Inspiring Me Now

  • "The Purpose of Life is to Be Happy" Dalai Lama

May 9, 2013

Still "hooked"

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my little hook worm friends. I thought I’d share an update. As you may remember I got my first dose of hookworms in March of 2011. I got another “booster” dose in July 2011, June 2012, September 2012, and most recently in March. Let me explain further. After my initial does I opted to adopt 50 more worms. The staff at AutoimmuneTherapies and I discussed this option thinking that with the severity and stubbornness of my allergies, asthma and eczema, I might do better with a few more. The June 2012 dose was given with the same thought. I had seen great improvement but it has seemed to drop off a bit. Several weeks after that dose I realized I hadn’t gotten any of the “symptoms” I had experienced in previous doses. Sometimes the travel can be too much for the little guys so occasionally they aren’t viable when they reach their destination. The Autoimmune team and I agreed that another dose was in order.

This is a great representation of the
size of adult worms
 The winter months came on and I wasn’t feeling quite the same as I had in my first year. My eczema was flaring and my asthma seemed to be on the brink of bad again. In January 2013 I had an asthma attack that landed me in the hospital. On one hand this was sort of an awesome discovery. Before I got hooked up I was guaranteed at least one ER visit a year for my asthma. To have two years go by without one was awesome. The downside was that I didn’t think my worms were pulling their weight. I discussed this with Autoimmune Therapies and they requested I send them a “sample” so they could determine if I still had active worms producing eggs inside me. The “sample” was not so great to obtain. The only way to measure worm egg production is when they are expelled from your body… as poop. Yup, I had to send someone a sample of my poop. I countered the “ick” factor with the thought of what Jasper had to do get his worms… tromp thorough a latrine in a third-world country. At least I didn’t have to step in poop.
This is a how the worms migrate through your body.
Just replace the step where you get "Ground Itch" and put in
"applied larvae to arm". The larvae then continue on their journey.
When Jasper initially got his worms, he DID step in infested soil!
So I sent my sample off to England to be analyzed. The results I received back weren’t as great as I’d hoped. There were eggs present which mean that there were still live female worms in my gut. However, with the amount of worms I had been dosed with, they had expected to see more eggs. I ordered another round. That was April 8th of this year.

So I’m exactly one month in. It’s too early to tell if there have been improvements. My skin has cleared up pretty fast, but it’s around week 4 that allergies can worsen. I’m keeping an eye on this. We’re just approaching allergy season here in Minnesota. Tree pollen has been high and flowers and weeds and grass soon to follow (hurry up worms!!) I’ve also been trying to keep a healthier diet. I figure if my little worm friends are working their butts (tails??) off for me I should step up and do my part to help. I’ve started drinking green smoothies every morning. They usually consist of Kale, Spinach, orange juice and some fresh fruit, usually a banana or some strawberries. They are delicious and don’t at all taste like the sound they might. I think eating more nutritious foods will only help in this over all process. I checked with Autoimmune Therapies about taking a probiotic as well. I don’t want to take anything that will potentially lessen any effects the worms might have on my body. Probiotics are ok!

People still check in with me to see how I’m doing. When I take a step back to analyze where I am health wise now as opposed to where I was 2 or more years ago, the results truly have been life changing. This past January when I had the asthma attack that put me in the hospital, I hadn’t realized just how exhausting asthma can be. For the larger part of my 30 years here on earth I’ve struggled to breathe every single day. I didn’t know any different. I puffed on my “rescue” inhaler a few times and went on with my day. This past January my asthma started to get bad on a Friday night. I couldn’t think of anything that had tipped it off. By the following Saturday I was really struggling, taking my rescue inhaler and then taking nebulizer treatments. I was exhausted. My whole body ached from laboring to breathe. My shoulder and neck were in knots and I was sleep deprived. When Sunday rolled around I was too tired to fight it anymore and had my boyfriend take me to the hospital. I did have the choice of being sent home or staying overnight. In the past I would have gone straight home, but that was when I was more seasoned in labored breathing. It took less effort to recover back then. So I spent the night if only to get some rest. While hospitals definitely aren’t quieter than home, they are more relaxing to me for the fact that I know someone is right there if something happens. 
I went back to work the following Wednesday and it took me a good week before I finally had all my energy back. It was then that I realized just how much things have changed since I brought my little worm babies home two years ago.

I've also seen marked improvements in my allergies. While I still have symptoms they are 100% better than they were. Before the worms, I always had a stuffed or runny nose. People were always asking if I had a cold. Since my first dose, I've seldom had a stuffy nose. It's so great to be able to breathe! I seem to be less reactive to other allergy and asthma triggers as well. While I am still somewhat reactive it has been far less dramatic then in the past. I gave my dog a bath the other day and came out of it hive free. That used to be a huge chore I avoided. I'd have to wear long sleeves and long rubber gloves to avoid getting her wet hair all over me. We dove right in last week though and I had no hives or skin reaction whatsoever. 

My MS (knock on wood) has been pretty much non-existent. So much so that some days (SOME days) I can almost forget about it. I am still very cautious to avoid potential triggers like excessive heat. I take care to listen to my body. If I'm tired, I take a nap. If I'm too hot, I turn on the air conditioner. It's taken me a long time to push aside the embarrassment of my health issues and focus on taking care of myself. I guess I've moved into a more accepting attitude vs. the hiding and denial I used to foster. 

I’m certainly not to the point I’d like to be, but I’m realizing that nothing is an instant cure all, but taking care of me mentally and physically will support the process. So I continue to take my meds – though I have been able to back off some. I see my wonderful therapist a couple times a month, and I try to focus on what I have right now.  

I’m hoping I keep heading in the right direction. The next few months will be a better indicator.
If you know someone who could benefit from this sort of treatment or if you’d like to learn more, click on the link here check out Jasper Lawrence’scompany, Autoimmune Therapies. He and his staff are truly wonderful to work with. I’m so grateful the universe put us together! 

