Sunday, April 26, 2015

Aromatherapy for Extreme Loss and Grief

Two days ago, I had a miscarriage.

I have had an IUD for several years, and I'm not against having an abortion, but the plan was that if the IUD failed, I would know and then terminate the pregnancy very early while it was still just tiny, non-viable, and unrecognizable. I did not want to be confronted with and was not prepared for something coming out of my body that looked like...what I saw.

It was a moment of such extreme sadness and despair that it felt like someone had turned on a vacuum inside my gut that was sucking down my words and my breath. I felt absolute rage at my body. HOW. COULD. YOU??

The problem is that, as a mother, I wasn't in a position to deal with it. My kids kept talking to me and wanting my time and all I could think about was why the world was such a huge asshole that it couldn't pause for an hour and give me short break before I had to do things, like find some misplaced toy, or prepare some kind of food, or make words come out of my mouth that were in a language that the listener can understand.

I looked online for some support but everything seemed so useless and stupid. Talk to someone? I can barely shape words with my mouth without screaming. I tried to write it out on Facebook because that's where I usually go for support but for the first time in years I had something I didn't feel like sharing.

Of the people I did try to talk to, almost all of them came back with "Are you sure? How do you know?" and I understand they were trying to be supportive, or help me be certain I wasn't just overreacting or drawing conclusions, but what I really wanted to do was grab something sharp and stab them in the eye. For one thing, that is incredibly dismissive and made me so scared to bring it up to anyone else that I shut down and didn't say anything to anyone or reach out when I probably should have. More importantly, though, you are asking me to describe how I know that I lost a dead baby. DON'T. FUCKING. ASK THAT. I understand the impulse but I need you to know now, if you were one of the people who asked that, don't ask that of anyone else. Know now that it's not a good question. It's a bad question. A very bad question. I know what I saw. I will take that to my grave.

So why am I bringing it up now?

A pregnant friend of mine is hemorrhaging and at high risk for a miscarriage. She's on bed rest and it was very scary. I felt like, for her ad my friends like her, I should say something.

Many women eventually bring it up because they feel alone and they hate everyone and they need someone who has been through a similar experience to say "I did it and I also hate every fucking person right now and that's okay."

So this is my note to anyone out there who has miscarried, either within a few days, which I used to do a lot before I took progesterone to finally have my first born, a few weeks, a few months, even if you didn't want to be pregnant at all, even if it's just an alien looking blob and doesn't look like a human at all, it can still be a shock, still overwhelming, still pound some Hellraiser-style nails into your head one by one and rip your body open with hooks and leave your heart exposed to the elements.

I am a wreck. I am fine one minute and then suddenly, at my daughter's preschool, at the grocery store, or just in bed, I cry so hard I can't breathe.

So where does the aromatherapy come in?

That depends on you. Smell might not be your thing when you are upset. Maybe you need to run out and get some super fleecy pajamas and wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and hole up in some soft protective textures. Maybe you play certain kinds of music when you are distressed. My sense of smell is a huge part of how I approach the world, right down to whether I feel comfortable in a home or next to a person or even want someone as a lover. Smell is critical to me.

To help with the painful cramping, and to help me get through the crying, I drew up a bath with vetiver, cedarwood, and a citrus blend of essential oils.

You should understand that our sense of smell connects directly to the lymbic system, the emotional part of our brain, and the part that is in charge of the instinctual and automatic things, like breathing and heartbeat. When you smell something, a part of it is literally connecting to sensors in your nose. Think about that the next time you smell a fart. It's pretty horrifying.

Aromatherapy isn't just some woo woo stuff. Smell helped your ancestors sense danger, pick food that is safe to eat, select partners, and identify children and family members. Plants take advantage of this with pollinators by sending out pleasant scents that communicate ripeness and tasty nectar. A plant's scent comes from the essential oils produced. We also find those oil scents pleasing and comforting.

