Help Settle an Argument…

April 4, 2018 in Beth by Beth Woolsey

OK — help me resolve a tiny family squabble…

My parents’ 47th wedding anniversary was yesterday, and I shared my congratulations on Facebook along with the observation that that’s a LOT of years not to smother each other with a pillow.

My dad says I’m recycling that line because I’ve used it before.

*I* say, YES, I’ve said it before, but it’s a UNIVERSAL TRUTH, and universal truths ought not be categorized as “recycling.”

I mean, really; do people accuse Jesus of recycling “love your neighbor as yourself” just because he says and/or implies it a lot?

Do people accuse others of recycling Ghandi just because “be the change you wish to see in the world” shows up everywhere?

Do good readers accuse St. Anne Lamott of recycling “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do?”

No. No, they do not. You know why? Because Universal Truths must be reused and repeated. They stand the test of time. They DESERVE to be reiterated so we can wrest every grain of wisdom from them. 

In the same way, “Happy Anniversary! That’s a lot of years not to smother each other with a pillow” is a universal fact beyond time and place, the very definition of a Universal or Absolute Truth.

I mean, I don’t want to pat myself on the back too, TOO much here, but I do want you to feel free to let my father know his daughter is a wise philosopher whose observations and salutations should be revered as such.

Thanks, friends. I knew I could count on you.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

In Case You Need Thumb Seeds, Tiny Watermelons, Or A New President, Which Are Basically The Same Thing…

January 12, 2018 in Beth by Beth Woolsey

You know how sometimes you wish you had more than two thumbs to give? Like, when you’re all, TWO THUMBS UP to your friends but then you wish you had three thumbs because they brought cookies? Or four because they said your kids probably won’t all grow up to be serial killers? In those moments, I’m all, “I REGRET THAT I HAVE BUT TWO THUMBS TO GIVE, friends.” They deserve so much more. 

This isn’t just me. It can’t be. I mean, I know it’s just anecdotal evidence, but Facebook added a love button because sometimes like simply isn’t enough. I think they still need to add a vomit button and a rolling-eyes button given our current political environment, but still, Facebook is at least attempting to allow us to share the scope of our emotion, and I appreciate that.

I texted my friend Kasey a four-thumber the other night…

“Four Thumbs Up <- That’s if I had 4 thumbs.”

…and right away, she understood not just my approval but my deep desire for additional thumbs. 

If you cut off your big toes thumbs might grow in their place.”

Kasey gets me. She really does. I like her because she’s not just a problem solver, she thinks of practical solutions. Still, I had a few questions, for clarity, you know?

Do I cut them off with scissors? Or a knife? Or pull them off? Like, does the cut have to be straight and even for the thumbs to grow? And do I have to put thumb seeds in my empty toe holes? Does it only work with my big toes? Or can I cut off all my toes and have 10 thumbs down there?”

I’m so glad I asked, friends. Kasey initially assumed a certain level of Toe Thumb awareness on my part, but I’m a true Toe Thumb novice. 

For sure a knife. A really really big one. Make sure you cut from the bottom up if you want the thumbs to be up. Thumbs down on your feet would be embarrassing. Yes you need thumb seeds in the big toe holes. Make sure it is centered and not wonky. Very bad things happen if your seeds are placed wonky. You can get thumb seeds at Home Depot. It only works with your big toes. I highly recommend not cutting off all your other toes.”

Conclusion? ASK QUESTIONS. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say the very last thing you want is upside down Toe Thumbs.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

P.S. If you’re looking for toe seeds at Home Depot, Kasey offered some advice on where to find them. 

Thanks! Do you know where at Home Depot the Thumb Seeds are? I assume not with the vegetable seeds; that would be weird since thumbs are obviously not vegetables. I just need to know where to tell Greg to look. I thought maybe with the pipes and/or screws since those are the parts for making robots?” “Defs not by vegetables that would just be inappropriate and disgusting. I believe they are near the screws and you should probably tell Greg to pick up a couple of those screws just in case too. They can be helpful in the rare case that they fall off.”

