Monday, April 24, 2017

Mental Illness from my perspective

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I suffer from many disorders of the mind. Chemical imbalances, terrible phobias, psychotic tendencies.


Back in the day, the mid 80’s, the medical world did not have the aptitude for mental illness that it does now, so, as my mental illnesses emerged and ran rampant in my early and mid-teens, I received more disapproving looks and glares than actual help.


There is nothing more painful than a 15 year old who has been cutting for a few years to overhear a shrink tell your parents it’s a cry for ‘attention’. They also dumped the blame on my mother, who was riddled with guilt for years thinking she had done something wrong in raising me. Cutting and self-mutilation are not cries for help. There is actually a chemical reaction within the brain that cutting and pain produces, while also the act of pain itself is an indicator that you can indeed feel, and it feels good.


One of my suicide attempts at 16 landed me in the hospital for a good while. Do you know what the therapy consisted of? The doctors yelling at me and threatening me to straighten up and fly right and quit being a ‘brat’. This same mentality also deems suicide as ‘selfish’. Suicide is not a selfish action. If someone commits suicide, it was not for selfish reasons or to hurt those who cared for them. It is a release from all that is twisted and broken on the inside.


To this day, one of my nearest and dearest tries to argue that I am selfish for even entertaining suicidal thoughts. It hurts when you can’t change a stigma. However, I am honest in my feelings when asked.


I wear many scars of my cutting. I’ve hand many trips to the ER because I let things get out of my control. My best friend gets sad when she looks at my scars. She, however, does not lecture. She empathizes the best she can. Most of my friends do. I don’t have many friends, really, a bare handful that I will sit down with face to face. I like my friends to be pen pals or online friends due to my own quirks that society doesn’t deem acceptable.


I had a complete nervous breakdown in 2004. With that mental collapse came acute agoraphobia. I stayed inside, rarely even leaving the bedroom. I had my nest there…all my needed things. Computer, books and all my comforts.


Getting me to leave the house for something important, such as a doctor’s appointment, when I finally gave in to see one, took nearly a month to plan. Part of agoraphobia and social anxiety is ‘mapping your route’. In my ‘mapping’ I refused left hand turns. I know this sounds so illogical, but this is simply one instance of how my mind works and copes with things.


Through therapy and medicine, my agoraphobia is more under control. I mean, look…I am teaching classes at the local library. I’ve been to Arizona and New Mexico several times to see my best friend. Yes, I am medicated throughout the journey, but the point is…I am leaving my comfort zone.


Speaking of ‘comfort zones’, I have carefully and painstakingly crafted my own personal room within my house. It was once the garage, but the original owners turned it into a sunken den sort of thing. It’s very big. I could put a bed in here if not for all my bookcases and swords and general (very odd) toys. Everything has its place. When anyone else comes in here and moves something, it irritates me to no end. Others may see this room as just an office, but to me it is so much more. This is my haven. And when I say I don’t spend any time in any other place in the house, I am being completely honest. I recently purchased a new living room suit with the intent of spending more time in the living room enjoying movies and whatnot with the family. It’s been two months now, that has yet to happen.


Obviously I am getting better at social situations, so long as they are controlled, like the classes I teach at the library. Though, don’t call me up and say ‘how about I introduce you to some of my friends and we go out for dinner?’ That would be a no. I have one close friend here locally that I will meet up with for coffee, or go to our favorite lunch spot. Sometimes with nothing more than a few hours’ notice. That’s a huge step for me. An accomplishment.


A large part of going out west to see my best friend and going down to Dothan to meet with my other close friend is that they empathize. They have taken the time to know me and understand me, and would never ask anything of me that would tax my limits. These people are rare and very much loved by me. They ask questions sometimes, to better understand things, and that’s good! It shows me they want to know the limits and they are looking out for my comfort levels.


