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perkreations

Honesty about creativity, art, mental illness, grief, feminism, human rights and chronic pain with a healthy dose of sarcasm

Month

June 2016

Death Defying Dreams

I dream of my Mom and I feel unsettled. 

I dream of my Mom and I feel terrified.

I dream of my Mom and I don’t want it to end. 

I dream of my Mom and I feel uplifted.

I began to dream of my mother frequently 6 months after she died. At first I felt deeply unsettled, aware her presence was fleeting and I couldn’t control anything and she didn’t seem to be aware of me and my desperate grief. It was as though she was playing a role and not an interactive one.

One day I took a nap in the afternoon. To my surprise and excitement  I came slowly awake to the sound of my Mom talking on the phone in the other room.

I leapt from my bed, flung my door open and there she was talking on the phone no more than 8 feet away.

She seemed surprised when I threw my arms round her neck and sobbed into her hair, ” How is this possible? How are you here?”

She hugged me back but didn’t hang up the phone. marveling she was there at all I felt elated but couldn’t understand why she seemed preoccupied and didn’t recognize this for the miracle it was.

“How is this possible?” I continued to wonder. “This has to be real. I woke up so I can’t possibly still be dreaming…right? …right?!”

I feel as though the construct of reality is unraveling without my control. Tethered no longer in dreamland, I’m sucked back to reality.

My reality doesn’t include time with my Mom anymore. In my reality my Mom is not on the phone. In my reality I can’t hug my Mom. In my reality my Mom is dead and it sucks.

I mention this instance not because I am fond of melancholy and tearjerking. I mention it because the dreams, and that one in particular, were jarring and frightening and I had no idea it might happen or how difficult I’d find it.

I felt like I had to say goodbye to her all over again every time I woke up. What was worse than saying goodbye repeatedly was having no control over when she’d show up in my dreams and if she’d even notice me. I still find it a little upsetting when it happens.

I wish I’d known how deeply grief would affect every aspect of my life, even my dreams. I don’t know that knowledge beforehand would have changed things as the grief experience is different for everyone. I do know knowledge is power and the dreams made me feel powerless as did heavy grieving. 

That is why I share this story, that it might provide knowledge, insight, or even just a sense it’s OK to be completely frustrated and freaked out trying to figure out grief and how to cope.

K

A Few of my Favourite Things

Here is a random list of things I’ve discovered make a difference to my well-being both physically and mentally. Some items have been recommended by medical professionals, some by friends and family, some from personal research, and good old trial and error. 

No one item on this list is a cure, and put together these items don’t add up to a cure, but for me, these things make life more pleasurable, more engaging, more passionate, and provide me with a sense of some control over my symptoms.

– Yoga style stretch and strength sessions, even if only a few short poses at a time are a great help and often provide some modicum of pain relief. 

As a past athlete and sports instructor I know many stretch and strength exercises and how to modify them for more or less intensity. I tend to follow what feels good and brings comfort.

I’ve been through countless rounds of physio and physical rehab programs and I draw on past advice from these great professionals all the time as well.

– I make room in my life to be creative whenever the mood strikes. I have notebooks by my bed and in almost every room in the house. This way if a poem or story or art piece idea comes to mind I can sketch it out right away so I don’t forget.

I also keep torn scraps paper and napkins with ideas tucked away carfefully the way some people collect random pebbles or argyle socks. One never knows when the muse will come along to help snap all the pieces into place. 

– I employ distraction methods to help cope with physical pain as well as mental pain. 

One of my favourite techniques for coping with physical pain is what I call double distraction. I find a TV program or movie where exacting attention is not required to follow the general plot. I then use reference photos from magazines to work on drawing human figures and faces as these are very difficult subjects for me. 

I find focusing on two items at once leaves less time and brain capacity to notice uncomfortable physical sensations. 

– I modified things around the house to make it easier to cope with physical restrictions.

