This CW is so important it should be in neon flashing lights. This is a serious post. Serious like: mentions of 9th Circle of Hell current systemic abuse, mentions of the same kind of systemic abuse on another blog, and mentions of past suicidal feelings and coercive control. I really meant it when I said the lights were off this month, so please please be careful when reading this blog post. There is no date on this “past” post because it’s not truly a post written in the past. It’s a memory, from a time when I would never have written anything down, that has been bothering me. I think I need to write to exorcize that old ghost and thus fight my new demons more effectively. Be safe.
Did you know that the term procrastination comes almost directly from the Latin procrastinatus?
This is relevant because I have a new blog page on my main site that does not have a Latin title. This pains my Partner deeply. I think it pains my Partner almost as much as typing pains the hands of someone with Ehlers-Danlos!
My Partner pointed out recently that the saga of the 9th Circle of Hell has probably become so complex that any potential new readers will have a hard time figuring out what the heck I’m talking about on a weekly basis. (The bully-in-my-brain, of course, immediately added: “even more so than they would normally have difficulty just in understanding the ramblings of someone with ADHD with pronounced hyperactivity alone.” Thanks for that, brain.) I replied that I actually take great pains to try and link at least the most proximally explanatory blog posts, so readers can catch up if they want.
He then pointed out that that effort probably costs me more in hand cramps trying to back-link enough blog posts each time I write a new one to make my story make sense to new readers – and to those of my readers with brain fog in general – than it would to just maintain a dedicated page. Because he is sensible – and my hands really could use the rest – I followed his advice.
I created a Glossary of Terms this weekend. It should contain all the key descriptions needed to understand my rather topsy-turvy life. My Partner desperately wanted me to call it the Dramatis Personae page – because Latin is awesome – but it turns out that I write a lot more about places than people, with the possible exception of him. I claim it’s because I respect the privacy of others whenever possible. It might also just be that I am socially anxious and don’t have a lot of close in-person friendships…
Either way, I couldn’t justify the Latin page title. And, the effort to create that Glossary of Terms seems to have sapped my creativity to write another blog post this week. I’ve been procrastinating long enough that I now concede that writing a blog post telling readers to read my not-a-blog-post will probably be my only post this week! But, that confession at least does allow me to honor my own and my Partner’s creative styles and kill two birds with one Latin pun title. (I hope my Partner is pleased.)
I think my brain has struggled to write another post this week because it thinks it already has written one. It turns out there are enough “Easter Eggs” in the Glossary of terms – including how I got the pseudonym Lavender, an introduction to the not-horrible therapist whom I keep claiming I will write something about someday, a new Where’s Whoopsie, and even a link to the very first piece on mental illness that I technically ever wrote – to maybe back-justify that I even truly did kind of write an original post. (The aforementioned Easter-Egg article was written on a whim for the same reason I started my blog. It technically was posted on another blog two weeks after I started my own, but I wrote it first and submitting it probably also helped inspire this blog. But, I – in true ADHD fashion – kind of forgot that it existed at all or that at one point I was open to maybe trying to guest post on other blogs eventually. Oh, well. My life is too complicated to need anymore rejection therapy right now.)
Have a look at my Glossary of Terms and hopefully learn something new about me. I’ll write a real post next week, I promise! (Though, at least on the plus side I’ve actually managed to be more productive working from home. Not having to see my bully-of-a-boss on a daily basis at least reduces the amount of time I spend frozen in panic unable to even start a project for fear of him already despising it.)
CW: Panic attacks in progress and the reasons for them.
So, this is not the type of post I normally write. I’m not even sure it qualifies as a true post. If this were Facebook, I’d be vaguebooking to the point of parody. However, I will explain more later, when I feel able to and when I know more. So, I ask you all to stick with me for the moment.
I’m currently sitting in the staff break area at a hotel. I’m on my second week back to work and attending a conference.
And – because my life is a perfect shit storm – I just got a call about the 9th Circle of Hell. The situation at the bedbug place didn’t resolve after all, despite what it seemed. And – because I am apparently cursed – it fell apart even more while I was traveling, instead of safely working remotely where I could at least claim the dignity of falling apart in private.
I’m supposed to be presenting tomorrow, damn it! Yet, before that I have to somehow get from hiding with the cup of tea handed to me by a kind hotel staff member, trying to keep myself from completely shutting down by writing incoherent blog posts, to having a voice strong enough to give a presentation on data.
I need some serious help to get there. The chasm between those two states of Lavender existence seems insurmountable at the moment. And, the bully-in-my-brain, using the time-worn tool of the trade of the panic spiral, thinks I’ll crash and burn if I try to do anything about either the presentation or the 9th Circle of Hell.
