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Posts Tagged ‘migraine’

Sleep is a wonderful thing, as long as you can get some. Supposedly, as we get older we tend to need less sleep, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for me. I’m still off-line for that nine to ten hours a shot that I was back in high school. Longer if I’m having a bad headache day. Which seems to be all the time anymore.

I’ve made several attempts over these last few “self” employed years to get on a consistent daytime schedule. My husband is up at the butt-crack of dawn to head off to his bruiser of a job and it just seems reasonable that his dutiful wife cleave to the same schedule so she can be the domestic goddess and have dinner waiting for him when he arrives home.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

While most nights I do cook dinner – it does seem a fair exchange since he’s been out dealing with the nutjobs known as humans – I’m hardly the stereotypical housewife. Even that word – housewife – is an archaic annoyance to my ear. Yes, I handle the dishes and the laundry. Occasionally I even vacuum and dust. But that’s because I’m the one at home, not because I’m the woman. If our positions were reversed, my husband would be wearing the frilly maid’s outfit carrying the feather duster when I came in from the cold, cruel world.

Sorry. You probably didn’t want to see that.

Anyway, these last few months have been challenging in the sleep department. Though I have the new prescription for the post-detached retina vision, we haven’t had the money to get the new glasses. Every time we turn around it seems something else more important comes along to demand what few cents we have. You may think that getting new glasses is pretty important, and in the general scheme of things, you’re right. But when the choice is new glasses or fuel for the only vehicle that gets my husband back and forth to work, or new glasses vs. utility bills, well, you can probably understand why I’m still sitting here with an eyestrain headache.

Being a life-long migraine sufferer, my body has basically one response to any kind of head pain: shut down. I escape into something resembling sleep. But it’s erratic. I’ll be down for three or four hours, then up for anything from two to twelve hours, then down for twelve hours and up for two, down for four, up for six, etc., etc. Really hard to maintain any kind of schedule when you’re fine for a couple hours and then get hit by that dart from the big game hunter.

And even when I am “sleeping” I’ll wake up several times for various reasons, or no reason at all, so it never seems like I’m getting a full straight batch of time. Or I have really intense, detailed, bizarre dreams: the zombie apocalypse happens while my husband and I are at one of our historical events, and I’m stuffing loads of embroidery supplies into my back pack while my cats sit on my shoulders or run around my feet and my husband is loading ammo into something that looks like a cross between a bow and a sub-machine gun; aliens have attacked and I’m leading the resistance and trying to figure out how to escape from the skyscraper we’re trapped in that is now morphing into an old Victorian mansion that has money stuffed in the cushions of the couch but we can’t leave now because the party isn’t done and I have to find my husband; I’ve suddenly manifested superpowers but have to take a running jump to fly like Ralph in The Greatest American Hero and my telekinesis blows out the headlamps of a guy I’m mad at but then the dragons are trying to shoot me down and I land in a refugee camp where I’m looking for a bathroom but the only one I can find has its porcelain thrones at the ends of the arms of one of those spinning octopus carnival rides.

Yes, I’m well aware that I need professional counseling…

If it’s any consolation, it’s not any better when I’m awake. That’s why I’m a writer. And even though I have done very little with my current projects as far as putting things into words on the computer, I’ve actually accomplished quite a bit of problem solving for those projects. There are many times when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep because my brain is in overdrive. I’ve cleared up a couple issues I had with several of the characters in my current novel, which has also helped me figure out more of where that monster is going. It’ll mean a significant re-write of the 60K words I’ve already done, but, hey, I got nothing but time, right? And I’ve doodled with several short story ideas for the collection I’ve talked about e-publishing, which has given me an overall theme for it as well. I’m feeling pretty good about where I’m going with both projects, even if I’m way behind my original time line.

And so what if my sleep schedule doesn’t match everybody else’s? The only person I’m beholding to is my husband, and I make sure he’s taken care of. The only other thing I need to be concerned about is that I’m as productive as possible while I’m conscious, given the visual limitations I’m dealing with right now.

I spent a lifetime trying to do things the way other people told me they should be done, and it just didn’t work, and I just wasn’t happy. Now that I’m doing things my way, for me, I’m experiencing a lot more satisfaction with my life. So I guess the whole point of this meandering rant is, it’s your life, find what works for you.

