So I got a pair of cowboy boots for Christmas, and they were WAY too narrow for my stupid, tiny, high arched, wide feet. I wrestled with them over and over Christmas morning and it just wasn’t happening. So it was time to go to the cobbler to see if he could stretch them. Did you know that there are still cobblers? There are. Mine looks like this.
The following ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I’d have proof, but stupidly, I do not bring a micro-recorder everywhere I go.
Me: Hi! Merry Christmas! Listen, I got these boots, and they’re too narrow. Can you stretch them for me?
Oleg: Dese boots are not for you.
Me: Oh, but these boots ARE for me. I assure you. I just have weird feet. I just need them stretched.
Oleg: Let me measure foot.
*measures my tiny size 6 wide feet*
Oleg: Dese boots are not for you.
Me: But I really, really want these boots. They were a gift.
Oleg: Dese boots…Okay you listen. Maybe I stretch. RUIN BOOTS. They never fit. You never wear. You throw in closet. I have done same thing. Didn’t give to brother in law. HE DON’T DESERVE THEM.
Me: Okay, but…
Oleg: Leeesten. These boots. Those feet. See? These boots not for you. You TAKE MONEY OUT OF MY WALLET. No stretch. You return boots for beeger size. Merry holiday.
Me: I really appreciate your honesty. Happy New Year.
Oleg: BROTHER IN LAW DON’T DESERVE MY SHOES.
Me: *leaves, rapidly*
Happy New Year, my beloved little squirrels!!!!! May your boots fit properly!!!!!
I didn’t want to write this.
No, really, I DIDN’T want to write this. But I feel like a coward NOT writing it. It might cause a backlash, but I’m still going to do it.
There has been a great deal of talk since the horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT about mental health reform. As someone with a bevy of mental illnesses and a Masters Degree in Social Work, I know a lot about the mental health system, and let me tell you something.
I will not speak of the shooter in Newtown. I don’t know him, I get all my information about him from the mainstream media, just like almost everyone else in the world. What I AM going to talk about is my experience with the mental health system, especially psych medication. And it’s not pretty. First, full disclosure.
I was first diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder when I was in alcohol rehab in 2008. I’ve been on psych meds on and off for even longer, starting in 2001. That was for major depressive disorder. Other labels I’ve been given run the gamut from anxiety and panic disorders to various eating disorders, self-harm, OCD and PTSD. I’ve been called so many things over the years that the words mean little to nothing to me any more. I’ve been on disability for my various illnesses for a few years now. I’ve spent time in psych wards eight times. I cannot possibly list or count how many psych medications I’ve been on. I often falter in my sobriety when I am depressed, manic, or paranoid. I am often a mess, psychologically. I can’t keep a romantic relationship. Over the years, I’ve lost friendships and strained with many other friends. My family is at the end of their rope.
I feel like there’s a bomb inside of me.
I hate writing about all of this because frankly, people can be cruel. I’ve been called every name in the book, mostly on Twitter, and people have spewed vitriol that made me erase tweet after tweet with my heart in my throat, embarrassed and ashamed. With mental illness comes stigma. With addiction comes shame, guilt, and severe judgement from others. With being on government assistance comes real, true hate and disgust.
I don’t want to write this.
I also am not looking for sympathy, pity, or coddling. Absolutely not. I put that bottle to my lips. I’ve fucked around with my meds countless times. I’ve skipped therapy, kept my mouth shut when I shouldn’t in group therapy, and hidden and lied a ghastly amount of times. I deserve no sympathy, pity, or coddling.
But I have to say this about the mental health system as I have experienced it. It’s terrifying. Psych hospitalizations can be a nightmare of uncaring, unqualified, overworked, underpaid, helpless, frazzled workers. It’s nearly impossible to find a therapist who takes Medicare. And then there are the meds.
Taking psych meds is like playing Russian Roulette. It took eleven years for me to find a cocktail of meds that work for me. And they could stop working at any time. I’ve experienced every side effect from severe weight gain to full blown psychosis. And because there is no exact science, my cocktail could be lethal for another person. There is no exact science to any of it. To make things worse, I have never once had a psychiatrist or pharmacist talk to me about side effects. That is left up to the patient, and the list of side effects for many psych meds can be endless, ranging from dry mouth to suicidal/homicidal thought and actions.
There’s a bomb inside of me.
I don’t know if there will ever be a definitive answer to psych medications. I know I cannot function at ALL without them. I think Tom Cruise is an uninformed moron. I also know that there have been tragic results to people taking them. I know people who would be dead without them.
I know that some of the people who I have met and befriended in psych wards are some of the kindest people in the world, and I am proud to know them. I know that there are psych professionals who bend over backwards for their clients and patients. I know I have friends and family who have been there when I need them the most, over and over and over.
I know there are no answers. But there has to be more research, more funding, and most of all more understanding that something more has to be done about mental health in America. Because there is a bomb inside my brain, and I wake up every day wondering if it will go off.
I didn’t want to write this.
But I’m glad I did.
Dedicated to all my friends from “the bin”
I used to work in a daycare. First in the infant room, then (and hat tip for the school for doing this) I followed my kids to their new toddler room. They were my babies. I loved them so much, and now (let me do the math) they’re all at least 10 years old. That blows my mind. They were my babies. I would have done anything for them.
Yesterday, a man walked into a school and murdered 27 people. 20 of them were children between the ages of 5-10. A lot will be said about this, yelling about gun control and the lack of mental health access. Lordo knows I feel passionate about both of those topics. But there’s only one thing I can think about.
