Failing at Failing Forward by Succeeding Anyway?

Another blogger, with a much bigger following than mine, has a contact me notice that you can request she review your blog. She’s a professional editor for her day job.

This should be right up my alley. However, she very clearly specifies that bloggers should prepare for constructive criticism if they request a review. I perceived a bit of a challenge in those words: don’t ask if you don’t want to know. I chickened out on hitting submit.

Continue reading “Failing at Failing Forward by Succeeding Anyway?”

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Where’s Whoopsie #5: Like Red Before The Bull$hi7 (Er, bull. Er, cow, as the case may be.)

I write anonymously. I write anonymously because I am aware of what the consequences could be at my work if everyone – including my boss who hates knowing any personal information about any employees – knew my inner thoughts and challenges. I write anonymously because my trauma history isn’t mine alone, and I don’t want to take away someone’s voice and someone’s story without their consent, even if it is my story, too. I write anonymously because I have C-PTSD. I don’t inherently trust that the world is a safe place, and sharing my name is making me even more vulnerable. It might make me a target.

I write anonymously, but I admire those who don’t. It takes a lot of guts to own your story that way, and to have silenced the bully-in-your-brain enough to stick up for the bully-on-the-street’s next victim. Thus, I am both furious and afraid to have learned about a specific online abuse site targeting Spoonies. Apparently, this group has been trolling dysautonomia message boards, and now dysautonomia online spaces are warning others that what they post on Facebook, on blogs, and on support forums is not necessarily private. They have not caught the member who masqueraded as a dysautonomia sufferer to take the screenshots and make the abusive hate posts. The group may have targeted dysautonomia sufferers lately, but based on what I saw of their website, they have targeted all Spoonies at one point or another. They also post photos – again with real names – of people they consider fat, ugly, slutty or any characteristic you can think of to shame someone with.

Continue reading “Where’s Whoopsie #5: Like Red Before The Bull$hi7 (Er, bull. Er, cow, as the case may be.)”

PTSD is a Pain in the Neck!

I wrote this post from my phone app. I can’t get up. Dysautonomia isn’t known for verticality, but it is known for coat-hangar pain. Coat hanger pain is neck and shoulder pain that mimics a coat hanger in shape.

My current back pain is much worse than the coat hanger pain I’m used to. I often pull or twist something in my sleep, but this pain is on another level entirely. I couldn’t move even if I wanted to tough it out. I was too embarrassed to tell HR that I “threw my back out” when I called. I may be an older millennial, but I’m still a millennial! I’m too young for this?

I’m researching what it means to “throw my back out” to determine if that’s even an accurate statement. I’ve been in enough coat hanger pain to believe I couldn’t move, but I could theoretically have passed the “flee a fire test.” Not today…

Continue reading “PTSD is a Pain in the Neck!”

Rest in Pieces

Dearly Beloved,

We are gathered here today to pay testament to the life of Squishy. He was called Squishy, and he was ours, and he was our Squishy.

Squishy’s passing – though not unexpected with an expected lifespan for his kind of only a few months – still leaves a void in our life that will be hard to fill for the approximately two days Amazon Prime will take to mail a replacement.

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Loved ones, we must acknowledge that, with Squishy’s passing, we are naturally feeling heightened anxiety and restlessness. Such emotions are only natural during these trying times. We wonder, was there something we could have done? Was it somehow our fault? In truth, we must believe that Squishy never blamed us for cleaving so tightly. He never felt smothered or overwrought. Squishy desired only to transmit his peace and joy, and, in the end, he succeeded. He touched us all as we touched him.

Squishy, as we know, was tragically preceded in passing recently by his sibling Spinner. We must believe that they are together again in the world that lies beyond us all. May they both rest in pieces.

Spinner.jpg

Now, as we lay Squishy to final rest here in our Gladlock Repository, let us not rail against the injustice of his passing. His spirit will live on in others.

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Squishy, though there may seem to be many like you, you were ours. Let us cradle you in our hearts forever. At the same time, let us take your surviving relatives into our hands and welcome them with the same fierce love with which we loved you.

 

Hey Dysautonomia International: My anxiety is only “all in my head” because that’s where my brain is!

I had a dream last night that I was in high school again. That’s never a great start to any day, so I’ll blame that for the fact that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I’ll blame that, work, and all the usual hassles of my diagnoses, but I’ll write this semi-ranting post anyway because I also partly blame Dysautonomia International.

In my dream, one of my friends in high school was trying to convince me to partake in her stash of alcohol. I wasn’t a huge party girl in high school, but I did occasionally drink at her parties. In my dream, I tried to explain to her that going to the party had used up all my spoons for the day. Drinking wasn’t an option. She replied that depression, which is all I was diagnosed with at that point, didn’t count for Spoon Theory. It wasn’t a chronic illness: chronic illness only includes the physical! Then I woke up.

I got on Facebook to see what that friend was up to now. Her attitude in my dream was purely the bully-in-my-brain’s invention. She is still – as far as I can tell – a bit of a high-lifer. She is/was also a lovely person. While on Facebook, I saw another friend posting about her difficulties completing day-to-day tasks during a bout of depression. She referenced Spoon Theory, and someone in the comments stated that she has the physical capability to leave the house and, thus, shouldn’t appropriate Spoon Theory. It sucks that her mind wouldn’t let her leave the house, but she could leave if there was a fire. My more-aware-of-social-concepts partner explained to me that appearing to show concern for someone on the Internet – but putting someone down in the process – is called concern trolling.

Continue reading “Hey Dysautonomia International: My anxiety is only “all in my head” because that’s where my brain is!”

