from looking at someone what they are fighting day in and day out.

You can click here to read Lindsay Holmes' blog post. I think that she is spot on.

Those of us who suffer from mental illness are often thought of as "not that sick because she looks fine to me". What is the saying about being like a duck? Calm on top but paddling like hell underneath? That applies to so many of us.

Thank you for reading this post and hers. It takes talking about it to try and gain a better understanding of the real face of mental illness. The face of a real human being.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lovely Quote

This is so very true.

Oh, But What If It Does??

I am plagued with neck and back pain, in addition to my depression and anxiety. Lucky me.

Tomorrow I am going to have steroids injected into my neck to try to alleviate the pain for a while. I am so nervous about it.

A Words with Friends friend, N, says that both she and her mom had them. They worked for her mom but not for her. So, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.

I was on the verge of calling to cancel when Mary Engelbreit posted this to her Facebook page:

I love her illustrations and the sayings that come along with them. I have been a big fan for years. I love her.

How serendipitous that she post this when I was in the midst of one of my mental turmoils. Or, as I recently learned, it was an example of synchronicity as per Carl Jung. You can read about that by clicking here.

So I think that I will trust the universe and its hints and go ahead with the injections. What if it does work out? I could be pain free without any medication! That would be great.

Has anyone else had these injections? Did they work for you? Thank you for your input.

Change Bad Days Into Good Days

I have been having a lot of bad days.

Something doesn't have to happen to me for me to have a bad day, my little brain just decides that on its own.

But I did come upon an article on that was about just that. How to weather your bad days and get through them to a better time. Click here to read that article.

It helps that someone else is thinking of getting through tough times, although her post doesn't describe those who have sunk to the level of depression that I have available to me. Or to the level of anxiety that I can achieve. I still found her article helpful.

Although I don't do well with embracing the evolving nature of life or with taking mindful action I have found that serving others can do loads for my own way of thinking.

While I can't do much I find that I can still do things like volunteer to help when my apartment complex has Second Harvest days. That is the one day a week when the company Second Harvest comes and distributes food for the residents. Second Harvest is a company that collects food from grocery stores and gives them to the food bank. They then bring a truck of the food to us. We then compile a bag of the foods, one bread item, one meat item, some fruit, whatever was brought to us. And each resident that wants one gets a bag. It makes me feel really good to help the office staff get the bags ready.

Doing anything that helps someone else makes me feel really good. It makes me feel grateful. It makes me appreciate what I have.

So if you are having a bad day, try the ideas in the article. And if you are like me, you can at least help someone else.

I have been feeding my anxiety monster too much (click to see that post). He is sitting across the room, fat and happy and laughing at me. But I have another chance tomorrow. And tomorrow will be a good day.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

For My Dad On Father's Day

This is my father.

He is the smartest man that I have ever known.

As my brother, sister, and I were growing up he worked hard. He was an electrical engineer. When I was five he studied and got his Masters. There was a turtle that lived under his desk and at times I would crawl under there to be with it. I don't think that I gave that imaginary turtle a name. I think it was an excuse to be near him, maybe playing with his slide rule if he let me.

He could do anything. He built us three color TVs with kits you get in the mail. Boy, did he get mad when he found out that my friends and I had discovered that solder could be used to make rings and bracelets. When I was smaller I recall him taking me with him to test the tubes at the machine at the nearby convenience store or at the hardware store.

He took us to Florida every year. A week in Clearwater or Fort Lauderdale and then a week at Disney World. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized that not everyone got to do that. At the beginning of the trip he would give us kids each a bag of quarters that were ours to use in the arcade and machines in the rest areas on the way.

Our relationship became strained as I got older. He was disappointed in me for foolishly squandering my intelligence and I was a very rebellious teenager. He preferred I study and I preferred to party.

He and my mother divorced when I was fifteen. When I was much older I found out how hard it had been on him, being married to my mom. I no longer blame him. She suffered from depression and anxiety also and was pretty bad a lot of the time.

He didn't remarry but he had a longtime girlfriend who he loved very much. She became a quadriplegic and he showed us all just how much he loved her by having her live at home and taking care of her. My sister and I would help him but he did the majority of the work until it came time to take her to a nursing home. He went there every day to visit her. My respect for him just grew and grew.

Now I am afraid that I am a disappointment to him. He doesn't quite understand my major depressive disorder and anxiety. I'm sure he thinks that I could "get over it" if I just tried harder. But he doesn't tell me this.

Instead, he does everything that he can for me. He has helped me fix my car more than once. He gets my birthday mixed up with my sister's, which is a week later, but he always sends me something.

For this Father's Day all I could get him was a CD but it was of one of his favorite singers. He called me to tell me thank you. I wish so much that it could have been more.

I am so glad that I grew to have a better understanding of what he went through when I was young. Of just how hard he worked for us. Of all the things he gave up in order to stay and raise us. Some men would not have done that.

So Happy Father's Day Daddy. I love you and maybe someday I will get the chance to make you proud of me again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Come See My New Layout!