P.P.S. I also looked up “Thumb Seeds” on Amazon, as one does, hoping to find out whether I can have them shipped to my door and save myself the trip to Home Depot. 

I have several take-always from the search results, as follows:

A) Amazon verified Kasey’s advice by providing product info for a prosthetic thumb in case growing your own thumbs from seed proves too difficult, a pocket knife for toe severing, and thumb seeds. Well done, Amazon. Well done.

B) Clearly the seller has to call these “thumb watermelon seeds” because the selling of human body parts is prohibited, presumably even in seed form, but, by looking at the picture, one can see they are, in fact, advertising the thumb.

C) Microscopic watermelons are also a thing, which I didn’t know prior to this search. I presume these watermelons, each of which must be peeled separately in order to eat them, are for people who are exceedingly bored and thus can allot time to tiny watermelon peeling. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I know not who these people are, but I would like one afternoon to be them, please.

P.P.P.S. Following the horrific “shitholes” comment by President Trump yesterday, one of you (I’m looking at you, Mehera) suggested we elect Jed Bartlet president, instead. I’m in favor. Also acceptable, in no particular order: Jean Luc Picard, Michelle Obama, Mike Rowe, a bag of chips, my Golden Retriever Zoey, Sarah Silverman, Elizabeth Warren, a rock, The Rock, that one flight attendant who had enough of his job and pulled the emergency exit door on the tarmac so he could escape via life raft slide, my favorite barista Ian from the Coffee Cottage, Stampy the Minecraft YouTuber, Boss Baby, Gayle King, Ira Flatow, or these teeny, tiny watermelons that look like thumbs. Sheesh. 

On the New Year, Choosing a Word, and Being Wilder on Purpose

January 2, 2018 in Beth by Beth Woolsey

I’ve never picked a personal Word for the Year, even though I’m pretty sure all the popular kids do it.

I assume I don’t pick one because I’m lazy.

Or maybe because I’m busy.

Or, more honestly, probably because I’m too invested in making sure I don’t have time alone with myself to actually sit and be quiet and think about what I want, who I want to be, and how best to love this broken, shaky, beautiful world around me.

So, instead of sussing a Word for the Year, I’ve spent the last week trying new Instant Pot recipes, baking No Knead Crusty Dutch Oven Bread, and researching whether or not it’s possible to dry the starter for Amish Friendship Bread, like this, so I can eat it whenever I want without needing Actual Friends to pass it along to me. (Answer: I STILL DON’T KNOW AND THIS BOTHERS ME). 

My friends come up with cool words every year like BRAVE and LET IT GO and LOVE BIGGER, and you know what? They do it. They Pay Attention to their words. They let themselves be challenged. They try and they fail and then they keep trying which is success as far as I’m concerned, and so they change themselves in important and profound ways. 

I want to be like them.

But I’m not.

I’m more… muddled, I guess. Murky. A maze of both Magic and Mess. And also, I don’t know what to make of Things Lately. Like 2017. I don’t know what to make of that. Cluster Fuck seems too mild, and Dumpster Fire is downright adorable now, from Good Old Days of 2016. Remember that? When the fire was still contained in the dumpster? THAT WAS SO FANTASTIC, friends! I feel like we should apologize to the dumpster, you know? Like we maligned the dumpster without cause.

So, while I love seeing my friends’ words like Hope, and Thrive, and BE, and Listen, I can’t quite wrap my brain or my heart around just the joyful, contemplative goals right now. They feel… important, but also… incomplete. I’m happy for the New Year, I’m grateful for a symbolic fresh start, but I’m also mourning all the things that died last year, and I’m not sure my Expectations and Mirages are done dying yet. I still hear the death throes, so brushing off my hands and declaring Mourning Over feels premature. But I can’t choose Mourn as my word, either, because I don’t want to only lament what’s lost. I’m too grateful for that. Too glad to have my people. Too thrilled with this utterly strange, wild life. 

