Category Archives: sickness

I’m too high to write this but I’m going to anyway.

So yesterday I thought it would be fun to leave free books around town and then post pictures of them so people could find them, and I finished one drop…

…and then 40 minutes later I was here:

My God, I’m photogenic. So corpselike.

Long story short, an alien was chewing its way out of my stomach and I started fainting and I couldn’t feel my hands or legs, and then I died.  Except not the last part.  But it felt like it.  Plus the pain lead to a major panic attack so basically it was a great day.  Victor was out of the State (BECAUSE OF COURSE HE WAS) but luckily, my friend Maile was there to drive me to the hospital and hold me against my wheelchair when I passed out and she stayed with me during many tests and morphine shots and she wrote down all the weird stuff I said while I was high and messaged it to me in real time because she’s awesome like that.  Also, she took that picture of me at my request so I could prove to Victor that I was in the hospital because the morphine made me worried that I was dreaming this and apparently I thought Victor would be mad when all these bills came in from my dream.

Also, the nurse left this giant thing in my bed in case I needed to vomit and when I noticed it I was like, “This is the most unrealistic condom ever”…

…and then I started talking about cosmetic vagina surgery and about how I didn’t even know what it was supposed to look like best case scenario.  Like, am I supposed to want a giant labia, or no labia at all?  What are people asking these doctors for?  Butterfly vaginas?  Tiny moths?  Vagina dentata?  I asked the nurse and she was like, “Hell if I know.  That shit’s crazy.”  She was awesome.

Also, they said I had a very elevated level of lactate (?) and I was like, “That can’t be right.  I couldn’t even breast-feed and I’m lactose intolerant.”  But apparently this was something else related to infections or shock.  In the end they gave me a bunch of meds, including one for irritable bowel syndrome and that was the one that finally made my stomach stop trying to turn itself inside out so I guess I can add that to my list of “WHY MY BODY IS AN ASSHOLE”.

I’d explain this all better if I wasn’t still on drugs to keep the alien inside me quiet.  Sorry.

PS. My spellcheck tried to change “vagina dentata” to “vagina al dente”, which is taking weird to a whole new level.  Quit it, spellcheck.

*******

And now…time for the weekly wrap-up!

sid2

 

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Story Worth, which is a pretty cool idea I think I’m going to try myself.  From them:”This year, give Mom a StoryWorth Book to preserve her stories. Each week, we’ll email her a question about her life – asking her to recount her favorite memory of her grandparents, or whether she’s ever pulled any great pranks. All she has to do is reply with a story, which is forwarded to you and any other family members you invite. At the end of the year, her stories are bound in a beautiful keepsake book your family will cherish!”  Check it out here.

Sometimes you can go home again.

This weekend Victor had to work so Hailey and I drove to my parent’s house where my sister and her kids were visiting from California.  And it was lovely and funny and weird and exhausting and fabulous – all the things you want when you go home again.

My parents house was busting with eight people sleeping under one roof, but in a good sort of way where everywhere you turn you see people cooking or helping or playing or laughing, and every spare minute was filled with games and exploring caves or camping.  My sister Lisa and I had gently laughed at Hailey exclaiming how much better the air was in the country (as we reminded her that we were within smelling distance of a pig farm, a taxidermy studio, and a rendering plant) but at night we’d go out and look at the stars in a sky that is never as big or bright as it is outside the home we grew up in, and we breathed in and reluctantly agreed that there was a sweetness to the air that didn’t exist anywhere else.

Coming back to the home I grew up in is a luxury most people don’t get.  My parents are still alive.  The land and house has changed over the years but the people in it are still the same.  And at night when I stand on their porch and look up at the stars I feel a deep, physical healing.  I suspect it’s like other people feel when they go to a spa or take a vacation, but the raw feeling of being there is like having my heart wrapped up in new, tight bandages…pulling back together the parts that have started to fall away.

My family knows that my mental and physical issues cause chronic exhaustion so often I’d have to go to bed just when the night got exciting, but that’s just a part of being me and I’ve come to accept that if I push myself too hard I might end up in a pit too deep to come out of.  And it was fine.  Disappointing, of course, but fine.  Until Easter Sunday when I woke up and realized that I had no spoons left.  Hailey and I got dressed in our new Easter dresses and I helped my nieces get ready but already I could tell that I could either go to my uncle’s for Easter and visit with a giant house full of dozens of people I love, or I could safely stay awake for the hours I would be driving back home that day.  But not both.  So as I helped my family load up into their cars I told them I had to leave.  And they understood instantly and supported my decision as only people who truly love you can do.  And I felt so lucky.  And so unlucky.  And sad for Hailey whose Easter dress would go to waste and who was so sad but so instantly understanding when I explained that I just didn’t have it in me to do something that normal people could do without thinking.

