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First things first. Let's get this out of the way before the post begins. I swear. A lot. If you have problems with profanity, let this serve as your warning not to proceed with this post, 'cause it's about to get salty in here. So, strap on your life jackets, and buckle up, Bitches.
Okey dokey, now that's out of the way, so let's hit the Insecure Writers Support Group question for this month. (I swear, I'm always tardy to this party.)
Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?
Let me answer this by saying that I really don't know how to answer this. On one hand, I tend to be pretty transparent, although, on the other hand, I don't really feel like I owe anyone any explanations ever. Unless I crash through the front window of your house while holding a jug of moonshine in one hand and a bong in the other, in which case...well, there again, the explanation for my bad behavior, in that case, is probably pretty obvious.
Anyway, here's a list of the shit that's abnormal about me, in alphabetical order because that is the way I roll.
Attention deficit disorder
I didn't know this until I was in my 50s, but it explains a lot, and I have been very misunderstood because of it.
Bipolar disorder type 2
I was almost 40 before this was correctly diagnosed.
Diabetes type 2
An ailment that is highly stigmatized, and fuck a whole lot of that. I think the name of the condition should be changed to hypopancreatism. It would be a more accurate description. Diabetes is an obscure Greek term that is kind of meaningless at this point.
A common companion with diabetes. Other than this, my cholesterol levels are very good, which is neither here nor there.
Female Reproductive System Glitches
Endometriosis and fibroids, which have hopefully resolved now that I'm three years beyond menopause. 2018 was the Year Of A Lot Of Bullshit With My Reproductive System Which I Don't Even Use But Still Didn't Want To Undergo Major Surgery To Remove It.
Doctors are very keen to do hysterectomies on older women, but the condition I was experiencing (simple hyperplasia with normal cells) only increases my chances of developing endometrial cancer by 1.6 (that's one point six) percent. I saw no reason to undergo the risks of surgery for such a slight increased risk. Sometimes hysterectomy is the lesser of two evils, but there are reasons to leave the business intact, even if it's dormant.
I also had polycystic ovary syndrome, but my ovaries are now atrophied, so I guess that problem has resolved. I was always told that I'd never be able to have children. Shows to go ya that doctors don't know everything.
I had horrible periods for 40 years, starting at twelve and ending at 52. I didn't bleed, I hemorrhaged. Other than the endometrial hyperplasia, menopause was a walk in the park. I was fortunate to have the longer-lasting but less intense "ember flashes" rather than the nuclear blast hot flashes that some women describe. I refer to menopause as my "red giant" phase. I am now a large white dwarf.
I'm one of the lucky ones. I have low-grade, widespread chronic pain rather than excruciating pain. I can do a lot of things that fibromyalgia sufferers with severe pain can't. However, people like me get misunderstood and passed off as "lazy" or making excuses. Being in constant pain drains a person's energy and causes brain fog. I sometimes joke that if I did have dementia no-one would know, because walking around in a fog is my normal state of being.
In truth, neither dementia nor fibromyalgia is funny. My joke is a bit of gallows humor. I've lost people to dementia, and I will top myself if I am ever diagnosed with it. I don't want to go out that way.
My thyroid burned itself up when I was 15. Oh, bliss. Oh, joy.
I'm usually fine as long as I take Lactaid before eating ice cream or pudding and as long as I avoid foods with MSG or Splen-don't. It really helped to stop taking Metformin. I was kind of tired of having explosive, uncontrollable diarrhea.
Not diabetes-related. I have neuropathy from back problems and a severe injury to the median nerve in my left arm. I was in such severe pain for a month that I considered suicide to find relief. If it hadn't been for the fact that I knew Medicaid was going to kick in at the beginning of December 2017, I don't think I'd be here writing this. I didn't have insurance, so I couldn't afford to get treatment.