Is there a space, I wonder, between positive and negative? Between darkness and light? And, if so, how do I choose Dusk or Dawn, where light and dark converge, instead of Midnight or High Noon? What’s the word for that one? Where I’m content and confused, mixed and a little mangled, heavy-hearted and hopeful, but OK with all that? Where’s the quantum magic that takes us more than one place at once? Lost and found at the same time and somehow more free because of it?

Where do we get to be complex? Fully human with all the grand, gory bits that entails, and still made in the very Image of God? In the Image of Love? In the Image of all that is Divine and perfect? 

Where is that place, and how do I find it in 2018? Remember it in a word? 

I sat on the couch tonight, my back and brain aching from Doing All the Things this holiday season; my heart on cruise control because sometimes I Just Cannot Deal with all the Heart Things; my mouth running to remind kids of chores and chastising them for “not remembering” their work, as though that’s not simply part of the Human Condition.

I sat on the couch tonight, and I thought about the complexity of the year gone by and the undoubted challenges in the year ahead.

I sat on the couch tonight, and I thought about the joy and grief of wandering in the wilderness, which is where we’ve found ourselves in this season. I thought about how glad I am discard the false idol of safety and to release the pressure to conform in favor of being free to love my neighbor as myself.

I thought about what it is to be wild like the earth shakers and game changers.

I thought about what it might be to be wilder than I allow right now.

I thought about what it would look like to acknowledge I’m complex. 

To be fierce and a little feral.

To welcome both strength and weakness. To rest in either one. To fight neither.

I thought about what it might mean to allow myself to be intense without apology; to stop listening to the voices that tell me I’m too much; to give free rein to fervent kindness, bold joy, deep grief, and love which never fails. Even when they arrive in rapid succession. Even when they overlap and make things messier.

I thought about being wild.

I thought about what it might mean to be wilder. To be more free. To be more me, as I was made to be. As though I’m worth pursuing, even in the tangle and chaos of the wild. Especially there. 

So I picked my word. 

Be wilder.

Which is, of course, also bewilder. 

Because I want to remind myself that it’s good and right to become ever more free. And it’s also OK that there’s going to be some confusion. Some consternation. Some complexity. Some muck and some mess.

Welcome, Wild Ones. Come and be free.

With love,

Quick Thanksgiving Tip

November 21, 2017 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Hey, friends! Super quick Thanksgiving tip for ya…

Here’s the situation: 

This is my son, Ian.

Ian experiences disability. Communication disorder. Intellectual disability. Post-traumatic stress disorder from early-life trauma. And myriad other challenges. His life is harder than mine, in other words. He has to navigate a rerouted brain every minute of every day. It’s unbelievably hard work, and he never gets a break from it. 

So when it’s this kid’s birthday — his 18th, no less — a BIG ONE — I try to actually organize a celebration. Like, plan ahead and everything. Invite friends from his class more than the night before. Prep his preferred foods. Make him feel special and at ease.

Not to brag excessively, but I ROCKED it this year. I invited the friends FIVE DAYS ahead of time. I sent Greg to get the pizzas. And, best of all, I snagged frozen pumpkin pies — his ultimate favorite dessert — ON SALE. Really, this should be a lifestyle blog because I HAVE MY CRAP SO TOGETHER I SHOULD BE TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO. 

The morning of the party, we found some 4th of July streamers, wrapped them around our Christmas tree and, VOILA!, we were even decorated.

I pulled the pies out of the freezer to thaw and patted myself on the back for thinking ahead and honoring my kid in the way he wanted that was also EASY ON ME. Win/win, folks! Win/win.

Toward the end of the party, I put candles in the pies, and we sang Happy Birthday.

Which is when I saw the candles … leaning …

Like the Tower of Pisa. 

