naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Panic Noodles!)
I hate nightmares.

The hell of it is that I can't explain what was so scary about it. It just was.

I was in a movie theater with my friends, going to see a movie adapted from a book that you, [livejournal.com profile] the_xtina, had written. I have no idea what it was supposed to be about, though oddly enough I know that it was a thick book. Anyway, not so bad.

Then the horrible pre-movie music turned to Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes", and I leaped out of my seat and ran out of the theater before the first verse was even finished. It was playing in the lobby, too, so I ran outside. And it was still playing. I couldn't get away from it.

This is playing into two fears; first, the fear of movie theaters in general, which I dislike. Second, the fear of that fucking song, which creeps the ever-loving shit out of me.

I downloaded it the other night and listened to it, just to see if I got a response, and I didn't. It was a very different mix than the one in Watership Down, and while still identifiably eerie, it was just sort of "meh."

My subconscious clearly disagrees and is now using it to terrify me.

So now I'm wide awake after five hours of sleep, with my hackles up, and the horrible, sneaking suspicion that someone I know is going to die.

Fuck you, Art Garfunkel. Fuck you and the undead zombie rabbit you rode in on.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (WTF)
Christ.

Judging from my f-list, I'm not the only one who had freaky nightmares last night.

Here's mine: I dreamed Sargon had been murdered, and I was being forced to look at crime scene photographs in order to identify his body, which was impossible, because it was in, like, pieces.

Now, 1) I am deathly afraid of dismemberment and gore, and 2) I am deathly afraid of losing Sargon. And I mean way more afraid of those things than you probably think. So I started screaming and screaming. As usual, I realized it was a dream when nobody seemed disturbed by this. I still couldn't break the dream, though, so I kept screaming.

I thought I was making noise; I was just sure that Sargon would hear me and come to wake me up. Then I had a hypnagogic illusion that he did just that, and carried me into the bedroom, but the screaming didn't stop. It sounded wrong, too, which was only scarier. In retrospect, I was wearing earplugs, which would account for the close, muted sound of it, and sort of makes me think I was making some kind of noise. I don't think I was screaming, but I could very well have been yelping or moaning; Sargon wasn't asleep, but there were two rooms and two closed doors between us, and a fan going next to him.

Then I woke up for real, and for a few long moments I could not move. Hello, sleep paralysis, my old friend. I'm used to that, so it was less disturbing than the fact that I did not know where I was. I mean, literally had no idea. It was as though I'd woken up in a different house entirely. Nothing was familiar. Everything seemed turned around. This happens to me from time to time; I will wake up thinking I'm in my grandparents' spare room, or one of my childhood bedrooms, or in this house when it was my sister's house, but always before, it is someplace familiar to me. This was totally panic-inducing, because I knew I was awake, and didn't know where I was. I finally recognized the ceiling fan and the books on the shelf right beside me, and then I was okay enough to get up and fling myself on my husband.

It still sucked raw donkey balls through a straw. Christ. I just . . . crime scene photos. Ugh. No.

While we're at it, let me tell you about some other stupid dreams from the past month. I don't remember in what order I had these, but here they are, nevertheless.

First, I dreamed that Sargon was making me pull a full-size haywagon through the mud; deep mud that had been laid down in trenches dug by a bulldozer. And it was raining. Thing is, it was movie mud and movie rain, plainly fake. I have no idea where this came from as Sargon is in no way angry with me, and I am in no way feeling put-upon.

Then, I dreamed about gluing rhinestones to the Phantom of the Opera's mask. Boy, was he pissed when I gave it back to him. I blame making Christmas ornaments for this one, but I still think it's a swell idea. ("Damn you, you Bedazzling Delilah!")

Then, I dreamed that my friends came to my house to give each other presents, and didn't give me any, and everything I had already been given fell apart in my hands. Now, all of my friends are lovely people, and all of the presents I have received from them have been lovely; furthermore, my sense of etiquette is so vestigial that I truly doubt I would think to be offended if people were to exchange gifts in front of me in my own home, without bringing me anything. I think this is just me being hacked off at missing most of December.

Last, I dreamed about a redneck and his three kids trying to park their lime-green bikes on my dad's front porch while they went to see a play. They refused to remove them when I insisted. "We'll just leave these here." To which my lycanthropic poet friend Dr. Omed (who was standing behind me) laughingly said: "Oh, I don't think so." Hoping to get the redneck to touch me so I could have an excuse to call the police, I unleashed a stream of invective at him that caused him to poke me in the chest. At that point, I grabbed his cluster and pulled with all my might, whacked him in the shins with a stick, sent him to the concrete, and repeatedly kicked the ever-loving shit out of him. Dr. Omed laughed uproariously as he tried to dial the phone ("Do I call the police or an ambulance?"). The redneck children looked on like startled baby geese. The bicycles toppled into a heap. It was sublime. I don't know what that was about, but it felt good.

* I could very well have been yelping or moaning; Sargon wasn't asleep, but there were two rooms and two closed doors between us, and a fan going next to him.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Bitch)
The other day I talked about what it's like to have a panic attack, how they feel.

I'd like to thank everyone who commented, either to say that they have panic attacks, and that reading what I wrote helped them to understand they are not alone, or to those precious folks who wrote to say that they don't have them, and now they can understand it a little better. Thank you. I can't respond to every comment, though I am trying, but I want to let you know that everything has been most appreciated.

Today you get how it feels to be a person who has them. What it's like to live with them. Subtle difference.

I'm not claiming victim status here. I don't feel discriminated against. I don't think I've been denied anything because I have panic attacks. I just want to point out one thing: the way a lot of people think about folks who have this particular problem just plain fucking sucks.

You people who have anxiety attacks, or who suffer from depression or cyclothymia or bipolar disorder or ADD or whatever will know what I mean when I say that "Just get over it!" is literally the shittiest remedy ever for whatever potent cocktail of brain chemistry and personal psychology and past history is fucking you up.

And yet, that is precisely what society at large seems to think we should do. Suck it up.

Let's start by dismantling this a piece at a time. At its very base, this idea presupposes some pretty ridiculous things. Let's start with the first one: that panic attacks can be prevented if you just "think positive."

This utterance carries with it an entire army of false and harmful implications.

If we assume that the following statement is true:

  • Panic attacks can be prevented by positive thinking.

    Then any or all of the following may be true as well:

  • If panic attacks can be prevented by positive thinking in one instance, then they could always be prevented by positive thinking in any instance.

  • People who can't shake them are weak-willed and simply cannot think positive enough.

  • If someone suffers from a panic disorder, that's their fault for not being able to get over it.

  • They need to try harder to overcome it.

  • Since they can be overcome by positive thinking, panic attacks are not a physical problem; they aren't related to brain chemistry at all. It's all in your head.

  • Since panic attacks are not a physical problem, and only happen to weak-willed people, they are not a serious problem.

  • Since they are not a serious problem, people who have panic attacks do not deserve our consideration.

  • Since panic attacks can be overcome by positive thinking, those who have them are obligated to overcome them in order to avoid inconveniencing "normal" people, or in order to avoid appearing "too different."

  • Those who make demands anyway are "too sensitive" at best, or are at worst "selfish" and only using their "disorder" to get what they want.

    There's all sorts of other hurtful bullshit to go with this jaundiced view, but you get the idea:

    That's right. It's not a serious problem, you fucking pussy. Now get over yourself and join the human race! All those people who are bipolar or have panic attacks or PTSD or major depression or whatever, they're just faking to get attention like the big bedwetting whinerbaby sisswads they are. There's nothing really wrong with them.

    That's right.

    There's nothing wrong.

    I've had it said to my fucking face.

    Usually, I get the friendlier version. "This isn't really you!" or "It's just not like you at all!"

    Yes it is. It is exactly fucking like me. It is a PART of me. Just because it's not positive, because it makes people uncomfortable, does not mean I can -- or should -- disown it. Buying into the "it's all in your head, just get over it" line of reasoning, ignoring that this is a fundamental feature of my mental landscape, doesn't help; it makes it ten times harder to function. It makes me the guilty party, it puts me at fault. And I will not accept that. I'm responsible for my own behavior. I am not responsible for the fucked-up shit my body does to me. I exert as much control over it as it is possible for me to exert. I cannot do more than that.