One thing I am not in control of, despite the heavy medications, is my bipolar disorder. When I am in a manic high, well…its best to lock me in a room with no sharp objects and let me talk a lot, because I tend to get very chatty and animated. When I am in a down, you will be lucky to get me out of my room. I tend not to take care of myself as well. No sleep, no food, I neglect personal hygiene to a point. I am just utterly sad and feel so very alone. It’s painful.


When my bipolar disorder gets out of whack, so does my schizophrenia. I hear things. Sometimes just awful things. I used to see things a lot, but not so much anymore. I may see a flutter or shadow from my peripheral vision. Hearing the voices though…that’s something I can definitely do without. My meds usually keep me on a pretty even keel, and when I do slide up or down, it’s not as terribly drastic as before the meds.


I also have severe depression with psychotic tendencies. Pretty self-explanatory.


I feel things very deeply sometimes. It really depends on what it is. I have little empathy for the population at large. However, don’t ever let me see animal abuse.


Most of the time, I take criticism very well. I mean, you have to when you are a writer or artist. You are under scrutiny. I’ve tried to take all my reviews that were less than favorable as learning experiences.


However, someone in a game I play said my writing was ‘underwhelming’. I have not written anything on that site since. I can’t bring myself to do it. I feel ashamed. I feel as if the whole community on that site is sitting back looking at everything I’ve ever written there (we’re talking 15 years of stories) and just grimacing as they read my words. It’s like a wound that just won’t close…it keeps bleeding and bleeding…and it only took one person to inflict it and drive me away.


As with most people that are on a lot of medications, when I am feeling good and happy, I tend to think I don’t need the meds. Huge mistake. I will admit, when I have a writing piece that needs to be done, or, say, NaNoWriMo is here, I will only take half doses of my bipolar meds, because yes, they honestly make me feel a little zombie-like. I am a very doped up person. In this little cheat time when I half my daily dose, it takes maybe a week before I start sliding up or down. In cases of an event like NaNoWriMo it is pretty solid that I will slip into a manic high.


I have admitted this all to my psychiatrist, and now every three months he orders blood work to check my Depakote serum levels. Damn it…he makes it hard to cheat!!


Another little thing I learned is to come up with tales of how I got hurt and need stitches. I used to be honest with the ER. Then my record made them stricter with me. They put me in a room to be stitched up, but they take my shoes, keys, purse, phone and even my water! So, the last time I did go to the ER, I had a wild tale as of how something sliced my arm.


I don’t know why I still cut. Sometimes, the thought just comes into my head and before I know it, I’m sitting there with a bloody rag and a feeling of calm. A serene calm. Other times, when I am manic, it seems to be a focal point for me, because my brain can’t seem to grasp hold of any one thing for more than a moment.


Are mental illnesses curable? No, I don’t think so. They are treatable, however. It takes a while. I’ve been trying and changing medications over the course of the last…almost 15 years or so. Hell, I was just changed to a new anti-depressant last month. It’s working, too! My Depakote has to be adjusted a lot though, it seems.


I think I am trying to make a point with this post…


If you know someone who seems like their struggling, try to help them. I know insurance and the cost of everything makes it very hard for people to get the treatment they need and the meds. Having good friends makes a lot of difference, too. Be a support system. If you suspect someone is hurting themselves, do not admonish them for it. Try to talk to them. Get to the heart of it. I have 4 people right at this very moment, at 3am, that I could call and they would not be grumpy or grouchy that I called them and woke them up. They would talk to me, ease me, their words would be meaningful and gentle and encouraging for me not to hurt myself. They would be there even if I just needed to cry. And I hate crying.


Mental illness is not a fad. Yes, I know there are people out there who claim to have illnesses that they don’t for the attention or benefits, but not everyone. In this day and age, depression is on the rise. When people do seek help, you aren’t just prescribed something and everything turns out fine and dandy. My first round of meds sent me so far out of control it was scary. A lot of the treatment is trial and error until you find something that fits with your body and brains chemical disposition.


Well, I’ve just rambled on, haven’t I?