May 7, 2013

Fuel Tank Full of Happiness

A couple years back I wrote a blog called “Man Wish List”. For some reason this evening I was thinking about that list. I started going through my head contemplating what I wanted now versus 2 years ago. I’ve grown quite a bit since I wrote that so certainly my tastes must have evolved. I started thinking about “what I want” and the answers that popped into my head were strange. I realized that they were no longer references to a specific man (ie: tall, funny, blonde…) they were references to how I want to be treated and how I want to feel in a relationship. Seems that maybe 27 year old Jacqueline was a bit more conceited than 30 year old Jacqueline.

When I had written my “Man Wish List” it was a compilation of things I had put up on dating websites.  I had gotten mixed reactions and quite a few negative comments, and I can’t really blame them – everything I wrote was pretty superficial. So I’m going to amend my Man Wish List. 

I believe that I am healthy on my own. I believe that I don’t need someone in my life to make me happy (see “Cherry”) however it would be nice to feel like the person I'm with, the person I want to love, can top off my happiness. I like to think of me as a gas tank. I’m almost full and I have enough fuel in me to keep me going, but that little extra support/love/kindness from my significant other just tops me off. It keeps me going longer.

So here are the things that can top off my tank:

I want someone to make me feel like I am one of the most important parts of their life

I want someone to let me know they think about me as much as I think about them

I want someone who I can lean on when things get tough

I want someone who will know when I say “I’m fine” that I’m really not fine

I want someone to romance me and make me feel beautiful

I want someone to take the lead instead of letting bossy me make all the decisions

I want someone who will support me in my endeavors, no matter how crazy they may seem

I want someone who will cheer me on when I’m down

I want someone who will leave me love notes and send me unexpected texts because they know it’s the little things that I love the most

I want someone who will stand up to my bullshit and tell me "no" when they know I need it

I want someone who will not judge me for my shortcoming or flaws

I want someone who will push me to be better than I am

I want someone to make me feel like their equal instead of their inferior

I want someone who will every once in a while say “aw, fuck it!” and go with the flow

I want someone who will push me to say “Aw, fuck it!” so *I* will go with the flow

I want someone to respect my feelings and opinions even if they might not agree

I want someone who can challenge my feelings and opinions with healthy conversations

I want someone who I will still be able to laugh with in 60 years

I want someone who will be as honest with me as I am with them

I want someone who will take me on expensive shopping trips to the mall and who will show up at my house with a romantic love poem and flowers and a giant stuffed animal of some sort and then serenade me with an angelic voice and I’ll cry tears of joy and we’ll kiss and he’d tell me that he thinks I’m hotter than Kate Upton and that he’s so sorry it’s taken so long to find me… Wait, maybe I’m getting a little off track ;) I guess in the end what I’m getting at is that it’s not the money or the stature or the good looks that I’m seeking. I’m seeking someone to compliment me, not to fill a void. Just to clarify though, I’d never turn down a giant stuffed animal ;)

May 2, 2013

Serotonin Boosters

I've been too emotional lately to listen to much music. Every song has a hidden message reminding me He is gone. But last weekend, enlightened by the wonderful weather, I cranked up my jeep stereo. This song came on, by an artist I'd never heard of. It's got a pop-ish almost 90s feel to it and I almost turned it off until I heard the lyric "I've been dipping in my darkness for serotonin boosters". It's not often you hear the word serotonin in a song.

By the time it was over I was noddin' my head (like, yeah ;) ) and drumming out the beat on the steering wheel. Breaking up sucks and sometimes I swear it's the long recovery period that is the worst. So I was a little jazzed when I heard this. Some of the words made me wonder if Frank Turner himself had pulled memories right outta my brain. I'm enthralled with music for just that reason. Just when you think no one else could possibly know what you're going through, someone puts your feelings to music.

"Recovery" by Frank Turner

Blacking in and out in a strange flat in East London. Somebody I don't really know just gave me something to help settle me down and to stop me from always thinking about you.

And you know your life is heading in a questionable direction when you're up for days with strangers and you can't remember anything except the way you sounded when you told me you didn't know what I should do.

It's a long road up to recovery from here, a long way back to the light.
A long road up to recovery from here, a long way to making it right.

And I've been waking in the morning just like every other day. And just like every boring blues song I get swallowed by the pain.

And so I fumble for your figure in the darkness just to make it go away.
But you're not lying there any longer and I know that that's my fault.

So I've been pounding on the floor and I've been crawling up the walls. And I've been dipping in my darkness for serotonin boosters, cider and some kind of smelling salts.

It's a long road up to recovery from here, a long way back to the light.
A long road up to recovery from here, a long way to making it right.

And on the first night we met you said "Well darling, let's make a deal.
If anybody ever asks us, let's just tell them that we met in jail." And that's the story that I'm sticking to like a stony-faced accomplice. But tonight I need to hear some truth if I'm ever getting through this.

Yeah you once sent me a letter that said "If you're lost at sea, close your eyes and catch the tide my dear and only think of me."

Well darling now I'm sinking and I'm as lost as lost can be and I was hoping you could drag me up from down here towards my recovery.

If you could just give me a sign, just a subtle little glimmer. Some suggestion that you'd have me if I could only make me better.

Then I would stand a little stronger as I walk a little taller, all the time.
Because I know you are a cynic but I think I can convince you. Yeah, cause broken people can get better if they really want to. Or at least that's what I have to tell myself if I am hoping to survive!

It's a long road up to recovery from here, a long way back to the light.
A long road up to recovery from here, a long way to making it right.

So darling, sweet lover, won't you help me to recover, darling, sweet lover, one day this will all be over.