Here is the fun of being a member of the working poor. I had a job. I often worked more than 40 hours a week. I was a contractor. I couldn't afford insurance on my salary. This is the job that fucked up my arm. I had to wait a month for Medicaid to kick in. In the meantime, I was in excruciating pain. Every time I went to sleep, I hoped I wouldn't wake up.
The thing about harshly judging people who become addicted to pain medication is this. When you are in severe constant pain, you will do ANYTHING to stop that pain. Both chronic pain and addiction are conditions that are stigmatized.
I have lived with low-grade chronic pain for most of my life. It tires me out and a lot of the time I feel like I'm operating in a fog.
For some reason, everyone always thinks that OCD = germophobe neat freak. It actually has a broad spectrum of presentations. Hoarding disorder is a subtype of OCD, and I really have a problem with exploitation shit shows like Hoarders. Next up, what will those whacky Schizophrenics do, amirite, Kiddies? There's nothing like ridiculing people struggling with a major mental illness! Yeehah.
I was going to say there's your answer to what people would never know about me from reading my stories, but I actually do address it. Now, here's the plain truth. While struggling with severe depression and still holding a full-time job, my hoarding problems got severely out of hand. I have never hoarded animals, only items. In all honesty, becoming unable to work a normal job is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was finally able to address my very serious hoarding problem.
My old mobile home has taken more than six months to deal with because the only ones working on it are my son and me, and I can't do any heavy lifting. My son is high-functioning autistic. He lives with a degree of agoraphobia (which he can manage as long as he is able to maintain control over the situation), anxiety, and major depression. He's always gotten a ration of shit from my family for not being able to hold a regular job. They refuse to believe that he's autistic because he is able to engage in normal social interaction. My mother says that my son is just "timid" (he isn't timid) and my brother thinks that my son needs to just pull himself up by his bootstraps and "man up."
If you ask me, my son is a goddamn rock star. Hell, he's better than most rock stars. He's the most humble person you'll ever meet. He puts other people's needs before his own all the time, and when he sets his mind to something, it will happen. Maybe not on someone else's timeline, maybe in a country minute rather than a New York minute, but on one thing you can rely; if he says it's going to happen, it's going to happen.
My love for my son is obvious in my stories. Most of my major female protagonists have sons, nephews, or young male friends whom they would die for if it came to that. Sometimes I throw in a daughter as well, just to mix things up, but if people read between the lines, it's probably obvious that I don't have a daughter. The character tends to be an adjunct.
Moving on with Cie's Health Bullshit...
The complex variety. I've endured a lot of abuse in my life. It took me a lot of years to come to the point where I know I may never be able to "love myself," but I sure as hell am going to respect myself enough to not let people abuse me anymore. If you're the sort of person who thinks that I, or anyone else, deserves to be shit on for having a body that you don't find attractive, fuck you. What the hell makes you think I care if you find me attractive? Believe me, I ain't into you.
Then there were all those great guys who preyed on me because they wanted someone with low self-esteem that they could treat like crap, that they could belittle or hit or rape to their shriveled little heart's content and I should consider myself lucky for the abuse. Because crazy chicks are great in bed, amirite? And for anyone who feels the need to tell me that "not all men are like that, and there's a great guy who will love you just as you are," please stow that noise. I'm simply not interested.
I had PTSD after my car was hit by a wave of water washing over the road during a flood, and I eventually overcame it. I don't think I'll ever be over the PTSD caused by bullying and abuse. Hell, let's call it what it is. Bullying is simply another term for abuse.
It took me a lot of years to be able to say that I have been abused, that I did not "ask for" the abuse, and to take a stand that I will not put up with further abuse.
Abuse, particularly sexual abuse, is a common theme in my writing.
In the past, I would have put "borderline personality disorder" on this list, but I have come to the belief that "borderline personality disorder" is a sexist diagnosis, like "hysteria." It is overwhelmingly applied to women. "Borderline personality disorder" is actually a subtype of PTSD.