My family drove to my uncle’s and Hailey and I drove the opposite way, starting our long drive home.  We stopped along the way so I could stay alert and awake.  We stopped at family graves. We picked flowers at a rest stop.  We ate Easter dinner at the Dairy Queen drive thru.  And we stopped at an ancient farm house I’ve seen a million times.  We always pass it on the way home and it’s been abandoned since before I was born.  I’ve always wondered of its history, imagining the ghosts that cling to it and wondering if I’d lived there in a former life because it was the only way I could ever explain my intense fascination with it.  It’s begun a steady decline in the past few years and now part of the roof has collapsed and the old windmill is teetering dangerously.

I realized that this might be the last time I see it so Hailey and I pulled over and stood silently in the shadow of the beautiful decay.

I was pleased to see that Hailey was just as drawn to the place, and although we couldn’t get too close (because it wasn’t stable enough to safely explore) we talked about how strange it was that a broken, ruined thing could be so beautiful.  That sometimes ruin beckons you more than magnificence, telling a story more interesting and important and provocative than you could imagine.  That sometimes broken can be lovely, and that the collapsed roof could be seen as ugly, but it also let the light in in such a fragile and brilliant way, allowing doves to build nests in the unexpected skylight.

I took a few pictures to capture it in case it’s gone the next time I pass it and I whispered a thanks to whoever had built it and to whoever still watches over it.  It’s still important and breathtaking, even if it’s come undone.  It’s just a shell, but with the right eyes it’s so much more.

I think we’re all that way sometimes.

We got back in the car and drove on, and I felt the familiar crack I always get in my chest when I’m driving away from my childhood town.  It always hurts.  It’s always the same.  But the pain – while almost unbearable for a second – is less than the healing I get from returning.  I wish I could do it backward…have the pain first and the healing after…but that’s not how life works, and I remind myself that I still leave with more than I came with.

I am broken.  I am healed.  I am ruined.  I am beautiful.  I am abandoned.  I am beloved.  I am a house that is no longer a house.  I am better and worse all at the same time.  I breathe deeply and smile at my daughter, who smiles back at me.  She tells me that this is a very strange Easter, but she likes it.

A dove flies out of the collapsed roof and catches the sunlight, unaware that its home is anything other than perfect.

I’m slowly being murdered by my own face

me:  My allergies are killing me.

Victor: What are you allergic to?

me: Weed.

Victor:  Then stop smoking weed.

me:  No.  Ragweed.  It’s a pollen or something.  And it’s causing me to suffocate myself.

Victor:  Um…what?

me:  I can’t breathe.  I’M DROWNING IN ME.

Victor:  Unlikely.  At best you’re drowning in mucus.

me:  No.  Because I’ve already blown my nose so much that my nasal tissues are all inflamed and swollen so technically my own body is smothering me.  It’s like my nose has given up on life and is taking the rest of my body down with it.

Victor:  Sounds bad.

me:  It’s like a murder attempt that you can’t even report.  BECAUSE THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.

Victor:  You’re making even less sense than usual.

me:  That’s because there isn’t as much oxygen getting to my brain.  It’s like my nose is trying to cut all the lines of communication.  HELTER SKELTER, VICTOR.

Victor:  You need to go lie down.

me:  And it’s not just my nose.  It’s my sinuses and my throat and my itchy eyes.  It’s like my whole face is colluding together to kill me.

Victor:  Hmm.

me:  Is that a thing?  “Collusion to murder?”

Victor:  Not when all the parties are from the same face.

me:  It should be.  When I die from this I want you to make a new law that makes faces accountable for murder.

Victor:  We’ll call it “Jenny’s Law”.

me:  No.  Call it “Treaties on Time Traveling Ninjas”.  That way people will look at it.

Back on tour…LAST LEG! (Probably)

First off, thank you.  Thanks for the amazing support you continue to give me and others here on this blog.