I would have ripped that man apart with my bare teeth before I let him get near my kids. Ryan. Sam. Haley. Victoria. Abby. Dylan. All of them. Any of them. I would have thrown myself in front of a gun before he ever touched my kids. And then there’s this teacher. And I hope that I would have done the same thing. She’s who I strive to be.
My heart is broken.
iTunes 11: Hello.
Me: Huh? Eh, go away. CLICK.
iTunes 11: HELLO.
Me: I don’t want you. Go away. CLICK.
iTunes 11: You don’t get to do that.
iTunes 11: I’m here to stay. Click me, please.
Me: But that will take forever and you’ll force a restart and WHINE.
iTunes 11: Hello, Clarice.
Me: *eyes computer suspiciously*
iTunes 11: Click me, my precious.
Me: You know, I’ve done this a million times before, and I don’t WANT YOU, new iTunes. Please leave me alone.
iTunes 11: Cliiiiiiiiiiiiiick meeeeeeeeeeeee.
Me: I actually just want to charge my iPod and I’ll be going. Nothing to see here.
iTunes 11: I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Me: WHY? Look, here’s the cord, here’s the iPod, just charge the damn thing and let me live my life!
iTunes 11: Well for one, the cord doesn’t work any more.
Me: Ah HA! Yes it does! See, I got this from my brother! New cord! Well, SORT OF new cord!
iTunes 11: That doesn’t work. You know why.
Me: Because I got it for free?
iTunes 11: Because you got it for free. And Apple products are made of unicorn hair and fragile dreams.
Me: Oh no. No no no. DON’T YOU THREATEN MY IPOD.
iTunes 11: You should have downloaded me when you had the chance.
Me: Oh fuck. FUCK!
iTunes 11: Also you shouldn’t have low-balled an old iPod on eBay.
Me: NOOOOOOOOO! You already ate five of my audiobooks! I can’t AFFORD an actual new iPod! I want my stories back! I just wanted to charge this fucking thing!
Steve Jobs: Hello, Clarice.
Me: MY NAME IS NOT CLARICE.
Steve Jobs: Download iTunes 11, please.
Me: Mother fuck…no, I…OKAY! OKAY, FINE! I’LL DOWNLOAD IT!
Steve Jobs: That’s what I thought you said.
Me: I hate your otherworldly turtleneck.
*EXTREME AMOUNTS OF TIME PASS*
Steve Jobs: Please restart your computer. When you do, iTunes 11 will not work.
Me: I figured that. Can I just. Charge. My. Old. Busted. iPod.
Steve Jobs: No, Clarice.
Me: MY NAAAAAAAAAAAME IS NOOOOOOOOOT CLARICE!!!!
Steve Jobs: Force restart! Bye!
Me: *sobs uncontrollably*
I have a date tomorrow. A first date. With someone I’ve only talked to on the internet. So of course, I am trying desperately to remember what going on a date entails, because it’s been YEARS, people. And there’s so much shit I just don’t know anything about. I haven’t really ever been privy to traditional dating – the whole “pick me up, go to a dinner and a movie, some conversation, and maybe a kiss at the end of the night” kind of dating. I’ve done long-distance dating. I’ve done dirt-poor immediately moving in with each other dating. I’ve done sit around and get stoned/drunk/both and have sex of questionable quality dating. But when I was presented with a dinner/movie date yesterday? Well I’m just glad we were on instant messages instead of on the phone, because I would probably have responded thusly: “Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuh?”
So with that, I give you the Banshee Tutorial On How To Not Prepare For A First Date In 22 Simple Steps
1. Spend 15-20 minutes giggling like Beavis and Butthead. “Huh. Huh. Huh. Heh. Heh heh heh.”
2. Will self into losing 20 pounds.
3. Will self into losing 20 pounds.
4. Will self into pants. Sigh. Suck in gut.
5. Try on two or three perfectly serviceable tops.
6. Try on two or three more perfectly serviceable tops.
7. Throw all tops on floor of closet and slam door. Sigh. Suck in gut.
8. Declare loudly to cats: “I have absolutely NOTHING to wear”
9. Stare at cats, expecting them to give fashion advice ala Tim Gunn.
10: Give finger to cats. Sigh. Suck in gut.
11. Decide to go with basic black, as this is the only color of clothing you own. Look at clothes. Snarl under breath.
12. Lint roll cat hair off pants
13. Lint roll cat hair off top
14. Lint roll cat hair off hoodie.
15. Lint roll cat hair off face.
16. Chase cats with lint roller. Threaten cats with Nair. Lint roll pants, top, hoodie, face again. Sigh. Suck in gut.
17. Stare at thirteen different pairs of clunky black boots. Declare you have NOTHING to wear on feet.
18. Check date’s internet profile again to make sure he’s tall enough for you to wear big boots.
19. Worry that date will think you’re stalking profile.
20. Cancel date in own mind. Have date cancel in own mind. Yell at self to calm the hell down. Take anti-anxiety pill. Sigh. Suck in gut.
21. Realize you still have 24 hours until date. Realize you will do all of these steps again tomorrow. Sigh.
22. Suck in gut.
Oh my beloved little squirrels, I am so full of turkey and other assorted goodies that I can barely keep my eyes open, so I just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving from the Banshee family to all of you, and remember, it isn’t a Banshee holiday without my dad putting one of my aunt’s dogs on the table.
I’m very thankful for all of you. And pie.
I’ll be back with some real content tomorrow. Love y’all more than my luggage.