29 December, 2007

Lost of stuff!

Today crystle got a really cool letter all the way from Greese! She has a bunch of new pen pals from all over. I dont know her name who sent this one but it had all sorts of cool stuff with it like a C.D. and some buttons and one of them had a picutre of a girl riding on a rinoserus! Megan and i want to send siri a package with stuff like that so that she can have fun opening it like we did. even tho it wasent are package anyway!

We got lots of cool things for Christmass. Like a coat which is wite and soft and has bird fethers in it to make it relly warm. and a cage and stuff so we can get mise! and a relly relly relly fun book calld the city of dreming books its about a dinasor and the dinasor is a riter like tina and it gose to this place calld the city of dreming books and it has lots of advenchers. And thers pictchers in the book so its even more fun becose you can see what happens to him. His name is optimus yarnspinner and its the longist name iv ever herd of!

O yea and we got other stuff like candels and bubble baths and girly stuff so we get to be more like girls i guess. crystles mom gave us so much stuff.

O and the best part was that on Christmas it snowed ALL DAY LONG!!!! It was snowing when we woke up and there was like four inches on the grownd and then it kept snowing and snowing! and we got a flat tire on the way to Crystles cousins house but some peple stopped and helped us to fix it. We got are gluvs all dirty becose we let Amber use them when she was fixing the tire becose it was so cold. But it was okay becose then we got new gloves for Christmas!

Okay I want to go read more about optimus yarnspinner so were gonna go now. Happy christmas everyboddy!

Love

Lacie and Megan

18 December, 2007

Mistletoe! (...or something title-like.)

Crap, I guess it really has been a while...

Between work and Christmas preparations I've barely had a scarce minute to do anything lately. They're so short-staffed that they have me serving again a few days a week, which is actually nice as it means I've got a better income on a more immediate basis. Yay Christmas spending money.

I've got the day off and my body decided hey! what an awesome time to get sick. Sooo I'm spending my time off planted on the couch with Nyquil and a box of Kleenex and an overwhelming supply of South Park. It's getting old pretty fast. My mind is occupied with drugged up thoughts of all the things I should or could be doing....if only I didn't feel so crappy....

The latest updates on the medicinal front would be warranted, I suppose. I stopped taking the Abilify after three weeks, because I started getting these really bogus nightmares every time I'd so much as close my eyes for a catnap. Additionally, I started noticing weird bruises appearing without any known cause. I chalked these up to possible anemia or something, but as soon as I stopped the Abilify the bruises went away, so I'm thinking that must have been what was causing them.

Currently, I'm still on Welbutrin XL 300mg, although I'm not sure how much benefit it's giving me. I brought that up with the psych when I saw her a few weeks ago but her decision was to keep me on it for now.

She also started me on Prozac, which I find ironically funny: Prozac, oldest of the anti-depressants, last resort SSRI for me. I started that on the 26th of November, so I guess it's been about three weeks. The majority of the nasty side effects have gone down, thank crap. I was getting some mad, miserable sweats, headaches, and serious anxiety the likes of which I hadn't experienced in a few years. Again another Prozac irony, that it should be the mildest SSRI but have some of the worst side effects. I've honestly experienced more grief from this than I did Effexor or even Lamictal.

It's hard to say if I'm noticing any benefits yet. My depression has certainly alleviated over the last few weeks, but whether that's due to medicinal workings or the Spirit of Christmas is impossible to determine. I've got more holly jolly this year than a pack of festive elves riding reindeer through a wrapping paper plant. The reason for that would be that this is pretty much the first 'real' Christmas I've had in about three years - last year I'd dropped out of school and made an abrupt cross-country move to live with my girlfriend's mom, and the year before that I was fresh off two hospitalizations, a suicide attempt, and spent the start of Christmas break looking for a homeless shelter to stay at when the dorms closed.

This year I've got my own place, my own car, a good income, two baby cats, and a loving family to celebrate with. Things are pretty much AWESOME.

So, like I said: Christmas Spirit or Prozac? Who the hell knows. (I'm hoping it's both so that once Christmas is over I'll still have the happy.)

Ummm what else. Nyquil's wearing off so I feel groggy but sick again...

My latest reading conquests have been Only Revolutions and Wicked. Yes, I know, I'm basically the last person in the world to read Wicked. Meh! Both kickded ass. I want to get some of the other books by the Wicked guy, whateverthehell his name is.

...thinks...

Okay, I guess that's all. I'm too busy hacking my lungs out to come up with a decent entry.

01 December, 2007

All I want for Christmas

The title of course is misleading: the following subject is not the only thing I want for Christmas. In fact, there are quite a few things that I'd love to get for Christmas (not the least of which is financial stability, but that's a whole different kettle of fish). However, this next item is something which I've been thinking about increasingly over the last month or two and am now trying earnestly to obtain.

If you're reading this entry chances are you've read some of those preceeding it as well. This being the assumed case, you've probably caught on to the fact that my eating has not been nearly as good as it could be lately. A big thing I've been noticing is that even though I'm eating at least a meal a day and am trying to at least eat something when I'm hungry, I may be doing the actions but mentally I'm deteriorating again. Distorted body image has been again growing more distorted, obsessive thoughts more obsessive, calorie counting once again almost an unconscious act.

And all that makes it sound like it had ever totally gone away in the first place.

I've never once willingly addressed my eating issues in therapy. This may sound surprising, considering I've been in and out of therapy since I was seventeen, but if you think about all the other issues I've got to deal with (depression, DID, etc) and then take into account that I haven't wanted to talk about my eating... Well, it's been easy enough to steer conversation into other areas that I'd rather deal with. Perhaps that's one fault with the therapy styles so far used with me: it's been way too easy to just change the subject when I don't want to talk about or address something. But now I'm really sick of it.

The therapist I've seen recently (Chris) has next to no experience treating eating disorders. Aside from that, she only sees clients once every other week. Out of all the therapy I've done, the only time that was really intensely helpful was when I saw someone twice a week. Once a week was pretty much just enough to keep me from getting worse, but I didn't see a whole lot of improvement.

All these considerations in mind, I've decided (and have talked this over with my psychiatrist, who agrees) that intensive outpatient would probably be a really good idea for me at this point. After looking into it some, I've found a treatment center in Denver which appears to have a really good program, great treatment team, and should hopefully be able to work with my insurance. It's through the Eating Disorder Center of Denver. (Fitting name?)

The program I'm most interested in is their Extended Intensive Outpatient Program. It's twelve weeks, three nights a week, four hours a night. You work with a nutritionist, psychiatrist, therapists, etc... Dinner is eaten together with group therapy immediately following. There are a lot of the things you'd pretty much expect with an outpatient program... Group, one-on-ones, body image workshops, art therapy, etc. But, from what I've read on the site, it sounds like they've got a really solid program set up.

The center offers three different levels of care: inpatient, EIOP, and a weekly group follow-up thing. I'm sure that I don't need inpatient care (for one, I'm not in a serious enough place medically) and the last sounds like it really wouldn't offer enough. Sooo I've sent an e-mail asking for more information about the program and admissions procedure. Mostly I need to know about the cost and how much my insurance would cover...

...Well, I think that's actually about all I meant to discuss. At least, I can't really think of anything else... I'll keep you informed as I find out more and if/when there's anything else major to report about this. Cross your fingers!

16 November, 2007

Mo Co Fo Sho

In this blog, I have made it a policy not to discuss my views on homosexuality, gay rights, queer theory, etc... I don't exactly hide the fact that I am a lesbian (if you've ever met me in person you'll know that I'm actually exceedingly open about the fact), but I do know that it's an extremely touchy subject for some people.

Especially considering many girls with eating disorders come from hyper-christian or otherwise strongly fundamentalist homes, I've chosen not to broadcast my gayness in this blog for their and their families' sake. Sadly, I have no doubt that if I were to discuss these subjects with prevalence, many readers would be completely turned off to everything I have to say - even though I truly believe I have some important, helpful things to say about eating disorders and recovery therefrom.

Today, however, I'm going to break with tradition.

If you're strongly homophobic, get hives and nausea from the sight of a gay person, notice your eyes start to bleed around us, etc, you may want to stop reading now.

...Well, I was going to start this with a rousing speech about how today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, but just found out it's actually next Tuesday. Nevertheless, this is transgender awareness week, so it still applies. Sorta.

If gay men and women suffer an abnormally high rate of murder and hate crimes, transgendered individuals have to face so much more. I simply cannot fathom the amount of hatred and fear these people have to deal with on just walking out their doors each morning. It is both disgusting and heartbreaking to witness suffering on such an extreme level for such a petty reason.

Hate groups like Focus on the Family's Love Won Out or PFOX (a response group to the better known PFLAG), when addressing the issue of transgenderism, love to cite the American Psychiatric Association which still classifies something called Gender Identity Disorder. According to these groups, it is evidence that even the psychiatric community agrees that transgenderism is a disorder.