For instance, in my kitchen, I cleared out an easy to reach cupboard and filled it with my most commonly used pots and pans. This way I’m not awkwardly squatting down to rummage in a low cupboard to find what I need.

– I make creative pursuits a priority. As I spend a great deal of time shuttling from Dr to Dr I often feel as though I have no other purpose. I tend to find this rather stressful and depressing. 

Making art, writing, listening to music make me feel a part of things, useful, so I have a studio set up at home where I can work as often as the mood and energy strikes. 

– I try to get out of the house a few times a week for more than just errands and Dr’s appointments. There is a great art studio in Bowness in NW Calgary where I love to go called Grasby Art Studio http://www.grasbyartstudio.com. I attend both group lessons and open studio time as often as I can. It is a lovely privilege to attend such a nurturing and energetic place. 

These are just a few ideas that work for me to feed and comfort my mind, body, and soul. If anything is helpful or can be modified to be helpful for others this blog is serving its purpose.

Also, if you’d like to share techniques working for you please don’t hesitate to comment.

K

This is how my Anxiety Feels Sometimes (may contain course language – all the more reason to read😉)

The following verse is about the out of control feeling I sometimes get when I am most anxious. It’s not always romantic and darkly beautiful to be mentally ill. Sometimes mental illness feels like an internal war between what’s real and important and allowing the potential horrors of the rest of life to overwhelm me. 

I wrote this a few years ago and have edited and modified it many times. It is raw but it is honest. 

Aunty Psychotic

I am crazy

bat-shit-nuts

pour lemon juice

in paper cuts

sometimes I sulk

in deep depression

then bare it all

in a therapy session

I am anxious

walk on nails

scream and cry

in panicked flails

I’m medicated

 in the mind

one small pill

I’m feeling fine

Ativan me up 

with love ❤

then Cymbalta me

just because

should my sweet nephews

see me today

I’m sure they’d turn

and run away

Aunty-psychotic

Aunty-obsession

Aunty-demonic

soul possession

want to rip

this heart from me

and so I beg

on bended knee

free me from

this cage of mind

let me run off

and leave behind

The Nutty Bar

The Looney Bin

let me return

to my life of sin

let my crazy

set me free

just FUCK OFF

and let me

be.

K

Contraption Attractions 

While listening to the radio one day I heard about a desk that could transfer from standing, to sitting, to fully reclined. Ears perking up I imagined this contraption potentially helping me and others get back (pun intended) to increased productivity. 

Sit to stand apparatuses help but I run out of steam after an hour at very best. The reclining option would potentially open up a number of possibilities. 

I know most such inventions are simply out of my price range and, perhaps, difficult to accommodate. Still, images of writing, taking courses, gaining time I could spend productively flashed through my mind. 

“This invention is for the laziest people ever,” the DJ followed up with. He and his cohorts went on discussing how lazy a person would have to be to work in a reclined position. 

Tears slid down my cheeks uncontrollably as I processed the perception and judgment this group made. Rationally I knew they just didn’t understand. Ignorance. It still hurt.

My point is, before mocking an invention, before assuming things about the potential consumer, think broadly. Think carefully. Think sensitively. 

Not everything is what it seems at first glance. Keep an open mind and an open heart as empathy is the key to peace and inclusion. 

K

BTW I wrote this piece in a reclined position and I’m glad I was able to.

Chronic Pain Changed how I Plan and it Helps 

I plan differently than others because there are things I didn’t ever consider before my injuries and illness that I must consider now, such as; recovery time, stamina, energy levels, pain levels, other obligations coming up, medication, stretching, rest periods and a partridge in pear tree. 

To give a recent example, I planned to attend a close friend’s wedding in Invermere BC a couple weeks ago. I frequently visit the nearby town of Radium and have an idea of how I generally feel after the 3 hour drive.

So, cotton to patterns past, I booked two nights instead of one. This way we could spend a little more time with friends and I would have more time to rest and recover.

During the two and a half days we were there I socialized more, did more, and had more fun than in a very long time.  I also paid a steep price pain-wise. Recovery for two and a half days was a little over a week.