In addition to the brain, my body is currently out of sorts as well. I took a trip to my family practice doc on Monday for a chest cold. I have COPD, so I don’t play when it comes to chest colds. Turns out I have myself a case of bronchitis. Antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine in it and I am still feeling like poo two days later. I get hot and then cold, I can’t sleep.


To top all that off, its pollen season here in the good old south. Everything outside is covered in a layer of yellow pollen. Allergies Ahoy!!! And with the pollen and nice temps, come all the bugs of the South. Ew.


The kittehs are all doing great. The kitten is growing well, though I think he is stunted from his time being lost and alone and eating nothing but bugs and stuff until my best friend found him.


Since cats are cats, and not all of mine get along, I can’t get a nice group photo. So, I think this weekend I will enlist the help of the daughter in setting up a nice background and sitting each cat up for a photo. Try to make it look all professional. Cyd and Siefer would sit together, and BaxterMarie would sit with Jeff. Any of the cats would sit with Jeff…he’s cool with everyone. However, little Spencer thinks it’s always playtime, so that’s going to be a challenge. And Quinny won’t sit still with anyone. Wow…this is starting to sound like a task…lol.


It has been almost 30 days since my last blog entry. For that, I am sorry. I lose readership and that’s sad, and totally my fault.


I have thought long and hard about even writing on this particular subject. It’s filled my mind every day, while I play with the cats, rearrange my office for the millionth time, read, write and put together my new computer. Oh, yes…new computer. Thank the stars above that I am super paranoid about losing my documents, programs, pictures and music. Everything is backed up on both Dropbox and an external hard drive…I didn’t lose a thing. And the new PC is awesome.


I’ll close this up by encouraging you to think things over, maybe open up some discussion in the comments.


I’m going to strive harder to not let 30 days pass without an entry again. It’s time to share some stories!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Another 30...

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As you can see, the kitten, Spencer, is getting bigger. He is a mighty terror. No toes are safe. He is still small for his age, malnutrition of being seperated from his feral mother and colony so little stunting his growth. He did get that happy trip to the vet to get his man parts …snipped.


In other news, my little sisters biopsy came back positive, so now the family is pooling our resources to send what money we can for treatment.


I had a shrink appointment earlier this week that left me asking myself ‘will I ever be free from all of this’, meaning mental illness. The answer is no. No one really ‘recovers’ from mental illness.


I am also very sick right now. I had to go to the doctor yesterday for x-rays and a breathing treatment. I have bronchitis. I got myself some antibiotics and cough syrup with codiene. Cant beat that. Still feel sick, but groovy at the same time.


I have not gotten a lot of writing done lately. Nope. I found something new to waste my time on. The ground level of a new game. Beta testing and bugs. Its entertaining. Irritation in some instances, but entertaining none the less.


So thats my update for now. I know its a little pitiful, but its sort of reflecting how I feel at the moment. To all those of you I owe snail mail letters to, dont lose hope, I have things underway for those!


~squish~

Monday, February 27, 2017

Family...

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The above picture is of my mother with the late great Fat Cat.


My mom, dad and little sister all live in Guatemala. They went there like, almost 20 years ago. My little sis was only 16 and is now all grown up with 2 daughters. I don’t think she is even an American citizen anymore, and is fine and dandy with it. She speaks the language down there fluently, as do her children.


I don’t have a picture of my little sister, but take my word, she is absolutely beautiful, and her girls are too.


The reason for this post is to keep you aware of the hardships of being so far away from family.


My little sister has tried and tried to have more children. She is allowed to have three children in the district of Guatemala she lives in. She has had loads of pregnancies, some she carried and had to deliver, but they did not survive.


The last child she carried and delivered (again, not surviving) they took note of spots in her uterus and growths on her ovaries. They did a biopsy. And tons of blood work. Remember, Guatemala is a ‘third world country’. Getting work done may be cheap, but they don’t have the means to do it efficiently.


And in that loss of efficiency you lose the lower cost. The medical bills are piling up as more tests are ordered.