And I noticed the filling was a little… soupy.

And the crust was kind of… doughy.

And that’s the moment I figured out THESE WERE NOT THAW-AND-SERVE PIES, friends.

These were RAW pies that needed to be COOKED.

RAW PIES. At the END OF THE PARTY. 

Which is why I share this teeny, tiny Thanksgiving Tip with you today:

If you buy frozen pies, friend,
CHECK THE BOX to see if those suckers need baking.
And, if they do, I don’t know —
maybe BAKE THEM before serving. 

In conclusion, the Pioneer Woman and I are basically the same person, and you should come here for lifestyle and baking techniques more often. 

With love,

 

 

 

P.S. I did bake those pies. 

P.P.S. They were ready 45 minutes after the party ended.

P.P.P.S. My kid was Not Unhappy because Less Pie for his guests meant More Pie for him. So we may still be working on social skills around here, but in my kid’s book, this was a major win.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2018 Retreat Dates are Published! 
Click here for more information.
I’d love to hang out with you next year!

 

Not Worse

July 2, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

Here’s everything I know right now about how I am: I’m Not Worse.

Not Worse. HOORAY!

I feel like this might be confusing. Or discouraging to a Normal Person. Not Worse when you’re really Fairly Terrible and like you Can’t Breathe doesn’t seem particularly encouraging, after all. But if you’re sliding naked down a steep hill, and the hill is covered in brambles, and also shards of glass, and also razor blades, and you Stop Sliding so you’re only bare and bleeding, but not actively incurring more injury, you feel a little celebratory. A little jubulent. A little like, yes, I’m still bleeding out, but SLOWER NOW, so HOORAY!

I’ve been to the behavioral psychologist. I have assignments. So far, I haven’t done them. The problem with assignments is you have to have a brain that Remembers Things, and I don’t. We don’t meet again ’til mid-July, though, so I’m hopeful I can remember by then. Optimism springs eternal.

Because I don’t Remember Things, I blew off my doctor last week.  I had an appointment Monday. I reminded myself all day Sunday then forgot by Monday. A Brain That Works would perhaps have set an alarm. But nope. No alarms for this girl.

I remembered an hour after the appointment with a sudden gasp and an OH SHIT which of course my children heard. Three giggled. The one who’s the rule-following Pharisee was deeply offended. She also detests sarcasm, though, and thinks laundry should be folded, so we can’t take her too seriously, you know?

After I realized I ditched the doctor, I called her office and rescheduled like a grown-up. But because we live in a small town, and because she’s been my doctor for more than 20 years, and because our daughters have danced together, and because she’s been called to the hospital in the middle of the night to prep me for surgery after I suddenly miscarried babies — because we’ve scrapbooked together, and because we’ve adopted children from the same country, because she’s treated me for depression and identified it for me when I couldn’t — she texted me, too.

“Get your booty in here,” she wrote.

I wrote my List of Excuses. The usual ones People Who Aren’t Well use. I meant to. I tried. I wanted to. I’m sorry. I’ll see you next week, I swear. And, because I’m grateful, truly, that I’m not doing this alone, I said thank you. Thank you for riding my butt. 

I ran out to the liquor store later. On my bike because my college kid has claimed my car for the summer to get to work, and because the bike is a good mental health choice. Sunshine. Exercise. Flashing the neighbors because I wore a skirt. All bring me joy.

I bought my dad a bottle of Scotch. I bought my neighbor a bottle of Kraken. I bought my book group a bottle of vodka and prickly pear syrup with lime to make froofy, summer drinks.

Then I rode home.

With my doctor behind me.

Small town, I tell you. Small town.

She asked if I was riding a bike.

I said I was.

She said she really was riding my butt.

I sensed an opportunity to seize some Squandered Mental Health points from the morning.

REDEMPTION AT HAND.