    We are not all weak-willed people, those of us who live with this condition. We run the gamut. No doubt some of the afflicted are spineless gits. The same could be said of hairdressers, or Republicans, or college students, or the Portuguese. We don't have a monopoly on spinelessness.

    Many of those who have panic disorders, the majority in my experience, are actually very intense, forceful people with vibrant personalities and well-formed, intelligent opinions. They have insightful, well-trained minds, and often exhibit a great deal of self-awareness and self-control. They are very strong people. A lot of them, you'd never know they have panic attacks at all. Not unless they told you, which they probably won't, since they have been conditioned by the congenital assholes among us to never show "weakness."

    But it's not weakness.

    Many of us have had to become stronger people simply to live with the constant sword of Damocles that hangs over our every waking hour. It is incredibly difficult to make yourself do things that you know will result in a panic attack, and yet, many of us do precisely that. I had to learn to drive again, and sit in a movie theater, and visit my family, and talk on the phone, and speak politely to doctors. Those things still bother me sometimes, but it's usually only a four on a scale of one to "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"

    It is not our fault for not being able to "get over it." Yes, there are ways to lessen the impact of the attack once it begins, and there are ways to prevent them. Most everybody who has panic attacks eventually learns effective ways to deal with them, can even learn to head them off at the pass. That's the good news (and believe me, it's really good news).

    The bad news is that for many of us, they will never go away completely. We can lessen the effects, but cannot prevent the attacks totally. From time to time, we'll go through periods where we have them more often. We can cut them off before they get really going, but we still feel the initial stages of the cycle, and those are plenty unpleasant on their own.

    Given that the origins of panic disorder are so complicated and manifold that modern medicine can't really get a fix on what causes it (if there even is a single factor, which there likely is not), it is both cruel and foolish to expect sufferers to "get over it."

    The best evidence we have is that a predisposition is hardwired into us before birth, and in some individuals that predisposition expresses either naturally, in the case of someone like me who has "always" been anxious, or after some traumatic event, in the case of those who develop it later. It is a combination of how our brains process everyday information, learned threat recognition, and the wicked strong chemicals that act on the brain and gut, all of which act on one another, causing our panic response to go haywire.

    And even when we have learned to deal with it, it can still come back and hit us again. Just because you have really great defenses doesn't mean your castle won't be ever be attacked by Mongols. It just means you have really great defenses. And the thing about Mongols is that no matter how many you fight off, there's always more.

    So, in closing, a note to those who believe that a suffering person can "think positive" to bring themselves out of a chemical misadventure, or a mistake in brain wiring: I have some diabetic friends and some epileptic friends and some bipolar friends and some friends with thyroid disorders who would like to speak with you about mind over matter.

    Visualization, meditation, are powerful tools. Just because something worked for you, or for someone else, does not mean it is a cure-all or a panacea. The alicorn to this poison simply does not exist, and we're left to sweat it out every damn day until we get a handle on it or die trying.

    So show some fucking respect, okay? We do the best we can, and telling us to "buck up" doesn't make us feel better or more cheerful.

    It just makes us feel worse: alone and scared, and forced to live among people who aren't like us and who don't care about us.

    It also makes us want to punch you in the face.

    Thank you and goodnight.
  • naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (WTF)
    Sometimes I have panic attacks. Anxiety attacks. Whatever.

    I want to talk about what it feels like. A lot of you have them too. This is for you, so you know you aren't alone.

    A lot of you don't have them. If that describes you, don't skip this.

    Read it.

    See, a lot of people don't really understand what having one can do to you, or they think that only weak, chickenshit people have a panic disorder in the first place. Lots of folks have panic attacks and suffer in silence. It's not a problem that gets talked about.

    It's because of this that I'm putting a face on this bitch, right now.

    I've had panic attacks since I was about ten, but went through nearly a decade where I didn't have any, until they came back to kick me in the ass and turn me into a blithering sack of cowering innards for six months two years. Since then they've come and gone, and though they've threatened lately, I haven't had a full-blown panic attack in about a year. I consider this a victory.

    The first one happened as I was riding my bike. It was a beautiful summer evening full of yellow light and soft winds. I was ten years old, give or take, I had two parents who didn't beat me, I ate dinner off the table and not the floor, I didn't have rickets. Life was okay. And suddenly, out of goddamn nowhere, something misfired in my brain.

    What it feels like. )

    So that's what it's like. It's more terror than you've ever felt running a flat-out race up and down your spine, day in, day out. It's waking up blind in the middle of the night with a cry on your lips and your heart about to shatter your ribs, because you heard a tiny voice whisper out of your pillow . . . "You're going to just stop someday, and there won't be anything left of you at all." It's catching a blade of light coming through a dusty window at the wrong angle, and feeling yourself slip for no reason into another world where everything is dead or about to die.

    That's what I lived with. That is what I live with the possibility of facing again. I haven't had one for a very long time now, but the nature of the beast is that it recurs, returns.

    That is why I sometimes leave parties early, why I don't always like to go out very often or stay out very long, why movie theaters and renfaires and car trips and large groups of people and airplanes and doctors' offices sometimes – but not always – frighten me. Because I hate being trapped and unable to get home when I start feeling one come on, and being overstimulated, overexcited, even if it is good stimulus, brings them on.

    I don't drink caffeine, it triggers heart palpitations that can trigger a panic attack. I don't watch many gruesome movies. I hate loud noises. I don't like hospitals or nursing homes.

    Now, you may be tempted to think of me as a pussy, a big fat wusswad who is scared of her own toenails. I assure you, nothing is further from the truth. There are a shitload of things I'm not scared of, thanks. The list of things I have done without fear would probably turn your hair white.

    But you should know what it's like to feel fear you can't leash, can't control. You should know how real and immediate it is. Because even if you don’t have them, chances are you know now or will someday know a person who does, and understanding these people without belittling them and what they deal with is about the kindest thing you can do for them.

    If you are one of the people who has panic attacks, I urge you to do what I should have done but could not do because I had no insurance and no-one to help me: for the love of all you hold dear, get help.

    Please.

    And I don't just mean get pills, though those can be wonderful and helpful and you should not be ashamed to use them to break the cycle of panic. I mean get help to learn to control them. To cut them off before you need to take a pill. To ride them out when they happen. To recover when you've been swamped. Anxiety, panic attacks, they are extremely treatable, and virtually everyone who seeks help for them experiences significant improvement in symptoms.

    If you are a friend or family member of someone dealing with this crap, I can't tell you what to do beyond educate yourself about both the problem in general and what the person in question needs, and try to be open and understanding. If we appear agitated, or are insisting on something really odd or strange, like needing quiet or needing to go home right away or whatnot, be aware that we aren't trying to be party poopers – we're trying to control our panic. Please help us, if we ask for help – most of us find it so hard to do that by the time we ask for it, we really do need to be humored right away.

    We really, really appreciate it.

    Feel free to link this around if you kow anyone you think should see it. Part two, about how stupid it is that we are expected to just "suck it up" and deal, is coming soon, so stay tuned.

    * Which is not to say that I think that god-bothering is the best cure for panic disorder. It isn't. Faith is a marvelous restorative, but you can't exactly force yourself into it for your sanity.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Give Blood)
    Bolt awake again, for no reason worthy enough to justify the sleeplessness.

    I often am jolted out of sleep by mini panic attacks, usually to the tune of "You're going to DIE!" When I sit and look at the numbers it doesn't seem so bad until I realize that, hey, you know, it's only a couple years until I am half the age my mom was when she died. Blather all you like about good odds and taking care of yourself and blah, blah, blah; if a member of your family died that young, it'd give you a moment's pause, too to know that if genes play hell, you might have a lower expiration date than you thought.

    I'm nearly 30. I don't feel used-up, old, or like I am losing my edge in any way. I'm just hitting my stride. I'm an adult, finally. Every year is another log on a bright-burning fire. So be assured, I'm not one of those pathological women who plans on spending her 30s in a haze of denial, then launching into a grotesque parody of youth when I'm 40. Hell, I don't even plan on dyeing my hair if I start to go grey (unless it looks genuinely bad on me, which I don't expect it will). It's conceivable I might continue to play with my hair color, but that's more out of me liking the thought of red hair than out of me not liking the thought of having a little salt in my pepper.