Could you all just tell me that:
1) You believe me that I don’t want all the bad things that have happened this year to keep happening. You believe me that if I knew how to escape this systemic trap, I would. (I fear my colleagues probably won’t understand if this situation somehow impacts my ability to present tomorrow. I’m not sure I can handle them not.)
2) You believe that I can somehow pull myself together and make it through this. I can’t reach my Partner. I’ve called him multiple times. I’m in a city I don’t know. I’m here with coworkers who will likely follow my boss’s lead on how to treat personal situations to protect themselves from his wrath even though he himself isn’t onsite. I’m feeling like I just can’t anymore. It’s too much. I’m overwhelmed and frozen and probably way more dissociated than I should safely be in public. The idea of leaving this breakroom seems thoroughly impossible right now, though objectively I know that three hours ago I was feeling pretty competent and in control, and technically I’m still the same Lavender who felt that way not so long ago.
I need some serious “buffering the effects of trauma through witnessing and not shaming” right now, if it’s not too much to ask…
I am not saying “B is for Bedbugs,” because supposedly things are “happening” with that. The home is hiring a new exterminator to come tomorrow and – again supposedly – is going to deal with the code violations that resulted in the scary green notice. I’m not sure how much faith I have in either of these things, but there’s not much I can actively do until I’ve given them a chance to fail all on their own.
Having learned entirely too much about what to do to keep bedbugs out even before an exterminator comes by when a complex I lived in during graduate school got them – and finding the agency rather lackadaisical about learning from my lived experience – I’ll share it with you all. Food-grade diatomaceous earth lining the walls and furniture is a great way to stop bed bugs and other nasties from getting in if the neighbors have an infestation. It’s also a cheap and surprisingly effective after-care product once the exterminator does treat. I did my research as soon as I discovered my neighbors had them, bought that, and was the only person in a ten-unit apartment that didn’t get bedbugs back in the day. I don’t think it was strictly allowed by my lease to do my own treatments, but at the time management didn’t care since it worked.
There’s no point in putting it down in my sibling’s room until the infestation is handled with entomological nukes first, but I keep hoping the agency will at least allow me to do the same after-care measures for my sibling’s room later. I’m not quite daring enough to just do them anyway as I did in grad school, because I’ve seen agencies use any technicality to boot someone, they barely wanted someone with a trauma history to begin with, and there aren’t really any other openings.
So instead B is for Blog Awards like C is for Cookie. If I have an enforced sit-on-my-hands week, I probably should get back to that “mental health sabbatical” portion of my not-FMLA. I’m hoping to do some baking. Baking too often seems incredibly overwhelming and not worth the spoons when the world is falling apart. But, I’ve always deeply enjoyed it when I can manage it. My original “balanced scorecard” included playing with inventing recipes as a thing that made me feel more like me.
Today’s other balanced scorecard questions are courtesy of Fibronacci:
Anyone who ever thinks that the ADHD brain can be turned off has never had to deal with one while blind for a week. The days of wearing an eye mask on doctor’s orders did help me get more sleep than normal. It’s logical to fall asleep when it’s dark all the time anyway, but that didn’t necessarily make that sleep any less, um, “active” than my waking thoughts.
I had some bizarre dreams during my enforced lack of vision. For instance, have you ever seen those megachurches along interstate highways in the Southwest or Midwest – or just in California, period! – that look like ranches and have testosterone-laden names like “GUTS Church,” “Cowboy Church,” or “VIVE Church?” They feature boxing matches, baptisms in stock tanks, and battle-ready women’s weekends? Well, my brain created one for the horses those cowboys rode in on! It was called the Whipped Church and was led by Rev. Tacky, who preached that if parishioners were obedient to the Triple Crown in this life they’d roam free – unbridled and unwhipped – in the next. It had a food court where you could literally make hay about your faith and even a bookie onsite. (The horses, too, needed to get in on the betting action to be able to afford their “suggested” church donations.) Of course, as in many megachurches, Rev. Tacky was also known to stirrup some political diatribes alongside the entertainment!
I first assumed I should be ashamed for admitting to such a rowdy dream itself, but my Partner discovered a show called BoJack Horseman on Netflix uses a similar premise – horses running Hollywood – to satirize current events. Rather than being ashamed that my brain is so far out there as to produce that dream, I should instead probably be ashamed that my dream wasn’t quite far enough out there. I managed to somehow subconsciously mind-meld with Will Arnett and Amy Sedaris without ever having so much as received a Netflix recommendation about their show. (I actually kind of wonder how Netflix hasn’t ever suggested it? What demographic profile don’t I fit? Will I have to subvert Netflix’s impression of me by watching the show just because?)