“Do I get to make up any of my lost mental health points by getting out and exercising?” Because we all know we’re on a Points System, yes?

I mean, I can’t keep an appointment with my physician, so Demerits, obviously. But LOOK AT ME: dressed, outside, exercising!

And, you guys, she said YES! I DID get points back!

It was a really lovely 3 seconds.

‘Til she asked what I put in my bike baskets.

And I had to say liquor.

So much for credit.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

At least I tried.

Maybe I’ll accrue points next week.

Until then I’m Not Worse.

And I’m sending you love.

And waving in the dark,

An Actual List of Real Mental Illness Symptoms

June 18, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

I went to the doctor today.

I almost convinced myself not to go.

Again.

It’s the cycle of mental illness… Is something wrong?… Am I OK?… I’m not OK… I’m FINE… Everyone has ups and downs… This is normal… This is not even a little normal… and on and on and on.

I convinced myself to go to the doctor last night, after I spent the day with a tension headache from clenching my jaw. And clenching my back. And my shoulders and neck. Also, my legs. My heart hadn’t stopped hammering since noon — fight or flight adrenaline I was trying to turn into “freeze,” promising myself if I just stayed very still, took deep breaths, and practiced mindfulness, it would go away. I silently repeated “please don’t talk to me, please don’t talk to me, please don’t talk to me” every time someone walked in the room, but my internal monologue and external rigor mortis failed to dissuade them. They talked and talked and talked and talked. After all, a mommy and a wife who sits on the couch playing HayDay all day like it’s her job looks like one who can be interrupted.

I didn’t look like I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t look like I was trying to crawl out of my skin. I didn’t look like someone who should be taken to the hospital, just to check — just to be sure it wasn’t something Life Threatening — the way we take our kids to the emergency room in the middle of the night in case it’s appendicitis, even though we know it’s probably gas. When they’re in pain and it doesn’t stop, we take them anyway. Sometimes I wish I treated myself as kindly as I do my kids.

I stood in the bathroom last night, counters covered in scattered makeup, old bottles of lotion, someone’s $2 bill from Christmas, a sticky goo I choose to believe is toothpaste, and kids’ permission slips we failed to sign on time. I stood in the bathroom, and I held onto the counter, and I forced myself to say to Greg, “I’m not well. I’m going to the doctor tomorrow.”

It was a Herculean effort to say the words. Not because I was embarrassed or ashamed. Not because I wanted to hide it, either. It was, physically and literally, a feat of sheer will to move the words from my head, down to my mouth, and out of it. I know that sounds crazy. But it’s like being drunk; I may be able to form cogent words in my head, but there’s no conduit to push them out my mouth. I have the Thought, but then I have to figuratively get it dressed, brush its hair, find its damn shoes which are never by the front door where they’re supposed to be, dig through its purse for the car keys, drive it to the mental hardware store, decide what type of conduit will connect the Thought to my mouth, buy that pipe which is too big to fit in the car, take it home with it hanging out the trunk, unload it, and build the connection with whatever poor supplies I have on hand before I can force that Thought — “I’m not well” — from my lips.

“I’m not well,” I said to Greg. “I’m going to the doctor tomorrow.”

“K,” he said, but he looked at me quizzically, head tilted, eyebrow raised. “Soooooo,” he said, “what kind of not well? Liiiike, physically?”

“Mentally,” I said.

And then Greg began the Usual Litany because he’s kind and he loves me. “Let me know what you need.” “I’m here for you.” “What can I do?” “How can I help?” “Do you need me to have the kids?” “I can cancel my trip tomorrow.” And, of course, because we are us, “OH! SHOOT! Did you sign that permission slip yet?” And “Crap; I think the water bill is late.” And “But, really, what do you need?” A barrage of words. Machine gun, rapid fire style.

There were no more Thoughts, though. I’d built the conduit for the one I had. It was used, and Thought Conduits when I’m sick are only good once. So I had to say, “I can’t talk anymore right now,” which looked pissy and ungrateful and guarded and unkind, but was the real truth. I was unable. I’d already used All My Words. There weren’t any more available. Just none.