    I might fail utterly at aging with grace, you can never say, but I plan on handling it. I quit thinking of myself as a "girl" a while back, and I'm perfectly comfortable calling mysef a woman now. Just one of the past couple of years' few unexpected gifts, I guess. Yeah, it's weird to think about the "half over" thing, but it's not the same as "half done." I'm not ever going to feel "finished." I hope to god I never become one of those living dead old people who just suck and mutter around, who lose all their mental dexterity, all their snap and fire. You know the ones I mean. They're only waiting to die.

    I'm not like that. I won't be like that.

    I think I'll like being 30. You know how you defiantly add that "and a HALF" on when you're, like, twelve, and you really think it makes a frigging difference? I told someone yesterday that I'm 29 and a HALF with that same sense of pride. I'm almost to one of the really good numbers! (Ironically, the guy I said this to guessed my age at around 20, so it may be that I'm only cavalier about getting older because I look very young.)

    All that said, I don't feel so good. As previously implied, I'm up at whatever o'clock because I've been awake since five-thirty. Not sleeping, in other words. And I felt truly ill after donating hit points yesterday, hence the lack of a "Hey there, I'm not dead!" post. That was my bad. I didn't drink enough before I went in, and I was barely above the bar for iron levels.

    It was still decreed that I had enough hit points to donate a few, albeit by a narrow margin. Still, gotta do it. One donation can be spread among three lower-level characters, you know. Added up, I've saved the equivalent of fifteen first-level mages, or three fifth-level rangers, or one 15th-level fighter (hopefully a first-edition barbarian).

    I'm pretty sure I get experience points, too. So it's a for-real win/win situation. I wonder, if I listen really hard will I hear a little ding-ding sound when I level up?

    I'm pretty sure I'm not leveling up this time; I feel like too much crap. Maybe next time. Besides. It's all worth it.

    Warm blood-donor fuzzies and a swag new Red Cross tee shirt aside, I have loads of actual work to do. Most of which I am not at all interested in pursuing, although that may be the blood loss induced apathy and lack of sleep talking. I wanted to paint last night, and I want to paint now, but I'm way, way too tired.

    I'll settle for trying to sleep a little more, and hoping that this weekend gives me time to do the crap I need to do, like catch up on the stuff that Christmas sort of ate.

    Ugh. I need more hours in the day.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Emo Icon)
    I gave myself a nasty fright this morning, as I was drifting in and out of sleep. I got it into my head that I'm almost 30, and I could be half done. Not the first time I've had that thought by a long shot, but sometimes when I'm sleeping it sneaks up on me and instead of whispering in my ear like it usually does, it finds a soft spot and it bites down hard.

    I don't believe I'm half over, not really, but it did wake me up with a nasty kick in my gut.

    Two years ago, when my mom was still fighting cancer, when my grandmother was dying of Alzheimer's, I wrote:

    "We truly are unique creatures. And once we're gone, that's it. Nothing but the space of us left, like the empty silhouette of a sugar star lifted from the cookie dough. Defined only by an absence in the memory of those who knew us. No cat can replace another cat, no person another person. That the world goes on is a comfort, but it is a comfort we take like we take our revenge: cold."

    And that's true. Because now, even more than when I wrote that entry, I feel the empty spaces. There's more of them. Nanny is gone. Mom, too. And Kaw Kaw. And now, little losses. A snake here and there as our pets get old. Cyrus. The Metro. Some mornings it feels like I'm all hole and no dough.

    When I came home on Thanksgiving after being gone for hours and hours, I drew a breath to call out to the dog, to tell him we were home. Thank the gods I caught it in time, because I think it might have killed Sargon. But it was still like walking into a wall.

    It was a fruit punch moment, a really nasty one.

    Last year I was painting a lovely box for a friend and I was very, very proud of it. Mom had just died, and I was still getting used to it, sometimes even forgetting, and one day while I was taking a break and watching Sinbad fight a giant bee, I put my hand on the box. I do a lot of that while I'm in the middle of a project, just touching with love. I love my work and I take it very personally, and even if I don't know the person I'm painting for, while I'm painting, I sort of love them, too. I was really proud of this one. I thought under my mental breath, "I can't wait to show this to Mom."

    The remembering hit me like a kick in the gut. It hurt so fucking bad, so bad, that I almost shriveled up and died of it right there.

    I don't have moments like that anymore. It was worse when I would forget for a little while, like I'm still forgetting about the dog. Still looking for him. It was worse when I still expected Mom to be there, even after a year and more of being prepared for her to not be.

    I stopped looking for Mom sometime in May or June. But I miss her today, which sucks. The last time I really was able to sit with her and talk, it was near this time of year. Whatever ill will was in my family, I always felt less of it around the holidays. I remember these as happy times. Mom often made things for family and friends, like I tend to, so we'd discuss projects. We'd catch up on news from friends and family. We'd just talk sometimes. Mom had a lot of hopes for me. She believed in me I think more than she let on. We just weren't friends, so she didn't know how to say it.

    Even though I'm not the sort of person who usually feels that I have to live up to anyone else's expectations, I'm glad I don't feel like I'm letting her down. I think she'd be proud of me. This last year has sucked in many ways, but I am doing better now than I have in a very long time. I have a lot of hope. A lot of fear, too, and worry, but a lot of hope. I'm excited about next year. And I can't share that with her.

    It sucks wide.

    Sargon's folks are wonderful and supportive. My dad is every bit as awesome as you'd expect my dad would have to be. I love my sister, with whom I share so much, and with whom I want to try sharing more. But Mom . . . even if we never got along, we were alike in more ways than I feel comfortable admitting. We understood each other, and she cared about me in a way that nobody else did, or even can. All you mothers out there will know exactly what I'm talking about.

    I have to say this to all you chicks with kids. There will come a day when you realize with horror that your child doesn't really need you in order to live their life. This may come at 18, or 25, or 30, but it will come. Your kid is probably pleased by this realization, as pleased as you are horrified. That's okay. They need to feel that. It feels good.

    What they can't say, or don't think to, or don't know yet, is that though there comes a point where you don't need your parents, you always want them. And in that sense, they are something that you need. Always. We, your kids, we don't want to be without the time we'll have with you once we don't need you and can learn to love you as equals. Maybe as friends. We just don't know how to say it, or that we have to, until that's threatened or gone.

    The truth is that you do your job, your kid loves you and learns something from you along the way, so you're always going to be with that kid. Always. And the bare fact that it can't be taken away means that they will always need you. You're integral to who they are.

    I don't know. I'm feeling philosophical, and it's mostly bullshit rambling, but what I'm saying is that even if we can learn to get along, adjust to how our lives change, there are always going to be these . . . moments.

    I like to think that I'm living the life my mom would have wanted for me. I also sort of like to think that I'm living the sort of life she would have chosen for herself, if she could have done so. I don't want her approval, exactly. I just want her to feel like no matter how badly she felt she fucked up, look, see, I'm not broken, and I still work just fine.

    This doesn't hurt. Not exactly. Don't want you to think it does. It's just weighty. Even a year later, I want her sometimes, and . . . well . . . she's not there. I really do believe that froufrou bullshit about your loved ones never leaving you, but I will tell you that without a physical person to interact with it's not the same, and no amount of wishing will make it okay when someone you love has died.

    Not having a thing will teach you to the inch how much of it you need. I'll say that, too.

    We were never going to be friends. She wasn't that sort. But we might have been something else, and now I'll never know.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Lucian No Going Back)
    As previously reported, I've been taking kava kava to control my panic attacks and overall misery level, and it's been working really well. So well, in fact, that I stopped taking it a few weeks back. I'd only taken small doses twice in the past three weeks.

    Of course, Thursday was a bleeding asscrack nightmare, complete with chainsaws, barking dogs, psycho neighbors, and other assorted annoying shit, so I took a full shot of it yesterday to deal with the refractory panic attack. It would have been stupid to tough it out and suffer for the next couple of days just so I could have bragging rights.

    This spectacularly annoying week aside, I feel better, like my equilibrium has been restored. I'm dealing. Dealing with being on the phone, going out occasionally, all that crap. Simple things that had become almost impossible what with the code-red panic shit flaring up all the damn time, making me a wreck.

    Even when I wasn't having an episode of tweek, I was either coming down from one, feeling one coming on, trying to prevent one, or just plain worrying when the next one would start. It's a vicious cycle, and I had to resort to herbal remedies to break it. Boy am I glad it worked.