Please do not misunderstand, I absolutely wanted to be at that wedding and support a longtime gap-pal in every way I possibly could. It was a lovely event and I enjoyed every moment of it. 

In fact,  I managed to help my close friend with a bit of wedding decor, I hot tubbed, ate out at a few restaurants, attended the wedding, and even attempted to dance for one song. I was so thrilled with how I held up and proud for doing something outside my comfort zone.

I didn’t go into the event blindly though. I took the following measures to make sure I was giving myself my best chance to enjoy myself and not be overwhelmed emotionally and/or physically;

1.I scheduled three stops along the drive to stretch and walk and stand a bit as I have great difficulty sitting for any period much beyond 20 minutes. 

 I made sure I did not suffer the whole 3 hour drive without breaks because, from experience, I know it leaves me in an immense amount of physical pain. Choosing to plan breaks set me up for a more energetic start once we arrived. 

2. I stretched. A lot.

3. The bride was kind enough to assign me a few tasks I felt confident doing as I desperately wanted to help but also know I can’t always be relied upon for time-sensitive tasks, or physical labour. 

Being included in the details made me feel as though I had contributed in some way to such a major and happy event in her life – also I owe her big time from my wedding. Let’s just say she literally worked so hard she bled for me and I only paid her with wine😉

4. I scheduled breaks into the wedding day. The event was all held at the same resort so I knew ahead of time I could go lie down in our room during the photography session and some of the pre-dinner mingling. 

I also lay down after the speeches and watching the first few dances. This made such a difference in that I was able to go back to the reception for another hour or two before leaving after getting to see a lot of great friends and check in on their lives❤

5. Most importantly I gave myself permission to take the breaks I needed whenever I needed them without guilt or feeling like a failure for not lasting longer.

Yes, as I mentioned, it took about a week to fully regain pain control and get the extra rest my body wouldn’t let me go without but I’m still calling this a huge win! 

I’m hoping the more I implement planning and reasonable limits into my life the more I can enjoy myself and share enjoyment in the lives of others.

K

Showered with Depression

I wrote this a little while ago and have been very nervous about publishing it as I am rather embarrassed about it. I soon realized I’m just embarrassed by the stigma. If I want to help destigmatize mental illness I have to be brutally honest and candid. So this is me trying to do my part.

Today I showered and washed my hair. It was my first shower in four days and my first hair wash in more than a week.

Disgusting right? I quite agree but I can’t seem to drum up enough energy to give a flying fuck.

I want to care but I just don’t. What’s the point? The chronic pain won’t go away, the depression and anxiety won’t go away, I can’t wash myself away…so I’d rather languish in my own filth.

I can’t explain it because I don’t fully understand why I feel this way. I guess if I have to try; I’d say showering and especially hair washing seem like exhausting feats. I feel like…what’s the point? I’ll just have to do it again and again and again and that seems so ineffectual.

I’ve read up about this, asked an Occupational Therapist about it, asked my psychologist about it and I am comforted knowing certain aversions to various forms of hygiene happen to others suffering from mental illness. HUZZAH! My abnormality is normal!

I’ve identified the problem pattern but I still haven’t figured out a way to get past it inspite of trying many different ideas. I’ve tried using my favorite scented products, playing music, buying pretty loofahs, mindful showering, but I can’t seem to scrub-a-dub-dub my aversion away.

For now I spray on dry shampoo and use extra deodorant, a spritz of perfume and hope this too shall pass. 

If anyone out there has experience with this depressed disinclination towards showers and baths please know you’re not alone. 

If you have methods that have worked for you and others I’m all ears…don’t worry I washed behind them this morning 😉

K

Showered with Depression

I wrote this a little while ago and have been nice very nervous about publishing it as I rather embarrassed about it. I realized I’m just embarrassed by the stigma. If I want to help destigmatize mental illness I have to be brutally honest and candid. So this is me trying to do my part.

