Dear One of Those Days,

I love big, complicated words. Quotidian is one I particularly like.

quo·tid·i·an (kwōˈtidēən), adjective. Ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane.  “His story is an achingly human one, mired in quotidian details.”

Painkillers change people, too. Here, have some. What do you mean, “What am I implying?”

And it fits; today is quotidian.
Wake up in pain.
Take morning pills.
Take pain pills.
Take the dog for a walk.
Eat breakfast. More pain.
Take pills.
Fall into an exhausted sleep.
Wake up. More pain.
Take pills.
Eat breakfast’s cereal for lunch. More pain.
Take pills.
Wait for 5 p.m. to feed the dog, wait for more pain.
Know there will be more pills.
Wait for bedtime; wait for sleep disturbed by pain.
Take night pills.
Wait for morning.
Wait for more pain.
Wait for more pills.
 Today I have no sun to shine on this. My frightening ability to always find the silver lining, to always imagine a happy outcome, to always see the best in people and situations has abandoned me.
The mundanity of my quotidian life is wearing on me. I need to find something to look forward to. I need to find some color and joy to bring back into my life.
It’s just so hard to go looking for those things when I’m mired in the pain/pills cycle.
But while I’m trapped here, I’m still
Payne.

Dear Brintellix,

The odd thing about depression is how it colors everything. It even makes pain worse. Of course, when it’s all spelled out like that in black and white, it’s sort of obvious.

My last pain management doctor appointment, my mood was better. But the number and extremity of the migraines was just as bad or worse than ever. I just felt so much better about the whole mess.

The new antidepressant — Brintellix — is working really well for me. I still want to curl up on the couch and do nothing but read fantasy novels so I can shut out the real world, but I don’t pray for death so often. I’m counting that as improvement.

Lately, the pain gets worse in the evening. It’s growing now. Time for more Dilaudad. With luck, I’ll be able to get up in the morning to walk the dog before I go to the massage therapist’s.

I wish I had more to look forward to.

But I’m still,

Payne.

Dear Bright Moments,

I’m better.

Thank you God, I’m better. The horrible dragging weight of depression has lifted some, the clouds have cleared so I can see some blue sky, and that desperate urge to hide away is fading.

Well, this certainly doesn’t look ADA accessible.

The upswing feels so good. This was the worst major depressive episode I’ve ever had. But climbing out of it feels like a miracle.

Yesterday, I laughed at something — I guffawed. Today, I gave myself a manicure and a pedicure. I cared enough to take care of myself. I got up early and took the dog for a long walk. All these signposts tell me I’m headed in the right direction.

While I was stuck in depression’s pit, some good things did happen. Two specifically I want to share.

About two weeks ago, I was curled up on the couch when the front doorbell rang. When I went to answer it, I was boggled. It was my sister — who lives in Colorado and had no business just showing up on our doorstep.

After the exclamations of surprise and delight, she clasped her hands to her chest and said, “Clifton asked me to marry him!”

We grabbed at her left hand, but the silly girl wasn’t even wearing the ring! She had it stashed in a box in her pocket. It’s a lovely ring, a family heirloom. She was glowing with happiness, and we were thrilled for her. She and her guy have been together for a very long time, so a chance to celebrate that is a grand and glorious thing. Wedding plans have begun in earnest.

Perhaps my biggest news, and the coolest thing to ever happen, was that I had brunch with one of my all time favorite authors. She was in town for a big writer’s convention. When I saw that on her blog, I emailed her and asked if I could come by and get my books autographed. She responded and suggested meeting for a meal. I swooned.

And so I had lunch with AMY LANE. She’s an award-winning author of a lot of male/male romance, but I love her best for her Little Goddess series: Vulnerable, Wounded, Bound, and Rampant.

The next in the series, Quickening, is coming out at the end of the year. It’s only been 10 years since the first book was published. I have waited faithfully, and only hounded her a dozen or so times a year asking about progress on Quickening.

If you’ll remember, I was a professional writer and editor, so mistakes in self-published books can ruin a story for me. Too many and I’m done with it. And Amy’s first self-published book was a disaster in that respect. But her story, her characters … I loved them and had to know what happened next, even if I was mentally reaching for a red pen.

The whole series is being polished up and re-released by an actual publisher. If you haven’t read these books, I whole heartedly recommend them. Go find the re-released Vulnerable right now.

Anyway, we met up at a brunch hot spot near her hotel and spent an hour and a half chatting about all sorts of stuff. But the best part was talking about how much we loved these characters; how much I love the heroine Cory. How Cory’s strength and power make me feel some of both on days when my body feels nothing but pain and sadness.

I was so happy to tell one of my very favorite authors how very, very much her work, her stories mean to me. And it was the coolest, niftiest thing ever.

And the next day, she mentioned me on her blog!

So good things are happening in Payneville, where the mayor is

Payne.

Dear Mental Health Month,

You suck.

It’s been a really rough go of it of late. I’ve had a major depressive episode, the worst I think I’ve ever had.

