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.