Friday, July 17, 2015

Why Do Defensive, Ann Coulter?

I didn't say you were transgender, but even if you were, why would you be so defensive and testy about it? What's the big shame issue? No one's accusing; they're just speculating. It's human nature. Perhaps concentrating on your being one of the world's meanest, crappiest quasi-journalists would be a better use of your time, instead of threatening lawsuits against EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY website that might imply that you may possibly be transgender. If you're 100% chick, rock it out, sister. Frankly, I don't care about your gender issues...I just think you're a bitch.

I will say, however, that your Adam's apple is INDEED impressive.

[Hiding under a bush]

Monday, May 4, 2015

Very Quickly: My Existential Crisis over The Colbeard Is Over!

Montclair, NJ Film Festival, May 1-10, 2015, with Richard (hubba hubba) Gere!

I know, I know. I haven't written a proper blog in 2 months. Like Stephen, I was in hibernation. While I did not grow the gray bush of mush on my face as my beloved favorite comedian did, I just didn't feel the love to write much recently. Interesting, given I've had nothing but down time for the last 2 months myself. I'm still on the fence about his longer's kind of sexy. Unlike Colbert, I'm getting a haircut tomorrow. After all, both of our birthdays are coming up in the next few days.

But this had to go:

Mr. Colbert, with all due respect, thank you on behalf of all of us who love you unconditionally, as long as you do not don this look ever again. How freeing it must have felt! Next time, see Steve Carrell. His beard is BOSS.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

How To Help Someone With Bipolar Disorder Who's In a Depressive Episode

Understandably, friends and family feverishly worry about a loved one who is manic/depressive and in a depressive episode. There are several tips and suggestions to help you adapt to that person's depression, which is just as hard on loved ones as it is on the bipolar patient.

From my experience, here are a few:

1. Please, whatever you do, do not ask us why we're depressed. While there may be triggers which precipitate a depressive episode, most of the time, we don't know why this feeling is looming over us. Ignorant questions irritate us further.

2. Try not to veil understanding of how we are feeling unless you're educated on bipolar disorder, because there's no possible way you could comprehend how we feel unless you've experienced it. It's a very dark place, and one we wish no one else would have to visit. Don't say, "Everyone gets depressed," because you have no idea how this type of depression presents itself.

3. Trust that the mood will pass in time. Please don't ask us when. We're just as anxious to feel normal as you are for us to feel normal, though we don't know what "normal' is. We only know "stable," and for those of us who "rapid cycle," stability doesn't last very long before we find ourselves either manic or depressed again.

4. Suggestions such as "Go out and get some fresh air and you'll feel better" don't work. Don't say, "Go exercise, go for a walk," because literally, we can barely move. We don't really feel like doing anything. Friends asking us to go out or do something helps a lot, so if you have free time, see if you can get us out of the house for a while, even if it's just to talk. Don't think your problems or feelings are any less important to us than our own, but we may have trouble iterating it. Just because we are wrapped up in negative thoughts doesn't mean we don't or can't offer constructive, happy thoughts to others. We try our best not to be selfish, but we have to be in order to take care of ourselves. Understand that most days, we need to sleep. A lot. If we're in bed until 2pm, or take a nap, don't chastise us as being "lazy." It is a struggle to get up and function.

5. Most of us mask our symptoms in order TO function and fit into regular lives. We're all good actors. Inevitably, we crash, though. Sometimes, we cry. Sometimes we get angry. Sometimes, we just want to go back to bed. If we cry, we often do it in solitude so as not to draw attention to ourselves or be pestered with questions.

6. Hug us if we ask you to. There's a power of the human touch which alleviates negative emotions and uncomfortable physical sensations, and it releases seratonin into our brains, which we need. If we're at our lowest and you still love us, let us know that. We already feel unlovable. (A lot of that has to do with the amount of criticism we receive BECAUSE we're depressed.) We want to be loved and cared about. We are still good friends and loved ones.

7. We take a lot of medication in order to survive. Please don't criticize our medications, how often we take them, what we take, or why. Don't assume "less is more," because that's not your call. It's between the patient and the psychiatrist. Don't wish we could be free of medications, because that's the quickest way for us to kill ourselves.

8.  Most of us don't want to die, but in the depressed moments, sometimes we wish we could. It is not a character flaw or a reflection of how we feel about other people. If we're in serious suicidal danger, take us to the hospital. If we just feel hopeless and pointless as individuals, kind of leave us alone, unless you have positive reinforcement to offer.

