Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Making a SNAP Decision

My shrinky-dink says that I needed to write out my (numerous) problems because as a writer, I process things once they are written down. I have difficultly judging things that are free floating in my head. This is what came out last night. I put my thoughts out into an open forum where anyone can read because I believe that a burden shared is a burden halved. Even if no one really comes to read this.

It's 11:45pm and I'm writing. I should be in bed, but I've put this off all day as I didn't want Jeremiah to see me upset should I lose control of my emotions. Here's what today looked like: I fixed three meals and washed up after those meals. I folded a load of laundry, did some school work with The Kiddo without him devolving into self-injuring because of an incorrect answer, took him to the park to run out all his pent up nervous energy, and then got him an Epson salt bath so he could detox from the meds he is on. 
In addition, I wrote a letter to his father.

It took me four hours, sometimes I was interrupted by Jeremiah and sometimes I surfed around on Facebook and Buzzfeed because I needed a break from what I was doing.

I was having to swallow my pride and ask Jeremiah's absent father if he could "out of the goodness of his heart" do something extra to help out with expenses. I'm embarrassed because I recall a person telling me, "You really should not be dependent on him or child support. You should be making enough to take care of yourself. You chose this life, not him."

Also yesterday, I started an application for food stamps. And I am filled with so much shame. "[It's pathetic] that you are living on handouts and food stamps."

Have you any idea how degraded I feel? I am doing my best to take care of my son, a child that I never expected, was scared to have, was afraid that I couldn't love. A child that has turned my life around.

Jeremiah is a child with special needs. No, he's not in a wheelchair or is undergoing horrible rounds of chemo. He has an invisible illness. No one sees him freaking out when I move the dish drain to the opposite side of the sink. No one sees him screaming when he encounters bugs or his inability to vacuum because the loud noise hurts him.

He is a child that is constantly worried, no matter how much I try to calm his fears. He always announces when he goes to the bathroom, can hardly stand to have me out of his sight, who tonight worried that he had committed a mortal sin. He still won't tell me what it is that makes him think that because "it's stupid and embarrassing and I don't know how to say it and never mind I'm just a stupid idiot."  This coming from a child that can give you an accurate synopsis of Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and A Winter's Tale.

This is not a child that I can toss into school for 8 hrs a day while I work 40 hrs. Sure, I would be making more than enough money to pay all the bills, but at what cost? Him being bullied about his bug problems? When a friend babysat him last summer while the cicadas were out, a girl his own age threw dead cicadas at him for an hour. When I picked him up, he was twitching and stuttering. He said he wanted to punch her but knew that you can't hit girls and he was too scared to tell the adults in charge because "sometimes they yell at their kids and I don't want them to yell at me."

Maybe I should let him punch himself in the face every time he messes up a workbook problem while I photocopy memos. His OCD demands that he do everything perfectly the first time around. He has trouble making simple decisions, like what he should eat for breakfast, because he's "afraid of making a mistake."

So I try to work from home or pick up odd jobs. I probably spend 75% of the day worrying how much money is in my account, but I can take solace knowing that Jeremiah is in a safer environment.

So I have to sacrifice my pride and deal with some extra anxiety to take care of my son. Isn't that what parenthood is about? I do my best to keep him out from knowing about our money issues.

I know as I write this I am saying it for my benefit alone, that I am trying to reassure myself that I am making  the right decision. So why does it still hurt?
Why do I feel so much shame, disapproval, and judgements when news reports showcase people like California surfer and aspiring musician Jason Greenslate. Greenslate, drives an Escalade and frequents strip clubs, shows how he supports his beach-bum lifestyle with food stamps, while dismissing the idea of holding down a regular, steady job. I know I'm not that person.
Media Matters reports:
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, the fraud and waste rate in SNAP is roughly 1 percent, contrary to recent Fox claims that the program is rife with fraud.

Unlike Greenslate, 41 percent of food stamp recipients live "in a household with earnings," and use SNAP benefits to supplement their primary source of income. Furthermore, the USDA reports that most food stamp recipients stay in the program for only a short period of time:
Half of all new SNAP participants received benefits for 10 months or less in the mid 2000s, up from 8 months in the early 2000s. Single parent families and elderly individuals tended to stay in the program longer than did working poor individuals, childless adults without disabilities, and non-citizens. Seventy-four percent of new participants left the program within two years. This is an increase from 71 percent in the early 1990s.
I work. I pay taxes. But why do I still feel like a failure in my own eyes?

It's 1:15am and I'm exhausted.

This fucking sucks. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Found My Happy

I learn a lot of TV history while care-taking my 90 y.o. patient.  I've seen plenty semi-racist episodes of "In The Heat of the Night," heard enough horrible dialogue from  "Murder, She Wrote" to want to time travel back to punch the writers, and several 1972 porn-staches in "Emergency" to turn me off of body hair for a while.

