Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rest in Peace

Today I found out that my good friend Brenda passed away on April 23rd. She was 66 years old. I'm pretty upset and have one thing to say: stop smoking!

Fault Finding

Today, my mom is having a low dose chemo infusion at the same hospital from where she was discharged.  I took the bus up there in the hopes that I could drive them home.  My dad doesn't drive, and I felt like my mom wouldn't feel like driving.  But when I got there, my dad told me to leave and a receptionist was on my case for having a child on the unit.  There is no way that my mom's illness can be my fault, but my dad finds fault in me. It's just the way he is.  I have known my whole life that once they started getting old, this would happen. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The End

I am so glad I discovered "On Children" by Khalil Gibran.  For years, I have searched for the perfect ending to my book "The Child Advocate".  This is it.  It won't end with any accomplishment bigger than all the others in the book.  It will celebrate all the accomplishments equally with the realization that there are no concrete, right answers.  It's an unexpected ending, but a beautiful one. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

prayers needed for my mom

My mom was in the hospital last week.  It was discovered that she has a condition called autoimmune hemolytic anemia.  She had to have a bone marrow biopsy to check for leukemia and a ct scan to look for internal swollen lymph nodes in case of lymphoma, but tested negative for both of these cancers.  Even though she does not have cancer, she has to go in on Thursday for a low dose chemo infusion in order to calm down her immune system.  This is the first time I have heard of chemo being used for something other than cancer, and my mom is a huge secret keeper, so I had to hear it straight from the doctor's mouth that my mom does not have cancer.  My mom has rheumatoid arthritis, which possibly caused this.  When my mom was in the hospital, Annalise stayed with her father.  I worked nights and spent the days on this family member reclining chair in her room.  It was tiring, and Annalise was confused.  My dad is a huge wreck, and he gets ugly when he's a wreck, so we could definitely use prayers.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Heather Jo Flores Food not Lawns song

My friend Heather Flores, who is the author of Food Not Lawns wrote this song about her book and its message.  I really like it!  This year, I swore I was going to have the most bad ass garden at my parents' house, but once again, it's my dad that's tending to it- not me.  If my dad didn't tend to my garden, it would be dead.  I have high hopes every Spring, and then by midsummer, the hopes are washed.  Maybe next year, I can have an edible balcony so I don't have to worry about going to my parents' house to do the garden. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

On Children

Recently, I looked back on the past 17 years or so and all the things I did in my career to help children.  All these years, there was an unending search for all the right answers.  I longed for the art of advocating for children to be somewhat of an exact science.  I read books on the best interest of the child to seek for formulas to follow.  I joined advocacy organizations that urged everyone to vote for or against certain legislation that would affect all children in the same way.  Working with CPS, I looked at definitive checklists of services completed or not completed by parents seeking to regain custody without considering the whole picture.
I've matured to a point that I realize that "good" and "right" and "best interests" are fluid concepts.  If you reach a fork in a road with a child, and you wonder which road will be better for them, it's nice to think that one is inherently better than another.  But in the life of every human being, even ourselves, there are multitudes of good and bad that will inevitably happen on any road.
"Helping kids", "Advocating for kids" can't really be a career for me anymore.  The more I realize this, the lighter and more relieved I feel.  The more I contemplate the end of this chapter in my life, the more the fundamental anxiety and depression that has been plaguing me breaks down and goes away.  I'm not young enough anymore to think that I could possibly have all the answers.  Coming across this poem by Khalil Gibran really spoke to the complexity of how I feel about this:

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Not that scary

My daughter Annalise cracked me up yesterday. On the computer, there was an image of a protester from the group called "anonymous" wearing the mask that they always wear. I told Annalise, "look at that scary guy!". She scoffed and told me, "mama, that guy isn't actually THAT scary.". She kind of rolled her eyes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Having Courage

Lately, I have been blessed to come across the right YouTube videos for me at the exact right time.  I found this one from the Mormon channel.  I have always liked the story of Esther, because she was an advocate like me. 