April 28, 2013

These Are The Best Days of Our Lives

The first night of the year you can sit outside on the patio after 7pm without a coat on is something divine in Minnesota. If you’ve never lived through months of temperatures hovering with “highs” in the 30s and 40s (and those are the GOOD winter months) then you simply cannot understand the feeling. It’s as if you’ve added hours to your life. There is a reason to stay up later, there’s a reason to stay out later.

Every year at this time or thereabouts, I get an overwhelming feeling of peace and sad nostalgia. I’m not sure how two such conflicting emotions can coexist. They mingle inside me like the moments before you stir mixer into a glass of liquor. You can see the two meet and intertwine like coy playmates before fully coming together as one.  

I miss the summers of years past. The summers of my early twenties were some of the best of my life. I had just taken the training wheels off my teenage years and was trying to get the hang of riding on my own. I used to stay up late, sitting around bonfires with friends, drinking, laughing, flirting… There was no curfew. I seemed to care little about how much sleep I actually got. One summer in particular my friends and I lived by the motto “you can sleep when you’re dead”. I remember several conversations starting with, “…I don’t know, I have to work in the morning and it’s getting late.” Followed up with “you can sleep when you’re dead, Jax!” With that I’d put on my party pants and head out the door. I miss that enthusiastic grasp I had on life. I was too young to care about debt and credit scores and salaries. There was an unspoken feeling that knowing that right now was all that mattered. I used to go rollerblading at midnight on the boardwalk. I’d sit on the beach with friends until 3am watching the stars and pondering where our lives were taking us. I stood with masses of other people, sweat cooling on our clothes while we watched our favorite bands play live right in front of our eyes. I ate appetizer samplers from Perkins at 1am. I’d pick my drunken boyfriend up from the bars at 2am. In the middle of house parties, my friends and I would go to Hardees for greasy burgers and cinnamon rolls the size of our heads. I used to watch the sunrise just as I’d tuck in under my sheets.

Time did its job though and by my mid-twenties responsibilities set in. If I wanted to get by on my own, I had to earn decent money and that meant working a decent job. My 9 to 5 life began and my midnight bonfires faded in their own ashes. I had gotten married and was plunged into a serious lifestyle change. I was home by 5:30, cooking dinner by 6, cleaning up by 7 and in bed by 10 only to get up and be to work by 8 the next morning. My fun summer nights were cooled off by the air conditioning in the apartment I worked my 9 to 5 job to keep.

After my marriage ended, I regressed a bit back into my early twenties mind set. I started dating someone younger and his youthful energy was like a caffeine pill to my life. We’d spend warm summer nights sitting on bar patios drinking beer out of sweating glasses and eating pizza. We’d take walks at midnight with the dog. I was able to let go of my structured life I’d created when I’d gotten married and was able to live again within the moments of life, not worrying so much about the future of things coming.

In my late twenties I had started to figure out a nice work-life balance. Younger guy was gone and I realized I could get the same exciting content feeling sitting on my own deck enjoying a glass of wine with friends as I had used to get drinking $10 bottles of beer on downtown rooftop patios with strangers.

Some of my favorite summer nights were last year actually. I was in a new relationship. New guy and I would sit under the twinkle lights strung up on my patio and share stories of our past. We’d laugh at jokes that are only funny when you’re exhausted. We’d gasp and exclaim excitement when we’d figure out something else we had in common. I’d pull my legs up to my chest and wrap my arms around them listening to new guy’s infectious laugh and falling in love with his crooked smile.  I’d tug on the ball of yarn that was this new relationship and watch new guy unravel his life little by little in front of me. They were intimate moments. They were hilarious moments. There was peace in those moments, strong feelings of utter contentment. In those minutes and hours I couldn’t imagine being in a better place in the world.

I sit here now alone on my patio breathing in the cool fresh air thinking of many more summer nights to come. My peacefulness comes from the still air around me and the remembrance of nights warmed by driftwood fires, laughs caused by drunken shenanigans, and nervousness caused by first kisses. And in that same breath my sad nostalgia reminds me that I’ll never hear that infectious laugh again, or look upon that crooked grin. I’ll never experience my first outdoor music concert again or my first summer camping trip again.

I guess this is that place where peace and nostalgia meet. Those moments are gone and all that remains are the remnants in my memory, but memories fade with time and perhaps part of what’s hardest about growing up is not knowing if you’ll ever experience something better than what you just had.


April 24, 2013


I’m not sure if other people experience this or not, but when I go through a breakup I seem to notice all the “bad” things about myself. My insecurities come streaming out of me like a Dementor sucking out my happiness (I love a good Harry Potter reference). I look at myself in a very unflattering light. I assume that the real reason the relationship didn’t work was probably because of something I did or said or how I acted. I’m too jealous, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not skinny enough… the list goes on and on in my head.

Earlier today I was expressing some of these same sentiments to my cousin. At one point I said “… he probably banged a bunch of chicks that night.” To which my cousin replied “Jacqueline, listen to yourself!” So insecure. That’s when the Dementor picture popped into my head and of course any real Harry Potter fan knows the only way to get rid of Dementors is to cast your Patronus. The Patronus Charm is a charm that “evokes a partially-tangible positive energy force”.  Casting out positive energy drives away the happiness sucking Dementors! Since my Dementors seem to come in the form of negative self-talk, I decided to cast my Patronus (which I think may be in the shape of giraffe or a Direwolf, did I mention I’m now a huge Game of Thrones geek too?!) by listing some of my good qualities. Of course you are all free to add any I missed in the comments section.


I’m funny – in a sarcastic, dark, somewhat twisted way.

I laugh at my own jokes… a lot.

I make one awesome Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

I’m a good friend and try to always be there when someone needs me.

I am a good mom to my pets. They get lots of love and hugs and kisses.

I have a high pain tolerance.

I am a hardworking employee – at least up until about 4 o’clock.

I have pretty blue eyes and dimples.

I have awesome boobs and a rockin’ butt.

Despite what some may have heard, I’m a pretty darn good girlfriend.