Yay! I did it!

When I added the share buttons on my blog I somehow messed up my html code and it wouldn't let me add any more gadgets. The little gadgets like one that offers you a space to subscribe by e-mail to my blog. When I would think about this, it would make me sad.

But then!! But then I mentioned the problem to a very nice guy, +Mathew W. Weaver and he said, "Why not change your template?" Bingo! He is so smart. Thank you Mathew! It worked.

Now you will notice that you can subscribe by e-mail to my blog posts and you can also search my blog for items of interest to you. It also lists my most popular posts now.

I am excited. This is a new level for me and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

Thank you so much for visiting my new layout. If you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment.

And thank you again, Mathew!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Little Old Man

My feelings have been hurt for a couple of weeks now.

Max, my 14 year old cocker, is my life. He has helped me through some pretty bad times. When I was recovering from surgery to have my right inner ear removed he stayed by my side 24 hours a day even though I had to crawl for the first two weeks that I was home (I had to learn to balance with only one inner ear).

Well, for a couple of weeks now, when I would go to tousle his little top knot, he would shy away from my hand for a moment. It was really like he was afraid I was going to strike him. Since he has never been hit in his life I was wondering what it was that I could have done.

Then yesterday I was looking deep into his eyes (yes, I do that) and I realized something. Although his eyes have been cloudy with age for some time now I suddenly saw just how bad they really are. So now I move more slowly when I go to pet him on the top of his head and he has no problem. I feel bad, thinking that I was scaring him. My heart hurts knowing that he is going blind. I knew it would probably come as he got older but this is a lot for me to handle. I suffer from major depressive disorder and anxiety and he helps me with dealing with going outside and when I have panic attacks.

He is already going deaf. He no longer hears a soft knock at the door like he used to. I have been around older cocker spaniels before, so I knew this would be a part of his aging. But realizing his blindness in a flash like I did has left me so sad. It makes me love him even more, if that is possible, as now I realize that he will need me to be more careful with him.

That dog bed was the best $36.00 I ever spent! I miss him snuggling on the couch with me but he would no longer jump up by himself and, once I helped him up, I was afraid of him hurting himself by jumping down.

I will try to push the knowledge of his mortality out of my mind until it must be faced. I should still have a few years with him and I need to concentrate on making his life easier in his old age. He has been there for me, now it is my turn to be there for him.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sarge and D-Day

My grandfather. William Miller Fletcher. He was called Sarge. I have such wonderful memories of him. He passed away when I was a child. He would buy me entire cases of those orange push-up popsicles. He always made sure they had Kellogg's Frosted Flakes in the house when I visited because that was my favorite breakfast. He used to have to rest a lot. I recall getting the pillows propping up his feet just right as he lay on the bed and then kissing his stubbly cheek.

My cousin shared this photo of him with me when I joined Facebook. He pointed out to me that the nice, heavy coat he is wearing is not army issue but rather of German design and that he most likely liberated it from a German soldier.

He came back from the war changed forever. I miss him. I wish I had had more time with him.

He is just one of the thousands of men that should be honored today, the anniversary of D-Day. The men, the young men, who answered the call of duty when the world needed them. The men who were so brave in the face of danger. The men who gave up their life so that so many others could live free from a ghastly tyranny. The men who endured the bone-shilling cold and the sweltering heat. The men who were somebody's son, somebody's husband, somebody's father.

Sarge, I miss you and I love you.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Argh! Here There Be Monsters!

Now I apparently have a monster.

It's just been one of those times. I have had to up the frequency of my psychologist visits due to having a pretty severe rise in my anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed.

She might have read a new article because today I was told, "Don't feed your anxiety monster!" Evidently my anxiety monster eats my resolve to do something, like leave my apartment, and grows each time I "feed it". Rowr.

I'm supposed to picture it and think of what it wants me to do and then do the opposite.

I am a big fan of horror movies and novels. I believe I have imagined every monster available on page and seen every one on screen. Yet at first my attempts to picture my anxiety monster provided me with a familiar purple dinosaur that the kiddies love. Then I thought, "Feed me!". Of course - Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors! Needless to say, both these renditions leave me chuckling.

And that's okay. When you're in the throes of a panic attack and certain of impending doom sometimes a little chuckle helps.

So when my anxiety monster is telling me to stay on the couch, don't go outside, I will not feed it and do as it says. I will go outside and enjoy the glorious day. When it tells me not to write, that it won't be any good, I will write until I can write no more.

I'm sure there will be times when I fail and the little bugger will grow fat on my doubt and insecurities. But that won't stop me from trying to put him on a diet. I think I am having more fun with this than I had intended.

But - rowr - a monster. Makes me giggle.

If you have an anxiety monster I hope you succeed in starving yours. Perhaps this visualization could help you, too.

Boy, I sure am glad she read that article.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Beautiful Quote

I often look back fondly on my sailing days. I've experienced the view in this picture many, many times.

Of course, I was also rained on and tossed about like a cork in a flushing toilet.

Ah, memories.