This is why the Greek gods don’t get invited to all those big tent revivals anymore. A guy tells a few too many lies, and boom, Sisyphus has to roll a boulder up a hill for eternity. That happens today and we’ll never find enough boulders.

I’ve tried to explain it, and the closest I’ve gotten is that I’ve been doused in tar, not allowed to sleep for a week, and drowning in manufactured sorrow. And I’ve felt like that all the time.

I talked to my person, Jill, at the pain management office about it all. I actually broke down and told her all of it: two weeks without taking a bath, hit or miss on brushing my teeth, wearing bits of pajamas all day, not leaving the house unless forced to, eating nothing but desserts and other garbage.

She said the Lexapro, and this is her technical medical term, “pooped out on me.”

So I’m in that fun bit where I’m titrating off Lexapro and on to a new antidepressant called Brintellix.

And today I felt better. I cared enough to put on some mascara. I laughed out loud at things. Getting out of bed didn’t feel like a Sisyphean task.

I’ve still got another week of titration to go, but I’m feeling some hope.

So I’ll be clinging to that feeling, and I’ll still be,

Payne.

“Inspiring Hope” – AHMA 2015 Blog Challenge

Happy Migraine Month, and doesn’t that sound wrong.

MigrainePuzzlePieces

Image from the American Headache and Migraine Association (http://www.ahmablog.com). Image from the American Headache and Migraine Association (http://www.ahmablog.com).

By: Skylar T. Loch

Today is a very special day in the lives of Migraineurs worldwide. Why? It’s the start of Migraine Awareness Month. Migraineurs around the world will be banding together to raise awareness about this crippling neurological disease, which continues to be misunderstood by the general public.

By participating it’s my aim to:

1. Shed light on the disabling effects of Migraine – It’s Not Just A Headache.
2. Be better understood by family, friends and associates.
3. To appeal to the medical community…we need treatments that work and we long for a cure.

In the meantime, battling chronic migraine is a daily challenge that often leaves us feeling defeated. As a result, the theme chosen for this year is, “Inspiring Hope”. Consequently, while achieving many personal goals this month, we’ll also be inspiring one another to go on despite our pain.

For my…

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Dear Depression, you bastard,

Well, I’ve been a long time gone.

I thought I’d crawled out of the pit of despair, but my depression still has its claws in me. Why is it so hard to see it when it’s happening? So hard to put a name to it as I slide down that slippery slope into the pit? It wasn’t until I was curled up in bed, taking Xanax so I could breathe without twitching, that I realized I might have a problem.

And here’s my conundrum: last month, my pain management doc upped my Lexapro — by 50 mg — to deal with this. It worked for less than two weeks, and then I crashed again. Once I finally figured out what was going on, yesterday, I started taking an extra 100 mg. So how much can I take? When do we decide it’s just a band-aid, and realize that band-aid keeps coming off?

I’ve got a pain management appointment on Wednesday. I really need to go in and spill all. I need to tell the nurse person (Jill) who refills my prescriptions that I’m in a bad place. A bad, bad place.

I didn’t take a bath for two weeks. I was hit-or-miss with brushing my teeth. My hair was in a ratty ponytail that occasionally got fixed. I have six loads of laundry that need to be done. I’ve run out of underpants, and I bought a ton so I’d never run out. I didn’t walk the dog (We have a yard, but … ), and let others feed and medicate him. I laid on the couch and read books that would make me teary.

I know I need to tell Jill what’s going on, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get the words out of my mouth. I have serious issues about asking for help, about admitting weakness and failure.

I need to, though.

I’m not suicidal, but over the last few weeks, I just stopped taking care of me. I just stopped caring.

I hate feeling like this. It’s the most horrible feeling. I’d rather deal with the migraine pain at its worst than this. Sadly, I didn’t get a vote.

More updates from the pit later. Until then, I remain

Payne.

Dear Freedom of Speech,

In front of you is a large red button. It is your Constitutional right, given by the First Amendment, to press this button.

Maybe you want to press this button, you want to use it to make your point in the morass of public debate, to make certain people will hear what you have to say. This button will absolutely do that. If you press this button, the world will stop and listen. But there are serious consequences to pressing this button.

What exactly would you be willing to pay to exercise your freedom of speech, of that certainty people will have to listen to what you would say?

If you press that button, you have the world forum. But it is 100 percent guaranteed that more than one person will be seriously injured and more than one person will be killed. Are you still willing to press that button? Is what you have to say that important? Do you trust that anyone has to say is that important? When they say it, you could be the one killed. Or anyone you love. It’s guaranteed.

That button is sitting in front of city hall, downtown. Anyone can press that button. It’s their Constitutional right. Are you okay with that? Should there be some discussion about access to the button? Maybe a fence around it? Maybe a committee to decide if your topic is worth the death of a neighbor.