My brain also decided it needed to write a YA dystopian novel. Full-length, with eight named characters, a beginning, middle, climax and denouement. And, of course, because my life is ruled by trauma right now, it decided that YA novel needed main characters who were more realistically affected by mental illness and the impact of worldwide trauma – that’s what dystopia is, after all – than most dystopian fiction I’ve read. I’m pretty sure the dream was prompted by the fact that the first book on tape I listened to during my week of no vision was one of those progressive feminist novels (not YA at all) that was clearly very proud of itself for including characters that were neurodiverse, but whose characters hit me in the uncanny valley about their mental illness portrayal. I couldn’t figure out why the book unnerved me so much initially, but my Partner agreed with my assessment of it after listening for a bit. He’s becoming a connoisseur of the trauma experience himself, sadly.
My subconscious apparently felt the need to continue considering the problem and ultimately determined that the characters felt like DSM-V checklists of their supposed diagnoses rather than people. They displayed all of the symptoms on the diagnostic questionnaire, but with none of the messy bleed-over between diagnoses or unique expressions of those symptoms built upon their own personality that have characterized my experiences and most of what I’ve read from other bloggers. It felt like the author did a lot of research, but she had no lived experience to make her symptom portrayals convincing. My brain is still so stuck on its soapbox about how we further stigmatize ourselves within the mental illness community by claiming some diagnoses are worse than others or that a person is better off if they are “high-functioning” vs. “low-functioning” that it had to create an entire book in my brain about the impact of within-group stigma in a future world with even more inequitable and ineffective mental health care to further prove its point.
I’d roll my eyes at myself for being that preachy in my dreams – literally and satirically – but I had my first generic PTSD nightmare last night since the spate of randomness. Even an entire YA “novel” about a terrifying possible future is a refreshing change from a replay of my real past. I got to at least direct the terrible things happening to my characters instead of having to (re)live them myself as the captive actor. I’ll happily stay diligent about wearing my eye mask for an hour daily to rest my eyes – my neuro-ophthalmologist recommended it after reviewing guidelines for eye care with Ehlers-Danlos – if it will continue to bore my brain into re-deriving better comedians’ ideas or playing novel writing instead of endless nightmares. My brain has already demonstrated that it can write trauma from re-deriving my own story. Anything my brain creates that isn’t a variation on my own trauma is a treat.
That said, my answers to Mackenzie’s questions prove why, nightmares or not, I would rather trust my own brain to write my story than anyone else’s.
Today’s questions courtesy of Life with an Illness:
Back in college, I was an RPG gamer. I didn’t actually start with D&D, though. I started with a few more “freeform” type systems where I could create my character with all sorts of attributes that don’t fit into the standard D&D class system. I’ll be honest, D&D felt kind of limited after having freeform as my introduction to gaming. (If anyone ever wants to run an online game in some weird indie system, I’d totally join! I’d just be years worth of rusty at it!)
One of those more open-world systems had a trait you could offer your characters called “Weirdness Magnet.” It was exactly what it sounded like: weird things would just keep happening around your character. I remember the description was something akin to “If there was exactly one talking alien dog that would ever visit Earth, they would immediately stroll up and say hi to your character.”
I created a character at one point who had a variant of that trait, who was an “Irony Magnet.” Whatever the most ironic possible consequences of what they stated would come to pass. I’m feeling a little like an irony magnet – and not just in improv – myself today.
I talked about the kind of Little List that I usually think about – or, rather try not to think about – in my last set of blog award questions with regards to the 9th Circle of Hell. I legitimately did not give any mental attention to that other type of list that also exists, AKA the list of registered abusers with substantiated claims against them who aren’t allowed to work with the vulnerable.
Those lists haven’t been of much help in most of my dealings with the 9th Circle of Hell. Even when I could substantiate the abuse itself, the system protects the perpetrators to the degree it is virtually impossible to pin the action on the specific person accountable, which makes the substantiated allegation itself worthless, for all intents and purposes, since no one pays for the crime that is documented. Assuming that I ever did hold someone accountable, the list, I assumed, would be useless, as providers also don’t bother to actually do the background checks to determine they are employing someone who isn’t allowed to work there.
Well, that generally useless list has some additional names on it, and I’m the reason they are there. And, based on the date of the official letter, they may have been put there while I was studiously avoiding thinking about that other kind of list in my last blog award. Irony magnet, thy name is Lavender…
I feel like I should feel more victorious over this. I especially feel like maybe I should feel more victorious because, if a couple of others we’re working with are to be believed, further investigations are in the works and perhaps they will lead to more far-reaching actions. (I won’t say any more than that, because, well, I don’t want to be the idiot that jeopardizes future outcomes by speaking about them prematurely. I will only allude to what has been substantiated.) Yet, as I’ve mentioned before, there is a persistent habit of not bothering to check the lists before hiring decisions, so does a list that isn’t enforced really exist at all? Also, I’m honestly just exhausted. I’ve been dealing with this for longer than I’ve been a legal adult, and I have lived the brunt of so much crap over the years that any tiny victory feels irrelevant in the face of how broken the overall system remains. Hell, I’m doing any entire light-hearted series of “get to know me” questions just in the hope that there will still be a me left over after this journey through Hell ends. Years of trauma take a toll.