I’m feeling much better and the depression cleared away just in time for several doctors to encourage me to be tested for multiple sclerosis, which would be my third autoimmune disease and thus would complete my trifecta of your-body-wants-you-dead disorders.  Apparently though there isn’t a cure for it so I plan on just ignoring it and assuming I already have it, much like the polio, mumps and testicular cancer that Web MD assures me I have.  In other words, nothing more to worry about than usual.  Plus, MS apparently causes brain disturbances (which explains a lot) so whenever Victor accuses me of zoning out and not listening to him I just say “I HAVE MS, YOU ASSHOLE” and then I win whatever we were talking about.  Or possibly Victor angrily reminds me that I probably have no such thing.  I don’t really know because I’m not listening. Because I have MS.  Or because Victor is boring.  Maybe both.

Also, you aren’t allowed to yell at me for making fun of MS since I may have it.  Those are the rules of MS.  Also, I get the last slice of pie and I’m allowed to bring service kittens with me to help calm all of my sclerosis’s.  These are new MS rules I just made up but that doesn’t make them any less valid.

And in non (I probably don’t have) MS news, I’m leaving for the last leg of my tour tomorrow and there was another Chicago stop added on June 9th so please come if you can!

Leg three
But in spite of my lack of witticisms I would LOVE it if you’d come to see me on my last week on the road.  Here’s where I’ll be in two weeks:

Wednesday, June 6 at 7pm ~ Montclair, NJ

Thursday, June 7th ~ Blogworld NY

Friday, June 8th at 7pm ~ Brookline, MA

NEW: Saturday, June 9th at 12pm ~ Chicago IL (Center Stage at Printers Row Book Fair)

Sunday, June 10th at 2pm ~ Chicago, IL  (Sold out)

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So now, time for the weekly wrap-up…

What you missed in my shop (tentatively called “Eight pounds of uncut cocaine” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

What you missed on the internets:

This week on shit-I-didn’t-come-up-with-but-wish-I-did-because-it’s-kind-of-awesome:

  • I got nothin’.  I’ve been depressed all week.  Your turn.  Entertain me, y’all.
This week’s wrap-up sponsored by In Stitches, by Anthony Youn.  Full of heart
and humor, a memoir about becoming a doctor that’s unlike anything you’ve
ever read before.  I haven’t finished it myself but I recommend you check it out here.

Wow.

24 hours ago I published the hardest post I ever had to write.  I’m pretty open about my struggles with depression and anxiety disorder, but yesterday I finally decided I was ready to write about my issues with self-harm.  I can’t go into details because that’s a trigger for me (and for most people who self-injure) but I’m not sure what I expected.  I think I expected my hard-core friends and readers to say something supportive and then sort of back away slowly out of not knowing how to respond.  Instead, thousands of comments poured in.  All of them supportive, understanding, and so many relieved and hopeful that one day they could come out of the closet about their darkest secrets.  I was flooded with DM’s and emails from people who weren’t ready to come out but suffered from things I never would have imagined.  Many were from friends I’ve known for years, and I found myself wanting to say the very thing that I dreaded hearing myself.  “But you seem so normal.”  And the truth is that they are.  I once sarcastically said that “crazy is the new normal” but it’s not sarcasm anymore.  We’re all different.  Each unique.  But that uniqueness that sets us apart is also what brings us together.  Some people call it “the human condition.”  I call it “amazing.”

I can’t respond to all of the comments and emails and DM’s but I am reading them and I can’t tell you how completely unburdened I feel.  More importantly though, I want you to know what you’ve done for others.  I had a lot of emails telling me how much my post helped them.  I had many, many more telling me how the response to my post helped them.  So many people listened, frightened, in silence to see how the world would respond to something that so many think of as shameful or an aberration.  They waited for the condemnation or the silence but it never came.  Those comments you left changed lives.

Last night an email came in from a woman whose twin daughters had both committed suicide because of depression.  One had died only a few weeks ago and her mother made sure her obituary explained that depression had taken her child’s life, because she wanted people to know that it was okay to talk about it…because the more we admit these things the less we hide them away from the help we need.   Then I got an email from a girl who was contemplating suicide.  She said that after she saw the response to my post she decided that she wasn’t as alone or unfixable after all and she started the process of getting help.  You did that.  You saved someone with nothing more than the power of words.