Vetiver has helped me through many panic attacks, and while this is beyond the normal panic attack, it still helped bring the heaving sobs under control. Citrus oils can increase GABA levels in the brain and help with anger, frustration, and depression. True cedarwood, Cedrus atlantica not Juniperus virginia, has a slightly sweet woodsy scent (I like it better than the Juniperus Virginia, and it is superior for skin/scalp uses). It blends beautifully with citrus oils. It helps when you feel chaotic and need to feel stable. While Juniperus virginia is calming and can help with insomnia, Cedrus atlantica is energizing. It helps with depression and exhaustion. It helps with hopelessness.

Smells might not do anything for you. There were quite a few recommendations for coping online that made me want to throw something hard at my computer screen.

I feel ridiculous for fretting over what was a messy organism incapable of survival and probably released from my body for good reason. My uterus was doing the right thing. It happens in 1 out of 4 pregnancies. Problems are common and the womb lets go. I never felt it move, didn't even know it was there. Imagine the grief of mothers who lose one they've felt move, that saw them on ultrasounds and heard their heartbeats. Imagine the grief of the ones who lose babies full term. I'm science driven, why distress over something I was trying to prevent in the first place?

And yet....I gave her a name and buried her. My heart feels like she was absolutely mine and that I lost someone instead of something. My heart doesn't feel like I lost a pregnancy. It feels like I lost my daughter. No amount of begging and reasoning with myself has convinced me otherwise.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Gettin' Real Tired of Your Sh*t, Pinterest

Pinterest is my most favorite place on the entire intertubes.

I love it more than Facebook, and I visit Facebook every day.

I love it more than email. In fact I check my email about once a week, sometimes less.

I love it more than YouTube, and my kids use YouTube meditation and guided imagery to fall asleep, and I LOVE IT when they fall asleep.

Don't get your panties in a wad, I also love it when they are awake.

I joined Pinterest early on because it was something I was already doing. I loved looking for pictures that inspired me or calmed me or appealed to me intellectually or emotionally, and then putting them into groups on my computer.

Pinterest sped up the process tremendously, and helped me connect with people who have similar tastes and interests. I have met people through Pinterest who are now valuable friends.

I go to Pinterest when I panic, when I'm stressed, when I need ideas. I even started curating an account for my sister's fandoms and fantasy art store.

I have over 8000 followers by doing nothing whatsoever besides pinning things. I don't do anything special to get followers (though I did notice followers grew exponentially when I change my account name from my mere human name to The Blasphemous Homemaker). I break pin etiquette rules all the damn time. Don't like me power pinning 100 of your pins? Too fucking bad because I JUST DID so if you block me it's ALREADY TOO LATE. Sad that I won't follow you back? It's nothing personal, it's just that when I do that, I end up seeing a lot of my own pins again in my home feed. Don't like my pro-choice pins? I WILL NOW POST MORE PRO-CHOICE PINS.
I will fucking increase the fucking thing

If I lost all 8000 followers tomorrow I would STILL BE ON PINTEREST because Pinterest is my thing. MY THING.

And now Pinterest is fucking it all up.

It was annoying when they started showing the occasional promoted pin, but I accepted it because eventually all major websites realize they actually need money in order to live. Fine, you need monies. I can deal with that.

But NOW they are trying to recommend things to me. THINGS. And sometimes those things are wrong. Remember Lego Jesus in a bra riding on a unicorn? And sometimes those things are things I have already pinned, for G*d's sake. And tonight those things TOOK OVER MY ENTIRE FUCKING HOME FEED.

Those yellow highlights represent pins picked for me. They also recommend frustration and sadness.

I don't want to see the pins they picked for me. Sometimes I don't even want to see the pins from the boards I picked myself, but I can then go unfollow them and blame no one but myself.

I found a place on Pinterest where I could leave my feedback. This is the text:

Just now, the entire top three rows of my home feed were pins picked for me. Please stop this.

I have been on Pinterest for several years now and have over 8000 followers, and every board I choose to follow has been selected by me after reviewing the value of the pins on those boards. If a board only has one or two pins that appeal to me, I don't follow that board. If the person has values that offend me, I don't follow that person or their boards. If a board is not updated often, I don't care to follow it.