I was up until 2am last night, shaking, unable to sleep, even with the sleep aid I’m prescribed. I’ve had weeks now of failing to sleep, unless I sleep outside, which calms me and allows me to sleep by midnight which is a miracle. Unfortunately, the rain here in Oregon doesn’t always cooperate with my outdoor arrangement, so I’ve been back to shaking ’til the wee hours of the morning, sometimes until the sun comes up.

Still, by the time I pulled myself from bed this morning, I wasn’t sure it was all that bad. I thought, Maybe I don’t need to go to the doctor quite yet. And, Maybe I’m just being dramatic. And, Insomnia is temporary; I’ll sleep again eventually if I just give it time. Thus began the usual game — the one I’ve played daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute, for weeks now — Which Me Do I Trust? The me in the night who promised myself I’d quit delaying to seek medical attention? Or the me in the daytime who assures myself the dark always exaggerates how bad it is? I decided this time to trust the night. Sometimes things are clearer in the dark.

The doctor couldn’t see me ’til this afternoon, so I spent the morning making a list of symptoms. I wanted to have Words when it was time. Even I could tell, when the list was done, I should’ve made the appointment long, long ago. I’m sharing it with you now, even though some of it feels Very Yucky. Maybe it will help someone else. Maybe it won’t. Either way, I choose no shame, yuckiness and all.

Here it is, a List of Real, Actual Symptoms of Mental Illness. You know, this time. Since depression symptoms always change.

  1. I have no margin right now. Zero. All human interaction makes me tense. I don’t feel worried or anxious, but I react as though every conversation may harm me. My breathing gets faster. My palms sweat. Heat runs in waves down my arms. My heart races. It doesn’t matter who the human is or what they need or how much I love them. All interaction causes my body to react in panic.
  2. Anyone walking into the room makes me tense.
  3. Phone rings? Tense, even though I know I don’t have to answer it.
  4. Greg answering the phone = tense.
  5. Greg laughing at TV shows and looking to me to see if I’m laughing too – not in the way one does when one is worried, simply wanting to share a laugh – makes me tense.
  6. Bedtime makes me tense. I shake. I’m jittery. It’s like I’m hopped up on caffeine all the time.
  7. I haven’t fallen asleep before 2am in a month. When I’m well, I fall sleep between 10:30-11:30pm. And the needle is moving further. Many nights lately it’s as late as 4am, 5am. Dawn is around 4:30 this time of year. I know from experience now.
  8. I want to spend all day in bed, but I don’t want my kids to have that as their childhood memory of their mom, so I force myself out of it at 10am, 11am, and we laugh at our family jokes about how much mom likes to sleep in. I like to sleep in; that part is true. But I’m lying to them when I pretend I like it every day.
  9. I pull out my hair, and I pick at my skin. I do it in places that aren’t noticeable the way an abuser tries to hit his victims so the bruises won’t show. I pick at the back of my head. The skin on my back. I’m scarred there, actually, from years of tearing my skin apart. I’m not embarrassed to wear a swimsuit because I’m overweight. I’m embarrassed to wear a swimsuit because my back is covered in the scars and scabs I created. I try to avoid pulling out my eyebrows, but I found a bald spot in one last week.
  10. I’m impatient with my family which I mostly don’t let them see because I don’t want them to suffer, but it’s been leaking out lately because it turns out there’s only so much you can shove deep down inside before it hits the saturation point and there’s no place left to shovel the emotional shit. It’s not rage like it was last time. I’m not explosively angry. Just irritated and annoyed at things I’m usually good at letting go. And still, not how I want to be.
  11. Despite #10, I keep nearly all of this secret. I look normal. I go to the grocery store. I have people over to my house. I host events. I wear make-up. I shower. I answer the “how are you questions” the usual way. Good. Fine. Busy. Eh – you know. Or, if I’m being terribly honest, I say I’m drowning a little, but, you know, that’s normal, and then I shrug, like, what’s a girl to do? This is not out of an intent to deceive anybody, including myself. This is simply because I lack both words and any emotional energy to deal with myself, much less other people’s questions about how I am, how we are, or what they can do to help.
  12. Shirts that touch my forearms bother me.
  13. I keep forgetting words. Easy ones like “laundry” and “couch.”
  14. I am constantly jittery. I can’t sit still or relax under any circumstances.
  15. I have eaten every Cheeto in the State of Oregon.