GID is a disorder. However, it isn't aptly named. The poor choice of wording leads ignorant, badly informed people to believe that GID refers to transgender. In my opinion, just as Multiple Personality Disorder was renamed Dissociative Identity Disorder to stifle the prevailing confusion of DID with schizophrenia and BiPolar disorder, GID needs a new name. My personal suggestion would be Gender Confusion Disorder. Particularly after having lived in Washington, DC, worked in restaurants (which for some reason get a really high rate of gay employees), and having attended one of the most gay-friendly universities in the country, I've known a lot of gay and transgendered individuals. To say that gender identity is never disordered would be just as stupid as saying it's a disorder to begin with.

Let's start by defining some terms. Sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity come to mind as good places to begin. Scientifically speaking, your sexuality is the sex you are based on genital identification. Typically, this is a simple one. Unfortunately, it isn't always... Many people are born intersexed, meaning they have either ambiguous genitals or, in rare cases, both sets. Someone who is intersexed is not transsexual. A lot of parents will arbitrarily choose a sex for children born this way hoping it will simplify things later in life. Your sexual orientation refers to the gender to which you are predominantly attracted (i.e. homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, asexual).

Gender identity refers to the gender with which you most strongly identify. Someone who is sexually female may identify as male but not choose to actually undergo a gender transition. Same applies to male-to-female individuals. Some scholars have suggested that St Joan of Arc falls into the former category, and there are examples of Egyptian Pharaoh who were sexually female but adopted male attire and behaviors to fill their roles. Other people, like myself, prefer to label themselves as androgynes or gender queers. Basically, that means that we don't identify with one sex or the other and instead feel somewhere in between the two cultural standards of gender polarity.

For whatever reason, males who identify as female receive by far the majority of persecution for their gender identity in religious, political, and cultural settings.

Increasingly, many states are taking action to enact laws which will specifically protect transgendered individuals' rights to safety and normal life. One really touchy subject would be restrooms and public showers: should a trans female be allowed to use the womens' facilities even if she is still genitally male?

In Montgomery County, Maryland, where I grew up, a law was proposed and voted on Tuesday to allow transgendered individuals to use the facilities appropriate to their gender identity. Given that Montgomery County also houses several of the largest, most strictly fundamentalist churches in the state, this caused a HUGE stir.

National groups (like PFOX - Parents and Friends Of eX-gays) spread the word trying to get as many people as possible to protest this measure. They argue that it is a bill to allow men into women's restrooms, thereby opening the gates for a flood of pedophilia and crime.

What protesters to do not seem either to realize or just accept is that this measure is not to allow men into women's restrooms. The point of this bill is to stop forcing women to use the men's room.

A crossdresser is not necessarily someone who is gender identified with the other sex. A crossdresser may refer to a transexual, or it may just as easily refer to a heterosexual man who sometimes wears women's clothing for sexual gratification. This is not the same thing as identifying as female. A transgender female, possibly aside from her genital sexuality, is female. If someone identifies as female in the way this bill is aiming to protect, it does not mean they are pretending to be a woman to gain a better vantage point for preying on other women. They're dressing and behaving in a feminine way because they feel that they are female.

Connecting back to my earlier mention of Gender Identity Disorder, I want to explain why I feel that there is often a disordered connection when referencing questions of gender identity. The term most commonly used now is gender dysphoria. Dysphoria basically means distress, or a mental disconnect between what one wants and what is, or what one wants and one believes to be right/true/etc. Why I'm having a hard time explaining this today is beyond me, considering I'm dysphoric about other issues nine times out of ten... Dysphoria is an inner conflict which causes mental and emotional distress, is I guess the best way I can think to succinctly word it.

Gender dysphoria is listed as the main sign/symptom for GID. Basically, this means that to be classified as having GID you have to show significant distress and discomfort over your sexuality vs what you feel to be your appropriate gender. This part is often undoubtedly disordered. I've had the privilege of being good friends with several transsexuals over the last few years, and the most heartbreaking thing has been watching as they struggle with feeling like freaks and mistakes, or that they're stuck in an incorrectly sexed body, that there is no hope or remedy, that life will forever be marked by painful, awkward feelings of somehow being made wrong. This is gender dysphoria.

The reason I argue Gender Identity Disorder is the wrong term is because once the person has figured out how to fix the question of gender (be it sexual reassignment surgery, transvestism, acceptance), the dysphoria greatly diminishes. It's a matter of recognizing and accepting one's gender identity - the identity itself isn't the problem.

Here I'm going to shout out to K.T., Brandon, Rae, Ben, Jeremy, Melissa, Tammi, and all the other wonderful, awesome, ridiculously brave queer and trans people I've had the chance to know. I don't think any of them read this... But if they do, they need to know how awesome they are.

This week, I am incredibly proud to say I come from Montgomery County. When they bill was put to the vote Tuesday, it passed unanimously. Maryland may still have a long way to go when it comes to recognizing equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transexual individuals, but this bill passing is a huge step. I'm still not proud to be an American, because this country is waaay behind on so many issues, but at least I'm proud to come from Mo Co.

14 November, 2007

Yay pictures!

I have an extended aritcle/rant coming, but because I don't have enough time to finish it before work, I want to post some pictures from today. Because they RULE.

Danny, chicken nuggets, and Tinkerbell.








Crystal and Danny at Starbuuucks. (She's on her third book, hence the bored expression.)





One of my two favorite pictures from today. Squee!





Rawr!








At left, me with the dorkiest facial expression I have EVER MADE.






For once in a long while, a picture I kinda like. Crystal is an awesome photographer.




















Last but not least, a picture of my beautiful baby. Because that's how every entry should end!














To see the rest of the pictures, visit my newly created Flickr account. Yay! (Already loving that thing.)

13 November, 2007

Options

The reason for the persistent lack of blogging boils down to my freaking depression. To put it simply. Lately especially I've felt like a completely boring person whose words are all mundane, trite, repetitive, and generally not worth reading. This sort of sentiment plays very badly into the inspiring-Tina-to-write-ness.

I've thought, perhaps I should write about the medication situation. Perhaps I should blog about my frustration with the search for a therapist. Maybe about my worries for my little brother's mental health needs. Maybe about the flash in the pan interests I get every so often (see currently: transgender rights and queer theory). Certainly all of these could be turned into interesting topics. I could write about my 'plans' to tour Europe, or my literary ambitions, or even the obsessive knitting I've been doing lately. I could talk about new people at work and the latest restaurant drama/gossip. My life isn't boring.

The problem is that depression warps the most exciting events until they feel totally lifeless and dull. I'm in one of those episodes where on many occasions I feel nearly catatonic.

It doesn't help that when depressed I obsess over all the minor details in everything. Pertinent to this blog would be the way in which I analyze each entry and come to the conclusion that this blog has lost any sense of direction and is possibly beyond repair. I further pursue this train of thought to examine whether I should redirect it toward eating disorder related topics and current events which relate to the subject, or narrow it into a recovery journal encompassing any of the many things from which I'm trying to recover. Then I worry this would result in a journal blog, and I decide that I've had far, far too many of those since I first discovered the internet.

For now, I'm thinking the best decision might be to allow the blog to continue without a precise goal and hope that something congeals in time.

Shifting topics back to more recently visited waters, I'd like now to discuss the Abilify situation. To put it bluntly, I've stopped taking it. While on it I noticed absolutely no benefit; in fact, it seemed to be giving me more of an opposite effect. While I've not been suicidal in quite some time, while on Abilify my feelings of hopelessness increased significantly. I'm not sure if Abilify has any sort of extended release, but around six to nine hours after taking it I invariably experienced a major mood crash which left me surly and miserably depressed without any apparent triggers. The final kicker was that around the start of week three I started getting major nightmares which pretty much zapped my sleep of any value. I got some pretty ridiculous nightmares on Zoloft, and these reminded me a lot of them. (The fact that I almost never get nightmares normally but was experiencing them even during brief naps on Abilify was an indicator to me that the medication was causing them.)

So that's that.

I see the psychiatrist again on the 25th and am staking quite a few of my hopes on the appointment. Granted, I'm under no delusions thinking a trip to the doctor will cure everything ba-boom! but I'd still like to hope maybe some sort of progress will be made. The last time I saw her (and also the first time I met with this one, actually) we discussed the various medications I've been on and she basically said we may want to try trycyclics or even MAOIs if we can't find an effective alternative. MAOIs scare the crap out of me and, as such, I'm only going to try them if all other options have been exhausted... But honestly, to be reminded that there are still so many options yet untried is really encouraging to me. Watching so many SSRIs get scratched off the 'possibles' list is more of a depressant than whatever is causing the depression to begin with. Lol.

...I'm tired. I shouldn't blog tired. It makes me say inane things like 'lol'.

I'll end here, I suppose. Sleeeep. It sounds so nice.

30 October, 2007

Brief entry to notify all concerned that I'm still alive

God, it's been nutty out here. Crystal's needed the computer quite a bit for school so I've not had it during the day, and I've been stuck working pretty much every night.