One of the women in the video says, "I was diagnosed in 2011", but does not say what she was diagnosed with.  It doesn't matter, though.  Anyone who has a diagnosis can relate.  In 1985 when I was 7 years old, I was walking in a line with my classmates when I noticed that I felt better when I coughed a certain way.  That problem without a name escalated into many different parts of my body.  During my college age years, it caused me to develop agoraphobia.  Finally in 2009 at the age of 31, an elderly neurologist named Dr. Gage Van Horn spent five minutes with me and told his students, "This is definitely Tourette's."  My Tourette's has been in remission for almost a year now, but I know at any time it can come back and I will have to go back on the medication Orap and practice what I learned in therapy to control the tics.  I have a friend on the internet who has it a lot worse than me.  She is fighting to receive brain surgery, and the thought of her going through that terrifies me.  I don't want to loose her, not only because she is a friend, but because a death from this condition will cause me to reflect on my own condition.  She and I have both been suicidal because of Tourette's.  There were some old uncles on my father's mother's side who had Tourette's and likely committed suicide.  The woman in this video says, "I know that death is a possibility."  Even though lately, my depression has been a lot harder to manage than Tourette's, Tourette's has still defined me so much over the years, even before I was diagnosed. 

Another woman in this video says that she quit her job, because her company was about to do something she did not believe in.  I have been through so much pain in life, because of places I worked at doing things I did not agree with.  From daycare to CPS, it has always been a constant.  I always had it looming above me that I knew God wanted me to help children, but was what I was doing really helping?  Being in need of a job at the same time really seemed to add to the angst looming above.  The same woman in the video that quit her job, because the company did something she didn't believe in assures herself that as long as she trusts God, things will work out.  I have always lacked in trusting God that much.  I have always thought that things would not work out. 

The woman in the video who has an illness states a statement that has been my nemesis for 20 years.  She states that God has a plan that is not the same as our plan- and that God's plan is not easier, but better.  I have always fought violently with this concept.  I never thought it was fair that God would have a plan different from our own.  I would ask, why did God create me to have this want or need?  For the first time in my life, I see how this is not only true, but I also see how it's not really a bad thing.  I never in a million years thought I would change enough to view God's plan being different than mine as something positive. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015


If I haven't made it clear how I feel about street preachers, let me do so now.  I think they are an abomination and hate-filled.  I do not agree with confronting them, and I most definitely do not believe in attacking them, because in a way that is what they want.  They want the persecution experience, and they want to be martyrized.  If and when I ever see one, I keep walking. 

I was in a very negative spiral of watching abusive street preachers on youtube when I got a good laugh out of this one.  At 1:13-1:15, he says he used to be a "gangsta rapper" and the crowd bursts out laughing.  I laughed, too.  It's almost so ridiculous that you wonder if he's really just a guy pretending to be a street preacher in order to make fun of them.  But, no, he's legit.  A gangster rapper!  Ha!

Their Final Journey (9/11 Jumpers)

I was going to wait until September 11th to post this, but I'd rather not wait.  I found this youtube video by accident, and it is beautiful.  Just a few days after the 9/11 attacks, a church friend of mine from Arizona briefly brought up "The Jumpers".  He said that they didn't trust God.  When he said that, I felt so gross, but he was one of those people you just couldn't stand up to.  The narrator in this video expresses for me what I could not express back then- "On that day, there were no suicides, only murders." I'm sure if I saw my old church friend today and reminded him of what he said, he'd deny it.  But, I remember it clearly.  I will never forget it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Feeling surprisingly well

I woke up this morning feeling oddly better than I have in a really long time. I hope this feeling sticks. I don't feel elated or ecstatic, just happy and stable. I was able to enjoy some smells outside.
This is a picture I took this morning of Alex. Once in a while, he hangs out in the kitchen cabinets. I don't like it that that bulletin board above the sink is empty. I need to print out some stuff for it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Google movie of Annalise in the pool