People who are given this diagnosis are people who have been abused, often sexually. The tendency for self-injury in women diagnosed with "borderline personality disorder (a problem that I struggled with from my early teens) is a tell.
Part and parcel of the other mental health stuff. I've had less of it since moving to a little rural town in the middle of nowhere with my son. Sometimes I even feel hopeful and inspired.
And now, the big reveal.
Yeah, I just love this. It started when I was in my late thirties and by the time I was forty, I was using the Ultra Maximum size of incontinence pads. It was great when I had my period, and by great, I mean it really sucked ass. Between the heavy bleeding and the urine leakage, I had to wear Depends plus an Ultra Maximum incontinence pad. It felt like I was wearing a mattress.
It's not clear why I developed this lovely problem, but it's probably a combination of neurological and physiological fuckery. Anyway, I have it, and I think that it's one thing that I don't write about, not out of embarrassment but because where the hell would I fit it into one of my stories?
There are a lot of adults who deal with incontinence. We aren't emotionally immature or losing control of our functions on purpose. I count myself lucky to only be dealing with urine loss. Metformin gave me a taste of what it would be like to have bowel incontinence, and that's a whole other beast.
Here's the thing: incontinence isn't a joke, and people who live with it still deserve respect. That's why I'm honest about it.
Those things that you may think it's somehow your birthright to ridicule people for, like their size or their health problems either physical or mental? If you're doing that, you need to be asking yourself why you need a scapegoat. Chances are, you're dissatisfied with yourself and are looking for someone who has it worse to make yourself feel better about your own lousy lot in life. That's called schadenfreude, and it isn't a good look.
So, there you have it. I came to the party. I brought it. And now you know that pretty much the only thing I don't write about is incontinence.
Ornery Owl is Round and Real and apologizes for nothing
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The Icky, Sticky, Nit-Picky Legalese, if You Please (Or Don't Please)
Content copyright 2020 by Cara Hartley
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Some times, some lives, outsuck Dyson. Anger and depression strike me as rational responses. And I am often (so very often) awed at how people continue to cope. And the ways that they cope are individual and not to be dismissed.ReplyDelete
I appreciate your honesty, while wincing in sympathy and empathy.
I know I've had kind of a hard go of things, but sometimes I hear about people whose lives make mine look like a walk in the park, and they seem to be much more cheerful.Delete
I never resonated with counselors and shrinks because they always wanted to give me pills. When the pills made me literally psychotic, I stopped taking them. I don't like the feeling that my brain is trying to pick its way out of my head with its teeny tiny little hands. That's what happened with Zoloft. I jumped up on a counter and started preaching while on Efexor. With Prozac, I considered cutting my arm just to see if I could still feel anything because it made me into a zombie.
I was given Xanax after my ex-boyfriend raped me on Halloween 1997. It knocked me out and when I woke up, it was all I could do to talk myself out of committing suicide. All benzodiazepines except for Valium have paradoxical reactions for me. Valium just makes me thick as a brick.
I always wanted to scream at these people and ask them if they couldn't fucking see that my life was a steaming pile of crap and what I needed was real help, not pills.
The psych field needs a lot of work, although I will grant that it is, overall, better than it used to be.
Part of the reason I still volunteer with the crisis line is that we are taught never, ever to offer our solutions (let alone recommend drugs). Most of what we do is listen, and to explore what has worked (or not worked) for the caller and to explore other options they might want to try. Pills DO help some but they are never a universal panacea and they have trade offs. As you know.Delete
Whoever calls one of those crisis lines and gets someone like you is blessed. I tried calling them twice. One clown laughed at me, and the other guy was just kind of useless. He gave me the name of a bipolar disorder support group and said "good luck, Ma'am." Which was better than laughing at me, but I felt like he just wanted to get rid of me as quickly as possible.Delete
I am sorry. I have laughed WITH callers but not at them. I have also wept with and for them.ReplyDelete