Afraid of Living

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I am not afraid to die –
but I am not yet
unafraid of living.

I’m not sure I have ever written truer words than the 3-line poem above. This little gem came to me while taking a bath last night, so I repeated it to myself like a mantra until I got out of the tub and could write it down.

It is true that I am not afraid of death. I am a bit afraid of the actual feeling of dying, mostly because of the instinctual anxiety I fear it would bring. However, I am not afraid of being dead. In fact, I rather look forward to it. If there is something after death, it will be awesome to explore and find out what else is out there. If there is nothing after death, it will just be like the times I have passed out or been put out for surgery…simply a loss of consciousness which often sounds like a relief in itself. No more worrying. No more pain. No more anxiety or depression.

However, living is scary. Knowing I may have years and years of dealing with anxiety and depression ahead of me. Knowing that I will likely suffer from chronic pain and chronic illness until I die. Knowing that my degenerative conditions will likely worsen with time. Fearing that my husband may get sick or die and I will be alone. Fearing financial ruin. Fearing homelessness. Fearing potentially abusive situations. Fearing the entire planet going to shit (a justifiable fear from my point of view). Fearing that I may end up committing suicide if life becomes unbearable (not the ending I would desire for my life).

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More Elfchen Poems – Suicide, Trump, Potemkin

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Here are a few more Elfchen poems (5 line poems that have the following number of words per line: Line 1 = 1 word, 2 = 2 words, 3 = 3 words, 4 = 4 words, 5 = 1 word, the words on line 1 and line 5 should not be the same word).

1.
Suicide
time to
open those cuts
and suction the blood
flowing

2.
Pity,
you believe
the orange gremlin
in the white house?
Sucker.

3.
Potemkin
funny name
on the cover
of a paperback novel
misread

(My apologies to any Trump supporters for #2 lol, as you can tell, I am not a supporter)

(For #3 I just had to write something because I love the name Potemkin)

Twittering Tales Fun

I came across these “Twittering Tales” writing prompts yesterday and thought it looked like a lot of fun. The challenge is to take a photo prompt and write a short story, poem, or whatever comes to mind, but you have to keep it under 280 characters, just like a tweet on Twitter. I decided to go ahead and write a twittering tale for last week’s prompt as well as this week’s prompt.

Here is the one I came up with for last week’s prompt (photo from Pixabay):

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Hearts and stars. Hearts and stars. Simple shapes that any preschool child could identify, but symbolic of so much more.

The heart…love, obsession, passion, heartwarming, heartbreaking, blood pumping.
The star…cosmic, mysticism, alchemy, popularity, holidays, holy days.

And here is the second prompt (photo also from Pixabay). This one took a bit of a dark turn, but it was what came to mind for some reason:

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It starts with one word:

Helium. A harmless word? Parties. Balloons floating around the room. Rough, gruff voices becoming chipmunk squeaks.

Or do you picture tragedy? Helium tanks hooked up to hoses. Bodies lying still with bags over their heads. Voluntary euthanasia. The end.

Let me know if you guys enjoyed these. Maybe I’ll do more!

YA Book Review: “Without Tess” by Marcella Pixley

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“Without Tess”, written by Marcella Pixley, is one of the best YA novels I have read in a while. I rarely give books five stars when rating them, but this one I did. The story revolves around the main character (Lizzie), and her dead sister (Tess). Lizzie is the younger sister by a couple years and was only 10 when her older sister tragically passed away.

The real star of the novel is Tess. As you read through the book and relive vibrant memories Lizzie shared with Tess, you come to both love and sometimes dislike Tess. Tess was a true believer in magic. She was creative and passionate. She was both loving and loyal, but at times cruel and violent. She was mentally ill, and at times downright psychotic. This novel is a lifelike retelling of what it is like to grow up with an extremely mentally ill sibling. It addresses the love, the hate, the sadness, the pain, the rage, the guilt, and all the other emotions that come along with such a disturbing family dynamic.

I had a deeply personal connection with this book, both as someone who grew up with a mentally ill sibling, and someone who eventually lost that sibling, mostly due to that mental illness. At one point the book even made me tear up, which is extremely rare for any book to do. Definitely recommended!

Depression and Gun Ownership

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For at least a year or two now, I have been debating with my husband whether we should get a handgun for home protection. You see, I have an intense fear of home invasions. I often have nightmares about it. I think part of it may stem from being robbed at gunpoint when I was 17 years old. Or maybe some of it comes from living in several areas over my lifetime that were crime ridden in one way or another. A history of physical abuse and c-ptsd certainly doesn’t help either.

That is why I believe that I might feel a little more safe with a handgun in the house (most likely locked up in a safe). My husband worries about keeping a loaded gun in the house though because of my intense periods of depression. I have bipolar type 2, and while I have never had a psychotic episode, have never tried to commit suicide, and do not think I am generally a danger to myself, my husband has seen me go through some extreme emotional lows that worried him. He fears that if we had a loaded gun in the house there is always the possibility that in a moment of intense depression I might make a rash decision.