Yep. Somehow with those as my symptoms, I convinced myself I didn’t need to go to the doctor. <— THIS, friends. This is part of mental illness. The utter inability to assess and to know when I need help.

I walked into the doctor’s office this afternoon, list in hand. I told him I needed him to help me figure out if it’s time for a medication change. He had me fill out an assessment of his own:

Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following:

  1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things? Nearly every day.
  2. Feeling down, depressed or hopeless? Nearly every day.
  3. Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much? HA! EVERY DAY.
  4. Feeling tired or having little energy? Nearly every day.
  5. Poor appetite or overeating? Overeating. Sure enough. See note re: No Cheeto Is Safe From Me.
  6. Feeling bad about yourself — that you are a failure or are letting your family down? Meh. Some. Not all the time, though. I mostly forgive myself for being human and for being sick. But I’m highly motivated to fix this so I don’t let my family down.
  7. Trouble concentrating on things such as reading or watching TV? Yep. Nearly every day.
  8. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed? Or the opposite — being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual? Yes. I’m either inert on the couch or cleaning like a fiend. ME. CLEANING LIKE A FIEND. CLEARLY I NEED HELP, MAN.
  9. Thoughts that you would be better off dead or hurting yourself in some way? Nope. Other than the usual fantasies about being hospitalized so I can lay in bed all day and eat green Jello, I’m good on this one.

So. I’m giving myself mad props for making it to the doctor before the “Better Off Dead” lie asserted itself, but it turns out doctors don’t give you a clean bill of mental health when “I don’t want to off myself yet” is the best you can offer. In fact, it only took the doctor 10 minutes to call in a psychologist for back-up. Or because our local health system has better, multipronged protocols in place now for treating mental health. But probably for back-up.

I have additional meds and follow-up physical and psychological appointments next week. And probably more weeks after that because turning the mental health ship takes a while, and sometimes the med adjustment doesn’t work on the first go. In other words, here we go again. At least I’m at the Seeking Help part of the Deteriorate-Seek Help-Upswing-Health cycle. That’ll do for now.

My teeth chattered all the way home from the doctor’s office, another fun symptom of the adrenaline surge. I walked in the front door, and Greg asked how it went.

“Fine,” I said. “Good, I think.”

Maybe I’ll have more words later.

Until then, waving and waving and waving in the dark, friends,

 

 

P.S. None of this was today. All of it was last week now. Maybe two weeks by the time I manage to publish this. I’ve been writing this post since then, though, and it’s too hard to change it to reflect an accurate timeline. Add this to the list of Real Symptoms — everything takes an Eternity. I mean, FOREVER. Things that usually take me an hour take a day. Right now, I’m assigning myself Just One Thing every day, and I’m marking each one in the Hot Damn, I’m A Raging Success column on my internal score card.

P.P.S. I wish I didn’t have an internal score card. But I do. At this point, I’m just trying to learn to be more gentle about what I put on it.

P.P.P.S. I’ve missed you. More soon, I hope. <3

Is This Normal? Some Thoughts on Love. Also, Dogs. Also, Bodies.

February 23, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

I took my rings off the other night.