Why? Because my stupid, lazy, irresponsible fifteen-year-old of a roommate got his ass fired. For the ridiculously petty reason that he, oh, you know, just STOPPED SHOWING UP. I may be slightly peeved about this, even though it happened almost a week ago. His doing this means that all of us left in the bakery are completely screwed over when it comes to hours. Everyone was already bordering on weekly overtime because we're so short-staffed... Now we're just trying to get accustomed to it.

Really, relations with him are stretching quite thin on a basic, general, over-arching level. For reasons I've yet to determine he's pretty much stopped giving a sh-t about anything and anyone but himself and his desires. (For instance, instead of repaying me the utilities bills on time, he went out and spent two hundred dollars on a Halloween costume. The next day, he got fired.) He insists he's got several jobs lined up, one of which will pay him (I kid you not) "ten thousand dollars a day". He's taken to consuming disproportionate amounts of the groceries I purchased while never contributing ANY... On the occasions he does buy groceries, he keeps them locked in his room. He continually launches petty arguments about anything from the cleanliness of the apartment (since getting fired he's been keeping it clean, pretty much for lack of anything else to do) to habits of ours which tick him off (even though we keep ourselves to ourselves and out of the common areas)....

It's just getting totally ridiculous. And, again, I've not been able to figure out a good reason WHY this sudden, complete change in behavior. I'd peg him for DID or bipolar but for the fact he's pretty much one of the sanest people I've ever met... Just really, really, really immature and spoiled. I'm starting to wonder: is there something completely pathological that I missed in the several months of friendship predating our renting a place together?

Sooo... Those are my current roommate issues, in a nutshell.

I've got a few t'shirts to send out today before work... Orders have still been trickling in now and then. The Boston Globe interview I did a while ago finally was published and is actually really neat. It's not brought in the renewed interest in the project that I'd hoped for, but it's still a pretty cool thing nonetheless. Sadly, I wasn't able to get a hold of a copy of the newspaper for myself... Despite searching in multiple places I wasn't able to find a store which carries the Boston Globe. Sigh.

If you're interested, though, the article can be found here. :)

Hmmm... That may be about all I've got for now. There's a picture post in the works, pending on me having time to write again. With the holidays coming it is, unfortunately, not highly likely that my schedule's going to clear up any time soon.

Hope all reading are doing well. Loves!

P.S. Totally forgot about this one and don't feel like creating new segues into the topic, so here ya go. Can anyone tell me how long the reuptake is for Abilify? (Reuptake may be the wrong word for that one...) I've been on it two weeks now and am really not noticing much difference at all. It's rather disappointing, particularly since I thought it was a medication which starts to work pretty much right away. Oh well. What's one more strike? (Oooo, Rockies BURN.)

16 October, 2007

Rambling status report

I'm having one of those days where I have absolutely no clue how to begin an entry. Everything seems trite, cliched, or simply like a lame hook to grab the reader and keep you interested. I hate it when even my writing, the thing which keeps me getting out of bed in the morning, manages to feel like so much work.

Yesterday I met with a new psychiatrist at Aurora Mental Health. About a month and a half ago I'd gotten prescriptions for Effexor XR and Welbutrin XL through my Md, once I explained to her that I'd been on them before and had been forced to stop taking them because of insurance and financial troubles a few months ago. However, with how complicated my depression's been proving to treat, the Md made me promise to find a psychiatrist to take care of any further prescriptions. I had an intake with a therapist at Aurora a couple weeks ago and she referred me to a psych within the practice.

God, that all sounds so complicated. Seriously, the referrals and phone calls and rescheduled appointments and intakes and continued appointments and referrals and referrals and referrals are freaking exhausting, especially to someone in the midst of a major depressive episode. Funny how my depression truly has gotten WORSE since I started on the meds this time. It will be such a total relief to finally find a treatment team I can work with so that this ridiculous searching will be over. If I have to keep hopping from doctor to doctor as I've been doing for the last ten months I will not last much longer.

Things with Chris, the new therapist, have not been going well. After the intake I realized her definite lack of experience with the areas in which I'm in need of expertise. After the second session it became clear that there was no way we'd be able to work with her... She's never worked with DID before and took a very Jungian approach to the whole matter, addressing 'personality parts' and stressing that each alter is not really an alter but just an aspect of our person as a whole. Perhaps needless to say, but this did not go over well.

Fortunately, the meeting with the new psych did not go nearly as badly. I was happily surprised to find a female doc (my last psychiatrist was male and I had an unexpectedly difficult time with it) and more pleased to find that she really thoroughly knows her stuff. She was not even surprised when I mentioned having been on Lamictal for antidepressant purposes (a relatively newly found use for the drug) or Provigil, or when I asked about other meds or used terms obscure even to the psychiatric community. Dr Sharpe seemed not much more familiar with DID than anyone out in Colorado has been so far, but at least she seemed to take me seriously and didn't act all condescending or disbelieving.

Dr Sharpe and I decided some med tweaking is very much needed. I've been medicated for nearly eight weeks now but have noticed absolutely no positive effects. In fact, the effexor has been making me so absolutely exhausted that I'm barely functioning anymore for how sleepy it makes me. I slept fourteen hours straight the other night and after being awake for just a few I was ready for a nap. Considering these factors, Dr Sharpe's view was that I should wean off it. Discouraging to think that I've only been on it eight weeks and now I'm going off it again...

For now the Wellbutrin's staying as it is. Dr Sharpe was rather irritated to learn that someone had prescribed Wellbutrin to a recovering anorectic, but...eh... Be that as it may, and inadvisable as it is, I'm staying on it for now. Historically it's been the drug which has given me more benefit than any other. At the same time, though, the doc did point out that it could be a huge part of why my appetite has been so seriously reduced lately.

Last but not least, she's having me start a new drug: Abilify. (LAMEST NAME FOR A DRUG EVER.) It's primarily listed as an antipsychotic and mood stabilizer but says that it may be used for alternate purposes as well. Yes, sounds kinda weird and dirty, but whatever. It's a pretty new drug, only FDA approved five years ago, so the full array of uses hasn't yet been determined. We'll see how it goes... It seems there's about a fifty fifty chance it'll make me completely somnolent or a total insomniac. Huh. Not sure why it has those two opposite affects on random people.

I'm starting it at 2mgs a day for a week then upping it to 5mgs. This actually seems to be a really low dosage in general.... A lot of people start at 15mgs and then move to 20 or 30. More than that sets most people stuporous, from what I've read on the forums. I guess time will tell how it affects me... I'm really just hoping for something positive this time. I need a break.

Dr Sharpe also said she'll try to help me find a therapist who'll actually be helpful... Right now I just can't manage to keep searching. I'm worn out and depressed and the meds are making it worse.

This is also just about the worst effing entry I may ever have written. It's got about the same profundity as the things I write when stoned... Only I'm experiencing much less enjoyment at present. It appears anti-depressants are not as tasty as good pot. :-P

13 October, 2007

Some exciting developments

Nothing on the Danny Jr front, unfortunately, but some other things related to the Novare Project which I'm really thrilled to report!!!

October 9th (was that Tuesday?) saw the release of Frank Warren's fourth PostSecret book, "A Lifetime of Secrets". I've read all the books and visit the website far more regularly than church, and want to report that as far as I'm concerned this is the best one to date. The secrets are arranged fairly chronologically and it makes for an incredibly powerful read, as earlier secrets are echoed by total strangers later in life, others are refuted, others repeated. As far as anyone (except the submitter) knows, all these secrets are sent in by totally different people who've never met each other, may never meet... Yet so many of us share the same thoughts and experiences even while we feel totally alone.

I'm rambling a little, but point being: the book is really, truly awesome. I'd highly recommend you go buy it if possible.

The way this connects to Novare is that Frank has continued to be an awesome support to it, continually helping provide me with media opportunities and suggestions for ways to continue building on the project. Thursday he appeared on the Today Show to discuss his book... And, as Laurie pointed out to me in an e-mail, he gave a shout-out to the Novare Project! The above links to the video (I haven't succeeded in finding a way to embed it here) and the shout-out is in the last ten seconds or so of the interview. (The rest is super awesome, though, so don't skip it.)

Something really exciting about this... I was actually contacted by Frank's publisher earlier this week... She e-mailed me to ask if I'd be interested in flying out to New York to appear on the Today Show for that interview which you saw above. How freaking exciting is that?? I mean, as you can see, the logistics didn't work out for me to go to NY this week...

But in further communications with the publisher, I was able to tell her how seriously interested I am in doing something like that and she said that I'd be 'at the top of her list' for some upcoming media opportunities. One of them will be with a pretty major talk show next month... And I really, really, really hope that it'll be able to work out. I don't really want to say which show it'll be, in case it doesn't work, but I'm super seriously hoping. Of course, if anything does pan out, I will let you all know first of all.

Wish me luck!

06 October, 2007

Report from the negligent blogger

It's been difficult to write lately, for a couple reasons.
Primarily, depression's been rendering me verbally and intellectually useless. Actually, for that matter, I've pretty much been worthless for any sort of activity, either... I've been sleeping ten, eleven, twelve hours a night, taking naps when possible, and otherwise lying on the couch all day like some random inanimate object.

