Monthly Archives: November 2010

Dear Depression

You suck. I am at a wedding (granted, one I wasn’t looking forward to, but still, a wedding) and nothing but upset. Down. Overwhelmed by negative feelings. Why? A teeny tiny tiff with my hubby which hit me where I felt vulnerable. TWO AND A HALF HOURS AGO. And I can’t shake the feelings that came crashing down. I’m barely holding back tears, eyes full because…there’s no reason! But I’m all alone, in a hall full of strangers, which is upping my anxiety because I can’t get on my carefully constructed mask, unable to recenter myself and unable to get help from my service dog to do so since I left him at home out of respect.

I am now overcome with anxiety which is battling the depression, and I can’t fight loose of your struggle for supremacy. Please leave me alone.

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Christmas Cards

Since being married, I have been one of those people who not only send out Christmas cards, but send out Christmas letters with photos of what we did all year. It started partially because we moved away from…everyone..and I wanted a way to keep them updated and keep in touch. And send out wedding photos, which I liked :-) But even before that, I have always loved Christmas, and cards are something Christmas-y you can do before Christmas to get in the spirit!

This year, through Stephanie at The Mrs. I learned that Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 free photo cards! (I’ll include more info on this at the end) Sweet! I’ve never done photo cards, because we do a typed letter with lots of photos and I’m cheap…but then I saw some of the cards that Shutterfly offers!

The front is pretty simple...

 

But then inside there's room for lots of photos and short stories!

 

(Ahem, I am not necessarily tech-savy per-se, so sorry for the teeny-tiny photo)

Or there’s this card, which has a similar inside setup:

More pictures outside, space for four inside.

I might be skipping the letter this year, and going with their photo cards and blurbs, if I can cut down on my blabber keep it short.

Go check out their products yourself!

Holiday cards to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/holiday-cards

Christmas cards to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-cards

Greeting cards to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery

And as I mentioned earlier, they’re offering bloggers (of any size, as evidenced by ME getting them with my 3 readers) free cards! Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly… learn more: http://bit.ly/sfly2010

 

 

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WTH Wednesday: It’s all about Toby

Oh yes, it’s Wednesday, and even though I didn’t win their 1 year anniversary prize (*sniff* *tear*) I’m participating in the ever-popular What the Hell Wednesday!

WHAT THE HELL, fleas???? Seriously! At the beginning of LAST month I took Toby to the groomer..who found fleas. Fleas! I have never had an animal with fleas!! Eweweweweeeeeeew! So I sucked it up and dealt with them. Revolution. Regular flea baths. Diatamatious earth all over my house AND in his fur (and the cat’s). Predatory nematodes in the yard. Vacuuming regularly. Changing the sheets often. And I won!! The fleas all died!!

…for a week.

Then they came back. But Toby’s fur is too long for me to find them.

UGH!!!! WHAT THE HELL fleas?!?! Couldn’t you just stay dead!?

He’s at the groomer, getting shaved down again.

Next up, what the hell was I worrying about at the beginning of my last post? My therapist is awesome!! And I got an e-mail back from her today, after I sent her information and the request for support/a letter, thanking me for the information and saying she’d do whatever she could to help support me. YES!! :-D Big, giant sigh of relief. But really, she’s been supportive the whole time, I don’t know what the hell I was so worried about :-)

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Filed under Dogs, Invisible Illnesses, Life

Unable to speak

I’m looking up all the information for flying with my service dog again because I need my current therapist to write me documentation allowing me to bring Toby with me over Thanksgiving. I have done this several times before (before every trip, since I always carry a copy of the paperwork in case I am challenged), but I am too disorganized to save it somewhere. Maybe this time….(hahayeahright)

And before you ask, yes, I am 100% legitimately allowed to fly with my dog. There is zero question there. You can fly with an emotional support animal, which does not even have to be trained (though these animals do NOT have general public access rights), as long as you have a documented mental disability and the animal helps you cope with it through their very presence. Given that my dog has saved my life, and helps me cope constantly, tasks aside, we qualify. But I still get nervous when proposing the idea to a new person, especially a professional, since the field of emotional support animals and psychiatric service dogs is so new, and so unknown. Many people have never heard of emotional support animals, so you are, at the same time, educating them and trying to convince them to help you. And if they say no..well..I’m screwed :P

Looking it up I am, of course, running into all kinds of information about psychiatric service dogs. I was just reading through the IAADP’s task list for psychiatric service dogs, which I have been through several times, and one item caught my attention: Speech Impairment Task Away from Home

Basically, this task consists of having your dog carry a laminated card (or you carry it), which your dog can fetch and deliver to a person you indicate if you are having a panic attack or another symptom which renders you unable to talk. The card might ask them to get help, or it might indicate they should leave you alone if they come and offer help. This is not something that happens to me often, and typically my muteness is limited to one topic or area, so I wouldn’t use this task, but it did remind me of an incident I’ve been meaning to write about. Partly to educate, and partly because it would be therapeutic to me!

