Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Dog Dies, and other rantings

I'll get to the dog later. I'm just hoping that this is somewhat coherent, as I'm now fairly certain that the new anti-depressants aren't kicking in as the other one drops off, so I'm getting crazier by the minute. Or at least I feel like it. I've even caught myself curling up, from the cold in my bedroom before the heater kicks in, and stopping myself because I don't want to even look like the stereotypical tv/movie crazy lady, holding herself close, all alone. I'll freeze to death first, thankyouverymuch. *Deep breath* I keep trying to remind myself, and listen when those around me remind me, that I'm actually dealing with this better than I usually do, as I've informed the people around me within the first few days and called my doctor about the medication after the first few days and before I became suicidal. That is all a huge step up from what I usually do. Also, while I would usually worm my way into the bed and company of the closest romantic significant other when I started feeling bad (because somehow their love would magically protect me from myself and/or I could blame them when they didn't live up to my expectations/huge need and I hurt myself or made some suicidal gesture or attempt), I am trying really hard not to do that. I want to curl up with TyRoy and stay with him. I think if I asked, he would be more than happy for me to be there. But, as MP often reminds me, I'm alot for one person to deal with. I'm trying to spread it around and to delegate appropriately. TyRoy's friendship and love help a tremendous amount. We talk and write often. I'm sure I'll see him when he has time off. But I also lean alot on my mom right now. She knows how I'm feeling. She knows exactly where I am. She still holds my meds. She pushed me into not putting off calling the doctor until I was really awake, so I didn't waste more time. As it would be much easier for her to deal with any legal and medical issues if I was hospitalized (though she is still not my legal next of kin, until the divorce comes through), it's best to always be in contact with her, have her up on the situation. Even when I'm with TyRoy, he has all her numbers, just in case anything happens. And I'm trying to keep in touch with my other friends, because I know the isolation can get to me, even when I am the one doing it. I'm trying. Not sure if it's working or if it will work. Fuck. I think what makes me most upset about this is that I was just starting to feel like I might be getting closer to being a person living with a mental illness, rather than a person suffering from a mental illness. I've spent the last year and 3 months or so being someone suffering from a mental illness, feeling like I was controlled by it, feeling like my life was just fighting a losing battle against it. I was just starting to feel like that might not be it, like it might be something I could negotiate within a relatively happy life. But currently I feel like I'm battling just to not let it all slip away again.

But anger helps. Which brings me to the first thing I wanted to rant about. This evening, I was flipping through AM radio stations and decided to listen to a bit of the rantings of Michael Savage and his listeners. For those of you who don't know, I do listen to a bit of conservative and right-wing talk radio, mostly to know what the other side is saying. Know your enemy, right? One of his topics today was if pot should be legalized. A man training to be psychiatrist called in, decrying the evils of marijuana, as a gateway to other drugs, as a drug made infinitely more potent by chemists and growers which lead it to cause all kinds of psychiatric symptoms and illnesses. The psychiatrist-in-training also said that a high percentage (I think he said either 90 or 95%) of people prescribed psychiatric medications just needed a kick in the butt and a change in diet. OMFG! On the subject of weed: I would not go so far as to say that this man did not see people who smoked marijuana, especially the more potent varieties grown these days (as compared to the pot of the 1960s or even 1980s), and had a variety of bad trips, which lead to, as he said, suicidal attempts/gestures and visual and auditory hallucinations. I had a friend when I was a teenager who was only smoking marijuana on a very regular basis and started to get very paranoid, even when not stoned. But, for all the people I've known who've smoked marijuana, I've never known anyone who experienced LSD-like episodes. Maybe we just get skunk here in the Midwest. Also, I hate this whole "gateway drug" bullshit. Yes, almost everyone who does heroin has smoked marijuana. But correlation is not causation. Those people do not do heroin BECAUSE they did marijuana. I know I can't come up with a GOOD example that seems the same to me, but I have a bunch of things in my head. Being born is a gateway behavoir for becoming a homicide victim. Also, in terms of parsing out correlation and causation, maybe it isn't the drugs that caused the psychiatric problems, or at least not at first. It might have something to do with the fact that people who already have mental illnesses often self-medicate, even when they don't consciously know they are doing it. Then the drugs might exacerbate problems they already have with their brain functioning or just damage the way their body, especially their brain functions, causing even more illnesses, both psychiatric and physical. And they might have sought help if their psychiatrist wasn't a patronizing prick who wouldn't even try to work with them for a plan of medication but instead thought that they should change their diet and get a kick in the butt. I agree that medications get over-prescribed. But they get over-prescribed typically to people with insurance, who can pay, in communities (and of genders and sexual orientations) that accept that medicines can and do work for mental and emotional problems. The rest of people, sometimes people who really need it, don't have access to, or are taught not to take, the medications that could help them. Honestly, while I come from a therapy-friendly family and one that encourages the use of needed medications, I did not want to go on psychiatric drugs. It took a hell of a lot for me to start anti-depressants. But, you know what? I kinda wish the "psychiatrist" I went to in my mid-teens hadn't been so focused on how I was an idiot for what I wanted to take on my hypothetical deserted island and how the continued effects of the "Epstein-Barr" that he claimed I still had after my mono would go away once we bought this book and changed my diet. Because maybe he might have seen that I was suffering from depression, not Epstein-Barr, and I should be getting real therapy to help me learn how to manage it and possibly start the experimentation with drugs when I was 15 and had years and years and years left on my parents' insurance, before I was in college and paying for the education I was missing by not wanting to get out of bed. I bet that asshole loves Savage and his psychiatrist-in-training caller.