The other night I woke in the middle of the night screaming... I tried to explain to Crystal that I felt like all the sorrow of the world was seeping into me, that I could feel all the horrible things that were happening (particularly to children) in every part of the planet and there was nothing I could do to stop them. I still feel this way to some extent, only less...dare I say, less narcissistically? I know that there is no possible way I can beging to understand all the suffering in all the world. There are a ton of things I've never experienced or seen or heard, and hope not to. But still... What I do know is enough to make me feel miserable.

My eating has gone to shit lately, the worst part of which being that I have really, truly, honestly been trying so, so hard. The problem is that every bite now takes an effort the likes of which I've not experienced in several years. I chew and chew not because I'm counting but because all my muscles feel exhausted and my throat refuses to accept the food unless it's down to almost nothingness. If anything, all this battling to eat makes it feel as though I've been eating significantly more than usual, despite clear evidence to the contrary. A couple people are pressuring me to go to the doctor, if for no other reason than to prove to me that my weight is getting dangerous again. (I haven't owned a scale in about ten months, haven't been on one in a month and a half.)

It's so hard to write about this subject honestly and yet withhold as many triggers as I can. Ugh.

I'm seriously left trying to understand where my eating has gone so wrong as to cause this weight loss. I guess it's hard to notice such things when weight loss doesn't immediately trigger a warning light for me... At first it feels like a nice reprieve, becoming something comfortable and easily ignored before it becomes a serious concern. I could stop worrying about how I'd afford new clothes when I outgrew the ones I've worn for years. Worry less about affording food. Continue for hours and hours at work without becoming distracted by hunger.

Starvation habits are just so damned familiar to me that even when I'm trying to eat well and take care of my body, it is beyond simple to slip back into them without even realizing. I guess that's what it boils down to.

Returning to restricting habits has, I suppose, been more of a comfort and an anxiety alleviant than an active fear of food/weight/body or a conscious war against it. Toss in the long hours at work, financial concerns, and stress over the secondary issue I'm about to bring up... And it would appear that the result is me, quietly disappearing.

To abruptly transition... A huge factor in my recent stress levels has been a little kid called Danny Jr.


This four year old is Crystal's half brother, who lives relatively close to us with Crystal's dad and stepmom. He is freaking adorable, super sweet, loving, silly, intelligent, creative, curious, imaginative, and generally awesome. He's also been subject to a serious amount of neglect over his lifetime and, increasingly, physical abuse. (God, I feel like some sponsor-a-child ad.)

Jr's dad, D., has been a severe alcoholic since (if I remember correctly) he was about thirteen. He was abandoned at a young age and taken in to a foster family who housed kids for the government money; all in all two foster parents and five foster kids living in a trailer park. I've heard stories of how D.'s 'parents' would regularly dose him and his siblings with Nyquil when they wouldn't quiet down fast enough. One of D's siblings is currently 19 and has three children. Another is a cocaine addict. The others I don't know about entirely... D's foster parents still live in Illinois, although his mother is close to her end now from a wide variety of health issues, many of which have been brought on by negligence in personal care (i.e. extreme obesity, diabetes, lung problems, cirrhosis of the liver, etc).

Jr's mom, S., also abuses alcohol. I don't know very much about her beyond that she dropped out of school sometime around or before highschool, ran away at some point, and has been surviving by waitressing at Denny's and filling odd jobs for years.

Currently, D., S., and Jr all live in the back room of a skeevy dog kennel and grooming shop right off the highway. It's one of those run-down rows of brick buildings, glass windows held together with tape, iron bars, parking lot paved maybe twenty years ago, only ever frequented by people who've been going there for twenty years. Also in the lot are a liquor store, a nail salon, and a sign for an architectural firm filling a dusty, empty window.

When you walk into the front door (which I was glad to see finally got its glass replaced; every time I've been there before it was splintered like a brick had been thrown against it) you're first accosted by the noise of the dogs. I've never been there without seeing at least a half dozen of them.

A split second after the noise comes the smell... The dogs all run loose over the rippled linoleum, shitting and pissing as god wills it. One wall of the kennel is floor to ceiling dog crates in a sort of wood and steel frame, a few lucky crates lined with pillows. (There is a hand-printed sign encouraging patrons to donate pillows for the dogs to use... The few that have been given are a motley collection of worn out throw pillows and lurid couch cushions.) Even the stainless steel grooming tables are encrusted with dried out filth, gradually flaking off to join the rest of the mess on the floor or settle beneath curls of torn linoleum. It's hard to determine what color the floor is supposed to be... Perhaps needless to say, it's a grimy shade of yellow-brown, accented by rugs in each corner resultant from dozens of doggy haircuts.

Jr isn't really allowed into the shop, though. The owner, B, understood that the conditions of hiring D and S to work there meant that he'd give them room and board and allow Jr to live there as well, but he wants him neither seen nor heard. Jr pretty much stays in the back room unless B is out, the shop is closed, or someone comes to see him. They get paid now and then, under the table, a couple bucks in cash so that they're off the books because D owes so much money in back child support to two ex-wives and four ex-children.

The other day, in explaining how she defended their home to a social worker who recently visited, S described their home as being "just like a studio apartment". When Crystal and I lived in a crappy Washington DC studio, it was a lot bigger than the place the three of them live. Additionally, it had a kitchen. And a bathroom. With a shower and bathtub. This place has none of the above, except for a small toilet room and the shower heads used for grooming the dogs. D and S have a small, electric stove which rests on a table in their room, making up the kitchen. When we went to visit for Christmas this stove was actually out on one of the grooming tables in the shop to allow more room for cooking.

I'm not afraid of filth, let me make that clear. Normally, smells and mess and years of accumulated dust won't phase me. Bother me, yes, some, but I can deal. I've had many friends and several relatives over the years whose houses have been several miles below what you might come across in Home and Garden. My grandma smoked copious numbers of cigarettes and probably hadn't cleaned her house in a good forty years despite generations of labrador retrievers and all that smoke and the usual dirt of living. I'm relatively accustomed to uncomfortably dirty environments. B's shop really, really bothers me. It is truly hard to stay there more than a minute. When we go to get Jr I try to stay in the car if and when at all possible.

When you enter the family's room, you first notice the oversized flatscreen TV in the corner. It's always on. You see shelves with a few food stuffs and the range stove I described earlier, along with a few Broncos memorabilia and a dart board. You see discarded wrappers and crumbs of varying sizes and colors littering the 'kitchen'. To the left is a double bed which D and S share. In the middle is a faded floral couch which looks either to have come with the place or been dragged in off the side of the highway. The couch is the focal point of the place, the center of activity, the throne for the sedentary rulers. It typically is adorned with over-filled ashtrays and sour, empty beer cans. To the far right is a toddler mattress on the floor for Jr. The kennel dogs come and go.

I don't doubt that D and S love Jr. My quarrel is that love is NOT enough. They DO NOT know how to treat or care for or raise a child. Whenever we're over there, D and S try to chat with Crystal and I while yelling at Jr to be quiet and go sit on his bed. He's learned the art of crying in silence.

Jr adored me from very early on... My guess is that I was one of the only people he's ever known who got down on his level and talked with him seriously about whatever he wanted to - even if that meant a two hour discussion/game of what if your eyeball fell out and you had to look for it on the floor and put it back in. He's a four year old, and beyond that he's a very active little boy, so when he tries to play rough with me I don't mind it. He's not trying to hurt me, anyway... When he throws a little punch it's to see me groan and throw myself back in an exaggerated parody of defeat. When D or S see this behavior, though, they scream at him to not play rough with girls and to go to his bed for time out. It doesn't matter that I explain it's my fault, I encouraged the game.

As Jr's gotten older, it seems that D and S have found him increasingly difficult to deal with. He went from baby to mobile toddler to opinionated, rapid, excitable little boy. I don't think they know what to do with him, don't know how to respond when he doesn't behave calmly and quietly like an adult. Over the last few months, spankings have progressed to beatings, sometimes and sometimes not alcohol inspired. He always has new bruises on his head and arms when we go to pick him up, which he explains with shrugs and avoided glances. One recent beating sent him to the hospital.

Connected to the fact that they don't know what to do with him anymore, D has now announced that he plans on shuttling Jr off to live with his foster parents in Illinois. (Do you remember these foster parents? If not, please see the above description.) Initially he said the family would go live in Illinois... Now the plan is to find a car, make the drive up, dump Jr and leave. In some twisted, morbidly ironic twist of fate, living with the foster grandparents might actually be WORSE than the environment he's in now.

Crystal and I have been trying to take him for a day or two frequently over the last few weeks. It's never much... Just take him to a park or let him play with our cats or read some stories or play some games. Just socialize with him. Love him. Whenever we have to take him back, he doesn't tantrum or cry but becomes sullen, obviously upset, distressed, anxious, starts telling wilder and wilder lies about why he can't go back. Something which upsets me in a seriously visceral way is that he doesn't even call it going home... He just says over and over not to take him back to B's. Last week he said, "I don't want to go back because mommy and daddy don't love me anymore, and so I don't love them neither."