My parents live off of my father military retirement and social security. My sister’s husband is an EMT. That’s not a lot of money to live on, let alone get extensive medical care, tests and treatment.


I am going to venture to ask, if you can, to donate via my PayPal link, to send some help to my family. I send what I can every month, my best friends sends money weekly and my older sister is putting lump sums in every two weeks. It’s just not amounting to enough.


I wanted to start a ‘GoFundMe’ page, but my mother would be livid. She always says its tacky. So, I am asking as a personal favor. (and my mom doesn’t look at my webpage often to see this…lol…she is more about games and reading when it comes to her computer…and she’s not to swooft on my style of writing, as in the horror stories and smut..lol).


So, if you could help out, that would be great and you’d have our deepest thanks. My PayPal link is on my static page. (zoeambler.com)


The news in my own household could be summed up as depressing. Its me entirely. I am just in a slump, moody, mopey. I did win 2nd and 4th in a writing contest, that raised my spirits for all of 30 minutes.


The kittehs are all doing fabulously. Never a dull moment.


I have been a little lax on writing back to my pen pals. Its like I don’t want to get out of bed and put on my people suit and be a person. Blah.


I guess not being able to physically be there when my mom cries is getting to me. We talk on Skype and she is so down. I hate it.


But, as a family, we are trying to do everything we can…those of us that live here in the US and those in Guatemala.


Wish the best for my sister, please?

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Long Over-due...and kittehs!!!

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Welcome the baby! This is the kitten I was telling you all about back in December. He was just a tiny bit of fluff, skin and bones. He was feral, we could only surmise that he got separated from his momma and the rest of the colony.


He showed up on my best friends doorstep…well…windows. She patiently coaxed him into the garage where she made him a bed and fed him plenty of food and water until I had a chance to drive out there (Alabama to New Mexico) to pick him up.


It was love at first hold. This little baby snared my heart, and I like to think he fell completely in love with me, too, as he had previously clawed my poor best friend in the face, twice.


So the long drive home, only one peepee accident and he was safe in his new environment. I named him Spencer Lee. He has an uncanny resemblance to Fat Cat. Both being RagDolls. His temperament is super sweet to his new momma cat. (me)

Here’s a quick shot of Jeff playing handsies with Spencer. Jeff was the first to take to him without a lot of fuss.
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Along the way I’ve also fostered in two additional cats. These two have been raised together and are my daughters boyfriends cats. Sid and Siefer. Yes, Final Fantasy nerds unite.
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So now my house is filled with the loving sounds of 6 cats. I love it. Though, when the daughter and her boyfriend move out on their own, I will lose his two cats, and my Quinney, because she has integrated herself into Sid and Siefers little pack, and I’ve hate to separate them.


Its okay, I’ll go to the shelter and adopt MOAR cats. ~grins~


So, there is the update on the kittehs.

Now on to my back troubles.

I went in and had six injections to the lower left side of my spine and combined that with pool therapy. I was pain-free for a good 2.5 – 3 weeks. Then the pain returned and is holding at a 9/10 on the pain scale. HOWEVER…I also fired my back surgeon. Why, you may ask? For sheer rudeness.
I am a patient woman, come on, look at me, I have six cats. But…please dont ask me to show up at 8am, then not call me back to the exam room until 9:30am, and by 10:30am I STILL have not seen the doc. That’s unprofessional. And this was an appointment only day, no other surgeries or emergencies to come up. I heard him with a patient in the next room, got my hopes in line after the nurse said I was next, then didn’t hear another word.

I walked to the nurses station, smiled, expressed my irritation and kindly asked the nurse to please tell the doctor he was fired. I also stopped the pool therapy.

So, I think from this time on, I will just bear with the pain as I have done with for the last twenty years, letting my regular family practice doc handle my pain management the best she can.

Onto my work with the Dothan Library. I had volunteered to give some Creative Writing classes. With the library heads we came up with a course that covers a different topic a month, over the next 6 months.