Speaking of conservatives, what is it about having a dick that makes people more conservative??? Ok, ok, ok-- correlation is not causation. I don't honestly know many women who are liberal either. And the ones who do claim to be liberal are in certain areas, but, because of their life experiences, or lack there of, don't often subscribe to a larger liberal feminist, pro-queer, anti-racist, anti-classist, anti-ablist, anything I'm ignorantly forgetting, agenda. And I'm sure that there are people out there who would look at my life or even just my writings and say that they don't see me going by that either. But I try. I don't try to say "I'm not anti-whoever but why do they insist on blank?" or "I have friends/lovers/relatives who are whatever so I can't be racist/sexist/whatever". I try to honestly listen to claims made about the privilege I enjoy as a white college-educated middle-class cisgendered able bodied (just looked it up and I guess that is the term out there but that sucks) female, to be aware of it, and to not accept it as something that is rightfully mine. There are lots of ways I've changed how I act and think and, I'm sure, more that I should change but do not yet know of. If someone points it out to me, I will try to listen and think about it without defensiveness, but I know it isn't the job of someone who is of a certain race or gender or class to teach me how to not be an ignorant bigot. I am not saying I"m perfect, but I try to be more fair and egalitarian and less prejudiced. But if I hear one more man who's never been in that position talk like he knows and everyone should get his opinion about the actions of a less privileged group he knows nothing about I'm going to scream. Just because you knew some lazy women on welfare does not make you an expert on all the myriad of men, women, and children who make use of welfare programs. Just because you don't like damned dirty hippies talking about how Tibet should be its own country, under the rule of its religious leader, autonomous from the Chinese government, doesn't mean that the religious rule of the Dalia Lamas was nothing but female child slavery and those hippies should shut up. Oh, unless you want to decry the male child soldier slavery in Africa and the rule of religious leaders in Iran. Just because you went to a school that had comprehensive sex education and passed out condoms doesn't mean that those things are the reason that girls at your high school got pregnant. Maybe there were other factors, like their self-esteem, like their socio-economic status, like the messages that society on the whole gave them, like the fact that their male partner may have pushed them into sex before they were ready and/or without protection. But whatever the reason, that doesn't mean that sexuality or sexual contact should be demonized all around. Also, no excuse for not reciprocating a sex act that can under no circumstances get one pregnant. You know, I know this is the "pussy" female answer but can't you guys just grow the fuck up and stop feeling like your privilege is so threatened that you have to piss on anyone you percieve as "taking what's yours"? Honestly, it's a HUGE TURN-OFF.