9.  Help us get the right emotional support and therapy we need. It's just as important as the medications.

10.  Make us laugh. A good belly laugh about something does wonders.

11. Empathy? Yes. Sympathy? No.

12. We'll talk when we're ready to talk.  Kind of like wearing a hotel's "Do not disturb" sign around one's neck, it's not an insulting slight against you if we just don't feel like socializing.

13. Please don't tell all your friends and other family members that your loved one is depressed. This isn't a gossip column.

13, Give us consideration that it takes an incredible amount of energy to stay on-task. As is same with mania, our brains are all over the place and it's close to impossible to start a task in depression or finish 18 tasks in mania. It's frustrating to not have the energy or interest to get things done that need to be done. We may only leave the house if we absolutely need to, and that has to be okay.

14.  It doesn't really help when you tell us, "Quit crabbing and feeling sorry for yourself. Other people have things harder than you do. Count your blessings." We already know this. We don't feel sorry for ourselves. We don't want pity, nor do we pity ourselves. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it's aggravating. We're doing the best we can.

15. One of the WORST things you can say to us is "How did you get bipolar disorder? What happened to make you this way?" That's a grave insult. We don't ask you how you got cancer, or diabetes, or that ugly mole on your neck. Bipolar disorder is not a transmittable disease. You won't catch it from us. It's an incurable brain disease. The latter sticks in our minds and adds to our hopelessness that things will never get better.

16. Your agendas and priorities for us will not likely match our own agendas for us. Take that into consideration before placing demands on us we cannot accomplish. We're neither misbehaving nor defying others' wishes.

17.  We can love you and hate you at the same time.

18.  If we have children, we are terrified that they'll develop bipolar disorder or other mood disorders as they grow. We watch them like hawks. Sometimes, they are not only the ones who love us the most unconditionally, but also our best barometers of our own moods, especially if we are very close to them. They understand us, why can't you? Taking care of our children is more important to us than taking care of ourselves. We'll deal with ourselves after tending to the needs of our children to the best of our abilities.

19. Our tempers are short. Don't take it personally.

20. We may not shower, eat, or get out of our pajamas for a few days. Deal with it.

21. You getting depressed because we're depressed compounds our depression and makes us feel like everything's our fault. You can't change our brain chemistry, so please just accept us for who we are in the moments we're in.

22. It's not you, it's us. Don't make it all about you.

23. Encourage us when we DO get something accomplished. It took a lot of energy and determination.

24. As has been said before, bipolar disorder is not an excuse. It is an explanation.

25. Perhaps most of all, just love us, even though we're biochemically flawed. We miss "us" as much as you do. We'll get better. Right now, we're sad. It just takes time.

That's the tip of the iceberg and are all truisms for people with clinical depression as well. While I'm speaking from a bipolar point of view, Be kind, be patient, be available. Don't be a jerk over something we can't control. There are a dozen other things I should be working on at the moment, but this seemed more important to put out in the open, because my depression is interfering with my functioning, and this took me two days to compose, when normally, I can rattle stuff like this off in half an hour. Ideally, someone will find this list helpful and honest.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Existential Crisis: The Colbeard.

I love this FitBit thingy. It keeps track of everything, almost. It's especially useful for tracking my sleeping patterns and how active I am (read: not very). But last night, I slept 11.5 hours and only woke up twice, as opposed to the other night, when I woke up 34 times. Of course, my new antipsychotic, Seroquel, might have something to do with it. It's a trusted knocker-outer. And the doctor quadrupled the dose in one day because I'm so depressed.

Still behind on work, and not getting a lot done, but I have a fresh full ADA accommodations letter being faxed to the school to alleviate some of that stress, so I'm just not going to worry about it, as I haven't been worrying about most things lately. I'm just apathetic.

Apathetic until this morning, when I hopped on the internet and saw THIS:


I need a drink.

Now, ok. I LOVE facial hair on men. Love it. Stephen looks sexy and distinguished, and older. I'm used to his boyish, fresh-faced clean face. It just takes some getting used to and adjusting my fantasy life around it. Hence, my existential crisis. I just wasn't ready. 

I'm easing into it slowly, like Seroquel. I'm ok with it. My only criticism of his beard is that it could be a little...smaller. I like the cropped look. But hey, he's had time on his hands and it's his face and who am I to judge?