There are times when I can’t talk. And when, even though I know that spitting out the information would get attention off of me, I am so paralyzed by the attention on me that I just. Can’t. Do it. I can’t. As much as I may desperately want to. Imagine how scary and disconcerting it would be for your brain to be screaming at you to open your mouth and speak..but it doesn’t happen. And you stand there, with people staring at you curiously, as you start panting and tensing and shaking from the effort of trying to speak. A downward spiral occurs. You’re nervous, so you can’t talk, so you get more nervous, so you’re less able to talk, and so on. This spiral often happens with anxiety or panic attacks, and is one reason having a dog who is trained to interrupt such spirals, either by noticing them and acting independently or responding to a cue, is extremely helpful. Having the cycle interrupted is often enough for the person in it to plant their feet and climb out of it.

I am very lucky that losing my speech rarely happens to me, but one time it did sticks with me vividly, because it was so very unsettling.

At my old company, a good friend (C) was leaving to travel to Arizona with her boyfriend. We were throwing her a going-away happy hour on her last day (or thereabouts) at a local bar. She and two other good friends and I had done something called “Freestyle Friday” over our office IM service, rapping freestyle at each other by typing throughout the day. It was mainly one guy who did it, but us others would join it, and it was fun. On C’s last day, the others came on and told me we were each doing a freestyle rap for her verbally at the happy hour. I tried to back out, afraid of getting up in front of all my coworkers (who I was very unsure of myself around) and rapping, but I gave in because I figured, hey, no big deal. Thirty seconds and done, I’m usually fine at public speaking.

I wrote my freestyle and was comfortable enough with it. I was the third to go, the other two were going first. They each got up and gave their raps, and then it was my turn.

I stood up.

I opened my mouth.

And nothing came out.

I started shaking. I got really, really nervous. Tension locked my body in place. My heart raced so fast I was getting dizzy. I kind of laughed, to cover my embarassment. I tried to back out (without really being able to talk or move), but they wouldn’t let me, thinking I was just being shy.

But I physically could not talk.

I tried again. And again. And again. Now the pause had grown to where it was very noticeable, especially since the previous two people had just gone back to back. My pause was now longer than their combined performances, and still, I couldn’t bring myself to start talking.

My husband arrived at the bar, which upped my anxiety level, because he and my coworkers were two different audiences in my mind, and being in front of both of them was harder.

I tried, desperately, to just choke it out so I could sit down. I knew once I was done, everyone would go back to talking with each other again and no one except my friends would even chat with me.

I attempted to back out again, but they stopped me and told me, a little impatiently this time, to just do it! After all, no big deal, right?

Finally, somehow, I managed to get the first sound out. Once that was out, it got easier, and I kind of raced through it, muttering so I could get through.

Everyone clapped and laughed and went back to their conversations

I collapsed into my seat.

The other friends congratulated me on a job well done, then started chatting with other people.

I barely heard them. Iwas trying to calm my racing heart. Relax my muscles, which were locked in place. Quiet the storm raging in my mind so I could think coherently.

My husband was confused as to why I wasn’t acting happy to see him. I don’t know if he even realized the battle I had just gone through, silently, in my own mind and body. He wasn’t there for the whole thing.

And who knows, maybe it was only a minute long. Maybe seconds.

But there is very little that is scarier than telling your mind and body to do something and having it refuse. Even over a year later, thinking back to that moment fills me with tension.

I don’t remember much about the rest of that party. I think I was too busy decompressing to be involved.

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Silent Thoughts

I first started learning sign language in junior high, when my mom picked it back up and started interpreting again. Through high school and college I met a lot of deaf and hard of hearing kids through working/volunteering in the schools. Almost every single kid wore hearing aids or a cochlear implant, as the school district I worked in was a big believer in “Total Communication” (signing and voicing at the same time) and put a big focus on learning “language” (which they only considered to be spoken/written English). (FWIW Even at the time, this focus/view bothered me.)