So now, the source of my distress. We love this little boy. He's tied to Crystal by blood and me by marriage, albeit future and pending on legality. It's bad enough to watch his present situation deteriorate, but the thought of him being sucked into that trailer home in Illinois is worse. Right now, Crystal and I are very seriously contemplating the long, arduous, emotionally wrenching, financially draining, exhausting concept of a custody battle for Danny Jr.

For many reasons, Crystal's and my home would really be the only readily available place to take him in which could care for him and give him the love and nurturing he needs and deserves. Also for many reasons, I'm scared shitless. Crystal and I are still trying to get financially stable, just the two of us; what the hell would we do with a four year old? Even with government aid we're looking at a seriously low socio-economic level for the forseeable future. And besides, I'm only twenty-one years old. Crystal is only nineteen. Are we prepared to raise a child? Maybe. But beyond that, are we prepared to fight for, adopt, and raise an emotionally damaged four year old?

We keep going back and forth and up and down and inside out and sideways over the same questions and the same answers. Maybe, I don't know, probably not, we could try, what other options do we have. The truth is, both of us really do want to raise Danny. We love him and know him enough to see so much potential, so much worth fighting for and nurturing. We would love nothing better than to be the ones to give him the care and love he needs.

But how the hell can we do this???

And now we return full-circle, as life is wont to do, to the subject of my not eating. Maybe it's got to do with the ENORMOUS FREAKING ULCERS that all this stress is causing. (Okay, so maybe they're figurative ulcers. Mental ulcers?) When I eat it's not even just eating dollar bills anymore... It's eating dollar bills that should be going to help this little kid. ....God, yes, I know I'm talking crazy. I'm good at that. It's a talent, perhaps a hobby.

Does anyone have advice to chip in on this one? Please, this is an open request and plea. Send me a website, tell me an anecdote, give me some phone numbers, whatever you've got. Even just an, 'I'm thinking of you.' Something tells me I'm in over my head on this one.


25 September, 2007

Picture post!!!

My mummy and dad sent me a digital camera for my birthday! I've been wanting one for ages and now, finally, can document my life in more than just words. How awesome is that?

Now you can finally see my babiez! This is Frankie, the soft and squishy one who loves cuddles and love and dry kibble more than anything else in the world. He does not chew. Just tips it back and gulps. For some reason we don't have any pictures of Tallulah on the camera just yet (probably because she never stays still long enough, for one thing) but I'll make sure to get some to you soon.


What could fit more naturally together? A soft, fuzzy ball of yarn and a chubby, furry ball of kitten. He is SUCH a lover. And his squooshy belly is so awesome for snergling. I loves my kitties.


Random picture taken on my birthday; me in a bookstore in Boulder, looking at random books. It was a seriously cool bookstore, btw... It had once been a big old ballroom with a dance floor and stage and all, into which they at some point put some arm chairs and bookshelves and such and turned it into a bookshop. It was an awesomely neat little place. If Boulder weren't so far away, I'd probably just move in and live there somewhere between Poetry and Psychology.

Yes, I did have a couple drinks on my birthday. (I was extremely disappointed that the waitress didn't card me, either! I mean, come on, of all days not to card... LAME.) I've tasted peach bellinis before and they're always my favorite (at least so far). I mean, we're basically talking a slightly alcoholic Slurpee. Oh, and on the left in the picture is my bestest friend from forever, Shannon, who flew in just for the weekend, because she is THAT AWESOME.



You guys won't care much about these, but hey, it's my blog and I want to have the photos in it for later. These are from tonight: we went to BDs Mongolian BBQ with a bunch of friends from work to celebrate my birthday. On the left is Larken and on the right is Nate/Keanu, doing something weird with his tongue and a strawberry. Because he is Nate.



Makeda and Eric, lovebirds and both too gorgeous for their own good. Although, in this picture, they just look high. For some reason almost everyone who came tonight was stoned out of his or her respective mind. Geh?



Awful picture, but I realized that most of you have never seen a picture of Crystal's and my roommate, Daniel. So this would be it.



For some reason, after a good dinner and a couple beers, an ass-slapping war seemed like a really fun idea. I've included this picture mainly because it just turned out so freaking cool...




Obligatory group shot. ^.^ Left to right: Nate, Daniel, Crystal, Larken, me (in awesomely obnoxious tights), Emily, Makeda, Eric, John, and John's girlfriend Sarah whom I just met tonight.


Sooo, that about sums it up. Yay pictures!

24 September, 2007

Titles are lame. -shrug-

Hey guys, sorry for the long lapse. T hasn't really felt like updating, for a wide variety of reasons, so I've decided to take it upon myself to give the readers what they want. i.e, an update. (What the hell does 'i.e.' stand for, anyway? Some Latin crap would be my guess, but I never exactly payed attention when we took Latin classes. What's the point in learning a useless, outdated language?)

My name is Claire, and you may call me The Awesome One. Muahaha. No, but seriously, I'm basically the person who does the most and is out most and rocks the world the most beside T. Chances are, if you've known us for any period of time really, you've met me at least once. People at work have, Shannon has, family has many many times, random people at the grocery store or on the street. Others vied for the position of First Alter To Post but in the end all agreed (even if grudgingly) that I had the right to it. So nyah!

So basically here's what's been happening over the last couple of weeks.

We went to the women's health center and got the titties ultrasound-ed only to be told that everything is fine and we should drink less caffeine. I guess technically we don't drink as much as most people since we hate those freaking energy drink things, but we drink soda like it's heroin. (You know, if you drank heroin.) We really haven't cut back much but we've been trying to limit soda to when we're at work, and it seems to be helping. Still, it could also just be the time of month, though, since the lumps fluctuate with our cycle.

I don't think she mentioned this before but we also had this nasty mole that was supposed to get removed like a year ago and we finally went to a dermatologist and got it biopsied. They didn't really remove it, I guess, but they still sliced it off over the top for the biopsy and so you basically can't see it anymore. The doctor said it'll probably grow back after a while, though. Anyway, the biopsy came back negative, so it doesn't really matter one way or another. Yay.

Our birthday itself passed pretty quietly. God knows T's not exactly a big party animal, right? We drove up to Boulder for the day with Crystal and Shannon, who flew all the way from Maryland to the freakish boredom of Colorado just for her stupid birthday. Awwwwwwww. Boulder was all right I guess, but it was a bunch of lame-ass hippies. So in other words, Shannon and T had a fabulous time while I basically retched all day because hippies are so stupidly annoying. Seriously, hippies are all full of sh-t.

Mostly though in the last few weeks we've just been working for way, way, way too many hours and too little pay. Several people in the bakery have either been fired or voluntarily quit or transferred from the bakery to other parts of the restaurant and so they've been working the rest of us into the ground. On the plus side, the paychecks are big.

OH YEAH. I completely forgot to discuss the therapist sitch. Essentially, she sucks. I mean, she's really nice and I'm sure she's good in her own way and within her own realms of expertise. Problem of course being that she has absolutely no effing clue what to do with a crazy multiple with some eating disorders, some self-mutilation issues, some OCD, some of a little of a lot of things. In discussing her views on treatment goals she danced around it to try to appease us but couldn't fool me with how she was just trying to hide that she feels integration is the only ultimate treatment goal. I seriously about lost it on her withered old british ass.

T called and cancelled with her tomorrow but just did so with an excuse instead of calling the whole thing off. She's all upset because every one of the four different people she's seen in Colorado have had no clue what to do with us, said they'd help us, and ultimately sent us on to another worthless person. I mean seriously, they just keep shuttling us around, insisting that they're "helping" us and that they just want to send us to somebody more equipped to deal with us but they really just send us to someone else who has no effing clue. Maybe we'd have better luck just opening the phone book and pointing at random. Ann though thinks we should contact Doc M, our last therapist, and ask if she knows of anyone in Colorado and that's probably the best idea. Ann basically isn't good for much more than clever and practical ideas like that. :-P

Oh, so last thing before I go, because I fail at remembering important things to report on... Frank Warren contacted us a couple weeks ago to let us know that a reporter for the Boston Globe was interested in interviewing T about the Novare Project thing and we basically said hells yes, so tomorrow we're doing a phone interview with them tomorrow! T will probably make sure to let you know all the random glitzy details about which I really don't much give a sh-t.

Also, her parents sent her a digital camera for her birthday, so picture posts should be coming again soon. There are a couple from when Shannon was here, a few of the freaking kittens, and I know she wants to take pictures of her thread crochet stuff so she can sell them so we're not always so damn poor. I don't think we're used to having a camera yet, so there aren't many pictures because we keep not remembering to take any.

Well, I guess that's about all there is to say for now. We've got a stomach flu thing so we've been not moving all day and plan on doing so again tomorrow so we can feel better. Talk about putting a kink in the whole recovery thing... Effing stomach flus.

I'm sure you'll hear from me again before too long. Ciao kids.

--*---Claire---*--

10 September, 2007

Not much of an entry, but something

pWhat to write? Today, any update feels like an obligatory post more than an enjoyment. Not sure why...