37 years old

I can't believe I'm turning 37 this Friday.  People still tell me I look like I'm in my early 20's.  I used to hate looking young for my age- now I appreciate it.  Back then, when people saw my dismay at looking young, they would say, "When you are old, you'll like looking young."  So now that I like it- you know.  Does that mean I'm old?
Last week, I decided to call my psychiatrist one last time to see if I could get in.  Surprisingly, a different woman answered the phone.  She got me an appointment for the very next day!  I was stunned!  I happily took the appointment and showed up the next day.  I'm a little angry at the older secretary for always giving me the run around.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but how much of a coincidence was it that when the new lady answered, I got right in?
I explained to the doctor that since I have been on Celexa for several years and still have panic attacks daily, that I believe I have built up a tolerance to it.  I reminded him that in the past, I have tried effexor and zoloft, and they initially made me have suicidal thoughts and I switched back to celexa both times.  He gave me prozac.  I was a little disappointed.  I was hoping for something that is not an SSRI.  I think it's protocol, though, to try all SSRIs first.
So I started taking prozac, and a few days later, I started having suicidal thoughts again. I immediately started texting my closest friends and turned to youtube to watch some suicide prevention videos that I like.  I knew that it was the drug that was doing this to me and that I wasn't going to actually do something stupid, but it was horrible.  I started contemplating final business like reaching out to people in my life that I love for closure and arranging for Annalise to permanently live with her father and stepmother.  I looked around at all my things and thought up people who would appreciate them.  I was surprised that Annalise took a nap that day.  She is 8 years old and has not napped in 3 years.  I took advantage of that to take a nap myself.
At 5 pm, my doctor returned the call that I left with the new secretary.  I told him what was happening and that this was the third time this happened whenever I switched medication.  He asked how I deal with suicidal thoughts.  I told him about the youtube videos and texting my three or four closest friends.  He told me that transitioning medications is always hard and that as long as I have a handle on the suicidality (which he seemed to think I do), then I should stick it out with prozac.  I agreed and took it again the next morning.

After I hung up from the doctor, I delegated household chores to Annalise from the couch.  I pointed to several items strewn around the apartment and told her where to put them.  She helped me carry three loads of laundry downstairs, and when they were ready to go in the dryer, I taught her how to do that.  She saw some of the neighbor kids that she plays with in the swimming pool and asked me to go in.  I said ok, and spent the rest of the evening on a lawn chair by the pool watching her play with the other kids and reminiscing to playing pool games when I was little.  All the times I played Marco Polo with other kids, and never really knew the rules.  I only knew that when someone yelled "Marco", you yell "Polo".

Today I am at my parents' house with Annalise, and we are going to celebrate my birthday early since neither my mom nor I have to work.  Because of the way I have been feeling, I might move in with my parents for a few days.  The only problem with that is that my mom sleeps in our room because my dad snores too loud and if we are here, she sleeps with my dad and gets sleep deprived.  I want my mom to come over to my apartment and clean it.  I think about cleaning, and I get overwhelmed.

I think that I have changed a lot.  A few years ago, I was highly energetic and full of goals.  Now days, it's just wise to get through one day at a time.  Because my birthday is coming up, I was reading the comment section on an article about women and aging.  Quite a few of the women in the comments say that their 40's were the best years of their life.  I hope that that's true and that by the time I get there, I have my old energy and vitality back.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Church is not the same.