I’m supportive of other people’s dreams and goals.

I’m a good sister and daughter.

I am an excellent reader (have I mentioned the Game of Thrones Series… read the first 3 books in less than 2 months. That’s 3087 pages! That’s about 51 pages a day… and I wasn’t even reading every day! Obsessed!)

I’m extremely loyal and passionate.

I’m a good writer.

I honestly look for the best in people.

I’m an effective communicator.

I can rock jeans and hoodie like no one else.

I’m super good at Boggle (the REAL one, Brooke)

I pride myself on my napping ability.

I have a flat stomach.

I am knowledgeable about many different things.

I can sing really well when I’m intoxicated (I seem to think I can do a lot of things well when I’m intoxicated)

I’m good at yoga.

I have cute feet.

I’m an excellent organizer.

I’m an all-around pretty nice person.

I’m good at parallel parking.

I can grow flowers without killing all of them.

I can find one clean item of clothing in a huge stack of dirty laundry piled on my floor.

I’m a tremendous spooner/cuddler.

I don’t give away the good parts of movies or books (though I’m seriously DYING to talk about the 3rd 
Game of Throne book with someone!!)

I’m a very loyal Packer football fan, unlike the bandwagon Minnesota fans…

I’m really good at trash talking the Vikings.

I’m not high maintenance when it comes to things like appearance.

I like to save abandoned animals – I almost saved a frog the other day, but I didn’t think he’d get along with my dog and guinea pigs.

I’m good at trivia.

I’m the perfect mix of nerdiness and coolness.

I can appreciate all types of music.

I’m SUPER good at making lists.

I think this is good enough to cast a decent Patronus. It should keep my Dementors away for at least a night or two.

April 18, 2013

Depression: The Middle

I wrote last week about depression, specifically mine and how all-consuming it has been. At my lowest of lows I stay in bed and sleep for the good part of a weekend. I get up to let my dog out and maybe eat something. Then I go back to bed. Initially I turned off my Facebook account because I was upset to see anything relating to the ex-bf. I was too sad to even delete my pictures. Deleting pictures was deleting what we had and I still haven’t been able to admit to myself that we don’t have anything left. In the breakup/grieving process, I’m still in denial and nowhere close to acceptance. Living in denial makes getting over things harder including depression. I should have prefaced that with saying when you have been clinically diagnosed with depression there is no real “getting over it”. You manage depression, just as you manage your weight or diabetes.

How do you manage depression though? I like to mentally compare my depression with my asthma. I take asthma medication every day to assure that I can breathe normally. I avoid allergens that I know will cause a flare up. This doesn’t mean I never have asthma attacks though. Once in a while I’ll be exposed to something that triggers an attack. All I can do then is treat the symptoms until it passes. Clinically diagnosed depression is much the same. You have to manage it daily in order to avoid “flare ups”. This can include medication – as in my case, but it also includes avoiding “triggers” just like with asthma.

Depression triggers can be different for everyone. Some of mine include high stress which leads to severe anxiety, putting myself in situations where I feel out of control and of course emotional distress.  Some more generalized triggers that all people with diagnosed depression should avoid are excessive drinking, recreational drug use, “junk” food… you know, all the stuff we know is bad for us but we do it anyway because we like it. Some depression triggers cannot be avoided, such as the death of someone you love, a divorce or breakup, being diagnosed with a terrible disease, losing your house… every “trigger” is as individual as every different person is.

In this case, my depression was caused by a mix of several of the above. In fact, over the past 6 years I have been diagnosed with MS, gotten divorced, changed jobs, and lost my father. This relationship I was in was the first “serious” one I’d had since my divorce. It was the first one where I really let myself think, “Yeah, I could see myself growing old with him”. So, to lose that on top of all the other things I was dealing with sort of tipped me over, down into my hole. I was also eating poorly, not sleeping well, drinking more frequently and occasionally smoking weed. I was depressions perfect candidate.

You can’t rush yourself through depression. There is not on/off switch or magic pill that will make you feel all better. It’s a cruel waiting game and sometimes I wonder who will win. So how am I getting through this? What makes me actually get out of bed every morning? There are a few things. First, I have animals that depend on me to care for them. Without me, they would literally die. I am such an animal freak that the thought of hurting ANY animal is almost too hard to think about. So I get out of bed each morning (ok, sometimes it’s more like noonish) and let my dog outside and give my guinea pigs treats and give everyone scratches and pets. When I’m most depressed, I get right back into bed, which is ok, because when you’re depressed even doing the littlest things can seem like running a marathon.

I also see a therapist. If I could recommend nothing else to someone who is depressed it would be to get therapy. There are options for everyone no matter what your financial situation, no matter what health insurance you have. There are people who want to help you. I know that therapy tends to come with a stigma. In the past the only people who saw therapists were “crazy” or needed to be in a mental institution. I believe that stigma is changing now.  We are talking a bit more about mental health as a country and how getting treatment at the start of issues can help a great deal more than dealing with it after the issue. My therapist is like my mental mechanic. I check in every couple of weeks to let her know what’s going on. She will look everything over and let me know if there is something I need to be concerned about. She has also given me the tools to deal with my issues on my own, when I’m not with her. Granted, it’s taken years to develop some of those “tools” but it has been time well spent.
I also don’t berate myself or push myself too hard. At first I was disgusted with how I was behaving, sleeping all day, leaving my half eaten food and dirty clothes all over the house. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I didn’t want to vacuum or do laundry or take out the trash. When I told my therapist about the guilt I was feeling for neglecting my “normal” life responsibilities, she said, and I quote: “Fuck that!” She explained that pushing myself to do things I didn’t want to do was not helping anything. Instead she suggested I do one thing at a time and congratulate myself on accomplishing that one task, instead of beating myself up for not doing the other three. So I took her advice. When I finally felt like getting out of bed, I emptied the dishwasher. That was the only “productive” thing I did at all that day, but I was proud of myself. It was 100% more productive than I had been the day before. Having that tiny bit of self-pride felt amazing. The next day I vacuumed and blogged.