Pinterest is my favorite website, even more than my email or Facebook. It is my favorite because it is mine. Pins that are picked for me without me choosing them are not mine. I DO follow people, not just ideas, and this is starting to stress me out. I LITERALLY HAVE OCD AND ANXIETY, and instead of being the first place I go when I need to take a break or calm down, Pinterest is now becoming a SOURCE of anxiety.

PLEASE. I understand that you need advertisers so I understand there are going to be occasional promoted pins. However, I need you to stop picking pins for me and putting the boards I follow in some kind of hierarchy. I want the ones I chose, in chronological order.

Do you think it will make a difference? I admit it's a little weak and whiny but I'm tired and I just want to look at pins I like before going to bed, but instead I'm angrily typing out a blog post about how Pinterest is moving my cheese.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Do You And Your Partner Share a Brain TARDIS?

In Doctor Who, The Doctor's T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) not only takes him anywhere in time and space, it also translates languages for him so that everything sounds like his language when he hears it or says it. This includes animals and babies.

In two days, on December 4, Bryan and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. one of the hallmarks of our marriage is our ability to just make words up and have the other person completely understand what we just said.

Sometimes there are hand gestures involved to make the context more clear, but in general, over half of everything we say to one another is either a quote from The Simpsons or Futurama, or something we just babbled out of our mouths like a baby spitting up milk. This is even more true when we text each other.

What about you? Do you and your partner have your own language? Do you sometimes just throw your hands around and say gibberish, and just relax knowing your partner is going to totally get that you just meant "Please get me some ice water when you get yourself some" or "there's no time for foreplay the kids might walk in at any moment?"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, Suicide, and Shutting The Fuck Up

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

David Foster Wallace

When I was little, I was thrilled that my baby sister's name was Mindy, because I loved the Mork and Mindy show. And I have loved Robin ever since.

As some of you already know, I made my own suicide attempt on September 10, 2001. I fell asleep expecting to never wake up again. I did. And all around me, people were screaming and crying because terrorists were crashing airplanes into buildings and bodies were falling out of windows. It was a weird world to wake up to when I didn't even want to wake up ever again in the first place.

Like many people who survive their suicide attempts, my first thought was, "I can't even do THIS right, and now I just have more pain and problems than I did yesterday."

My second thought was, "...and look at all those people who didn't want to die at all, and now they are gone."  It seemed very cruel. People like me who didn't want to live, didn't appreciate life, and here we are, trying to end it, making a mockery of people who still had so much living they wanted to do, and who can't anymore.

The thing is, though, I didn't really understand what I was doing. I mean, I did on a certain level, of course, but parts of my brain weren't working. It wasn't that I was just too selfish to appreciate life. It was that I was too sick.
Via Cerescan
People like me who have this kind of illness face a unique kind of battle with the rest of the world that people with "understandable" diseases don't have to fight. That's not me bragging; it's not a bonus.

I am a lot more functional than I was before finally finding the right kind of medication, but even people who have known me for years still let truly insensitive things slip out of their mouths. They say they get it, but there's still a forgiveness that people are ready to give someone who has a noticeable physical disability, that they aren't ready to give to people with a mental disorder.

 If you have to cancel plans or aren't able to return a phone call because you were in a car accident, people turn the hurt around and forgive you. If you cancel plans because you just couldn't leave the house that day because the outside world feels like an ocean ready to rush in and drown you, then you get to hear things like "It hurts to be friends with someone who is depressed." And, "It's hard to want to keep making plans with you." As though, knowing how much my illness hurts others, I should be able to make a more conscious effort to not have it.

I'm not mad. I'm too used to it to get mad. Unfortunately, my first desire is to now just stop reaching out to people, because then I hurt them.