During the night twitter exploded with #silverribbons tweets and I loved how many people made their own, or painted them on their own bodies to show support.  A lot of people asked me to offer them in my shop, but honestly you can make them for free if you have a nickel’s worth of silver ribbon and a safety pin.  If you do want to buy one though you can buy them here and here.  Any profits will go to donating new red dresses for The Traveling Red Dress Project (A project designed to celebrate women in their strongest and weakest moments).

immortal bird Tomorrow I’m off to New York to do something that terrifies me, but I somehow feel more confident now, and it’s so amazing that that could come out of such vulnerability.  Thank you.  Thank you for not crushing me when you could.  Thank you for making me stronger so that no one else can.  Thank you for saving me and for saving each other.

PS.  This post wants a picture so I’m borrowing one from the fantastic Brooke Shaden.  I don’t know what she meant it to symbolize but it’s how I feel right now.  Still broken.  Still stuck.  Still fighting.  But feeling almost weightless from having this secret lifted off my chest.  Thank you for helping me carry this.

PPS. I promise my next post will be back to sweetly-raunchy and unhinged, irreverent glory.

The fight goes on.

If you follow me on twitter you already know that I’ve been battling off one of the most severe bouts of depression I’ve ever had.  Yesterday it started to pass, and for the first time in weeks I cried with relief instead of with hopelessness.  Depression can be crippling, and deadly.  I’m lucky that it’s a rare thing for me, and that I have a support system to lean on.  I’m lucky that I’ve learned that depression lies to you, and that you should never listen to it, in spite of how persuasive it is at the time.

When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery.  We call them survivors.  Because they are.

When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t.  We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.

When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate.  Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive.  We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker…but as survivors.  Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it.  Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand.

Regardless, today I feel proud.  I survived.  And I celebrate every one of you reading this.  I celebrate the fact that you’ve fought your battle and continue to win.  I celebrate the fact that you may not understand the battle, but you pick up the baton dropped by someone you love until they can carry it again.  I celebrate the fact that each time we go through this, we get a little stronger.  We learn new tricks on the battlefield.  We learn them in terrible ways, but we use them.  We don’t struggle in vain.

We win.

We are alive.

 **********

I wrote this post a month ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to post it then.  I was too weak from fighting to shout, and so instead I whispered this into the night and left it unpublished until I felt like I could speak to it with the battle-cry it deserves.  Years ago, coming out about depression and anxiety disorder was something frightening, but now people are more honest and open and so much of the shame has dissipated.  We may not have pink ribbons or telethons but we know that someone out there understands.  That is, until we’re honest about how it affects us.  I’ve never written about this because I can’t talk about it without it being a trigger but I think it’s important to be honest even when it’s scary.  Especially when it’s scary.

I self-harm.  I don’t do it all the time and it’s not enough to put me into an institution or threaten my well-being, but it’s enough to make it frightening to live in my body sometimes.  I’m far from suicidal.  I do it to self-sooth, because the physical pain distracts me from the mental pain.  It’s one of those things that’s impossible to explain to people who don’t understand impulse control disorder.  Honestly, I find it hard to understand it to myself and I’m working my ass off to fix it now before my daughter is old enough to see the things I don’t want her to see.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I am safe.  My disorder is fairly mild and is becoming more controlled.  I’m in therapy and I’m not in danger.  I avoid triggers and I’ve found therapies and drugs that are helping.  I’m getting better.  But I sort of feel like I can’t completely heal from this without being honest about it.  So here it is.  Judge me or not, I am the same person I was before.  And so are you.  And chances are that many of your friends, family and coworkers are dealing with things like this.  Things that are killing them a little inside.  Things that kill people who don’t get help.  Silent, bloody battles that end with secret victors who can’t celebrate without shame.  I hope that this post changes this somehow.  I hope that you feel safe enough to be honest about the things you are the most ashamed of.  I hope you have someone there telling you “It’s okay.  You’re still the same person to me.”

I hope to one day I see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle and that they celebrate the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like.

I hope one day to be better and I’m pretty sure I will be.  I hope one day I live in a world where the personal fight for mental stability is viewed with pride and public cheers instead of shame.  I hope it for you too.

But until then, it starts slowly.

I haven’t hurt myself in 3 days.  I sing strange battle-songs to myself in the darkness to scare away the demons.  I am a fighter when I need to be.  

And for that I am proud.