This next part has been the hardest. I’ve been eating better, exercising, limiting my drinking and cutting out recreational drug use. I hate having to watch what I eat. My favorite desserts are red velvet cupcakes and pretty much any flavor of ice cream. I love sweets! I also love carbs, biscuits, bread, muffins… bring ‘em on! I know though the more bad food I eat, the fatter I’m going to get and the more I’m going to hate my body. Hating your body is not the way to go when you’re already depressed. So I started watching my calories again and using the Fitness Pal app on my phone. I have been having delicious green smoothies for breakfast each morning and a big salad for lunch. In this one week, I’ve already lost 4lbs. I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of anything, I’m just being more diligent. Last night, I was craving ice cream so I went to DQ. I ordered a small blizzard and ended up eating only about ¼ of it. Once I had just a little sweet fix I was ok. I didn’t feel the need to inhale the entire thing. Having self-control is a great feeling, so is seeing your scale move down every day. These little bits of pride keep me going.

Exercising is more challenging. My therapist stressed its importance though. She didn’t even say “stop eating cupcakes” she said “you need to exercise”. Again, I set my limits too high. When I was exercising frequently I was doing yoga 3-4 times a week and cardio in between. My yoga classes were at least an hour long and I could easily do 30 minutes on the treadmill. Now, the thought of an hour doing ANYTHING is exhausting. So, like with my chores I started small. Ten minutes of yoga is better than no minutes of yoga. Ten minutes on the treadmill is better than no minutes on the treadmill. So I’m doing it. I’ve been pushing myself harder than those 10 minutes (because I like to always aim high) but I’m not beating myself up if I don’t reach that goal. The point is, I’m doing it, and it feels good. When I’m exercising I am not thinking about work or laundry or my relationship, I’m thinking about working out. It’s as beneficial for my mind as it is for my body.

Being social when you’re depressed is terrible. As I said a million times, I don’t even get out of bed some days. So you can imagine how much energy it would take to get out of bed, shower, find clean clothes and then go somewhere and interact with people all the while acting like you’re fine. I already do that at work five days a week, by the time my “me time” comes around I don’t want to deal with anyone. I explained this to my therapist who assured me that it’s a normal reaction to depression, and as long as I’m still going to work and semi-functional there is no reason to push myself into going out and being with friends or co-workers. So I haven’t. I don’t answer my phone. I’ve turned off my Facebook (except to post my blog) I seldom answer emails because I don’t have the energy. I don’t want to explain why I’m upset or have to act happy for someone else when I’m honestly not.

I’ve withdrawn. Some people have not been able to understand why, others have let me know that they respect where I’m at, and are always there if I need them. Honestly, and I am not saying this in an unkind way, I didn’t know I had friends like that. Sure I have some great people in my life who are generally supportive, but going through tough times like these are when my real friends have shone through. No one has been pushy saying things like “you should go out, you should start dating again, and you should get back into a hobby”. They have been gentle and subtle. I received emails after I posted my depression blog. A couple I were along the lines of “I feel bad but I’m more writing so you fill me in on the juicy gossip of what happened to you”.  Others though have truly filled me with hope. They wrote to simply tell me they were thinking of me and loved me and if I needed something they were there for me. They didn’t suggest I do something to get over things faster, they offered their support. I had a friend send me flowers to say she loved me and was thinking of me, another sent me a book that she read when she was going through a difficult time. She was careful to point out that she wasn’t trying to compare bad situations or offering something to make it all better; rather it was “hey, this really helped me and maybe it could help you, and I care enough about you to let you know that”. I had someone else show up at my house, buy me dinner and junk food and watch a movie with me.  I’ve gotten support I didn’t know I needed.

Depression makes you feel so lonely. Going through this depression in part because of a breakup was even lonelier. My ex-bf had turned into my best friend. He was the one I shared my good and bad with, the stupid inside jokes. He was the one that hugged me tightest and soothed me. After the breakup I figured I’d lost all that. Turns out I just needed to look other places.

I still miss the ex-bf terribly. I still wish he’d show up at my door with one of those big hugs. Slowly though, I’m realizing that if that never happens (notice I said “if”… remember denial) I truly will be ok. I have enough respect for myself (though it seems buried under mountains of self-rejection sometimes) and the support of amazing friends and family to see that eventually, be it a month or 6 months or a year from now, I’ll be ok.

I know I’m far from being out of my depression hole, but I am seeing bit of myself coming back. I know it will take a lot of time and I’ll probably have setbacks, but the point is I can now see there is an eventually light to this darkness. In some cases it’s come from myself, I’m lighting little candles here and there and in other cases it’s come from my friends, shining their flashlights down on me saying, “we’re still here for you”. Thank you friends and family who continue to support me though this. For anyone going through something similar, or not similar but feeling the same way, please know that it does get better. Please know that there are people in your life that care about you and want to see you happy. Try not to be too hard on yourself, remember that there is no “normal” in life and how you choose to deal with yours should be respected.

If you know someone who may be going through a depression, keep them in your mind and let them know you are thinking of them, that you care. Sometimes in situations like this, your kind words can be the one flashlight letting them know there is light. 

April 17, 2013

Hey, American Media!

I am disgusted with the American media right now. Over the years I have quit watching nightly news and have begun to get my news almost exclusively from the BBC. The BBC has no agenda in America. They don’t care how the stories make American’s look; they aren't politically motivated when reporting. They report the facts, plain and simple. However, when something tragic happens as it did on Monday in Boston, or in December at Sandy Hook, or even in 1995 in Oklahoma City, it’s hard to avoid more mainstream media coverage. Especially in this age when we have news alerts sent to our phones and the something can be posted on the internet seemingly seconds after it’s happened.