    And it's good to know that if I start to have another one, like yesterday, all it takes is ten drops, and I'm better. Cool again. Kava doesn't leave me feeling out of myself or peculiar, like tranquilizers. Even a quarter of a lorazepam really makes me feel . . . off. Kava never did. I felt like myself, only able to cope.

    I'm still taking my 5-HTP, but that's mostly for sleeping. I haven't had insomnia since I started taking it. It's amazing stuff, too.

    Yes, this past week has sucked. I still did okay -- except for the part where I totally flipped the fuck out on Thursday, but I insist that keeping my cool and not doing it in front of anyone was a major victory.

    I still feel stupid, occasionally, for not being able to deal where it seems like other people wouldn't have a problem. I still feel annoyed with myself for being so sensitive to hostility and so afraid of confrontation. But overall, I'm proud of myself for dealing with my neuroses without resorting to doctors or prescription medication or unhealthy habits. I'm proud of myself for finding something I thought would work, taking it for as long as I needed it, and not taking it when I don't. I'm proud of myself for being patient enough with my own ways to finally allow myself to heal a little.

    I'm going to be all right. The past couple of years have sucked, but I'm coming out tougher, and I still have my feet under me, and I never lost my way completely after all, not even when I thought I had.

    I guess the point of all this is that I'm grateful for the support and kind words, and hopefully I'll be around more often now that things are generally cool. I feel like I've not been posting much personal stuff -- or much of anything at all -- for the past Really Long Time, and while I'm maybe not comfortable sharing as much as I used to, I would like to get back to being a little more present and a little more forthcoming.

    So, see you around, I guess. Have a good weekend, folks.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
    I am so super-duper maxi extreme ultra not okay. Ugh.

    Monday was hard. I knew it would be, but I had no idea. We went through the stuff at the grandparents' house preliminarily, and I came away with some things I'm glad to have. I thought I was fine, I truly did, but then I spent the rest of the day competely spacy, the way you are after you've taken a big hit. I think they still call it shock, even though that word implies both "sudden" and "surprising," and this was neither.

    I was shaken.

    I left the groceries in the car for two hours, I left my food in the oven for twice as long as it needed to be there, twice in a row I let water boil away in the kettle, and I found myself staring into space a lot. I only slept for about four hours that night, and only about four last night, too. Nightmares. (Interspersed with dreams of spanking Tom Welling, but we won't go there.)

    Yesterday I was a complete basket case, which wasn't helped by the fact that I was starting out on a sleep deficit, and then everything in the world decided to piss me off.

    First it was me finding out the movie I wanted on DVD isn't out yet, like Amazon said it was. They had The Covenant (the sucky version with Steven Strait) confused with another The Covenant (version the suckier with Edward Furlong), and the one I want won't be out for a good long time yet. Motherfucker.

    Next it was the City of Tulsa coming down my street with huge diesel trucks to inspect the pipelines. Their engines were running outside my house all morning. Add to that the tree-sawing crew on the other side of us, and it was noisy. When you factor in the barking dogs, sent into Code Red by the workmen, it was apocalyptic. I am surprised that you, wherever you are, didn't hear it.

    Then it was the dogs barking all by themselves. For two hours. No matter how much I yelled at them and no matter how many times I shot them with the BB pistol.

    Then it was my own cats, tearassing around like someone had put peppercorns in their asses and howling at the top of their little lungs. For no reason at all.

    Then it was TU. I am so. Fucking. Pissed. Apparently there was some kind of game – I really do not give a shit about sports, so I don't know what. Football, probably. The nonstop noise from the stadium started at four o'clock, and ended at eleven. It began with the marching band practicing – drums and oompah oompah music. Then it was yammering over the loudspeaker, and hollering, and fucking tornado sirens going off every time they scored a touchdown, I shit you not. And loud, LOUD country music blared over the loudspeakers at irregular intervals. What the fuck? Who CARES about that shit? Holy Christ! Die. All of you. DIE.

    It's easier for me to deal with almost anything else than it is for me to deal with noise. It completely pulls me apart at the seams. I cannot function.

    Now, add to all of this the constant feeling of being on edge, either about to attack someone or start crying at the drop of a hat. Maybe both.

    Yeah.

    I'm trying hard not to flip the fuck out, since there is no real reason to. I hate feeling like this, because it makes me feel profoundly weak and stupid.

    "Oh, boo hoo. Look who doesn't want to go and sort quietly through piles of stuff for her own benefit. Wah, wah, waaah. Look who can't hold her shit together even though nobody's really asking anything out of her."

    It's enormously frustrating. I'm not weak, I'm not stupid. I'm just dead tired, and treading uncharted waters. And I hate not being as tough as other people ("toughness" here describes a lack of emotional susceptibility, and is not to be confused with "strength," which is different altogether). I hate being sensitive.

    But I'll be all right. I can honestly say that and not feel like I'm trying to wallpaper over a fist-sized hole in my chest. I don't feel hopeless, or feel like I'll feel this way forever. I expect I'll feel better tomorrow or the next day. And that, in itself, is a gift. For months I've had no expectation that I would ever feel better. This is a huge relief.

    I found a tarot card on my walk yesterday: the five of swords.

    It's a notoriously difficult card to interpret, from what I understand. It can signify a defeat, or a victory, or a Pyrrhic victory. It can mean you're too focused on the big things to see the small things that lie at your feet, and it can also mean that you're looking too closely at the little picture, and you need to broaden your concern a little bit. It can mean a minor setback or a great big one. It can mean that you've finally won an ongoing battle, or it can mean that the fight isn't over yet.

    In short: a completely unhelpful omen that will no doubt only become clear in retrospect.

    Goddamn, life is like that sometimes, isn't it?
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Renaissance Woman)
    I should be sleeping. Right? Sleeping? Isn't that what people do when it's 4:30 a.m. and they have shit to do the next day like, oh, give blood and see friends and do art show stuff and paint and write and buy flea treatment for the mammals and feed snakes and . . . and . . . and?

    Sleeping.

    Right.

    The birthday was good, as I have said. Just what I needed, just who I needed, just when I needed it. And that's . . . all I needed.

    I had the added bonus of ridding myself of a pain in my ass the next day. I feel profoundly guilty, but also relieved beyond my ability to express, because I have given Mathurin back to Dad. I'd feel worse but he remembers the old house just fine, he has rats to hunt, and no other cats to fight with. He's happier. And we're happier too, without his howling and his mess -- he could not eat without smearing a four-foot area with wet cat food. I kid you not. He had to remove each individual mouthful from the dish and put it on the clean floor. Bastard. Dad is apparently coping. I really hope he doesn't change his mind. At this point, the other cats are getting along swimmingly, and I don't think they'd accept Matt back in. I think they would gang up and murder him the minute he came out of the carrier. Mostly I feel guilty because this was a decision that was made mostly for my sanity, not anyone else's. But, then, it was nothing but screaming catfights, howling for food, claws in my leg, stolen dinners, and broken plates. Anyone would have snapped. I'm surprised I lasted a year.

    My granddad is in a really nice assisted-care facility. Nursing home. Raisin ranch. Whatever you call it, and however pleasant it appears to be, it's still pretty fucking awful. I haven't gone to see him yet, though I need to. It's just that places like that . . . I can't explain it. The taint of human suffering, the psychic aura of despair and death, it really gets to me. I often have nightmares after going into hospitals, no matter the occasion. Nursing homes are only a little better. They're less horrifying and more sad. Like an oubliette. "A place you put someone to forget about them." He is apparently not very lucid most of the time, and since by law they aren't allowed to tie up the inmates, he's always trying to get up and escape. He's fallen multiple times, and last time was bad -- he hit his head pretty hard.

    There is no dignity to this. There is no fairness, no right sense of life or grace or continuity. I know without a doubt that were he in his right mind he would not want to continue like this, but the truth is that there's nothing to be done, and that he won't last long anyway; he's ninety, and he's taken a major turn downhill. How long can he hang on? It's fucking horrible and tragic. You don't want to see a strong man like this, but Intervention and Medicine are the lenses through which society understands death, so you just have to keep your mouth shut and pray that by the time you're old, it will be legal to have yourself gently put under, if that's what you want.