Since the heckling event at my church two weeks ago, church is not the same. The ushers are acting like corrupt cops and are assuming everyone is there to disrupt. The pastor is not there. There was a different pastor that I'd never seen before. Most doors to the sanctuary are locked, and everyone is forced to go through the same door with a very stern group of ushers patrolling. There were only about half the attendees thus week than there usually are. I was dismayed. If I was going to expect anyone to not let a troubling event get them down, it would be my church. It is just not the same. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Street Preacher inside of Lakewood

I found a video online of a preacher disrupting a service at Lakewood Church.  This video was taken at a service to pray for Christian unity.  Many clergy men and leaders from several other Christian denominations came to Lakewood that night to pray together.  I don't know who the woman praying in this video is, but her prayer before the preacher begins his rant is very beautiful and uplifting!  The preacher somehow mistakes Christian unity for a new world order, but that's ok.  He's confused.  This is a completely separate incident from that which was reported last week, when the Church of Wells disrupted services at Lakewood.  It's yet another incident different from the two I witnessed.  It's a regular occurrence at Lakewood.  In the comment section of one article, a Christian woman says, "Wait until the REAL persecution begins."  To hear something like that so soon after the events in Charleston is alarming.  It makes me want to attend church all the time, and it makes me never want to attend church again.  I will blog later about why the teachings at Lakewood resonate with me.  Right now, I just want to show this video of this preacher, and the woman at the beginning's beautiful prayer.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Pray for Greece.

I have always disagreed with people when they state the popular opinion that "we should help people in our own country before we help people in other countries." Everyone is deserving of help, no matter their nationality. It hits a brand new nerve when I hear people saying that about Greece, which is where my grandparents were born. It could be me over there suffering in the Greek economy. It would devistate me even more if I saw Greeks coming to the United States and being discriminated against as other ethnic groups of immigrants have been. Let's all open our hearts and minds and consider everyone a member of our human family.

No More Meds

Last week, I tried to get in to see my psychiatrist, and was told that no appointments were available.  I tried calling around to find a new psychiatrist, and they are all either not taking new patients or don't have appointments until long after I run out of my anti-depressant.  I was backed into a corner, and regretfully made the decision to start tapering off of my anti-depressant and no longer take it.

After I made that decision, I started to feel surprisingly relieved.  I have been on Celexa for about 5 years.  It worked at first, but it has not worked the last couple of years because I have been having panic attacks.  A lot of psychiatrists won't treat panic attacks, and the ones that do are extremely limiting on how much medication they will give you.  My psychiatrist has been telling me, "Your Celexa is supposed to help panic attacks."  It's not!

I read an article about anti-depressant tolerance, and it makes sense.  It's clearly what's happening to me.  Maybe if I get Celexa out of my system, the panic attacks will go away.  It would be hard to start over with another medication and/or another doctor since there are literally no appointments anywhere.  I have been doing well with essential oils and aromatherapy.  Aromatherapy has been treating my panic attacks more than anything.

So far, I have cut my dosage in half for the last 5 days or so.  I have been feeling fine, so I might cut it in half yet again tomorrow.  I am doing this on my own without a doctor's supervision, and I have to do it with the pills I have left.  My doctor will not do a tapering schedule unless I am seen, and the secretary claims they are booked solid.  All of the warnings online to do it only with a doctor's supervision are moot points if I can't get in to see the doctor.

I think that my situation in life right now is good enough to work at focusing on the positives if I start to feel down again.  The only negative thing in life right now is these damn student loans and maybe my dad's health- but the loans can be paid off, and my dad always has health scares and gets better.  I cannot look too far ahead anymore like I used to- one day at a time is all.  Another positive is how much time and money I save by not seeing the shrink.

Going to church to face fear

This morning, I had plans to take my daughter to Lakewood Church, where I have been a member for several years.  Last Sunday, there were six hecklers at church who stood up in protest of our beliefs one after another while the pastor was trying to preach his sermon.  We were not there, but we have been in church before when there were protesters.  Last Sunday's events at Lakewood were too soon after the events in Charleston, SC for people not to compare them to that tragedy.  Many in the congregation admitted to being afraid that the incessant heckling would lead to a second Charleston-like event at Lakewood.  
This weekend, I was super pumped about going to church to somehow prove it to myself and/or God that I am not afraid.  But as soon as this morning rolled around, I became afraid, and I did not go to church.  The truth is that I do fear a Charleston-like event happening at my church.  Pastor Joel Osteen has enough haters!  I feel bad now about not going.  I should have.