As long as he doesn't do this, as the last living man I adored allowed to get WAY out of hand in 1971: 

No, no, no!

Now, on Harrison, THIS was fantastic: 

I'm thinking on Stephen, this would be absolutely smashing: 


Now, there are some men who look MUCH BETTER with beards and should never shave them off. Eric Clapton and Michael Nesmith are two of them.



I'll have to program the FitBit to gauge what % of me is happy and excited when I see the Colbeard. He is adorable any way you look at him, I'll just miss pictures like this: 

Will he keep the Colbeard for the new nighttime gig in the fall? He's not sure.

 For sure, it sets him apart from every other late-night host and newsman, even fake newsmen. 

What's funny is that every man I've ever dated (or married) who I thought would look better with a beard has grown one for me. So why am I freaking out about Stephen Colbert's? Maybe because he didn't ask me first. 

I wonder what POE will look like when he gets home. Hopefully as beautiful as he did when he left. He's a fan of the 5'oclock shadow. That works for me. 

I should be the LAST person to judge someone's appearance. Keep the Colbeard for now, Stephen. Let it grow on us, not you. Be as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

I jumped.

I was incredibly busy doing....I don't remember what....that I didn't fall apart and grieve on the anniversary of my father's death, 31 years ago on February 2nd. I didn't cry, as I normally do. That's not to say the wound isn't still as fresh as it was in 1984.

Lately, I've been going through a period of deep depression (on the bipolar scale) which is impacting my school work, my social and personal functioning. I'm disinterested in anything except waking up in the morning and not killing myself each day. And that cycle repeats itself. I'm tired. I'm tired of having to dole out dozens of pills in cups every day to take 3 times a day, just to stay out of a mental hospital. I'm tired of being behind in my work and being unable to concentrate. I'm tired of being in my bedroom, feeling lonely and having too much time alone with my sick brain.

Somehow, I manage to plug along, help other people, exhaust myself with school, and raise a child, when inside, I'm an absolute wreck who doesn't allow herself the breathing room to glue herself back together.

POE is coming home from Egypt in 2 months, and was excited to tell me about it the other day, though I fear I'm so deeply sunken into the friend zone, any hope is lost. I want someone to spend time with. A companion. This not being hugged regularly has proven to definitely be a reality of ill health and unhappiness, though POE is a huggy kind of guy.

Something really triggered me today. My mother asked me, as I was talking about school, how much longer I'll be in graduate school. Truth is, I don't know. There are a number of variables which haven't been figured out yet. She asked me what my point was, what my goal was in all of this. Instead of unconditional positive regard for the hard work I'm doing, I'm perpetually questioned about my courses, my school and what the hell I'm doing with my life, when those are questions I can't even answer right now.

My depression tells me I have no goal, other than to stay alive. I got a really reassuring email from Meg tonight about how others view me versus how I view myself, which I really appreciated. Part of my personality is to hide or disregard my own personal crumbling apart when it comes to being there for the people I do love, and I told Meg that my facade of strength is difficult to keep up. I'd rather help other people heal and be well and feel loved, and worry about putting my shattered life back together later, on my own. The hard fact is that I have a fatal disease, bipolar disorder. If left untreated, my chances of suicide are huge, which is why I stick to that giant cocktail of pills every day like clockwork, and even then, some days it's a struggle not to cross into the oncoming lanes of traffic.

I don't know if I want to counsel, or teach, or write. It's difficult to plan a future, in which I want to be successful, when I'm viewed by so many as a permanent liability on this planet. My greatest enjoyment comes from writing--not research papers, not APA-styled reflections or client paperwork, but utilizing the creative, vibrant side of my brain still capable of penning these words.

Luke probably understands my mood fluctuations better than anyone else, because he's partied to them the closest, even closer than that of my mother, and he's certainly more empathetic and understanding. I have few years left with him with me before he goes off to explore and learn about the world on his own and will need me less and less. As a result of paying close attention to me, he doesn't have to ask if I'm depressed, stable or manic. Moreover, he doesn't ask WHY. He knows why and doesn't judge me because of any of it. None of my close friends do, either. Society might, school might, my mother might, but never those who can gauge my emotions and allow me the breathing space to talk about them if I want or need to, or if I just need to go to sleep for the entire day.