In the past week, I have been to get my titties ultrasound-ed, the dermatologist to get a mole biopsied, and the new therapist for an intake. Item one went fine, item two was probably fine but am still waiting to hear back, and item three was also fine. I wasn't particularly impressed with this therapist, but neither did I have anything negative to say, really. It was an intake anyway so it was more me talking and answering standard questions than anything. I'll go back for another appointment and see how it goes from there.

On a side note, it's cold and grey and drizzly, Tallulah is draped across my lap/forearms, and Frankie is curled up next to me. Both of them are warm, furry, and purring, and precious. I don't know how I have survived depression without kittens for so long.

I'm starting to feel the effexor a smidge. Although my writing is stilted and sucky today, I'm sure it's not the fault of the medication... I'm sleepy and lazy and don't feel like writing is all. The effexor is contributing to life by making me feel a little more human and a little less hysterical on an average daily basis. It's pretty cool, actually. Scratch that: thank god for medication. I've needed it so badly for so long. I'm still getting to a maintenance dosage on it, and as such haven't started the Wellbutrin yet... Probably next week for that one. I do have both prescriptions filled, just haven't started taking them both.

Really, all that's been going on lately has been work. One person in the bakery transferred out to a different work station and another was fired last week, so we've got a lot of holes to fill. This actually works out well for me, as it's the slowest time of the year serving-wise (much better to be paid by the hour and have lots of hours, even if they're boring) and in addition to that, Crystal and I came upon an unexpected $800 bill. It is throwing quite a kink into an already struggling machine. We've gone from chicken, rice and the occasional salad to easy mac and peanut butter and jelly. It especially sucks that this should come right when it did... Just before my birthday and our three year anniversary. ::wibble:: What little I'd saved for the occasions now has to go to this damned bill. Well, not all... I'm still going to make sure something nice happens for each. Just, it won't be as nice.

Le sigh. At this point, I've actually got to be headed back in to work... I've got a server shift from 11:30 to 3ish, then have to be back at 7 to close the bakery. Lame!

29 August, 2007

So where do we go from here?

The more I've been thinking about it, the more I've come to the conclusion that it might be best for me to answer some common misconceptions about DID. It feels lame, but there ya go. It's sometimes hard to realize that most people really don't have a clue about what DID is, and those who do probably don't understand it at all beyond a confused sort of basic concept. I hate Q&As, though, so I'm going to kind of do this as a cohesive entry, just sort of answering unasked questions.

I'm not demon possessed. For one thing, my alters aren't tormentors - at least, no more than any people can be when they feel like being irritating, and that's only some of the time. They don't suggest that I do things, they don't make me miserable, they don't urge me to behave badly or whatever. One important thing to note, too, is that I don't perceive my alters as coming from somewhere else, some outside source - they're as much a part of my body and mind as I am, and have been for pretty much as long as I can remember. For me, being alone in my head, having only one set of thoughts, is as weird a concept as the idea of having more than one person is to you.

Also, to say that DID is a therapy-induced phenomena is just bullshit. Pardon my French, but there it is. If nothing else, I've known about my alters long before I had a term for what they were called, years and years before I ever started therapy or took a psychology course or in any way knew what DID even was. The best way I've thought to describe it is that when I talk to myself, my selves talk back. It's always been that way. I don't even have to be a part of the conversation; there have always been other people there chatting away. (Yes. It can be extremely distracting.) I guess it's like being in a chat room, to a certain extent.

I first remember being distinctly aware of alters when I was about thirteen. Still though, as with most people with DID, thirteen is about when I first start having any memories of my childhood... I know that the whole reason I started keeping a daily journal when I was eleven was because I was so freaked out that I often couldn't remember what had happened to me the day before. (This is called dissociative amnesia - the reason I don't have memories of some things is that other alters were 'fronting' and therefore are the ones who experienced the events. Those times when I've been blanked out and unaware of what was going on because someone else was fronting are called dissociative fugues.) It's incredibly interesting to look over some of my earliest journals, especially... There are several very distinct handwriting patterns, one for each person who was writing. We're not even all right-handed.

Contrary to media portrayals, very few multiples have just two personalities. I certainly don't. If you want to get technical and statistical, the average number you'll see in most authoritative sources is actually sixteen alters; or seventeen people, altogether. The main person is usually called the 'host'. We have all agreed that every single one of us HATES that term. It makes it sound like we're freaking parasites or something, perpetuating that idea that DID is demon possession. We've had a hard time thinking of some better term, though. We tossed around the idea of saying the 'original' for a while, but that's not accurate, either... Often the person who is out most in adult life was NOT the original person. We've loosely decided to call Tina the front-runner, but Crystal doesn't like that term and not everyone agrees... For lack of a better one, it works.

Everybody has a name. Probably you'll know most, maybe all of them, eventually... Some of us are really shy. Most are younger than Tina, a couple are older, a couple are the same age. Some get older as the body does, some don't; some have ages that fluctuate depending on the day and how they're feeling. Everybody picked their own names, but we kinda more just felt like they were supposed to be our names... They were just the names that felt most right. They fit best.

The alters DON'T all have specific 'jobs'. Nobody's specifically the angry alter, the sad alter, the dangerous alter, the sex alter. Yes, some could sort of be classed into things... But no more than you, based on your personality, could be classified an angry person or a happy person or a playful person. You're not always happy all the time and it isn't your JOB to be happy. Make sense?

Sometimes, when the system is having a really really hard time functioning because of depression or whatever, we do have specific alters with specific tasks. They come and go, though, and don't have names. They're not full-fledged people, just jobs. That's all they exist for - somebody to make sure the laundry gets done or the bills get paid or whatever, like robots. They're called fragments, or splinter personalities: we just call them frags. Like I said, though, they don't always exist. In an ideal world, we're able to function well enough that we can be responsible for our own things. When times get really tough, though, they are certainly helpful. Wouldn't everybody like a robot who always made sure the dishes got done? :-P

The reason DID is still a disorder is that it can be pretty damned hard to get everyone to cooperate and function well together. You've seen reality TV shows, where a bunch of people get tossed into a house, told to live together, share common goals, whatever... Imagine they were all tossed into the same body. And that they all had some sort of psychological disorder before that happened.

In particular, DID can be dangerous when one or more alters are suicidal. One of ours in particular has had lots of serious bouts of suicidality. She understands that killing herself kills everybody, but when she is really depressed she tends to be convinced that it would be something of a mercy killing. That even though not all the alters want to die, they'd still be better off in the long run if they did. Similarly, when one of the non-recovery oriented anorexic alters wants to fast, or an alter wants to cut, or one of the young ones gets frightened and hides somewhere without warning, that can put everyone in jeopardy.

Some people believe the goal of therapy should be integration; all alters merging into one cohesive person. We solidly disagree. To us, that feels like murder. A lot of multiples feel that way about integration... Why sacrifice the lives of beautiful and unique people because some cultural idea of normal says there should only be one mind in one brain? Having more than one person in a body is not necessarily harmful. Often, it can be beneficial. Our goal in therapy is to have a working, cooperating sort of family system.

I think that's about all for now? It seems like we're running out of things to say, so I guess it'll have to do. If you haven't yet, I encourage you to look at some of the links we posted... They really are good. The Significant Other's Guide is helpful for anyone who knows an alter, not just SOs.

27 August, 2007

Multiple Confessions

It's so hard to write when your hands are shaking...

Perhaps as long as the science of psychology has been around, people have prescribed art and writing assignments as ways of healing damaged minds. I've always used my writing to help me cope with painful emotional and mental difficulties that have come up throughout my life. Especially lately, as I've been preparing to re-enter therapy for real and seriously this time, I've been increasingly aware of the fact that I can neither be fair to you, as readers, nor fair to myself without being completely honest in this blog.

It isn't fair to YOU because you've come to read a truthful, raw, sincere blog. It isn't fair not to give you the complete picture, to skate over aspects of my life which I'm too frightened to discuss. For one thing, it may well leave you lost since you'll only be getting fractured glimpses. Beyond that this incomplete, bullet-style relation is boring, if nothing else. It's all the reasons for which I hate abridged books... and yet that's what I'm doing to my blog, for fear of the consequences of honesty.

Granted, whoever first said honesty was the best policy must have led a pretty damned sheltered existence at best. Complete honesty is only an occasionally wise move, subject to factors variable and diverse as the audience and the weather. I'm not endorsing a life lived entirely in lies, but discretionary disclosure and carefully tainted perspectives can still get you out of a hell of a lot of trouble. How many thousands of people would have survived over the years had they only told a small lie when pressed by the man with the sword?

So now you see a bit of the dilemma I face. Honesty for the sake of true, quality writing? Honesty for the sake of my recovery?

Lies for the sake of face, humiliation, security, friends...family?