My wedding ring. My engagement ring. The two stackable rings I wear with them that I bought in a fit of extravagance for $12 at a fancy strip mall with immaculate sidewalks and enormous, Christmas-tree-lit palm trees in Southern California after an hour of agonizing over which to pick.

I took off the twisting ivy ring I bought to remind me that I grow fast and strong and have the power to break down huge barriers, at least eventually.

And I took off the filigreed silver ring with a riot of flowers and leaves; the one I bought in Mexico and wear on the middle finger of my right hand. I call it my flip-off ring, even though I’ve only ever flipped off Greg’s back with it, and, much more often, myself, usually in reproach for saying something Self decided was stupid. Self is all, “Stupid, stupid, stupid. JEEZ, Beth. WHY DO YOU SAY WORDS OUT LOUD? TO PEOPLE?” Then Self pulls out the flip-off ring, points it at me, and waves it around. In other words, Self can be a real asshole. Self and I are working on this.

I took my rings off the other night, but not because I didn’t want to wear them. I did. It’s just that my fingers felt jittery. Scritchy. Like they buzzed with constant, tiny electric currents. Bees under the skin. Restless Finger Syndrome? I don’t know. I just know the rings had to go away for my fingers to survive; strange sensory attacks that subsided when the rings came off. I took them off again just now, triggered, I suppose, by frantic finger memories.

Is this normal? Is this a thing the average person experiences? Or is this a symptom of mental illness? That’s a question to which I never know the answer. Not ever. About rings and other things. Does it make a difference that I also had to put on a tank top because my forearms turned scritchy, too? That the buzzing traveled through wrists and up my arms like something both alien and organic? Foreign and ingrained? Like the buzzing is the Borg and like resistance is futile? Does that make it more likely to be an illness issue? Or is this just part of having a body? I’ve never been particularly good at this part of being human — the How to Have a Body part. Why do some people seem to know how to have a body? And how to work a brain? Or are those myths, and it’s all a mystery to everyone? How is it possible to be past 40 and not know?

I took my rings off the other night.

I took the rings off, and then my shirt, and I wore a tank top and naked fingers and somewhat ugly panties which were lacy but worn, and I pulled my knees to my chin in my chair and stared at my computer screen and didn’t know what to say.

I didn’t have Writers’ Block. The opposite, maybe? Too many scritches and jitters and too many words pushing against the dam.

Too many thoughts about the state of the church and what it looks like to leave.

Too many thoughts about the state of our country and what it means to be both fierce and kind in the world right now.

Too many thoughts on why I can’t be silent these days, even though people tell me I’m complaining, or I am not respecting authority, or I should just “let it all sort itself out” and “see what happens” which appears to be something only privileged people say to each other because their lives aren’t on the line.

Too many thoughts about which wins when the choice must be made — ferocity or kindness — and which is the way of Love. Both, I bet; it’s just a matter of when to flip over the temple tables in a righteous rage because politics has married religion to make profits of gold, versus when to eschew the Sabbath rules to heal the sick, and give sight to the blind, and harvest food for the hungry, and to lift our neighbors’ oxen out of the ditch where they’ve fallen.

It’s rule breaking, either way — ferocity or kindness — to choose the side of the vulnerable. So often the way of Love, though. Over and over, the way of Love.

I stared at the screen the other night with too many words in my head, and no rings on my fingers, and I gave up quickly because I’m working these days on being gentle to Self even when Self isn’t gentle back.

Instead of writing, I put my computer to sleep, and I got in the bathtub and turned the water to hot.

I read a novel that was unedifying and captivating and perfect.

I listened to squabbling children whose arguments were repetitive and endless.

And I let the dog lick my toes and gaze at me with consuming adoration. I thought my dog should give Self lessons in Love, and lessons to the world, too, though the world will accuse her of being too affectionate, and too in-your-face, and too unable to understand the bigger issues at hand.

I took my rings off the other night. I don’t know if I did it because I’m ill or because I’m human. Probably both, though. Probably both.

Love to you, friends,