Today I showered and washed my hair. It was my first shower in four days and my first hair wash in more than a week.

Disgusting right? I quite agree but I can’t seem to drum up enough energy to give a flying fuck.

I want to care but I just don’t. What’s the point? The chronic pain won’t go away, the depression and anxiety won’t go away, I can’t wash myself away…so I’d rather languish in my own filth.

I can’t explain it because I don’t fully understand why I feel this way. I guess if I have to try; I’d say showering and especially hair washing seem like exhausting feats. I feel like…what’s the point? I’ll just have to do it again and again and again and that seems so ineffectual.

I’ve read up about this, asked an Occupational Therapist about it, asked my psychologist about it and I am comforted knowing certain aversions to various forms of hygiene happen to others suffering from mental illness. HUZZAH! My abnormality is normal!

I’ve identified the problem pattern but I still haven’t figured out a way to get past it inspite of trying many diffetent ideas. I’ve tried using my favorite scented products, playing music, buying pretty loofahs, mindful showering, but I can’t seem to scrub-a-dub-dub my aversion away.

For now I spray on dry shampoo and use extra deodorant, a spritz of perfume and hope this too shall pass. 

If anyone out there has experience with this depressed disinclination towards showers and baths please know you’re not alone. 

If you have methods that have worked for you and others I’m all ears…don’t worry I washed behind them this morning 😉

K

Ruminating About Ruminating

In grade one I had two Valentine’s for Bonnie. One Bonnie was a classmate, the other a friend of the family who worked at the school.

I accidentally gave both cards to the Bonnie in my class. I realized my mistake and tried, tears of embarrassment pricking my eyes, to take back one of the cards.

My teacher insisted it was rude to take the card back and when I cried harder she took me to the cloakroom to calm down and think about my actions. I’m not sure if she knew I was crying because I might have hurt Bonnie’s feelings. I think she thought I was upset for not getting the Valentine’s card back.

She came to get me after about 10 minutes and I apologized profusely to Bonnie then sat down with the class to enjoy ice cream and cake, the later of which I had a mild allergic reaction to. I hid the reaction because I figured it was just deserts (oh yes she did😂).

I was in grade one roughly 30 years ago and I still pick up this Memory from  time and again and give myself a sound mental beating for how I behaved vs how I think I should have behaved.

Believe me, if we have ever communicated I garuntee I’ve spent time considering how I could have communicated better with you and disected each moment trying to tease out what I did wrong. I generally assume I did something wrong.

This tendency to ruminate does me no good at all. In fact it is a colossal time suck. So why do it?

I hear folks like informative diagrams. In light of this I have provided the following  diagram demonstrating how rumination tends to feel.

Please note: The flowers depicted on the diagram are purely decorative. Ruminating actually sucks but I find sucking hard to draw.

Here’s a theory – beating myself up over minute transgressions allows me to feed the perfectionist beast inside. I want so badly to not be socially awkward, to always say the right thing. I imagine others have this whole social perfection thing down perfectly and nary a faux pas is ever made.
In my life now I call upon mistakes both old and new to beat myself up for and ruminate upon. It’s sort of like coming home to old friends. Old friends who want to suck the marrow from my self esteem, but old friends nonetheless.

So what is to be done about this unhealthy habit? Probably more of that positive self-talk along with a sprinkling of self-love. If I could just figure out how to staple both those items into my psychee I’d be cooking with Gas.

I guess it’s all fodder for my next appointment with my therapist😉

K

 

My Pain

My pain is a temple and I chronically worship at its alter.

My pain is paired with me and we are in need of couples counselling.

My pain is a hitchhiker and I am being robbed.

My pain is an infection and I am in need of antibiotics. 

My pain is a caged beast and I am the iron bars.

K

We all have our struggles. I struggle daily with chronic pain. This poem represents how the, seemingly, relentless struggle feels to me.

There is acceptance and there is fight in me. They prop each other up. This blog is me fighting in hopes of eventually accepting something much better😊

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