I said this to my Partner, and he asked if my blog award series included any questions about songs that represent my life. (Another fun fact: I used to assign my RPG characters songs that would help coalesce their personalities when I designed new characters.) If any do ask, he told me that I should include the song Veteran of the Psychic Wars as my song for my backstory, both with my family of origin and with the broader 9th Circle of Hell. I have to say, thinking about that other list and the new names on it, I see the applicability. My primary response to the new names on the list – when I can manage to muster anything beyond just psychic numbing – is just to agree that the line “wounds are all I’m made of…did I hear you say that this is victory?” certainly describes how I feel about this “victory.”
Still – given the irony magnet that my first set of answers ended up affording – let’s see if I can find a way to answer these next set of questions with something akin to me winning the lottery, eh? Or maybe just winning a free trip somewhere on my bucket list, since I’ve written about travel more often than I’ve written about little lists and, to date, no conveniently opportunities to cross things off have shown up. (I’d live with whatever irony came along with the trip just to have a free trip, at least so long as my irony magnet didn’t somehow lead to me winning that trip from the 9th Circle of Hell state tourism board…)
Today’s Questions Courtesy of Alison at The Unabashed Autist
We could alternately title this post “What Do You Do with a Degree in STEM on Not FMLA?”
I have never seen Avenue Q. This, in and of itself, is not that unusual, even for someone who likes musicals. I’ve never seen Hamilton, and that boils down to nothing more than the fact that even the cheapest tickets are multiple hundreds of dollars! For many years, Avenue Q was the Hamilton of its day. I had the soundtrack on my playlist, but couldn’t afford to see any production of it as a poor grad student.
However, eventually, I got tickets for it. I got tickets for it no less than *three* times in fact, and each time something managed to happen. One time, it was a major argument with my Partner that was triggered by – what else? – PTSD symptoms. That argument ended up being very instrumental in us getting to where we are today, so I don’t regret it. It helped me to learn to trust. It helped me learn that sometimes things can unravel and still be stitched up again. It also meant I missed orchestra section seats to Avenue Q.
The second time we attempted, I honestly don’t remember what kept me from actually using our tickets. It might have been 9th Circle of Hell stuff or work stuff: I honestly don’t know anymore! The third time we were just plain too sick to use the tickets. By that time, we were no longer risking big money. We simply had tickets to a local community theater production, but still, my Partner and I were ‘cursed.’
We talked briefly about seeing if there was a local production of Avenue Q during my not-FMLA, especially one before we returned to the 9th Circle of Hell. It’s probably good we didn’t, as we both have spent the past several days incredibly sick. We’d likely have missed the show again, were we to have tried.
Although I just posted yesterday, I’m going to go ahead and start my blog awards series today. I’m only, oh, a week or so later than I claimed! I have already acknowledged I have blog awards going back to July 2017. If I don’t just start posting, the ADHD forgetfulness probably means I’ll forget again until it’s too embarrassing to bring up.
I take back everything I said about WordPress’s new save feature. I patiently found all seven of those blog awards and saved them on the app on my phone. Guess what posts are no longer showing up? Sometimes technology works, and you are the broken one. Sometimes the beta version really is broken, and that is absolutely what happened with the WordPress save feature! I planned to start with the oldest post and work forward, but I’m starting instead with the most recent. It was the easiest to find!
Today’s entry is from Ashley of Mental Health @ Home:
As told by Eckhart Tolle, a Buddhist master named Ram Dass once stated, “If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.” I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super enthused with Eckhart Tolle’s books in general, but I did like that quote.
It appears to be a common enough occurrence that we can never fully escape who we were in childhood when we return to the place we lived while growing up. That…sort of sucks massively when who you were growing up was a traumatized kid with no safe space to create her own identity without it being used as a weapon to bludgeon her with, a system that tore her family apart and claimed lives literally and figurately, and a pesky habit of using dissociation and time loss to hide from it all.
For many, the smartest thing to do would just be to never return to the Gods-forsaken places of their youth at all. Enlightenment is overrated in the face of basic safety. It sucks more if, as a thirty-something adult, you are repeatedly stuck returning to that place because the damn system only got worse even after you left, the black hole of bureaucracy won’t let you yet get an innocent family member out to another state (gods-damned waiting lists), and your version of “regression to childhood” not only seems to be too often to feel like that same helpless kid again in the face of the system that made you that way but also to regress to the same coping skills: dissociation, time loss, and misplaced sense of any adult competence, oh boy!