The media over sensationalizes EVERYTHING! When I finally turned on the TV on Monday night, all I heard was “three people killed and several people lost their limbs”. It was repeated again and again, “several people lost their limbs”. The coverage was so see through! Blood and guts sell a story, so why not camp outside the hospital and hope that a doctor will slip-up and say something juicy? This bombing was heartbreaking and I’m certainly not trying to minimize the impact it had and will have on the city and country going forward. However, there is no reason for the media to go to the extremes that they do. A picture I saw yesterday showed a woman sitting dazed in a literal pool of blood. There was no warning that the picture I was about to see would be graphic, but there it was, front page of Can’t we respect the victims a little more? I wonder how that woman’s parents felt seeing her sitting there.  I wonder how the friends and family members of loved ones hurt felt hearing over and over again “several people lost their limbs”. We are not stupid humans. We can surmise from the general details that this was a terrible incident and that many people were hurt, is it really necessary to make blood, lost limbs and shrapnel fillers for entertainment?

As we've developed into a world of more advanced technology we have been granted access to information quicker, because of this the media markets fight to be the first one to “break a story” or find some detail that no one else has heard before. It seems in several incidences of late, they aren't even checking the facts. While the December school shootings occurred I heard that a gunman had killed his mother, a teacher in the school. I heard that there was an individual found hiding in the woods outside the school. I heard that the shooter’s brother was also involved. None of these turned out to be true. There was a school closure here recently. Initial reports were that a child had a gun in the school. That report quickly turned into someone being shot in the school. Parents of children panicked to try to rush to their kids. Turns out there wasn't even a gun involved. I should also note that in the minutes I have been writing this post CNN has reported “Suspect arrested in bombing!” followed several minutes later by “Conflicting reports on arrest in Boston”, now finally, “No Arrest”. Does anyone else find this totally inappropriate?! How long before the media over dramatizes everything so much, that we no longer believe what they’re reporting?

When the media falsely report “facts” it creates unnecessary chaos. People already have a tendency to think the worst, to have misleading information told to you by a source we SHOULD be able to trust only leads to more confusion, and for what? To get viewers to turn on their televisions and increase that stations’ ratings? Americans are freaking out right now thinking every backpack they see is a bomb and every foreign person on a plane is a terrorist. The country is in a panic wondering who is next. No good comes out of this. We racial profile innocent people, we shut down buildings and events that have been perfectly safe. We look like a foolish nation of pandemonium not a nation well prepared. Will we be questioning everyone buying a pressure cooker now?

I and I’m sure plenty of other Americans understand that this event in Boston was horrific but we don’t need 24/7 news coverage to figure that out. I don’t need pictures of bloody streets; I don’t need graphic details of injuries sustained. I need the facts. I need to know that instead of running around with their heads up their asses, the media is doing their best to bring me news NOT gossip!

April 14, 2013

Depression: The Beginning

The ex and I broke up. Again. I feel a little numb even writing that. He didn't dump me because he didn't love me anymore, or was interested in someone else. I didn't catch him cheating. He broke up with me because he was depressed and he needed time to be with himself to figure out himself and as cheesy as that might sound, it was the truth. If you can’t stand alone, then you’ll only use your partner as a crutch.

At the moment it was happening, I didn't see that. I saw myself losing someone I loved. I grasped at anything I could think of to make him stay. I fell short of getting on my knees and begging. The worst part about this though, was that I had lied. I’m not a liar. In this circumstance though,I thought there was no other way. I basically for lack of a better word tricked my boyfriend into telling me some things he has been hiding from me. At the time, no, I didn't feel bad. I knew he was keeping things from me and wouldn't talk about it, so I found a way that he would. Once it was all out in the open I thought we were on the right track again. (Funny how writing this down right now is making me see how terribly wrong I was) When break up day came, he mentioned the “lie” that he didn't know was a lie. I knew that I had to come clean. I couldn't let him leave thinking that he had done something wrong when in fact it was me who lied. So I told the truth.

The look on his face was not a look I’ll ever forget. It was pain and anger and resentment all mixed into one. My confession was like a nail in our relationship coffin. I knew the second I said it, he would never forgive me. He stood up and put his hands up as if I were aiming a gun at his chest. He backed away from me. Disbelief was clear across his face. He looked me square on and told me he never wanted to see me again. I like control,especially in my own life, but even I know that you can’t force someone to want to be with you. So I surrendered. I’d never had anyone say they never wanted to see me again. It was a punch in my stomach that radiated pain straight to my heart. I loved this man, and I had just deliberately hurt him. Who the hell was I? What was I thinking? How could I ever have imagined that any good could come from deception? The phrase “love can make you do crazy things” resounded in my head.

After he left I went through my house and found the random things he had left. I put them all in a box to send to him. I must have written at least 20 apology letters that night. Each one sounded just as pathetic as the next. Did I really think that he would want to get back together with me if I sent him a nice enough note? Poor delusional, heartbroken, Jacqueline such a fool she can be.  In the end I put my pages of apologies in the trash and wrote on a small square sticky note that I was sorry and I wouldn't bother him again, and sometimes it takes every fiber in my being not to. So I replay his voice telling me he never wanted to see me again. It sadly solidifies my resolve.
I've slipped into a heavy duty depression. I've been hesitant to write about it, but I’m more concerned that no one writes or talks about it. Unless you’re threatening to kill yourself or shooting up an elementary school, no one seems to care about “mental health”. Less “dramatic” depression is just as real and hurts just as much. A lot of people will read this and think “oh, she’s just heartbroken. She’ll be fine. Everyone goes through this when they go through a break up”. I’m here to say, no. This is not heartbreak. This is serious, dirty, black, hopeless depression. It's a real health issue. It's a chemical imbalance in your brain, it's not just feeling "really really sad". 