    No, I don't want him dead. But I'm not one of those people who wishes life on others. I'd prefer someone step out, if they must, rather than linger in discomfort or dementia. I hate, hate, to think of them suffering. Of being locked in a broken body, with a broken mind. And I hate the people more, those who jail us in our old age. Doctors, relatives, caretakers. People who won't let us go, or help us. I'm not pointing fingers in this case, it's being handled as well as anyone could handle it. I'm just saying that the way our society is built, we torture our elderly. For ourselves and others, we value clinging to life more than embracing death. And there is no mechanism to allow us to simply step out. We're hassled every step of the way to do more, try harder, keep on living. For god's sake. It's awful.

    I'm agnostic-bordering-atheist, but I wonder. If we have souls, and I think we might, the soul knows what our body knows, and more than that. Our soul, once we die, remembers what we once were, doesn't it? It has a perfect memory, of everything from the moment of birth right up until. So what about people like this, whose minds are fragmented, failing, fugitive? Is the soul imprisoned there, knowing, trapped like a moth in a lantern? Does the soul leap out on the moment of death, remembering all that the body had forgotten, and profoundly relieved to be rid of the burden of flesh? Or is the inner life of the soul itself a random kaleidoscope of memories and feelings, indistinguishable from the fugues of dementia and only hampered in some glorious expression by the shabby coat of flesh we all wear to our graves?

    It's questions like that I have no tolerance for from other people, questions like that which make me believe that it's easier, if not more reassuring, to say that we're just animals, all synapses and neurotransmitters and vague fears and memories and bare naked instinct, with no more depth to us than that.

    Arrrgh. I promised myself I wasn't going to get maudlin or philosophical. I'm sick of that shit. Makes me sick. I'm sorry.

    At any rate, it's been much on my mind. There are no answers, not that I can accept from anyone else, so as always I'm left to find my own. I'm comfortable with that, actually.

    Things have improved significantly. All the panic, anxiety, dread, fear, etc. that I've been wrestling with is retreating, or being held at bay. I am taking kava extract for my twitchiness, have been taking it for a week now, and it's fucking amazing stuff. It's a clear amber liquid, it smells of composted flowers, and when I drop it into my tea three times a day, it bursts into cloudy explosions, a creamy yellow louche like venom. It's my Potion. And it has restored about two thirds of my sanity and functionality. Which is more than any pissant SSRI ever did for me. Fuck your Prozac, the kavalactones have made me their bitch. With no side effects, I might add. Who's your daddy now?

    And I've been reading a book, which is always a bad and boring thing to say in the context of feeling better about oneself, only this one has explained so much about me, and other people, that I can't even articulate the difference it has made. "The Highly Sensitive Person" by Elaine Aron puts a new face on parts of my personality I have always wrestled with: my dislike of noise, sensitivity to medications, vivid dreams, fear of doctors, inability to be out of the house for more than two hours without becoming hopelessly overstimulated . . . I could go on and on and on. Suffice it to say that if you go to this page and look at the questions, and it seems like you are a highly sensitive person, or your spouse or child is, get the book. Please.

    Thank you, David, for getting it to me. It came at a very good time. And way back when, someone directed me to that very page, that very quiz. I don't remember who it was, and I'm so sorry. I tried to find the post and couldn't. Speak up, if it was you. I owe you a very big thank you. Without that, I would not have added that book to my wish list.

    Anyway, I see I have a lot of work ahead of me, a lot, but I'm starting to feel like I at least know which end of the sword to hold. The pointy end goes into the other man. And that's a start, right?

    I can't change what I am. I can at least understand it.

    Super.

    May. 31st, 2006 04:16 am
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (A Taste For Danger)
    "I balk at sleep as if it were a hole filled up with horrors, leading God knows where. . . ."
    -- Baudelaire

    Know what's really cool? Staying awake for however long 36 hours plus 8 hours is, after taking two Benadryl and half a lorazepam. Not only was I seeing things, I think the things saw me, too.

    I've slept since then. The things are all gone. (They looked like wee, star-headed cats. Or very surprising trees. They might have been gloves. Cats with glove heads. My brain is like a fortune cookie -- folded, crumbly, stale, and completely random. Also, your lucky numbers are four, twelve, and thirty-six.)

    Know what's also cool? My husband. I married such a dick. Last night at the convenience store across from the college were a pair of semi-drunk sorority chicks entreating men to go in and buy them beer (I should add that I find this practice both pathetic and reprehensible).

    They foolishly approached my darling beloved and wheedled at him like a couple of hungry alley cats. "Will you buy us some beeeer?"

    To which Sargon the Terrible responded "Will you bloooow me?"

    You could probably have heard their screams of outrage in Zodanga. I almost died laughing.

    He has also bought me birthday presents. Ahead of time. And wrapped them. This is a first -- for real, we're both, like, terrible at the ahead-of-time thing, and his last birthday present from me was wrapped in newspaper. They've been on the table a week, and all I can do is look at them and chew my mental stitches over what the hell he is so proud of finding. I find out on Friday, I suppose.

    Overall, I'm indifferent to the birthday thing. It's not impressive, particularly, turning 29. This year is . . . painful . . . for a number of reasons, none of which can really be alleviated by having a fuss made, so we aren't fussing. I am, however, planning to become more depraved in the following year. I'm stalking that sexual peak I keep hearing about, flexing my muscles as it were. I want to be ready when it hits. Unless it's mythical, in which case I plan to make it happen by brute force. I refuse to be cheated of my demented middle age.

    It would probably be best to keep all boys between 18 and 25 away from me for, oh, the next decade or so. Except Steven Strait. Him you can throw at me. I can take it.

    I had an update of pith and moment to throw you, but I'm afraid you don't get it, as what I meant to say has quite fled my mind along with most everything else. I'm having a crappy time of it, mostly because of insomnia, and most of my friends have it worse. I'm not in a state to offer much comfort, even, which upsets and frustrates me. All I can do is rest. Rest and recover.

    On the bright side, I've mostly solved my problems with the latest commission, it looks great, and I feel confident that it will still look great when I'm done with it. I had to quit painting because my hands were shaking so badly I couldn't hold to a straight line. So it's back to the computer, which doesn't care if your hands aren't steady. I have new iconage. Several, actually, of which this is my favorite; I'm slowly revamping the lot. After two years, I pretty much hate the look of my old ones.

    Right now the birds are singing outside, it's an obscene hour, and I feel vaguely sick. I'm going to attempt to sleep, and hope my sanity is still there when I get up in the morning.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Panic Noodles!)
    I have entered the stage of grieving that is known as the Theme Park of Constant Mood Swings.

    Every time I go on the emotional roller-coaster there, I think about the time I was . . . I don't know if I should say how old I was . . . the time I was a teenager and had taken a mood-altering substance with a friend.*

    We were in the car, and I noticed her staring at the road as the line flashed past and muttering.

    "What are you saying?" I asked.

    She didn't answer, but when I leaned over I could hear her whispering "Swim, walk. Swim, walk. Swim, walk." And as we went faster, she sped up, until the lines were stuttering past and she was going right along with them. "SWIMwalkSWIMwalkSWIMwalk."

    The next day she told me that the dotted lines in the road had looked like tropical islands in a sea of black and as we drove past, she imagined swimming between them, then running along the islands, then swimming, then running, and so on and so on, until as we drove it was just frantic.

    We were both amused by this to no end, but I have never forgotten it, because it seemed to encapsulate a certain emotional truth that I sometimes feel. We're always either swimming or walking, we don't get to quit, we can't control how fast we go, and there is only one road. For reference, by the way, I don't like tropical islands, I can't swim, and I am none too fond of walking on the beach, so the metaphor must be seen in that context.

    I realize that my journal reads like an emotional teeter-totter. The truth is that I'm not really okay, but that I'm certain I'll live and come out of this just fine in my own good time. That time is just not yet, obviously. And that's all right.

    A couple of friends have been unwell recently, and Sargon's mother has not been well. I'm reluctant to speak more of it until I know exactly what's going on, but I'm really not pleased. This year has already involved far more doctor crap than I am comfortable with. I'm barely through licking my wounds over my last few scraps. The last thing I need is to have to be dragonishly protective of another very sick loved one.

    Not that I won't do it, mind. It just makes me bitchy.

    Progress is being made despite the ups and downs. I don't want any of you to think that it's horrible to be me or anything. Mostly life is really, really nice. Yes, there's a nagging sense that it could all go wrong and take a turn straight down the mineshaft at any moment, but I've had that feeling since I was twelve. It's nothing new. It's my default setting. If vacuum cleaners and gigolos have a "shag" setting as their default, then vampires and I have "brood."