Several of those kids would surreptitiously turn off (or take off or “forget”) their hearing aids every chance they got. Which caused a lot of battles of the will, since they were *supposed* to be keeping them on so they could learn to use their hearing and get a full learning experience! (/sarcasm)

The kids wanting to turn off their hearing aids/CIs never seemed to weird to me. The way hearing aids work, everything is amplified the same. With normal hearing, we have the ability to focus in on one set of sounds and ignore another. So, for example, if you’re listening to a speaker and there’s music in another room, you can choose to focus on the speaker and tune out the music. It doesn’t mean you can’t hear the music, it means it’s more-or-less going in one ear and out the other and you’re not processing it.

Hearing aids can’t do that. They amplify everything. You can’t decide to just not listen to background noise, it comes in loud and clear. Now, to some extent, you can work around it, but it’s much more difficult.

So it never surprised me that a lot of the kids didn’t want their hearing aids/CIs on. They tended to be the kids with less hearing, and tended to be the kids who relied on sign for communication rather than speaking. It just made sense to me that they wouldn’t want all the superfluous noise to sort through.

Then, last night, I got deeper insight into why this might be.

I attended a Deaf comedy show by the Anderson twins. They are adult twin brothers, one of whom is profoundly deaf and one of whom is hearing. They go on the road doing stand up comedy together, and they were really freaking good. I laughed a lot, even though the whole show was in ASL and was not voice interpreted, and I’m just getting back into sign and probably missed half the jokes :P Since the show was in ASL I was focusing really hard to take it in. It is not a natural language for me (yet), so I had to really pay attention to follow along.

For the first half of the show, all was fine. I was following pretty well, it was a great show! They had a short intermission, and then came back.

Did I mention the show was in the upstairs room of a bar/restraunt? ’cause it was. And while for the first half of the show there was music playing downstairs, it was pretty quiet. I did fine.

With the second half came the karaoke. The very, very LOUD karaoke. Because evidently that’s a rule: karaoke has to be obnoxiously loud to get the right ambiance.

And I had a really hard time tuning it out. OK, it wasn’t even that loud, just loud enough that I could hear the words instead of just getting a gist. But it was hard to ignore.

And I caught myself wondering why. Why was it so hard to tune out, when I can normally tune things like that out without too much trouble?

And I realized – with the comedy show, I was thinking silently. There was no sound to the show, except the occaisional audience laughter. Otherwise, it was silent. The language was all silent. And I was thinking silently.

I know many people who have learned a second language and lived abroad, using only that language, and they say the point they know they’ve really got the language and made it a part of them is when they start dreaming in it. And then they realize their thoughts are in it. Because now their mind is running in terms of that language primarily, since they’re living it.

Well, for people living a silent language, maybe their thoughts are running silently. And noise coming in is just obnoxious because it clashes with the way their thoughts are running. Even people who use their hearing but sign primarily would be thinking in their primary language of silence. And there are times, especially when you’re thinking hard and focusing, like at school, where those sounds coming in are just..well..obnoxious! Not helping with, and in fact, contradictory to the language of your thoughts. You almost have to derail your silent thinking to process the sounds. Not completely, but it’s definitely harder.

Or at least, it was for hearing old me. I’m not deaf. Nor Deaf. I’m just imagining.

Because for me, when I was trying to think silently, and process silent language, it was a lot harder to tune out sounds then when I’m thinking verbally (still in my head) and processing spoken language. Maybe because when I’m processing spoken language/thinking verbally, I’m already using the auditory/verbal processing part of my brain, and when I’m focusing on a silent language it calls up a whole ‘nother part to figure out what to ignore.

But to recap: Me? Not deaf. Not Deaf. Not HoH. Not speaking for them. If you are, feel free to correct me.

To me, though, it felt like I got it a little better.

And if last night I had the option to reach up and turn off my hearing so that I could focus on the visual speaker better, you can bet I would have done it in a heartbeat.

Maybe we could have more understanding for kids who want to do the same, rather than forcing them to be as “normal” as they can by “using” their hearing all the time.

 

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It’s Halloween, let kids be kids!

I love, love, love this blog post, titled, “My son is gay.”

It goes on to say:

Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you.

It’s written by a woman whose 5 year old son chose to dress up as Daphne (from Scooby Doo) for Halloween about the bullying he received..not from the kids..from the parents. I love her viewpoint. Love it!

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

Now go read the whole thing and show her some love! Don’t let her think all people are as stupid as Moms A, B and C!

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