The thing about depression is that you never see yourself slipping into it. It’s such a gradual decline that it’s almost shocking when you look up and think “damn! How did I get so far into this hole?” This hole I’ve been in is my deepest yet. I’ve had my ups and downs. Being diagnosed with MS and dealing with my dad’s death were big blows, but instead of falling into a deep hole, it seemed rather like I tripped into big potholes. They weren't as deep and it didn’t take too long to find my way out.

Depression is ugly and painful. For the past month, all I’ve done when I’m not at work is sleep and read. My room looks like a hoarder’s closet. My clothes are scattered everywhere. My pillows and sheets are strewn across the bed. Kleenex is piled up and overflowing out of my trash bin. When I eat, if I can eat, I leave dishes and cups everywhere. The trash heaps and is only taken out when I can’t stuff anything else into it. I have no motivation and I’m utterly exhausted. I sleep in two to three hour increments usually starting when I get home from work. A day spent in my office, smiling politely and making friendly conversation leaves me completely drained. It’s like playing the part of another person for 8 hours. All day I want to yell, “Leave me the fuck alone! I don’t care about your petty problems; I don’t care about this job. I just want to be left alone.” When I get home, I crash. I close my eyes and think that if I didn't wake up, I'd be okay with that. When I do wake I relegate myself to the couch which I try to tell myself is better than just lying in bed. I’ll read. I can get lost in a book, I’m not sad Jacqueline. I’m no one. I’m not thinking of anything but the words in front of me. When I close the covert hough, I’m back in my real world. I get back into bed and lay there. I toss and turn well into the night. I can’t make my brain stop thinking about how much my heart hurts. I relive our first date. I relive the first time we said “I love you”. I relive him standing in my living room telling me he never wanted to see me again. Sometimes I think if I can hurt myself enough by reliving it, it will make me get over it faster. It’s a bad theory and so far has proven totally opposite.

I hold my phone and type out text messages I know I won't send. I close my eyes and make myself imagine a knock at my door. I imagine him showing up in the middle of the night to tell me that he’s had time to think and he figured out that he DOES want to be with me. Then I open my eyes and tell myself that this is not a romance film and girls don’t always get the guy and the guys don’t always want that girl. Eventually I’m able to fall asleep for a few hours. It’s a fitful sleep where I can feel myself half awake.

Every other man I’ve dated has made me feel like I have to meet a certain standard. So I conformed for them. I did things and acted in ways that I thought would be most pleasing to the person I was with. It was only in this last relationship that I was comfortable enough to be 100% myself. My ex saw me funny and sad and angry and sick and jealous and he loved me anyway. He never made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for him. Perhaps that’s why this has been especially hard. The second he walked out my door, my walls of insecurity went right back up and I cannot imagine someone else being able to take them down like he did.

I  can’t admit to myself that the relationship is done. I guess I’m in the denial stage of the grieving process. I wish I could be angry or resentful, but there’s nothing to be angry about. He broke up with me because he was feeling the exact way I am feeling now: confused, lost, angry, and unmotivated...depressed. The irony of the role reversals has not been lost on me.

I’m still depressed and  not so tolerantly waiting not to be. Unfortunately, there is no quick way out of depression. You can do things to help like getting exercise, avoiding booze and drugs, getting a good night's sleep, etc... when you're depressed though, just the thought of getting out of bed is exhausting let alone going for a jog. So just as you slowly fall down the hole, you slowly climb back out. Today I vacuumed and took out the trash. Tomorrow I might do laundry. Perhaps these are a couple rungs on my ladder to the way out. I still sleep with my phone and I let myself hope that maybe he’ll text or call or knock, because sometimes girls DO get the guy and sometimes guys do WANT the girl and sometimes they come back and sometimes they live happily ever after. Depression can be inexorable if nothing else.

April 7, 2013

Music for Life

As I pulled into my parking spot tonight, a song came on the radio that I had only heard once before. I remembered liking it when I first heard it, so I put the Jeep in park and turned up the volume. Suddenly, I was sitting in my very first Jeep. It was a late summer night and a coolish breeze was drifting in the open windows from across Lake Superior. I was parked overlooking the water and Jack Johnson’s “In Between Dreams” cd was pouring out my speakers. My boyfriend was sitting in the seat next to me. Our hands were intertwined resting on the middle compartment while our voices were muffled slightly by the interior. I tipped my head back and closed my eyes and listened.  I can still smell the water. I can feel the late summer humidity on my skin. I can see my boyfriend’s blonde hair and mischievous smile and I can hear that cd.

Before I had a car, I wore out cds on my boombox and discman. I must have listened to Jonny Lang’s “Lie to Me” cd at least a million times. I would put it on repeat when I went to bed at night and listen to it over and over and over again. That was the first cd I ever fell in love with. I literally could not get enough of it. Lang’s raspy graveled voice had me obsessed.

On bus trips for school, my friends and I would pack our cd cases full of every cd we had and then swap on the bus. Sometimes we’d each take one of the earphones so two of us could listen to the same song at the same time. I remember skipping ahead to one certain part of The Backstreet Boys’ “Quit Playing Games with my Heart” and gushing with my friend when Nick’s solo would come on.

“No Scrubs” became a summer anthem that my cousin Amanda and I would crank while we drove around Canal Park. “Crazy Train” was and still is a song that brings me back to a drunken New Year’s Eve party. My boyfriend drove me home while I sang it at the top of my lungs. To this day, I still text him when I hear that song.

Jimmy Eat World’s “In the Middle” was the theme song for my first real heartache. I can feel myself driving along in my Chevy Corsica  singing at the top of my lungs “It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride. Everything, everything thing will be alright”.

50 Cent’s “In the Club” was on when I had my first kiss from an “older man” (I was 20, he was 26!). Queen’s “Under Pressure” was the first song on a mixed cd I got from a guy I almost cheated on my boyfriend with.