Improv #4 (well, sort of): Trumpocalpse

I entered the columnist Nick Kristof’s Trump poetry contest. It closed October 8th, and no one has contacted me from the New York Times. Last time he did a poetry contest, he published the winners about a week after the entry date. I’m assuming that means if I had somehow won, I’d know by now.

That’s okay. I didn’t enter thinking I’d ever actually win. That wasn’t the point. Actual National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellows entered the last one, and I’ve only written two real poems in my life (of which this is one.) I mostly just liked the idea of venting about how horrible things are in humorous verse, and the topic came to me when I read the column.

I called it Improv practice, since there are talented Improv artists who can write limericks on stage and make up song lyrics. I might like to be one of them someday if I manage to get through 601 and still think I’m ok enough at it to try the musical Improv class. I did semi-sing in a 101 class Improv game called Emotion Chorus. It basically involved having to rhythmically chant something about a topic of the audience’s choice in an emotional tone assigned to us by the instructor as part of an acapella chorus. I got “loving,” and the topic was “Donald Trump.” This meant I ended up making googly eyes and cooing “nuclear war” in a longing tone.

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Where’s Whoopsie #4: I’m Aware that I’m Rarely Aware

Huh. Dysautonomia, ADHD, and mental health share an awareness month! (Mental Health Awareness Week this year was October 1-7. Oops. I guess I missed that one!)

It’s a pity that migraines get June for their awareness month. I was this close to only having to remember one month on this blog. That would have been incredibly handy for a girl with ADHD. Now, I know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and June is PTSD Awareness Month, but couldn’t I really just stick with the week, not the months? It’s hard to be aware with a disorder in which lack of awareness is a core diagnostic feature.

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Membership BADDges: Identifying ADHD in Girls with Co-morbid Anxiety

It’s rough being an intelligent girl with ADHD. If such a girl is halfway successful, multiple doctors’ 15-minute default assumptions that she merely has anxiety/depression will too often have been the reason she spent most of her twenties ineffectually medicated with SSRIs – and labeled treatment resistant – instead of receiving the medications that will eventually change her life.

Such a girl has probably railed against the gatekeepers that barred her from having a shot at becoming truly successful – not just halfway – for so many irreplaceable years. She probably has become lost in an RSD spiral at least once after scoring off the charts on her ADHD self-assessment and being shot down anyway because she “did okay in high school.”

Such a girl may even have spent the first year after her formal ADHD diagnosis doubting it. She never forgot the doctor who said her difficulties were due to a lack of skills, not a neurological condition. She may have heard the bully-in-her-brain aping that doctor – telling her that she chose a job she “wasn’t good at” – for quite some time before she learned to trust her lifetime of ADHD experience over an ignorant GP.

If she has learned to trust in diagnostic criteria over doubt, she may become incandescent with rage when she sees other smart girls in Facebook groups and on WordPress being treated the way she once was treated. She may start to write an angry blog post after thinking back on what it was like to be told that she “didn’t need ADHD medications to solve her problems” – she just needed to choose a job within her “realistic personal capabilities.” She may instead realize that diagnostic criteria and angry rants wouldn’t necessarily have helped her in her own diagnosis journey. They wouldn’t necessarily have penetrated the fog of self-flagellation at the time.

She might then wonder what would have helped her feel more confident that she really did have a neurological condition back in her undiagnosed twenties. One thing that would have helped would have been to know that the “ADHD” versus “anxiety/depression” dichotomy is a false one. If a smart girl has ADHD, she most likely has anxiety and/or depression, too. It would have further helped her to have learned how to recognize her ADHD lurking behind her anxiety. It would have helped her to recognize her shibboleths: little traits of hers that stem from the diagnostic criteria for ADHD and aren’t as easily confused with other diagnoses as a non-specific criterion like feeling overwhelmed.  It would have helped to have some way to laugh about just how ADHD she was, not internalize the issues.

The following are some of those shibboleths that one such girl, known as Lavender, shared with another smart girl still in the process of being diagnosed. (She has added a few since that original exchange!) They have no formal diagnostic validity as an ADHD screener, but they probably have a fairly high specificity (though maybe not sensitivity!) To use the guide, assign the female subject +1 points for each item as described below. There is no clear-cut diagnostic threshold for ADHD. As in Improv, everything is made up and the points don’t matter. However, if the girl happens to self-identify with a few of these traits, she is more than welcome to an unofficial Membership BADDge, at least in this girl’s book.

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Improv #3: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life?

The bully in my brain hasn’t yet wised up and rescinded the strange exemption that it seems to have granted to Improv, but the migraines have.

The previous week was a five-out-of-seven migraine days week. This week has been the same. That’s 5 days * 2 weeks equals 10 migraine days. If this continues next week, I will squeak into chronic migraine territory for September while well-managed medically. While this has been my norm for much of my life, it hasn’t been for a while.

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Affordable Mental Health Resources

Free or low-cost: Because there shouldn’t be discrimination in mental health services for those of lower income, but unfortunately…

Also, I guess we’re taking another loop around the cruel and economically incompetent healthcare repeal roller coaster. Call your Congresspeople (Congresslimes, as the case may be for some?) and tell them to be human beings. The Golden Rule is not a suggestion, argggh!!!!**

**Actual expression of disgust and dismay; not an attempt to sneak in an under-the-radar Talk Like a Pirate Day post.

Color Me Bipolar

I was going to post just the free ones, but it got quite exhaustive. So, check out this article of 81 Awesome Mental Health Resources When You Can’t Afford Therapy

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