The first was held just last Saturday, aptly named Creative Writing 101: Plot, Structure and Outlining. It was great. I WAS SO NERVOUS. I expected about 10 people. 9 were in attendance. I gave my apologies for being a bit flustered in the beginning, not being a public speaker and all. This group really made me feel comfortable.

So next month will be great. I plan on covering characters, development, scenes and possibly dialogue, if we have time, or that will be carried over to the next class.

I will say, by the time the 3 hour class was over, I needed a drink to unwind. My friend Stephanie met me at a local Mexican restaurant where I proceeded to indulge in a half-pitcher of margaritas on the rocks and nachos…lol.

So that brings us to now. And for your enjoyment, I am going to throw in some extra picture of Spencer.

























You can all thank Patricia on Twitter for giving me the virtual kick in the pants last night on updating, FINALLY. Now I have no more excuses for delays other than getting mauled by kittehs.

Best sweet, my darlings!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Always unexpected...


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It never fails…I seem to drop off the face of the planet. BUT I’M STILL HERE!!

I unexpectedly came down with a case of pneumonia. Some of you know how serious that is for me. I have COPD, and the two just clash and try to kill me. I even had to have a nice little emergency trip to the ER one night. As a result, I’m back to trusting my oxygen unit at home again. I keep it hooked up to my CPAP for ease. When I feel too weak, I lie down with it and focus on deep breaths.

I think this was all brought on by spreading myself a little thin the month of November, exhausting myself, and then the way the crazy Southern weather fluctuates. Or, one of the kids picked up a germ or two and brought it into the house. My immunity levels are nearly non-existent, so of course I’d catch a bug and it turn near fatal.

So, there is the explanation of my rather sudden disappearance.

I have something really wonderful to share however, that will take me offline again next week after the 25th. But with that brief absence, I will be back with my new baby!
Here is the story…

ChesterAnn (aka Fat Cat) died last year, as some of you know, and it devastated me. Since then, I have gotten three other cats. I love each and every single one of them. My baby though, is BaxterMarie. She’s up my butt in and my business all the time.

Some of you are also well aware that my best friend lives all the way out in New Mexico. Well…a small kitten, too young to even be weaned yet, showed up around her house crying. It was very feral. However, being the animal lover my best friend is, she set up a crate shelter in the inside of her garage next to the door and kept the garage door cracked for the kitten to find its way there and keep warm, and to finally have some food.

Upon finally seeing this little kitten, she snapped a quick picture of it and sent it to me. I swear, it is ChesterAnn reborn.

So, come the 26th, I will be on the road from Alabama to New Mexico to 1. See one of the most influential people in my life and 2. to pick up my new (old?) kitteh. My best friend swears it is ChesterAnn reincarnated, and was sent to her to bring us all together, and I am in with that belief. The resemblance is uncanny, the attitude as well. The kitten isn’t as feral as first thought, though is rather shy of people.

I’m super excited. I’m sure all my other cats will hate me for a bit for bringing another baby into the house, but they need a sibling.

BaxterMarie will have the biggest adjustment as I bottle feed the kitten and wean it properly.

So excited.

Happy Holidays to all of you…my friends and followers. All the best to you and your families.

Be sweet, my lovelies.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Getting in over my head...

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~whew~

So, as you all may know, I bought one of those dandy storage barns to clear all the boxes and whatnot out of my third bedroom to make it habitable once again. I also did the same for the rest of the house since I seem to horde things.


My mistake was thinking I could handle everything on my own. Not taking my current spinal injury into account, I seem to have overdone it. On one of my trips to the storage barn with boxes loaded in my arms, I fell backwards out of the barn (it has a sizeable step and I have no cinder blocks at the moments to make a makeshift set of stairs).


So, pain is in full force. So much so, that at 5am this morning, I was huddled over my desk, near in tears, from the pain. And I have a very high pain threashold and rarely cry. I ended up taking two of every pain killer I have and dragging myself to bed when they started easing the pain. And when I say ‘dragging myself’…well…if it were not for walls to hold on to, I very likely would have had to crawl on hands and knees.