    I'm not writing anything that has me all fired up, but I am plugging away at some ideas. Inspiration will return whether I like it or not. I finished the new dragon box today, though I suppose he is technically a wyvern. Whatever he is, I now have a sense of accomplishment. It gets varnished tomorrow and mailed Monday, and there will be pictures of it once it reaches its owner. Every time I do a new box, I think it's the prettiest one I have ever done. I am very proud of this one. Yes, they are hard to part with, but the real happiness for me is in the doing of them. Keeping them around . . . well, it's nice, but the fewer of my own pieces I have, the more I tend to paint.

    Right now I am exhausted and my hands are very tired, so I'm going to sleep for about a million years.

    * No, I do not advocate trying said mood-altering substance just to see what it is like, no matter how cool it sounds. It's all fun and games until you flip the fuck out. Also, the bad stuff will fuck your shit up like nobody's business. If five hours of the dry heaves and a 12-hour panic attack sound like your idea of fun, though, don't let me stop you. I personally think it compared unfavorably to swallowing rat poison.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Emo Icon)
    Well, I'm not dead. Yet.

    Christ. On a pony. This week has been so long I thought I would never see the end of it.

    Do you even know what happens when you have insomnia so bad it keeps you from sleeping even though you have taken four sleeping pills? Oh. My. God.

    I slept for about three hours on Tuesday night, then hung out in a hospital for most of the day while a friend had minor surgery. It was something I really wanted to do for her, but on coming home I discovered that it had taken more of the mickey out of me than I thought. This was actually a good thing: one would think I could have slept after that. Not so. I staggered around in an insomniac haze until midnight, then tried twice to bed down beside Sargon. Every noise from the street, every movement, every breath, every twitch, every snore, every movement of the sheet, kept me awake. I had to get up eventually and still couldn't relax enough to rest even after downing another pair of sleeping pills.

    I was quite literally hallucinating. Tripping out of my gourd. Everything I saw looked like something else. A tee shirt looked like a folded black bird about to jump off of the top of the dresser. A hat became a tiger's face. There were arms, hands, eyes, poking out from under furniture. Things were moving around in the corners of my eyes. Everything startled me. Each time I turned around something scared me. I was twitching in terror every few seconds, just a hair from screaming like a rabbit. I finally had to lay down just to make it stop. The room was not spinning, but the bed was rocking slowly. The roof of my mouth was numb. As I lay there trying to sleep beside Sargon, it sounded like about six televisions had been turned on in the other room. I heard snatches of conversation in my head, clips from movies, nonsense words strung together in familiar voices, a veritable Babel of infernal disembodied voices. I didn't find it that disturbing at the time, as I often hear phantom noises as I'm drifting off to sleep, but now I'm just a little worried about it. That's some unnerving shit, let me tell you. I think it was the sleeping pills on top of everything else.

    I fetched up on the floor of our downstairs room: industrial low-nap carpet over freezing-cold concrete. Stuffed with earplugs, blindfolded against the light (it was eight in the morning by that time), cocooned in blankets to eliminate all sensation, I finally slept for another three fitful hours. A part of me believed that if I tried to sleep somewhere I knew I'd be uncomfortable, I wouldn't try to stay awake getting comfortable. Seemed to work.

    Then I got up and did the last thing I wanted to do: went with Sargon to the doctor. I wound up with an hour-long case of the shakes even though the doctor never even touched me.

    I still feel scraped down to the bone. Too tired to eat, even. But not sleepy.

    This is normal. I keep telling myself that. This is normal for someone who has been through the parade of shite that has been the last year of my life. This is normal, because it is not normal. There can be no "normal" when it comes to grief -- I may act normal, but I know deep down that I am not. I must simply accept this as the only visible symptom of grief that has yet occurred. I don't feel particularly connected to the pain any longer, I am not positive that's what is causing it, but I can't imagine what else it could be. It's like the mental equivalent of experiencing the adrenal rush of a cut or burn without the actual hurting. And I don't know why it's bothering me so much, still. In the past three months, my life has overwhelmingly changed for the better. I feel good most days. I feel great sometimes.

    So why does it come out at night to bite me?

    It's almost impossible to talk about, even here, where I'm at my most articulate. I don't know how to describe what I'm feeling. I don't know where the pain is. I don't feel it, but I feel what it's doing to me.

    Que la fuck, people; que la fuck?

    Ugh. On the bright side, my friend has hopefully taken care of an annoying-ass medical issue that's been plaguing her for longer than it rightfully should. I have mostly completed another box commission, and nearly worked my way through about $300 of porn-for-pay; a nice starting deposit for the retirement account I'm opening sometime next month. And Sargon and I have a date by which one of us will be sterile: he's going in to get fixed on the fifth of next month, the kindly fates willing. Provided there are no hitches, I will never again have to discuss birth control with another hatchet-faced doctor bitch who is secretly bent on either screwing me over and selling me for glue makings, since I'm obviously just an unfeeling piece of meat without the intellectual capacity to feel fear or the physical apparatus to feel pain.

    That's enough good news for me.

    I'm going to try to sleep now, and hope that I don't hear things all night long, or have more nightmares. I'll be around over the weekend, but I'm not making any promises about updating. I said I'd be taking a break, and I pretty much have been.

    I just wish I could tell if it was doing me any damn good.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
    I am freezing. FREEZING. I have turned the heat up twice in an hour, and I'm still frozen.

    I realize I've been all about the brooding lately, and for that I apologize. I'm not so much sorry that I'm brooding as I am sorry that I haven't been more about the funny. I say this because I genuinely enjoy interacting with you guys, and making you laugh is one of my favorite things, so when I'm not funny for a while I think I miss it more than you do.

    There are a lot of things I want to talk about, a lot of things I want to say, but somehow the words just aren't there.

    I want to talk about how great it is to have friends with whom I feel totally safe.

    I want to talk about how happy I am right now, this very minute, with Sargon. Just for being himself, for being with me. He didn't have to sign up for any of this crap.

    I want to talk about how I sent that fan letter to Ioan Gruffudd a couple of weeks back, and how that makes me feel really dumb and really happy at the same time.

    I want to talk about how scared I am sometimes that when I die there'll just be . . . nothing, and how I'm not really sure I believe in the divine anymore, and how utterly sad that makes me, because I don't know what goes in that empty place. I hate science as a worldview. It's stupid, because it doesn't really mean anything. It's like math. It's something you do, but not how you live your life. What good is algebra when you need relationship advice? What good is genetics or chemistry when you're afraid to die?

    I want to talk about how nice springtime is, because just today I saw pigeons getting lucky, a HUGE black cat pissing unabashedly on some kid's bike, robins and cardinals sporting in the trees, the first Bartlett pears blooming, and lots of new growth on my rosebushes. And all those things made me smile big, dumb smiles.

    I want to talk about how pissed off I am that my abortion and contraception rights are being threatened, and how I sure as shit don't appreciate having to haul ass to get one of us sterilized before the United States becomes a third-world country where women are considered property, like animals. This shit could kill me, people. It's not fucking funny.

    I want to talk about how I miss my mom in really weird ways, like when I put on my socks. And how I need to go see my dad. And my granddad. And my sister. Because I miss them, too. But sometimes it's hard to be around family, because I don't usually know what to say.

    I want to talk about how I'm having a creative block right now, and working on anything is like pulling teeth right out of my skull. Still, I've got a new project (the Thing I've been talking about) completed, and more information will be coming on that next week. It's not huge, but it's groovy.

    I want to talk about perfume, and how gleefully happy it makes me on so many levels, and how I owe [livejournal.com profile] topknot some truly perverted porn for sending me . . . I think 14 imps, including a decant of Spanked, which I'm going to try over the weekend.

    In short, I want to share my random little life with you people because I want to feel less alone; I want to feel held and safe and lifted up by knowing that random strangers somewhere out in the dark feel the same cold drafts in their psychological drawers that I feel, sometimes chew their ice like I do, yell at their cats like I do, feel scared like I do, watch the same cartoons and TV shows I watch, laugh at the same bad jokes.