Finally, to the title- The Dog Dies. (Might be a little late but ****Spoiler Alert*********) Lately, I really hate how I can't seem to get away from movies that play on the shit I'm already dealing with. This Christmas, my mom, who loves movies with dogs in them, wanted to see Marley and Me. I knew it was based on a book, on a true story, but that's all the extra info I knew. I'm sure I would have gone with my mom sometime around now if I hadn't read an article about how not only does the dog die in the end of the film, but it is used to pull extra extra hard at the viewer's heartstrings. He nicknamed the movie "New Yeller." Well, for as much as my mom loves movies with dogs in them, she can't stand it when the dog dies. If she hears about it beforehand, she won't watch any movie where the dog dies. Needless to say, we will never watch Marley and Me. I'm really glad we didn't try to go see it over our Christmas holiday in Slightly Bigger Midwestern City, as my grandmother's 18 yr/o dog was at the time getting around very poorly and we were all afraid we would have to put him to sleep. I don't think I could have done that movie then. This all probably just means that people should be more aware of what movies they go see, though, to be fair, not all reviews of Marley and Me included that tidbit, which I'm sure parents who took their younger kids might have liked to know before they had to explain that their own dog would someday die. Yes, sometimes, people should just pay more attention. My mom and I decided to go see a movie the weekend after we found out that my uncle had cancer. She wanted to go to the new theater by her work so we just picked a movie that looked ok that was playing soon. We went to see In the Land Of Women. In which Meg Ryan's character has cancer. And loses all her hair. And looks painfully, unhealthly thin. I told Mom that I wasn't going to let her have the final say again.

Then again, sometimes nothing can really prepare you, even if you think beforehand that it might be sad, you sometimes can't guess how sad. I went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tonight. I've read several reviews and knew what it was generally about. I thought it might be sad but I didn't think it would be as sad as it was for me. I should say though that it doesn't take a great deal for me to cry at a movie. It takes very very little, in fact, so I don't blame the movie usually. I don't here. And I made it through most of the movie without tears. But I started when Cate Blanchett's character, dying in the hospital, started to have breathing troubles and the doctor or nurse assured the daughter that it was normal, that her breathing would get shallower. It took me right back to being in the hospital room with my grandfather that last day and how those last hours and minutes are never as peaceful as movies make them out to be. I can still hear that noise, the sound of him trying to breath as his lungs filled with liquid. I cried because it was one thing I knew the movie would never convey. I continued to cry as Brad Pitt's Benjamin came back into Blanchett's Daisy's life, as she became an elderly woman and he didn't remember her. The innocence of people who've lost their memory was highlighted by the young (and thus innocent) appearance of Benjamin. For those people, who knew how old Benjamin truly was, it seemed difficult to take it to heart when he got upset and cursed at them because he didn't think they'd given him the breakfast he didn't remember that he'd just eaten. I think sometimes it's harder to not take it to heart in our reality when the person appears to just be an older version of the same person who once disciplined us. It's harder to remember that it's not their fault. It's harder not to want to WILL them to remember how to be who we think they should be. I think one of the things that really got to me was that the chronologically old/phycially childish Benjamin still had that magical twinkle of mischief and curiousity. The same one that I remember my grandfather having right up until end. There was always some little joke that he made you feel like was just between the two of you. And my grandfather loved to tinker with things, so, even after the stroke, when he couldn't remember exactly what he was doing or why, his hands still felt the need to take things apart, or attempt to. It was hell trying to get him to leave in the IVs and tubes at the hospital. Even once he got home, he'd take his feeding tube out of his stomach. Even when Grandma would try to cover it up with a weird girdle thing and two shirts, he'd find it and take it apart, after having forgotten about it, out of sight out of mind. Even though I'm crying right now, I'm also smiling because he could be such a little shit! But smart and sweet and I miss him.

I went with a woman for whom it should have been worse than it was for me, though I didn't see her cry. I don't know her very well and, in our conversation before the film, I found out that she had had a son, but he died in 07, when he was less than a year old. Somehow, she seems to be more ok with it than I am with my grandfather's death. In the movie, Benjamin dies, as an infant, in Daisy's arms. After the movie, my companion alluded to the fact that it was a bit hard, but that was nothing like how he'd passed. I didn't ask her to share anything more specific, though if she'd wanted to, I would have listened.

Well, with that, I think I'll go to bed. Don't take any of this too seriously. It's just the ravings of a mad woman.

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