Way to go, me!
But despite the spate of crappy TV shows I'm watching every weekend, I'm thrilled.  I've been able to find my happy again.  I'm back on track with my meds, had a few weeks of productive therapy, and furthered the storyline in my novel.  I've got more confident, have a better perception of my ability as a mother.  Great friends rallied around me, reminding me that "Those that love you are proud of you; we don't see a prescription, we see a beautiful, funny, and loving woman. . . .for everything you do I am proud of you."

So even though I have to wipe up some drool and other body functions at times, I can do it with a sincere smile, not a faked grin.  I understand now how much better my life is, now that I've made peace with my drugs.   

PS-- A special thank you to The Bloggess for sharing her struggles.  She inspires me daily and I want to give her a big, squishy hug.  "Die Vampire Die!" has become my mantra.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just a Baby Step

My mind is gray and empty.  I'm so frustrated with it.  I want to laugh or smile and have pleasant conversations, but it's so exhausting.  I want to work on my book, but I can't put the words down.  Thoughts that that flowed from my imagination down my fingers at the start of January, are now locked behind a trasnparent door.

I can hear the sarcasm laden dialogue, picture the perfect modifiers that convey Norma Jeanne's anger, and almost touch the pretty prepositions that would couple up next to Gams fat English bulldog.

But they won't come out and play with me.  Until I can get the key, in the shape of a horse-sized bitter pill, all I do is sit and stare at the empty word document.  And check on Facebook to see which people have updated their status in the last three minutes.  And stare at the screen, while the pointer mockingly blinks at me.  And check Pintrest because there might be a new picture to see in the last five minutes since I was on there.  And then back to the empty screen.

A lot of artistic friends I have - writers, artists, musicians, - who suffer from forms of depression/anxiety/mania, don't like to be on medication b/c they feel it stifles their ability to create.  And up until 3 weeks ago, I wondered if that was the case with me.  Would I discover more creative freedom if I didn't have my meds swimming in my blood stream?  Was there another side of me that could improve on what I am doing now?

Michael Scott will tell you the answer is a resounding 

As many years as I have been ashamed with myself for being dependent on my drugs, I guess that maybe this situation has now I helped me achieve some peace.  Quite plainly, I can't function without my meds.  I become a very depressive person.  My ability to see beauty in the mundane, to find the story of the person with a past in the eyes of a homeless beggar, to see the humor in the instances where fear or tears would be an understandable response is all gone.  I lack sympathy. 

For you worried about The Kiddo, I'm fortunate that in these past few weeks my Bipolar II Disorder hasn't affected my son.  If anything, I've been hyper-aware of the fact that I need to keep my sad emotions away from him.  I've had him cook with me and we've actually accomplished more workbook pages in this time frame than we have before (much to his chagrin). 

It's now just a waiting game.  Waiting to get to the doctor tomorrow.  Waiting to make the 1.5 hr drive to pick up the meds on Tuesday.  And waiting for them to get swimming back in my blood stream.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I put myself back into therapy last month because I am trying desperately to work out the last kinks in my head.  I've decided that after six years on the bench I'm ready to seek out a relationship, but before I do that I know I've got a few more things to work out.

I don't want to write about this.  But I need to write this out. 

This is the constant chatter in my brain:
  • You really don't have friends.  These people tolerate you out of pity.
  • No one approves of your decisions and all are waiting for you to admit defeat.
  • Your child is going to grow up broken because you are broken.
  • You don't have any talent.  
  • You're not bi-polar.  You are making it up.  You just need to work harder and stop being lazy.
  • Why do you think that person would ever want to have a cup of coffee with you?  They're accomplished/written a book/not two paychecks away from homelessness/done something important.  Do you know just how dumb your daydreams are?
  • No one really loves you because you disappoint them and don't do what they tell you to do.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Frustration: Level Six

Up until a week ago, I was fine.
I could write on my novel and write up articles for my social media job.
But two weeks ago I ran out of one of my drugs.
And now I'm off balance.

I can't focus on writing.  I'll sit down and nothing comes.
The waters are muddy.
If I were to peer into my brain, I think I'd find a hollow gray room.

I can't get to the doctor to get a prescription and I can't fill the prescription until I can find the time to drive 1.5 hrs away b/c the closest pharmacy to fill this drug is in Front Royal!

No, I don't have health insurance.  And Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act is just not going to fix my problem.  Seeing as it would cost me $235/mo to be insured.  Fail to see how that is "affordable."

Luckily, I live in a state that won't penalize me for not having health insurance.

I'm so angry.  I want to write and it's just not happening.