    I'll update with something more concrete tomorrow. I just wanted to speak into the void, because it's quiet around here in the deep, dark, soft part of night, and I miss hearing your voices.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Panic Noodles!)
    I've been on the edge of a real tearass tweeker all day. I hate this random panic attack shit. For the last couple months I've been okay, but it's starting to slip again, partly because I'm finally coming down off the stress over Christmas, I think. My brain is finally processing everything.

    Took it long enough.

    The upshot is that for the past three nights I've done nothing but have nightmares. I close my eyes, I have bad dreams about dead people and being lost. Even when I nap for an hour, I have nightmares. And being unable to rest ups my chances of having a panic attack by at least 400%. Someone please tell me this is normal and, you know, TEMPORARY.

    I managed to short-circuit this for a little while this evening by slathering myself in yummy perfume and napping with my face glommed onto my wrist, hoping that the smell would soothe me. I dreamed about a vampiric, snake-haired Monica Belluci putting the undead moves on an earnest yet dorky Orlando Bloom. And in the dream, the vamp-queen Monica had three vampire brides. Yeah, the hotness quotient was high. I woke up with the left side of my face covered in drool.

    So that's an improvement. The dream was still unsettling, but at least I got tits out of the deal, which is more than I can say about the other crap my brain's been inflicting on me. Yuck.

    Oh. And, re: the icon. I have a book called the "Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" by Edmund Bourne, and at one point, Sargon saw it and remarked that it would be more fun if it were the "Anxiety and Phobia Cookbook." Desensitization Sushi, Raw Nerve Steak Tartare, Agoraphobic Chicken, Unpleasant Surprise, etc. And for some reason, "Panic Noodles" cracked us both the fuck up. It works as a metaphor for the panicked brain ("use your noodle"), too.

    So, from here on out, Panic Noodles it is.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
    Mom's going under. Dad's helping her as much as he can, and she's as comfortable as drugs can make her, but it's still not a pretty sight. She hasn't eaten in days, and hasn't been able to swallow much more than a few sips of water since Monday. It won't be long, now, not long at all, which is both the blessing and the curse of it.

    She'll go soon, and sometime next week there'll be a service where whatever remains of her spirit after her body has been consigned to the cleansing fire will be commended into whatever comes after this part of our existence.

    I told Dad today that I don't want some God-babbling churchfuck who doesn't know the pole in his ass from a stick in the mud speaking at her service. Nanny's memorial was horrible. The guy hadn't known her, and it sounded like it. Dad agreed. Nevertheless, we'll need someone to speak, since we can't count on any of us being strong enough to do it without losing our shit completely. Not that I'm scared of public speaking; after dancing in a bra and belt set in front of 200 drunken rednecks, you lose your fear of stuttering, but I rather imagine I'll be too busy crying to rest-in-peace the family.

    It was his thought, and my sister's, that maybe I should write something for the minister to read. No formal request has been made, but he said we should all think about it.

    The prospect is . . . tremendous. It's an honor, a great one, but it's not one I would've asked for. I'll do it, of course, since I can't stomach the thought of paying someone else just to get it wrong. It's just that I have no idea what to say.

    I didn't know her all that well. She was my mother, not my friend, and I'm not about to make the mistake of assuming that "Mom" is all there is to a woman, or is even the most important or interesting part of a woman's life. She could be friendly and fun, but ultimately she was hard to get close to, and she could be more vicious than anyone I have ever met. Believe me when I say that she made some bad decisions that nearly tore the family to pieces.

    She was a deeply flawed woman, and she hurt me and my sister badly. When I learned that the wicked stepmother in the fairy stories I loved had originally been the wicked mother, I felt a shock of recognition. They still tell stories about my family, it's just that the names have been changed to protect the guilty and the no-longer-innocent.

    And at the sticky, ugly root of it, she and I were the same kind of creature. She'd been whipped, though, until she felt guilty about what she was. I gave up on that once I saw what it did to her. So I understand her in a way that maybe the others don't, and never will. I understood her darkness, and I knew so very little of her light. The good side that everyone wants to hear about in a eulogy, that always seemed to me like a facade, a cloth covering a deep, dark pit. And everything that she was, everything that she truly was lived at the bottom of that pit and crawled out of there at some time or other. Sometimes it was a wild but good thing that wanted to play or laugh or do something just a little wicked, and sometimes it was an eldritch, nasty thing that only wanted to take a bite out of us.

    She wasn't a bad woman. She just had too much guilt and fear, I think, to ever develop the comfort and wildness that you really need to control your inner monsters.

    And that's what she taught me. That there's nothing wrong with being a wolf, unless you're the kind that tries to wear Grandmother's skin, or powders its fur and sweetens its voice with a lump of chalk to convince the cowering kids that it's really Mama Goat. Wolves are only dangerous when they're pretending to be something else entirely.

    This isn't a lesson I think the rest of the family will care to hear. Embrace your inner slut, free your inner bitch, be a raving madwoman when the time is right, because the whole world can tell when you're faking it. Molasses ain't white sugar, and if you cook like it was, everything sure tastes bitter.

    So I feel hardly equal to the task of memorializing in a short speech the qualities she had that were unrelentingly positive. But of all of us, I'm the closest to her who has a facility with words, so it falls to me. And perhaps it's appropriate that it does. But it's a large thing to be asked to do, to speak for a family you were never sure approved of you about a woman who abandoned and betrayed you when you were too young to understand what was happening. It's a kind of validation, but not the kind you ever really want to get.

    How do I avoid the platitudes? Gone but not forgotten. Touched so many lives. Devoted daughter, proud wife, loving mother. Death is a release from sorrow. All we have is each other. It's hard, finding words that aren't worn smooth already.

    I love her. I don't know what else I can possibly say.

    Oh, yeah, no doubt I'll find the words. It's what I do. But the idea of it makes me wince. It's a huge thing to be asked, really; to draw some meaning out of death and grief, to say the words that formally recall the deceased and also release her, to start friends and family on the long, dusty road of mourning with a few breadcrumbs of hope to follow. It's like being asked to understand, so that you can explain what happened. And there's no understanding, no understanding it at all.

    I can't explain why this has to happen. I can't explain death, or why we have to have an awareness of it, a fear of it. I can't explain why our human grief is so much messier than the clean grief of the animals we sometimes leave behind when we go. I can offer no assurances of what comes after, for her or for us.

    And I don't know, I really don't, what that leaves me to say.
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (BTiLC Crazy Problem)
    Why am I having a panic attack today of all days? Why?

    Anyone?

    Bueller?

    I know it's physiological. It has very little to do with my mental state, which is more stable than it's been in a while. I might have overextended myself a bit the past week, for which I will compensate by not leaving the house or turning the phone on all weekend, or even making plans for next week, but a bit of overdoing it shouldn't provoke a physical response. And acting normal (i.e. seeing friends I love and miss, talking to people on the phone, and running errands and such) should probably not be so taxing, no?

    Feh. Stupid haywire brain crap. And I have Big Wonderful Plans for this evening, that I'm looking forward to. *jabs daimones* Aren't you freeloading bastards supposed to take up the slack already? Christ.

    I guess I'll just slather on some Iago, put my hair back, and pretend to be someone else for a few hours. When you're batshit crazy, every day is Halloween!
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
    Hooo-kay.

    Well, then.

    I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, given the season. I dreamed about Nanny last night.

    I walked into the den at her house. She was there, sitting on the couch like always. The air was very still, the light from the sliding door pale and oblique. She seemed to fill the entire room – not with a loving sense of her presence or anything like that, simply . . . an utter focus, like being in a room with a sleeping person. The room was empty but for her.

    "Nanny."

    "Yes."

    "But you're dead."

    "Yes."

    There followed a long silence. I was not certain whether I slept or woke – neither felt real. I didn't come any closer.

    "But . . . isn't it horrible being dead? Do you like it?"

    "No."

    "So, it's not so awful?"

    "No."

    "You're not scared of it?"

    "No."

    Overwhelmed with strangeness, I awoke clearheaded and completely untroubled.

    Only those that knew her would understand how extraordinarily unlike her this was. She was, in life, a fluttering, fussy person who would hold you down and force Southern hospitality down your throat until you choked on it. She could never say anything monosyllabically, and required at least five minutes and three digressions to answer even the most direct question. I don't think, in twenty-seven years, I heard her say simply "Yes" or "No."

    How very strange.