But good ol’ Bob, is a little drunk and feeling like he needs to talk about how Obama’s coming for his guns and digging secret tunnels under the abandoned Wal-Mart, and he’s staggering toward that button.

Should you stop him? You’re in that town square. You could be the one killed. Your kids could be the ones injured. It’s a certainty. Someone, maybe several people, will be injured. Someone, maybe several people, will die. But Bob has the Constitutional right to press the button.

This is how I feel about the “Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest,” held in Garland, Texas May 3. The host of the event, Pamela Geller, knew full well her event would be dangerous. Every time there’s a public event surrounding artistic renderings of the Prophet Muhammad, people die. People are injured. It’s a big red button.

Geller later told the Washington Post she was “prepared for violence,” and the group was required by the Garland Police Department to spend $10,000 on security. Uniformed officers, SWAT, FBI, and ATF were all guarding the event.

Residents of Garland objected to the event, some area Muslims calling it blasphemous while others cited concerns about public safety. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, however, chose not feed the flames. The representative went so far as to say, “The thing [Geller] hates most is being ignored.”

But Geller knew exactly what the big red button would do when she pressed it. She knew she wouldn’t be ignored if she pushed it. Claiming that freedom of speech was threatened, claiming that she was defending it, she chose to hold the event.

And it happened. Red button, pushed. Men with assault rifles attacked, shooting at police. One officer was injured and the two men were killed.

It probably won’t shock you, dear reader, that Geller feels no guilt or shame for her actions. She says nothing about the men who died, about the officer who was injured because of her event. In fact, she’s proud of the result, claiming she really showed those jihadists. In fact, she feels her event actually helped police, getting those two attackers off the streets.

I find Geller’s argument about defending her right to free speech specious, spurious and deceptive.

Muslims have, as a tenet of their religious beliefs, a taboo about depicting the Prophet Mohammad. The prohibition is because the Prophet is cherished, and the images drawn are seen as critical. Much like Americans find the idea of flag burning repugnant, so do Muslims find the idea of drawing the Prophet. The majority of Americans support an amendment to the Constitution to ban flag burning. Some Muslim extremists are willing to kill and die over this taboo. I’m in no way saying they’re equivalent, but I’m offering a perspective. Both of these, the flag and the Prophet, are symbols of our faith.

In this of all countries, respecting another person’s religion should not be too much to ask. Don’t set a flag on fire; it’s your right, but it’s disrespectful and unnecessary. You can make your point in a million other ways. Most of us will never have a need to draw the Prophet, and knowing how disrespectful it is to another religion should be a consideration if such a need ever arose.

For artists, journalists, cartoonists, and similar professionals, this is a whole different discussion about freedom of the press. These were not the people lured by a $10,000 prize to participate in Geller’s small town event.

Geller, who is not a artist, a cartoonist, a journalist, or anything other than a racist rabble rouser, is standing on a soapbox screaming that her freedom of speech was hindered by absolutely no one telling her she could not draw the Prophet. No one told her she couldn’t do it. What they did tell her was that it was dangerous, that people could get hurt, that in France and Denmark, lots of people died because someone drew the Prophet. What she did know were the consequences of her actions.

Geller didn’t want to protect freedom of speech by pushing the big red button. If she had, there are so many other ways she could have addressed this issue. Instead, she picked the most incendiary, the one most likely to cause bloodshed. I can only guess that she wanted the horrible consequences that came with pushing the big red button; that she wanted people to die, people to be injured. She wanted this terrible chaos so she could say, “Pay attention to me! Listen to the racist, evil things I say!”

Her own words show this. “I expected that people would come to realize how severely the freedom of speech is threatened today, and how much it needs to be defended,” she told The Washington Post. “We were prepared for violence.” Indeed, her group’s website said “we know the risks.”

Geller, widely known as an Islamaphobe, is a member of what the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calls a hate group. Some of the other organizations labeled as “hate groups” by SPLC are white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and racist skinheads. It’s an illustrious list she’s joined. The SPLC called her the “anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead” and said,

Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps.

Geller is known for saying things like, “Muslims ‘pray five times a day … they’re cursing Christians and Jews five times a day.’ and in a column published at World Net Daily that public schools had produced “goose-steppers like the Hitler Youth” who were violently imposing their “leftist/Islamic agenda.”

Geller, however horrible I find her politics and agenda, had every right to push the big red button. But shouldn’t she be held accountable for the deaths she caused? Shouldn’t she be responsible for the injuries the police officer sustained? The Garland Police Department shouldered a heavy burden cleaning up the mess Geller made; shouldn’t she be fiscally accountable? Her actions directly and knowingly led to two deaths and an injury. Shouldn’t she be charged with a crime?

I believe strongly in the right to free speech. I just believe equally strongly that we must then be held accountable for what we’ve said. Geller has a lot to answer for, and no one is hammering on her door, demanding she answer in legal and fiscal ways for her actions.

Instead, we’re letting her get back in line for her next turn at that big red button.

As for me? I’m not in line, but I’m still

Payne.