I have not been called with my MRI date as of yet, so I have no clue when this surgery is going to go down. I am thinking January. Another whole month of this pain. Sure, I could take it easy, but thats just not me. I have 3 kids living here with me now (kids = they are pushing 30 ) and I feel I have to take care of them all. Only one is mine!!! But, I tend to be a mother goose. That being said, you need to understand that I like my house kept a certain way. Wipe down all the counters, dont leave the bread bag open, CLEAN UP AFTER  YOURSELF…and clean as you cook. Put things back where you found them.


This is not happening in my house, adding to my stress and tension. I dont want to be mean or rude, especially to my new sons, but lawdy, my own child knows these things and is not conveying to them just how important my routines and way of doing things is important to me. Yes, she can be selfish. Typical of her age, in a new relationship and so on.


I got myself in over my head with all this. I have boxes of things still left to go into the barn, all stacked up in front of the dining room table and patio door. I keep tripping over things. One of these boys could be taking this stuff out for me. I dont care that its raining, and will continue to rain for the next 7 days. (yes, we went from a ‘burn ban’ to a ‘flood warning’ in two days. Only in the south)


I can get no decent writing done. My head cant focus on plotting and whatnot. I am shaking, and I dont know whether its from being chilly, or from being in pain. At 5am, I knew it was from the pain. It felt as if I sat still, my spine would burst out of my back.


Wow…I’m SUCH a whiner today!!!


I’m allowed to whine sometimes, right? Someone tell me its okay…~nods~


Thank you for reading, and send some healing thoughts my way if you wouldnt mind.


Be sweet, my lovelies.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

NaNo's One Last Hoorah!


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Well, NaNoWriMo is done for 2016. I exceeded my word count and everything is all happy and smiles.


However, its not the end for me. Tonight I will be hosting a final TGIO party for my group of Wrimo’s. (I’m a Municipal Liaison for NaNo)


Tonight we will laugh, vent, maybe even cry. All while stuffing our faces with pizza and snacks!


And the best news of all – the creativity isnt going to end with NaNoWriMo and the joint venture with the Library system that allowed us to use their facilities for our events.


I have coordinated with the directors of the Library system to host creative writing classes every other month throughout 2017 to bring in new writers and introduce them to their inner creative monsters and to the NaNoWriMo project. Its going to be a beautiful thing.


As for December, however, after tonights shindig, I am going to take the month to myself. I am going to bring all my roleplay gaming characters out of their sleep mode and start to game writing again. I’ve missed my writing buddys and the worlds of the two games I play. Will Genesis finally kill Addison? Will Addison find werewolf biscuits and win the heart and friendship of Genesis? Will Nemesis finally reach her goal of collecting more kittens in Ravenblack than anyone ever? Oh, the things I will write for my beloved characters.


January will see me balancing, with no pressure, between my gaming writing and my continued work on my novel. Streamlining, editing, all that stuff that makes liquor taste a lot better.


I also still have collections of short stories to share. Newly written ones as well! Oh! Lets not forget those little teases of Book Two excerpts either. AND SMUT! Okay, well, not a lot of smut, I know its not for everyone. Sometimes I just feel the need to share my dirty little writings. I CAN write more than horror…I can do romance. Its rough and tumble romance…but you can feel the love….ugh, I ramble…


I’m hoping 2017 will be much nicer to me than 2016 was. Once I get this spinal surgery done I am hoping to be a little more pain free and active. I miss my treadmill at the gym. And swimming. Gosh do I love swimming.


I also have travel plans for late in 2017 to go to Guatemala with my bestest friend in the world to see my mom! So exciting. I’ve got my passport paperwork, and had to wait for an official copy of my birth certificate, but I am ready to get the process started now.


So, I have things to do and people to harass for now.


Be sweet my lovelies…