Getting back to my father, I told Meg I needed my dad and regaled the following anecdote;

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I was at the local public pool, and my dad was watching my brother and I from the other side of the fence because he was smoking and they didn't allow that in the pool area. We were by the diving boards and the 12' deep pool. I wanted so badly to climb to the top and just jump into the deep pool (I couldn't dive) but every time I climbed up, I chickened out and climbed back down. I ran to my dad by the fence and said, "I can't do it. I'm too scared." "Yes, you can!" he said, and must have said it a dozen times. He promised he would watch me.

I nervously climbed up one more time, amid the annoyed other kids who thought I'd chicken out again, didn't run, and just stood at the edge of the diving platform and jumped down into the 12' of water. I knew how to swim and while it was a deep plunge, I floated back up. As soon as I got out of the pool, I ran over to my dad, who was ecstatic. "Daddy, did you see me? I did it!" I said. He was so proud of me and I was so proud of myself that I wanted to do it again, though I can't remember if I did or not.

Point being, it doesn't matter if you're 9 or 42. We all need those shots in the arm of courage and support which allow us to jump into the water, casting our trembling fears aside. I try to give those shots to the people I love, even if I don't receive them back in kind. I have no doubt that if my dad was still alive, he'd be cheering me on to this day, not constantly questioning my day-to-day activities.

If I can't predict my moods over the course of a week, how am I supposed to figure out my graduation plan or career path with any clarity? Meg told me if my goal is to live, then live. What's difficult is that the quality of life I might lead is annoyingly unpredictable. I told Meg I would like to have hopes and dreams again, and things to look forward to, but I don't see them right now. Logically, I know this depression will pass, like it always does, though it remains latent in my brain and can re-emerge at any time (usually the most inopportune).

Until I can look in my own mirror and see myself as awesomely as Meg or my other friends or Luke see me, I will have to rely on their words and feelings to remind me. For that love, I am deeply grateful.

Friday, February 6, 2015

I Was Raped and I'm Not Ashamed.

Delegate Brian Kurcaba (R-WV) was quoted by multiple news sources today as having said, "Obviously, rape is awful. [But] What is beautiful is the child who could come from this." This is on the heels of West Virginia GOP leaders attempting to revive and repeal a woman's right to choose an abortion in cases of rape or incest.

As the result of these articles, which I posted to Twitter, I angrily replied that perhaps Kurcaba's parents should've aborted him, (Because what a stupid, insensitive asshole this guy is!) I have been besieged with violently angry Tweets from conservative religious extremists who are intent on lambasting my character, my beliefs and my choices. These individuals maintain that I only read the headline and not the article, which is untrue. I read the article from several different news sources. In brief, I was called a "knee-jerk liberal" who "hates kids and wants to kill them," and a "baby killer," among other sickening insults, such as "It's not rape if you're willing."

I responded to each of the hateful Tweets by attempting to redirect their anger into compassion by telling them that I was a repeated survivor of violent rape. It's impossible, in 140 characters, to tell my story as to why I would have an impassioned retort towards Kurcaba's statement. I said what I could in a Twitter-span and promptly blocked those users who came after me. They're still coming after me.

I didn't ask for it. I didn't coerce the man into raping me. I wasn't dressed provocatively. I didn't get drunk or high. I was in a relationship with the man who raped me. Still, it's difficult for a 120 lb woman to fight against a 280 lb man holding her down, forcing sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal and anal) upon her, penetrating her with kitchen utensils, and urinating on her. All of this happened to me during the course of our relationship. I was emotionally and verbally abused as well.

The question on everyone's mind is always, "Why didn't you just leave him?" That answer is impossible if one hasn't been in such a situation. "Why didn't you report him to the police?" Because knowing his neck choke-hold, he would've killed me. He's also a very high-profile business executive in Chicago who has millions of dollars. I am a struggling single mother who would get crushed in court. I finally did leave him, but it took a long time.

Before I left my ex-boyfriend, I did tell my ex-husband that this man had slapped me across the face more than once. Some time after I left the man, I mustered the courage to tell 2 of my physicians what had happened to me, and soon thereafter, my therapist, who diagnosed me with PTSD and severe anxiety disorder. I was literally petrified of men being near me or touching me (even a hug), except for a very select few with whom I was still vaguely comfortable. Certainly, I was in no realm of shape to be intimate with a man, and haven't been in a sexual relationship since I went through that experience. (Though, I will say, through a lot of therapy and time, I am ready now to date again, but it's taken almost 5 years.)