That's where things get dangerous. It is no one's fault when someone else commits suicide, but there is also a part of me bristling at all the rhetoric surrounding Robin Williams' suicide - if you need help, talk to someone, reach it, you're not alone! Well, maybe he DID try to reach out and people were fucking assholes about it! And maybe he reached out, got love in return, but his brain was in too much pain and it just wasn't enough! There's really no knowing, but I can tell you this, I had a sweet friend in high school who eventually succeeded in killing himself, and as much as his family loved him and still loves him and always will, he once told me on a school bus that they just don't get him and don't believe him. He later hung himself.
Hyperbole and a Half

Now of course, I'm going to get accused of making people feel guilty; the survivors who are left behind when someone succeeds and is able to finally move on and have peace. I still feel like we don't take enough responsibility towards each other. We still don't get how to act or what to say when someone has a mental disorder.

If someone is refusing to take medication, is abusing you emotionally or physically, is violent or stealing from you or generally unsafe, than you sometimes have to walk away from a mentally ill person. You can't force anyone get better, and you don't have to endure abuse to help them.

However, be reasonable.

If someone is "whining again" on Facebook, experiencing anxiety over something irrational like crooked doormats or how many times they washed their hands, don't take it personally, and don't make it about you. It IS exhausting to maintain relationships with people who are sick or disabled - you have to accommodate someone in a wheelchair, or someone excitable, or someone with a weak immune system, or someone with OCD. It's extra work. But we're still goddamn human beings. The majority of us would "stop this shit" IN A HEARTBEAT.

Medication sometimes fixes it, and sometimes HELPS us cope but doesn't fix it, and sometimes does nothing. Sometimes exercise and dietary changes fix it, and sometimes they HELP us cope but don't fix it, and sometimes they make no difference. A lot of us see IMPROVEMENT, but still have to manage. I recently discovered that vetiver essential oil will stop a severe panic attack (holy shit what a blessing!!!). But I still have never found anything that helps me get out of bed if my body refuses.

So, this is my reality. I'm not cured. I can't just stop hurting your feelings. And even though I'm getting better at resisting, I am still probably going to turn your toilet paper from an underhand position to an overhand one.

If I go into your kitchen and close all the cabinet doors for you, unless you also have OCD and need them open, just SHUT THE FUCK UP and let me do it. I don't know why, either, and pointing it out isn't helping.

If I can't leave the house, don't tell me I just need to get out into nature. That's the opposite of what I need. What I need is probably low stimulation and some quiet time.

If I have only been alone for 3 days but my brain tells me it's because people are fed up with me and I feel desperate, and your first thought is, oh no, here she goes again, just DON'T SAY ANYTHING. If it's that hard for you, just move on. It's Facebook, lots of people are drama queens fishing for compliments on social media. You can totally just roll your eyes in silence and not say anything. Because what you say will be repeated in my mind, over and over, for many hours, through many days.

And if I hurt you, and I give you an explanation for my actions, ACCEPT THEM. PLEASE If you are my friend, then I am 99% positive nothing I say or do is intended to get a rise out of you, be passive-aggressive to make you beg for my forgiveness, or otherwise done because I don't care about you that day, or secretly don't consider you a friend. PLEASE believe me that I'm almost always coming from either a loving place or a crazy place. That 1% of the time that I intend to hurt someone, that Iam truly being a vindictive bitch, you won't have to wonder - you'll know.

There is a lot of judgment going around against Robin Williams' wife. Why she didn't check up on him and assumed he was still asleep. Whether or not she was there for him. A lot of judgment towards him, as well. A Fox News asshole said Robin was a coward. That's someone who has no clue how much COURAGE it takes to actually follow through on an attempt to kill yourself.

 photo STFU.gif

The bottom line is, maybe she was trying to get him to just see how much he had to be grateful for, and wasn't hearing him. And maybe she was doing everything possible but it just didn't work. I don't know, and you don't either.

What you DO KNOW is, if someone you love recently broke down, did YOU brush them off, were YOU finally done, or did YOU have the presence of mind to either be supportive AGAIN for the 500TH time, or at least did you have the class to just shut up.

If you do not have it in you to support someone with mental illness, then just SHUT UP. 

And believe me - if you are witness to me being a pitiful attention whore, having a break down, or otherwise freaking out, it's because I CONSIDER YOU A SAFE PERSON. Chances are, you are also someone I CHERISH TREMENDOUSLY.

This has been a public service announcement from The Blasphemous Homemaker.