I am thinking that perhaps I should discuss the possibility with my therapist and psychiatrist. I know both of them have said they do not think I would ever actually commit suicide. Personally, I agree that I am very unlikely to commit suicide unless my husband died and I was somehow left all alone without any help in the world. I do not think I could kill myself unless the prospect of living genuinely became worse than death. I also would not want to cause anyone who cares about me pain, as I know first hand what it is like to lose someone close to suicide.

Symbolic Artwork for Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, PTSD, and More

While cruising the internet, I recently came across some mental health related symbols and sigils someone had created. I thought these were pretty cool, so I did a little artistic version of my own for the subjects that pertain to my life, such as bipolar, depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, insomnia, and PTSD. They are very simple drawings, but I still like the way they turned out:

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If you enjoy my art, please consider supporting me by visiting my Ebay store!

When Non-Profits Only Care About the Money

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On Facebook I shared a post about some tax changes that are being made to churches and non-profit institutions. The debate that started, made me think about my own experience working for a non-profit organization and I wanted to share a little bit of that here. For around 6 months or so, I worked for a non-profit religious hospital system. My job was to be one of the people in the emergency department who collected patient information (especially insurance information) and processed payments.

From the beginning, it was drilled into us that it was about the money. We were hounded to make sure we collected certain percentages of money from patients while they were still there in the building, whether they could afford it or not. We were encouraged to apply pressure to them to pay at least a percentage that day, regardless of their personal circumstances. Although patients could legally ask to be billed later, we were told to NEVER tell them that, and only offer that option if they brought it up first.

We were told bluntly that the hospital had to make sure to look like they were doing enough “public outreach” to keep their non-profit tax status, so when they did run public assistance programs we were told to advertise them when talking to patients. It became clear that they didn’t necessarily do programs for the poor because they CARED about them, it was so they could continue to get the tax breaks and other non-profit advantages. I heard so much negative talk there about Medicaid patients and the poor. I was also told flat out that the company was purposefully looking into opening more locations in areas where the people were more likely to pay, and closing locations where the populations were poorer.

One huge issue I had was that even when someone was brought to the ER and died, we were pressured to try to get money from their grieving relatives. More than once, those in charge actually chose not to tell family members that their loved one had passed away until AFTER we collected insurance information and copays/deductible payments. They would send us in, and we would know the family’s loved one was gone, but we were told to lie and pretend we knew nothing. This killed me to have to do. One time a lady begged me for information on her husband who was dead, and I couldn’t tell her anything. I also struggled to go up to a mother whose child has just tried to commit suicide and ask her for money. I felt like scum.

In the end, I couldn’t keep this job due to my own health issues, but I couldn’t have kept doing it with a clear conscience either.

Weekend Life Update: Depression, Meditation, Politics

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I am currently experiencing a real downturn mood-wise, but I’m going to try to write a life update post anyhow. I tried to write a blog post yesterday, but was simply to depressed to complete it. Today I’m just going to sum up a few things that went on this last week, so hopefully, I will get something done today.

  • This past Wednesday, my husband and I tried out a new meditation group (new to us anyhow). I haven’t meditated in months at least, and it felt good to “get back in the saddle” so to say. Even though I don’t find that meditation is all that great at relieving my anxiety and depression symptoms overall, it does at least give me some perspective and allow me to step back a bit when I am feeling my worst and realize that it will pass if I just wait it out. That awareness is definitely beneficial to keeping myself on this earth when part of me wants to check out.
  • My blog post about not being a social media doormat really became popular! I guess many others struggle with all the bullies and haters that tend to hang out on popular social media platforms. Glad to see I’m not alone in this experience.
  • Today I am taking my bike and aerobics trampoline to sell them to a used sports equipment store. I have had to face the fact that I am not physically healthy enough to use them anymore and they are just taking up space. Hopefully someone else will get some use out of them. It is a bit depressing though to just give up.
  • I am so disgusted by American politics right now. I am disgusted with Trump. I am disgusted with his blindly loyal followers. I am disgusted by those on the left that display blatant hypocrisy and pretend to be “the opposition”, but are just as sold out to big money and corporation interests. I am disgusted by all the pointless warfare my country perpetuates. I am disgusted by the news media that twists everything and often outright lies.  I am disgusted by the lack of empathy many people have towards anyone who is different from them. I am disgusted by the fearmongering and scapegoating. I am disgusted that in the richest country on earth, Flint, MI still doesn’t have clean water, and much of Puerto Rico still doesn’t have power. I am disgusted that 40 million Americans don’t have health care and that 40% of the country can’t afford basic necessities like food and shelter. I am disgusted that conditions have deteriorated to the point that suicide rates have risen 30% since 1999. I am simply disgusted and feel powerless to help.