    Seasick

    Oct. 20th, 2005 03:01 pm
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Monochrome I)
    There comes a point at which you just have to wonder if the world will ever quit throwing you around. I'm seasick from riding this crap out. I don't feel good. For two weeks I've been panicky and tense for no real reason, and it's only gotten worse the past few days. I have no appetite, which is rare for me. I actually feel rather ill.

    I went to see my mother yesterday, to take her some things and maybe try to cheer her up a little, since she's been down. She saw the doctor last week, but won't tell me what he said. I'm not upset that she's holding back – I'm the youngest and she wants to protect me and all that – but I wish she didn't feel like she had to. I get what I need to know from my sister, anyway, so it's not like it saves me any pain.

    The outlook at this point is somewhat grimmer, and she may be taking a turn for the worse. I hate seeing her like this – the grand old bitch is just whipped. I don't know if I'd call her strong, but Mom has always been snappy, like me, and when an ill-tempered animal doesn't bite you, you know something's off.

    It's killing all of us, this dying by degrees, and it isn't fair to anyone.

    On a bright note, I go out with friends tonight to hit a book signing by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, and I'll be attending a one-day writing workshop with them on Saturday.

    This is huge news for me – huge – since I am a fan of modest physical proportions yet GREAT PSYCHIC ENDOWMENT. One reading of Swordspoint and The Fall of the Kings taught me more about writing than I've learned from years of listening to people talk. I fully intend to tell them this tonight, if I can manage more than monosyllabic grunting and frantic gesticulation. I will no doubt be far too overcome with awe to tell them that Fall was one of the most rampagingly erotic things I've read in ages.

    In other light news, I should mention that I tried to kill myself this morning, and not in the "I'm so sick of it all" kind of way. This was the "failing to notice the cats have batted flammable objects onto the stove" sort of way. I almost missed the large cardboard tube lying RIGHT NEXT TO the burner. Thankfully, I snapped out of my sleepiness long enough to snatch it away before it could do more than singe.

    Actually, strike that. I don't want to kill myself. My cats clearly want to kill me.

    In the vein of cat-related homicidal urges, there is a link going around like bad acid, and I suggest you take a look at it. This wonderful person has pointed out something about humans and cats that I think bears more contemplation. If we had roommates that behaved this way, we would all live in terror. Go, look, laugh your head off.

    This is a brief, creepy movie clip that is perfect for Halloween. Great stuff, no more than a couple minutes long. Besides, how can you resist watching a movie called "The Cat With Hands"?

    And to think people ask me why I don't sleep with my cats in the room. Hah!

    Ugh.

    Aug. 9th, 2005 04:27 pm
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (KILL! KILL! KILL!)
    There is no winning in this business.

    I can either write porn-for-pay, and get paid what amounts to $10-$20 an hour for stories that are a guaranteed sell but do not generally excite me or test my creativity; or I can write "real" erotica, entertain myself a little more, and make maybe half that, and maybe gain some respect, if my stories sell; or I can write swashbuckling adventure porn, get paid nothing, get no recognition, and enjoy myself immensely.

    Hmmm. Which bug do I want to eat today? (No, there are no easy solutions to this problem. It's one'a them there "rat oracle" questions.)

    Life stuff has been better, but my mental state is deteriorating like old oatmeal at the bottom of the last bowl in the sink. Yuck. Lack of sleep, Sargon's fuck-you work schedule, no transportation, and my inability to do anything other than sit here and wave my arms around because of my goddamn leg have all combined into a hellish, steaming gumbo of helplessness and resentment, seasoned with stifled rage.

    As a stress-reliever, we went to see Fantastic Four on Saturday. Don't ask me to give a thoughtful review, I have no interest in arguing about whether it's good or not – I was entertained, and that was enough. Don't regret paying full price for it, anyway.

    And can I just say that Jessica Alba is incredibly hot, even blonde? Michael Weatherly, if you are reading this, you are out of your mind. And I don't mean for reading this. I mean for letting her get away. Don't they have restraints on your planet? Jesus. Though I suppose I can't fault you for not wanting her back. She has slept with Marky Mark since she was with you, and Lord knows you wouldn't want to catch whatever HE had that made him so sucktacular back when he was trying to make music, and is still making him sucktacular now that he has a movie "career." If you can call a headlong plummet a career.

    Anyway. Digression.

    Jessica Alba = hot. Ioan Gruffudd as a geek = very cute. And with the little grey streaks they put in his hair, he was spanking Daddy/Teacher buttons I would rather the theater had not known I had. ("What are you doing with that yardstick? Oh no! I promise to do my math homework!") I'm still going to pass on the whole "stretchy" thing. That's just . . . oogy.

    Anyway, what I wanted to talk about:

    I'm sitting there watching the movie, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I have a panic attack. I mean that. Out of fucking nowhere. I was like "Oh, look, Jessica Alba has such beautiful lips! And the kid who plays Johnny Storm is pretty cute, too, even if he looks like a porn actor. Mmmmm . . . Ioan . . . OMGHOLYSHITWE'REALLGONNADIE! RUN AWAY!!! RUN NOW! RUN!!! RUNRUNRUNRUNRUN!!!!"

    Stupidest Shit Ever, I tell you. So I sat on it, hard, and repeated this simple mantra: "I will not have a panic attack while I am looking at Jessica Alba."

    And it worked.

    It works the same way Mandy Moore music works. You just can't have a panic attack when you're thinking about something so fucking cute. For example. Look at that picture.

    When I look at that, it knocks at least three points off my inner ennui scale. I go from Sisters of Mercy to Evanescence, and if I look at it again, I can hit Sarah Brightman from there, so it's not too bad.

    Mandy Moore shoving a vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone at me. That has got to be one of my ultimate fantasies. Right next to the one with the . . . oh, never mind. You wouldn't understand.

    I likewise feel stupid having a panic attack fraught with fear and drama during stupid movies like Knight's Tale or Sinbad. My pride won't allow it. For those of you who may wonder why Heath Ledger movies spent about two years cemented into my DVD player, that's why. That was when I was having these fucking things regularly. Like, sometimes twice a day for a couple of hours at a time. But while that movie was on, I was safe. Heath Ledger is like a big, dumb guardian angel for the part of me that likes to flip out like a rat in a cottonmouth cage for no damn good reason.

    Thankfully, I only get that occasionally anymore. Once a month or once a week or so.

    Hmm. Didn't mean to meander. I should probably prepare a post about what it's actually like to have to live with something like this, since a lot of people just don't seem to Get It.

    Balance

    Jun. 10th, 2005 01:32 pm
    naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Helpless)
    Had a day full of Suck yesterday and the day before.

    The birdies. )

    Girly doctor stuff. Not graphic, just bitching. )

    My mother. )

    Dead pets. )

    All that said, I present to you the good news. Ahem.

    SARGON HAS A JOB.

    He starts Monday. It's a pretty good deal; pays well, with good bonuses and benefits, in a call center that he says is less ghetto than the one he quit a couple weeks ago.

    Also, in hugetastic thank-yous: Shawna! The Little Endless Storybook is just gorgeous. And cuuute. And hardcover.

    I love it! It's been by my computer so I can look at it whenever I want. The puppy is so adorable, and Little Morpheus makes me laugh every time. Shiny!

    Also, Greyson: HOLY CRAP WHERE DID YOU FIND HIM?

    She sent me this griffin plush toy, and he's the cutest damn thing. I am totally in love, because, hey, griffin, and hey, stuffed animal! I have to name him something cool. I can't decide yet, and will have to think on it.

    There will be pictures, because he is just too cool not to share. (I know I've been promising lots of pictures – I swear I'll get to it.)

    Ran into [livejournal.com profile] 6strings and [livejournal.com profile] hennafan at Panera, and did nice chat-type stuff, which was most enjoyable. Nothing beats running into friends unexpectedly when you could really use the pickup.

    So all this has been enough to lift my mood considerably, and I'm determined not to let anything bug me, for today at least.

    Right now, I'm feeling snoozy, so it's time for a nap if I know what's good for me, and then back to the porn mines and box painting later on tonight. The latter is not as lewd as it sounds. Really.

    I swear I will post something with actual content Real Soon Now. At the moment, it's all I can do to keep up with real life. I have new icons, by the way. I'm not even finished uploading all the ones I want to use yet. This icon is pretty much how I feel at the moment. I may be safe, but I sure as hell don't know it because I feel tiny and out-of-place and scared.

    But at least I don't have to eat dog food and bugs.

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