The Rolling Stone’s “Paint it Black” puts me back in the passenger seat of my ex-husband’s car. I can feel that kick drum bass line pumping through the speakers in his door while we hashed out another fight.

When I catch Michael Franti’s “Yell Fire” on the radio, I am high as a kite, lying on my living room sofa, my head on a pillow on my ex-boyfriend’s lap. I gaped in awe at the situation I was in, I gaped in awe at the music coming through my laptop speakers.

Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” was streaming through the Bose system at my dad’s 50th birthday party. I can feel the sweat from the beer can in my hand while all us party-goers yelled “Salt! Salt! Salt!” at the chorus. Not too long after, some of the lyrics from “Growing Older But Not Up” I copied onto the piece of paper I read my dad’s eulogy from. I can remember my hands shaking, looking out at the friends mourning my father and reading “Let those winds of time blow over my head. I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead”.

When I hear The Outfield’s “Your Love” I’m on a first date, sitting on a bar stool next to a guy who was stealing my heart. He nudged me with his elbow and winked while he sang along with the lyric “You know I like my girls a little bit older”. A month later that same guy pulled me up from the bed in a hotel room, wrapped his arms around me and danced with me to “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. I can still feel his embrace and feel myself giggling as we rocked back and forth to the banjo beat.

The song on my radio finished and I turned my jeep off. I realized I hadn't even heard the song. I had been thinking back to Jack Johnson and 50 Cent, first dates and breakups, parts of my life glued together by music. One seems incomplete without the other. For the first time in three weeks I smiled a real, sincere smile. I took the keys out of the ignition and started walking back to my apartment, playing back parts of the incomplete soundtrack to my life.

Thank you mom for Dan Fogelberg

Christopher for The Smashing Pumpkins and The Chili Peppers
Dad for Jimmy Buffett

Mike  for Blink, Dashboard, TSL, NFG and anything else from the "good" Warped Tour Era.

Tyler for Michael Franti, Trevor Hall and Jack Johnson

Joe for Coheed, Florence, and all things Motown-ish

Nicole for Ingrid Michelson and She and Him

Andy for anything popular from 2001-2002, Miley Cyrus and rap/hip-hop that no skinny white boy should really listen to

Jonny (and Ty) for DMB and U2

Hannah for Gaga

And last but least, Gramp for random polka music and old dog food commercial jingles. 

March 26, 2013

Dear Ms. Bullshit

I’ve been trying to write, but everything I write seems to come out lackluster and dusty. I’m not in a good mood. I have no desire to write about embracing the positives and making the most of the moment. I even went back and read some old posts last night, looking for self-motivation, usually that will do the trick. It didn’t work. After I read them I felt more like writing a comment back to myself:

Dear Modern Day Mary,
Cut the shit, we all know how hard breakups and life changes can be and vomiting sunshine out of your mouth onto a blog page, is not an accurate description. While I do believe your feelings in your posts are genuine, I’m not convinced it’s an accurate portrayal of how you feel most of the time.
Let’s be real, most of the time you’re exhausted. It literally takes every ounce of your strength to pull yourself out of bed in the morning. Putting on makeup is an idiotic chore – who wants to look at you anyway? Brushing your teeth in order to paste a clean white fake smile onto your face makes your “real” inner-self cringe. You’re letting your laundry pile up, no notices what you wear anyway, right? 

Your only respite comes from work. You can throw yourself into endless emails and task-lists. You can put your headphones on and drown out the world around you. For 8 hours out of your day, you have a reason NOT to think about him. Five-o-clock comes too soon. You’re almost looking for an excuse to stay, some reason not to go home to your lonesome apartment. You don’t want to go out though either. You’re tired of putting on your “I’m OK. No really, I’m fine” face. You don’t want to repeat again “I’m sure this is for the best, besides, you never know what the future brings”. Fuck that! You don’t know if this is for the best, in fact every fiber in your being tells you different right now. If you could snap your fingers and go back to your happiest time with him, don’t lie; you would.

 Instead you put your coat on and head out towards home. This cold weather doesn’t help a hurt heart. Once you get home, you’re back into your lonely routine: take the dog out, feed the guinea pigs, make something for dinner, take a shower, watch TV, read, try to go to sleep. 

Sleep, you hate sleep. You used to relish a good nap, now you’ll do anything to avoid letting your subconscious take the driver’s seat. Instead you read novels with graphic depictions of war and violence. You avoid anything with a romantic undertone. Love is for suckers, you think. Love isn’t for you. Every time you take down your walls and open your heart, someone leaves. It’s a funny thing how long it takes to take down that wall and how quickly you can build it right back up, always stronger than the last. 

Finally, you let yourself drift. You try to think of all the things you have to do at work tomorrow. You make lists in your head. You try not to wonder where he is, who he’s with since he’s not with you. You force yourself to imagine the worst. He’s probably asleep next to someone else right now, someone cuter, skinnier, funnier someone that makes him content with the decision he made to leave. He’s probably wishing he would have done it sooner, he’s probably wishing, after the fight you had, that you had never been a part of his life to begin with. Sometimes you need a good sucker punch to the stomach before you can give up the fight and walk away, even if that sucker punch is self-inflicted and completely non-factual. 

It’s late now… or early if you will. Only four hours left until your alarm rings. Only four hours to let your mind take over. Only four hours until you can wake up and make it yours again. So you succumb to the sleep, only out of necessity. Eventually, you feel yourself wake. There’s that brief millisecond when your consciousness hasn’t caught up to your brain. When you feel like everything is fine. If only you could float in between those seconds all day. Your brain catches up. You pull self out of bed. Only 4 more work days to go, then the weekend – a beast all of it’s own.

Admit it, Mary - that's how you feel MOST of the time. Maybe admitting it to yourself will make you move forward. Best of luck on your future endeavors. May you be graced with a time when re-reading this will stir no bad memories, instead only trigger happiness. 

Sincerely - 
Your reader