As I've known since the first of my livejournals to this, my most recent and current blog, there are more than faceless strangers reading the words I type. Even through those periods in my life when I've tried to hide my words, I knew that if someone really wanted to, they'd find a way to read them (and often did). I'm sure of many who read this and suspect many more, ranging from lovers to best friends to siblings and parents, uncles and aunts and therapists, cousins, former teachers, coworkers, casual acquaintances, schoolmates, god knows whom else. That's a whole lot of an audience. I've now way of knowing if they read daily or when the fancy hits them, if they care about me as a person or find this an interesting read. I've had people find my blog by googling random subjects or being referred from and recommended by well-known sites.

...All that makes this blog seem a lot more impressive than it is, and the stakes much higher than they are.

In the end it boils down to me being aware that the confession I want to make is controversial even in some of the best of academic and psychiatric circles. Media portrayals, which adore any slightly comical, novel idea, love to misconstrue the realities of it to fit into their needs, to the detriment of anyone trying to come out about their situation. Popular opinion loves to snatch quickly at what they understand, add a liberal helping of speculation, a portion of doubt and ridicule, and a heaping of false facts and gossip to everything they hear and see.

All these things said, I wish to discuss a couple more disclaimers before continuing.

To my friends: please comment with your support, but don't do so without being informed. While this is an entry about something I'm frightened to reveal, I'm actually quite happy with it in many ways. It's not nearly as shameful as outsiders think. It's complicated, yes, and can be quite embarrassing, awkward, even dangerous, but this is neither a death sentence nor a mark of disability. Just an aspect of who I am.

To my family: you are the biggest reason I've hesitated; not gonna lie. Your religious views in particular make this an especially complicated thing to discuss because as much as you learn and are willing to research, many churches remain way behind the times on psychiatric issues, leaving you in an unfortunate position of being subtly or blatantly misinformed and not aware of it. I ask you now to show me the respect of not talking to me about this until I give you the okay. I encourage you to learn more; if you want, I'm happy to recommend books and websites and Crystal probably can show you even more resources than I can. But please, don't send me a long letter/email/phone call telling me you're praying for me and recommending resources of your own and encouraging me to talk to a pastor and that you understand/have answers etc, etc. Please don't be offended, but I don't want your resources. This is something I've been aware of for years, and I've done tons of research on my own. I've talked to doctors with specialties and degrees you probably don't know exist. Especially when I lived in DC I went to institutes with 'National' in front of the title to make sure I could get the best care possible.

...God, that makes it sound like I'm dying! Okay. Before I go any farther and make you think I've got some rare, bizarre brain dementia or fungus or am infested by sentient, parasitic slugs (Animorphs, anyone?), let me state first and foremost that aside from any previously mentioned health issues, I am fine. There is NOTHING organically or physiologically or otherwise physically wrong with me. This is completely mental, and even then I hesitate to use the common nomenclature 'disorder'.

My name is Tina Malament. I'm twenty-almost-one years old. I'm a waitress. I have major depressive disorder, anorexia nervosa, obsessive compulsive tendencies, various other diagnoses....

And dissociative identity disorder.

Commonly misinformed, many people call it multiple personality disorder (which is an outdated term).

I don't have a good side and an evil side. (Please do me the courtesy of not relegating me to a coin or a comic book villain!) I'm not demon possessed. I'm not bipolar, I don't alternate between highs and lows born from a chemical imballance.

To clarify on my pet peeve, I DON'T HAVE F-ING SCHIZOPHRENIA! I don't hear voices the way you might think; I don't have a false perception of reality or hallucinations or a savior complex. Dissociative Identity Disorder (hereby: DID) is often portrayed/labelled in mass media events as schizophrenia. See also: Heroes, Me, Myself, and Irene, Fight Club, etc. Some of those have elements of DID which are pretty accurate.... Others are completely bullshit off the mark. (Actually, I really liked a lot of the way it was portrayed in Heroes, beyond the artistic licenses taken... The way she looked when switching personalities and the way she described the amnesia are pretty good. Fight Club, on the other hand, sucked. Great movie, but sucked.)

If you've seen/read Sybill, you should know that I have no desire to be hypnotized and integrated. It would probably not help, for one thing. That book, while seen as a sort of media authority on DID, is roughly fifty years out of date when it comes to the actual assessment and treatment of the disorder.

Yes, I have more than one 'personality part'. They're called alters. Yes, they have names, genders, age ranges, complete memories and life histories and very diverse opinions on life, the universe, and everything. Some of them often appear more harmful than others; some are sweet, some tend to be very angry, some exist for very specific purposes and can seem simplistic because of this. Many are good at things which I'm bad at, or vice versa. We have different opinions about freaking everything, speak differently, have different typing and spelling errors, different tastes in foods, even different health problems. We hold our body differently depending on who's out. We like different clothes and colors and activities.

Probably you'll get introduced to everybody as they see fit. Several have already written the entries in this blog; you may or may not have noticed when writing styles shift, vocabularies and sentence styles vary. Maybe you'll notice now that you're looking for it; who knows. Maybe when you expect someone to be a single, cohesive person it's harder to realize when they aren't.

I think we're going to cut it off now. That's probably enough to think about for one day, right?

Here are a couple of websites for you to look at since we barely covered the basics of what DID is... We've been over it so many times with so many people that it gets really tiresome to discuss after a while, particularly when there are so many valuable resources on the internet!
--->Merck - fairly awesome for overview purposes, except for the treatment goals part.
--->Religious perspectives and misperceptions answered. Sort of.
--->Surprisingly good FAQ section on a random AOL-sponsored information site.
--->The Significant Others' Guide to coping with DID

Oh yeah, one final thing... Please, please, do me a personal favor and DO NOT go to wikipedia for information about this. Their entry on the subject was so inflammatory and ill-informed that it made me write a nasty letter to wikipedia about it and create an account so that I could try to go in and edit the entry. (Which I never got done, but still, I worked on it. The entry is so riddled with error that it needs to be completely rewritten and we haven't had the energy for it.)

Shannon, thank you for all the support you've given us since we told you. Probably if you hadn't taken the news so well we wouldn't be able to come out here and now... (Are you proud?)

Readers... We now humbly await your thoughts.

25 August, 2007

Status overview

Well, at long last, we have internet in the apartment. Hooray! Commence celebrating!

Essentially what happened is that the modem arrived Monday but, when we tried to set it up, it quickly became apparent that the little plastic bundle of wires and microchips was completely worthless. (When all lights stand solid red it's never a good sign.) I called Qwest and scheduled for a technician to come over today, on the first day off I've had in a week. Quickly, painlessly, in the course of half an hour, a new modem was slipped in and set up and now all is well.

Otherwise, there's little to report from Colorado. I've been working close to constantly and fighting off a cold/sinus infection/thing with about as much of a respite. Today being the first day I've had off since last Saturday, I plan on parking my ass on the couch with South Park, movies, what-have-you, trying to find something to eat in the bare-bones kitchen, and otherwise resting and allowing my respiratory system to heal. Ideally I should be picking up shifts and trying to bulk up my hours and income, but at the moment I think healing needs to take priority to allow for the rest.

Money, money, money. Cursed money. It feels as though we live in a perpetually broke state of existence though, in reality, it's probably not as bad as it seems. Granted, things are tight. Nevertheless, we are meeting our bills, paying for our groceries, and even affording some nice perk now and then (see also: internet access). Funds will undoubtedly be getting tighter as we come upon the hurdles of Crystal's books for the semester and the newly acquired doctor's bills...

I saw a doctor last week and now have prescriptions for both Effexor and Welbutrin. Started on the Effexor starter pack several days ago - as such, have yet to see any effects or benefits, really. Plan on starting the Wellbutrin after reaching a maintenance dosage for the Effexor so as to pre-empt any conflict between the two while upping the levels. I figure that if there will be negative side effects from one or both, it'd be best to watch them one at a time so I know which medication is causing the detriment.

In addition to the prescriptions, I got a couple of referrals. I suppose I'll be honest about what the one is for: my breasts have lumps.

Dr. Schimke gave me a referral for a women's health clinic to do an ultrasound... There's a large one in the left breast which I noticed about a month ago, and a smaller one in the right, about the size of a marble. They vary in size depending on the day (and, I'm guessing, my cycle) and are also very tender - the doctor thinks they are cystic. Still, though, she's referred me out to a specialist to have them checked out and make sure there's nothing seriously wrong. I'm trying not to grow alarmed. As she said, I'm twenty years old, relatively healthy, there's not a history of breast cancer in my family... Everything ought to be fine... The appointment is September 4th, and I'll let you know as soon as I know anything else.

I'll also update you on the therapist situation as soon as I've met with her... When I called Aurora Mental Health, they told me it would likely be forty-five to sixty days before I received a call back to schedule an intake. Instead, they called me two days later. I've got an intake scheduled on September 5th. I'm rather apprehensive about it, as the therapist they've got me slated to see doesn't have the specialties I'm looking for, exactly. She's experienced in trauma and dissociative disorders but not eating disorders... Still, though, she's been in practice for many many years so I'm sure she's come across them before. Her main areas of expertise are couples counseling and drug/alcohol addiction - I'm really not sure how d.ds and trauma counseling fit in there. We'll see.