And what works for me right now is another nap…

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It’s Wednesday morning and I just realized I haven’t posted anything for this week. No, I don’t plan these blogs weeks in advance. I should, but that would make too much sense and take all the stress out of it. Goddess knows I can’t possibly be reasonable about these sorts of things…

My schedule has been fubarred lately because my internal clock is a complete mess. I had a three-day migraine a couple weeks ago, one of those annoying complicated ones that leaves me feeling weak on one side and the equivalent of hung-over for days afterwards. Thankfully I don’t get them very often anymore – it’s been over a year since the last one – but when they finally do show up, they certainly do make themselves noticed. This one was accompanied by all the usual fun: extreme light/sound/smell/taste sensitivity, too much sleep, nauseas, not enough sleep, incoordination, disrupted sleep, and, of course, the screaming-hot-vise-of-pokers-boring-into-my-brain headache. Even my hair hurt. And maybe I was just a little crabby, too. Maybe.

In the middle of that was the news of Robin Williams’ death, which only added to the just-fuck-it-I’m-staying-in-bed kind of day. I’m still dealing with that one. I grew up with him. I saw his first appearance on Happy Days and watched Mork & Mindy religiously. Anything he was in after that was automatically on the watch list. Some good, some bad, but always a welcome diversion simply because of Robin. I never had the pleasure of meeting him personally, but I know a number of people who did and the stories were all the same: he was a generous, kind man who just wanted to make people laugh.

As a fellow depressive, it’s really a jolt when someone who’s fought so hard for so long suddenly just decides they’re done. It makes me wonder about my own strength. If someone with his intelligence and resources and money can’t keep fighting, how am I supposed to? I guess the fact I’m scared of that possibility says something about where I am in my own battle.

It’s my anger that keeps me going. The appalling lack of comprehensive mental health care in a country as wealthy and medically advanced as the USA is a blight on us all. It fuels my desire to keep plugging along, to continue forcing a crusade for change. I’m presently covered by my husband’s medical insurance through his work, which does not cover anything for mental health. I just recently had to fight with the carrier because they denied payment for a standard doctor’s office visit, during which my doctor and I had done the annual prescription review. His coding included major depressive disorder as one – ONE – of the several things we discussed, and they bounced it. That’s a problem when I can’t even talk to my family doctor about what’s going on without fear of having the coverage refused. What happens if they decide not to cover my anti-depressants because that would fall under the heading of mental health? Even the generics are too much for the pocket book right now. No one should have to live in fear of losing their health because they lack the money.

I know that was part of the idea behind the Affordable Care Act, but it fails on so many levels. I was really hoping for a single-payer system. The basic network is already there with Medicare, it just needed to be expanded and updated to give providers a better standard of pay and greater leeway in deciding appropriate care for their patients. As I’ve said before, the only people that should be involved in deciding what’s best for my health are my doctor and me. I’m a person, not a commodity. Somewhere that fact was buried under the altar of the all-mighty dollar. Time to blow that fucking thing off the face of the planet.

There are certain things that humans must have simply to survive. Air is at the top of the list. Without it, humans are dead in a matter of minutes. Water is second, the lack of which brings death in a matter of days. Food comes in third. It can take weeks to starve to death and it’s not a pretty way to go. And yet there are people out there who do everything in their power to make money off these basic necessities, and have no problem denying the needy if the right amount of green isn’t handed over. A Chinese entrepreneur is selling canned fresh air to people in the most polluted cities. While largely a tongue-in-cheek effort to bring attention to the environmental disaster that is Chinese air pollution, it also gives us a chilling look at a potential future, when you’d best pay your air bill on time or suffer the consequences.

We’re already seeing a variation on that in Detroit, where thousands of residents are having their water cut off because of unpaid bills. Detroit has been probably the hardest hit by the Great Recession in the US, and the populace there has been struggling fiercely for years just to survive. Now they have to deal with no water on top of everything else. Here, in one of the richest nations on Earth, we have an epic disaster in the making just because someone didn’t get enough money. I understand companies deserve to be compensated for their efforts. Where I have the problem is when something that is necessary for survival becomes a for-profit effort. It doesn’t seem fair when you have a captive audience.

And there’s a growing movement (pun intended) by cities all across the land restricting or out right banning home gardens. The arguments run from violating some obscure HOA rule (“No asparagus because I hate it.”), to making the neighborhood look bad (“But our property values!”), to not knowing what you’re putting/not putting on your crops so we just can’t have it around the children (“We can’t have you poisoning our children. That’s the gov’ment’s job.”).