Fortunately, after I had my only son, I experienced secondary infertility, so it was literally impossible for me to get pregnant. Still, I am vehemently pro-choice and believe it is solely my decision, not the government's, not my church's, not my family's, not my doctor's as to whether or not HAD I gotten pregnant as a result of these rapes, if I were to choose to have an abortion. There's a difference in being pro-choice and pro-abortion. I'm not pro-abortion. God doesn't get to decide this one. I do.

My personal opinion is that there is nothing "beautiful" about being governmentally forced to carry a pregnancy and have a child as the result of a rape or in the cases of incest. It's unthinkably horrible. To have a baby you resent with a man you detest, who should be in jail, does not make for a happy family situation. I wouldn't put myself or an innocent child through a life like that. "Andrea hates kids." What bollocks. I love my son with every shred of my being.

I'm not a "baby killer" or a "fetus murderer." I didn't have a freakin' abortion! All I said was that if I was placed in that awful situation, I probably would have had one. Most of the people I know, never mind a few dozen complete Twitter strangers, do not know the extent of my medical and mental health issues with medications and disorders which need to be managed, which would endanger and possibly terminate the gestation of a zygote or fetus without me even having to go through an abortion. Call me selfish, but I would put my own life and well-being ahead of an unwanted zygote's. I already have a child to raise, who was planned and wanted, and was a blessing.

Am I a liberal? Oh, most definitely. A bleeding-heart liberal. I'm also a practicing leftist Christian.

Here's an idea! Let's HAVE all the rape/incest babies, gather them together, and have the GOP raise them during sessions of Congress. You know, diaper bags with their respective state seals embroidered on them. More crying and crabbing than Congress normally does on their own. Having all of this "beauty" around the GOP in the form of rape and incest babies would cause the Capitol to glow in rainbows of miracles sent by the Good Lord, who, of course, founded our great country.

Oh! Update! I've just been called bigoted, gullible and someone wished my parents had aborted me.


Wait! I have an even better idea than Congressional babysitting. Why don't you all spread your legs while you're held down, have a kitchen scrub brush with a long handle penetrate you (as you scream for your attacker to stop and say no, and he doesn't stop) and then wonder if that's better or worse than having a cluster of cells removed from your uterus. (Moot point for me. I don't even HAVE a uterus anymore.)

I refuse to be in or play the "victim" role and I never have. I am a survivor of rape. I didn't die. I am deeply scarred, deeply angry and unforgiving towards the man who assaulted me, He took years off of my life, which I'm fighting to get back in my own way and on my own terms.

My story is not told out of courage. It is not told out of personal defense. It is the story of how a woman who is repeatedly assaulted responds to incredibly insensitive and erroneous comments made by men in positions of political power who mistakenly think they have a stake in what they deem a beautiful miracle, which is actually an unthinkable horror. Guess what? Neither politicians nor conservative extremist right-wing evangelical whack jobs get a vote in what happens to the body of a woman who is raped or assaulted.

That said, those of you assassinating me on social media? I'm laughing at your ignorance and I feel deeply sorry that you are so misguided in your patterns of thinking. It is my wish that should bills once vetoed re-emerge and are passed into law, and that women lose their right to choose, Mr. Kurcaba is chased down with a tire iron shoved up his anus, because it'd be a nice taste of the medicine doled out to me over the course of the relationship with my rapist.

Now, Ye Olde Conservatives, tend to your own youngins, don't forget to leave your loaded guns where the kids can get a hold of them (because YOU get to exercise your Second Amendment rights), read your Bibles (especially Leviticus!) and, if you have any compassion or brains, maybe visit a domestic violence shelter and have a talk with the women there. Talk to women who have had to make difficult choices in their lives with regard to unwanted pregnancies and find out how they're feeling instead of grandstanding either from Washington DC or the sanctity of your Twitterverse.

There's very little you can say which would insult or hurt me any more than I have already been hurt in my life and I do not take your comments seriously, certainly not in 140 character nibbles (though that's probably the extent of your intellectual capabilities in the first place).

I know I'm not the only survivor of rape and assault who feels this way. My wish is that my written testimony helps those who feel they have no voice HAVE a voice vis-a-vis my openness.