With that little overview complete, I'm off to rest more and read more. I finally finished Atlas Shrugged last week and started on Les Miserables. I'm already three hundred pages in to the unabridged version, surprising no one more than myself. Who would have thought I'd charge through Les Mis with such voracity? It's comforting at least to read great works when I'm out of school... I feel less lazy and ignorant.

I wish all of you the best as you start back in to school for the fall. Remember to take care of yourselves in the midst of the chaos.

15 August, 2007

Still alive and still kicking that dead horse

Jesus H. Is this REALLY the FIRST chance I've had to update my blog since returning from MD on the 2nd? Answer: Yes. Yes it is. Suck.

Our piggy-backed internet officially decided to give us the boot at home, so that greatly limits my ability to update. Then too, working 40+ hours since the first morning I was back doesn't help at all in the free time department... I've been making a lot of money, but, god am I tired.

Today would have been my fifth double shift in a row but for the fact that a friend offered to pick up the AM shift so that I don't have to be in until 5:45 tonight, allowing me time to settle my ass at It's A Grind (BEST COFFEE SHOP EVER), with an iced chai (I've recently become a fan: finally, I'm a true lesbian!), a checkbook to be ballanced (hooray internet banking; I don't want to begin to think about how snarled it is), a blog to be updated (at this point I feel the need for a parenthesis after each statement), and a doctor to be found (I suppose I'm trusting to fate and location since I know no one here). (Parentheses: the new black. Or comma.) Damn but that was the longest sentence ever.

Oh yeah! And also, I have a birthday party to plan if I have time! Old as I may feel, I still am only partially legal. Isn't that lame? It's not even as though I drink, but the mere fact that I can buy and own a car, rent an apartment, join the military, what-the-f-ever, but not get a glass of wine at a restaurant pisses me off. All this will change on September 16th when my last Big Birthday for twenty years will occur. It's weird, planning my twenty-first... Honestly, I've felt so old for so long that it seems trite.

...Wow. What do I have to say? This is nothing but a tangle of rambles, all frustrated before the point of meaning. This is actually how I've been feeling lately about my life in general, though whether or not the two are in any way connected is debatable.

Lately, waitressing has felt even more thankless and dead-end than it already has... Though I'm still bringing in a fair amount, enough at least to pay the bills, I get off a shift feeling more as though I've been begging for change or turning tricks than legitimately being paid for a job well done. Every 5$ tip on a 90$ check (see also: last night) makes perfectly executed service feel like a joke. If the person will pretty much tip what they're going to tip regardless of the service I give or the check they run, why bother? I ruin myself every night trying to make sure each table receives exemplary service but whether or not I'll be paid for that effort is a crap shoot.

My shoulder has been bothering me again, too, increasing with the hours I work. Hell, it's only been about eight months since my surgery and I'm back to double shifts pretty much every day I work... At this pace, the healthy, whole parts of my body won't stay such for long. People don't realize that waitressing takes an incredible toll on your body. Although I've been eating more I can't gain any weight or keep on what I've got because of waitressing so much... I may be eating Cheesecake Factory food every day, but the calories are all offset by the loaded plates I cart all over the restaurant, the trays of drinks, and constant speed-walking. I'm solid muscle, knots, and strains.

Yucky part is, I've got no clue where I'd rather work or what I'd rather do. What job can I get with a year's worth of college that has adequate pay, benefits, and satisfaction? That I'd enjoy? I have no clue. Especially with working in a mall, it seems that everyone here is older than I and stuck working too many hours in a dead end job because it's the best option they got. So many people here in Colorado are working to pay for the homes, cars, and KIDS on minimum wage, yet I'm making at least twice that and complaining about it. Why does it feel like that makes me a terrible person? I don't think it does...

Last night I was mourning my complete lack of connections here. I didn't exactly have the most outrageous network in DC, but I still new enough people that I could know where to go if I had a question about something, needed help. I had a Pulitzer prize winning author, senior literary professor at George Washington U offering to mentor me and help me become a better writer. I had opportunities. Now that I'm half a country away perhaps I'm not completely cut off from any way to improve but I certainly feel the disconnect. I don't know where to go or who to talk to. I've got no school, no professors, no friends outside my dead-end job. The only way up at Cheesecake is to step into management and I'll be damned before I become THAT much of a corporate whore.

...Of course, then I look at complete complete train wreck entries like this one and think that I ought to have learned better by now than to still have literary aspirations. I can't even keep a blog in one piece.

Well, my thought are trickling out at this point and I'm having a hard time sifting through the silt that remains. I'm going to now return to my doctor search... I've finally got health insurance now through Cheesecake, meaning that I can at long last find a therapist to stick with, a psychiatrist, and get back on some medication. With any luck, maybe my thoughts will be a little more cohesive and I'll have a better time trying to plan and think and do anything with some cocktail to temper my crazy thoughts. It's about time, I can tell you that much. I'm tired of crying myself to sleep at night with absolutely no provocation.

30 July, 2007

For those who so love to complain about the infrequent updates

Shannon, this one's for you. :-P

It's come to my attention that my picture(s?) may be circulating the nets, specifically certain livejournal comms, as thinspiration. ...No, screw it, no, I don't want to write this update right now. I'm too tired and still way too conflicted about this issue to think it through clearly. I guess, can I leave the subject with the words 'cognitive dissonance'? Because that epitomizes and summarizes how I'm feeling right now. I feel guilty, hypocritical, flattered, guilty again, jealous and triggered by the thought of my own image as thinspo. It's doing quite a work on my head.

The rest of my body is sunburned.

The rest of my thoughts are tired.

And all of me is going to bed now...

22 July, 2007

Entry in Brief

If you'll take a look to your right at the Etsy widget, you may notice a new picture. This is because the self-injury awareness/recovery design is done!!! Yay!!!


...Not sure what all to say about that other than yay, it seems.


Actually, I mainly just want to get my butt off the computer and back to HP and the Deathly Hallows. I'm about three hundred pages in and want to plug away at it some more before working tonight... Harry Potter Harry Potter Harry Potter ZOMG!! LOL. Ummm, yes.


16 July, 2007

Idle hands...

It's odd how days off actually seem to be what kill me a little.

Working thirty-five to forty hours a week exhausts me on every level, but conversely it gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning, shower, dress nicely, and generally pull myself together. I've lately had a bad habit (tongue in cheek on that 'habit' part) of dissociating somewhat throughout the work day... I'm the dead-end job zombie on so many levels. Is it better to go through a series of depersonalized days, but to get through them nonetheless, or to be like I was in DC and fall apart all the time at work? I'm starting to think the reason I never was promoted to a trainer position was that they couldn't trust my emotional stability... God knows how many times they had to send me home because I couldn't stop sobbing.

When I've got a day off, though, it tends to be bad news. Work keeps me busy, work keeps me distracted. More importantly perhaps, it keeps me talking to people and smiling a lot (even if the smiles are fake - fake it 'til you make it?). Days like today, I'm bogged down with household chores and domestic errands, like three hours at the DMV and hundred-dollar grocery trips. By the end of a 'day off' I'm more tired and emotional than a work day. More prone to sobbing and manic cleaning sprees as a method to hopefully ward off self-injury.

I play with my keettens and try to channel the emotional tension/energy into art projects, but more often than not I get frustrated with the whole affair and stare hopelessly at a blank page for hours. I try to read, but internal chaos can be unbelievably distracting. It's like being on a poorly fitting medication; the words jump on the page, lines blur and buzz, my eyes read and reread and generally can't stay focused for sh-t.

Being alone while Crystal's at work is especially bad. I talk to myself, I talk to myselves, I talk to the kittens, I talk to the walls. I fall silent when I feel especially crazy. The silence hems me in and makes me feel crazier. I turn on the TV for company and get angry at the characters for always saying the same things, never varying, never wavering or blinking if I scream at them. (Film characters are quite pretentious that way, it seems. Worst of all, if you watch the same movie twice, you'll notice no one ever does anything new, not so much as a sigh or a sneeze. ) So I turn off the TV and am again stuck with that god-awful silence....

Come August first my new insurance kicks in. God help the man who stands in the way of me and a psychiatrist... First thing I'm going to do is get on some meds.

Don't get me wrong, I still think medication tends to be overprescribed. From what I've seen, too many people are on it who don't need it, and the stigma surrounding medication because of that means that too many people who legitimately need it are afraid to take it. Our system is completely f-kd up. I want to slap every media guru who's referenced happy pills and made derogatory comments about crazy people, therapists, Freudian psychology, psych meds, and on and on and on. All this stigma and negative stereotyping doesn't make our lives any easier. It's hard enough to get onto medication because of personal fears; external derision helps nothing.

....Can you tell I'm a little out of focus tonight?

That's why I need medication... To calm the racing thoughts just a little, temper the moods, ease the rumination, soothe the reason-less hurt. Medication really does exist for a REASON. It really is meant to help, not stupefy or control or drug you happy. It doesn't work that way, for one thing. Medication isn't going to cure me in the slightest. It's just going to help calm me enough that I'll be able to get a more solid start on recovery.