So the day is coming where if you’re poor, you can’t breathe clean air, drink clean water, or eat the food you’ve grown yourself because some one-percenter schmuck isn’t making as much profit as he wants off you. The message I keep hearing from those upper echelon assholes is that only the rich deserve to survive because the rest of us are just a bunch of lazy takers who contribute nothing to the world. Us lesser people have become disposable.

It’s no wonder I’m depressed…

 

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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Life is a delicate balance between tranquility and chaos for the best of humanity.  For those of us in the creative arts, it’s a downright screaming roller-coaster ride careening from absolute bliss to the deepest pits of hand-wringing angst.

Okay, maybe not quite so harsh, but it’s a great description, isn’t it?

While there have been those occasions in my life that would make that roller-coaster seem tame by comparison, they have been few and far between.  Good counseling, bio-feedback, modern pharmaceuticals, and the most awesome husband in the world have made functioning on a day to day basis much easier for this diagnosed chronic depressive.  But it is still a daily battle, with some days victories and some not.

Depression is a cyclical beast.  I can go for weeks functioning just fine; house is clean, bills are paid, errands are run, animals are fed, blogs are written, jobs are searched for.  And then, for reasons it is often difficult to trace, the downward cycle arrives.  When it hits, it makes even the simplest things nearly impossible.  Just getting out of bed takes a huge effort of will, and there are times when the will is more of a won’t.  With no definite schedule, no boss to answer to, no real reason to go anywhere, that cozy king-sized haven becomes Sanctuary.

Long, long ago in my youth, I instinctively turned to sleeping as an escapist self-defense measure.  Get a migraine:  go to sleep.  Get stressed: go to sleep.  Get depressed:  go to sleep.  It’s my version of the ostrich-head-in-the-sand solution to the world.  Doesn’t really solve anything, but hiding for awhile can sometimes help you regroup so you can approach the world with better answers.  For me, though, it’s mainly just hiding.

And I’ve realized lately that I’m not just hiding from the world, but I’m also hiding from myself.  I’ve never really liked myself, for reasons still undiscovered, and avoidance is one of those natural things we humans do.  But it’s really hard to avoid yourself: wherever you go, there you are.

I’ve often wondered if that unlike of self (can’t bring myself to say dislike, so maybe there’s hope yet…), is a function of the depression.  When I fall into a low cycle, where I have been lately, I can barely look at myself in the mirror.  All I see is a big, fat, ugly, hopeless slob.  Which of course becomes a Mobius strip of self-fulfillment.  One of the exercises my counselor was trying with me (before I had to cancel because I couldn’t afford the co-pay anymore), was to find one thing about myself that I did like, everyday.   Seems a simple task, but to a depressive in a down cycle, nearly impossible.  I can’t even accept compliments from my husband, inwardly cringing when he tells me I’m beautiful or what a wonderful dinner I made.  Nothing is ever good enough, by my standards, and therefore I am doomed to fail, cut down by my own perfectionistic nature.  Going through life with blinders on, seeing only the flaws.

So what the hell does this have to do with writing, anyway?  Well, everything, actually.  Seeing everything through the Doom-&-Gloom glasses of my miss-aligned mind makes everything I write nothing but crap.  And since it’s all crap, why bother writing it at all?  Intellectually, I know that what I manage to put on a page is mostly decent, that I’m not such a bad person in reality, and that the world isn’t a big pile of steaming dog shit (well, not totally, anyway).  But the intellect is, sadly, not in charge right now.  Please leave a message at the beep.

My husband, for all his wonderfulness, still can’t quite understand why, after nearly a year out of work, I haven’t finished my novel.  In fact, by his reckoning, I should be putting the finishing touches on my second one by now (a correct assessment, given the average paperback is around 80k words and 1-2k a day is pretty doable).  Not that he has been at all a butt head about it:  it’s simply a curiosity thing from a former Marine sergeant who will let nothing stop him (okay, there are a couple things, but that’s another story completely, and not likely to appear here) once he sets a goal.  He is right, of course, but when the artist is in a constant wrestling match with the depressive, and they’re pretty evenly matched, you’re more likely to find the ostrich with her head in the sand, trying to avoid the issue all together.

The bottom line is:  the artist has to find a way to pin the depressive.  Even if only for a short time.  Deep down inside I do believe that I can be a successful writer, and that is why the artist keeps fighting.  Depression may be a constant companion in my life, but it will not be in charge of my life.  As Tim Allen’s character said in Galaxy Quest, “Never give up.  Never surrender.”

Off to the next round of the wrestling match…

© 2010   Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

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