Category Archives: Insomniac

‘Tis the season for therapy

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Coldframe in the winter rain, rows of tiny lettuces growing

Truth be told, I’m doing much much better with my mental health compared to how I usually feel this time of year.  And maybe that’s why I’ve started going to therapy: Yeah, I’m feeling shitty, but still have enough energy to try to get help.

I’ve gotten counselling in moments of crisis in the past, but this is the first time I’ve sought out some serious head shrinking as part of a general self-care regimen.  Which is scary.  When in crisis, it’s pretty easy for me to go into someone’s office and just wail about whatever specific trauma has me all fucked up.

But going in there when I’m holding it all together?  Tricky, tricky, tricky.

I found my therapist the usual way: Asked a lot of friends.  Fuck, I love the West Coast!  OF COURSE, everyone has several recommendations, because we heart therapy, hardcore.

I chose mine based on the fact that she’s a pagan, and also because she specifically made mention of respecting “all genders” several times throughout her website, which was a relief from the usual “we welcome clients of different sexualities” or whatever, that I read on other websites.  Just a little nod to those of us who don’t subscribe to the gender binary, but enough to make me feel like I could do this.

And I am, I am doing this:  I’ve only had two sessions, and I won’t pretend that it’s radically changed my life, but it’s… Nice.

Insipid, I know, but I’m not feeling terribly eloquent.

Okay, here’s one thing I will tell you about, that came from therapy:  I realized that I’m not that worried about my stepmom, despite her health scare… I mean, she’s getting the best healthcare in the country, and she’s youngish, and they caught the polyp early.  Selfish person that I am, what’s really stressing me about the whole situation is what it’s bringing up about my place in our family.

Of course I want to go visit during the couple months that my stepmom will be recuperating, but then I really don’t, because I don’t want to set a precedent.  I don’t want them to rely on me, to be that sort of daughter who’ll fly in at a moment’s notice and take care of them. Because this is only the beginning, the start of my four parents’ decline in health… And I love them so much, but I also love my life here on the other side of the country.  If I go, it’s giving fuel to the idea that that’s where I belong, that I’m supposed to spend my life with this family-of-origin as opposed to my family-of-choice. (An idea, I might add, that is most vocally supported by my father and my older sister, and more quietly by others in Ontario.)

Le sigh.

How has therapy changed my experience of this revelation?  Well, in the past I’d get really anxious about such things, so full of angst that I’d get insomnia, fretting over my choices late into the night.  Instead, I just feel sad.  There’s a lot of grief in my heart, grief for the things my family and I haven’t shared since I moved away over ten years ago.

And yet I’m so damn confident that I’m where I need to be, that I spent those ten years doing what I needed to do, that I can’t really get all ramped up and stressed about it.  Instead, I kinda just want to cry.  Which is actually a huge improvement, because crying is something I can do, and afterwards I feel better.

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View inside the coldframe: Tiny little lettuces, so far surviving the nightly frosts

Euphoria and memory loss

Feral sweet peas, growing on the cliffsides next to the beach near my house.

DentalFest 2011 ended a couple days ago with a real bang of a grand finale:  The extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth by an oral surgeon, for which I was put under general anaesthetic.  Awesome!  It only took 20 minutes, and I woke up to find myself  mid-conversation with a lovely assistant type person who removed my IV and nodded sweetly as I prattled on and on about all the reasons why I love my partner.  Said partner was in the waiting room, ready to pick up my prescription and drive me home to bed (and oblivious to the fact that I was waxing poetic about our relationship to a complete stranger…. Awwwww!).

I wasn’t going to take the prescription at first, thinking it’d be for Tylen0l 3, which turns my stomach.  Then Oats told me it was for Perc0set, and I was stoked:  Hurrah for euphoria and memory loss!  That beats the bloated nausea I get from the T3s, hands down.  The pain has been a lot worse with this latest removal compared to my other recent ones, and I’ve been glad for the relief provided by the pills, even if they also make me gap out a lot.  Sadly, I think the drugs can also be blamed for my writing this blog post at 3 a.m… Sometimes, it really zonks me into oblivion, but apparently can also have the opposite effect.

The shitty thing about being awake this late at night is that I’ve actually got to get up early tomorrow, in sharp contrast to my usual unemployed-haus-frau routine:  Some friends are going camping on a small island several hours north of here, and as their route takes them across another small island where my friend O has just bought a place, I’m catching a ride to visit her.  It’s the sort of sudden opportunity that makes me really love my current freedom… I can’t really make too many plans more than a week or two in advance, in case I get a job offer, but I can leap at lucky connections like these.

I asked O if I could bring anything:  I know that she and her partner are in need of a lot of stuff to get their sweet little homestead going, and though I’m not really able to toss a freezer or tractor into my backpack, I figured there oughta be something I could help with.  Surprisingly, their number one request was PROTEIN.  Ha!  Turns out they’ve had a lot of visitors since moving in a couple weeks ago, and have already blown through their month’s food budget.  They’ve got ample fruit and veg coming in, but with no grocery store on the island, meat-type things are a little lacking.

I totally remember this from when I was a kid, living my parents in northern Ontario:  City folks would turn up for multi-day visits completely out of the blue, bringing only a bottle of wine or two, like they would at any urban get together… Not realizing that the closest supermarket was actually a significant drive away, and one could not simply skip down to the corner store for a last minute block of butter.  It used to drive my mom completely bonkers!

With that in mind, I visited the local wholesaler this afternoon and bought a housewarming gift that I hope will do the trick:  A couple dozen Spicy Italian sausages, 4 cans of tuna, 3 blocks of tofu, 2 kg of dried black eyed peas, 350 g of blue cheese, and a pork butt roast (all for $40!   I love the wholesaler).  I’m also going to throw in a batch of yoghourt and bread that I made today.  Hey, I should put it all in a nice basket, add some jars of pickles and jams, and tie it all up with fancy ribbons!  Oh, the excellent ideas I get in the middle of the night… In reality, I’ll be so friggin tired tomorrow morning that I’ll be lucky if I remember it all. Making it look pretty it out of the question.

What else do I have to tell you?  Not much, really… I submitted a resume today to a local company that isn’t union but was advertising their need for electrical apprentices.  I’d prefer to work union, of course, but at this point I just want to log hours.  I also submitted a general application to another provincial utility, one that is much smaller than hydr0 and located mostly in the southern interior of BC.  They didn’t have any current job postings relevant to my work, but do hire electrical apprentices each year, and I figure that it’s good to try to get noticed.  I’m also watching the hydr0 job board like a hawk, ready to pounce on the next chance to apply for the apprenticeship (again).

To be honest, it would be kinda strange, to suddenly get a job somewhere else in the province just as Oats is figuring out her grad school stuff and we’re making plans to move our  little family across the country.  On the other hand, the utility jobs pay so well that it’d be a fantastic way of funding this big life change!  Even if I couldn’t stay in the position, out of desperate desire to be nearer to Oats as she embarks on her studies, it’d be worth it for just a short while.

On that note, I’m going to try out sleeping now, and see if it catches on.  Wish me luck.

Pride, and little creations

Monday morning after the big local Pride Week finale, and you’d think I’d have slept in. Instead, I was awake at 5 am, tired but buzzing with happy thoughts: A recurring theme these past several days. It’s hormones, I’m sure, but hey, at least I’m not wallowing in despair or full of inexplicable rage, as has been the case in the past.

On Friday, the Pride event for under-19-year-olds that my queer dance party collective organized was AMAZING. Around 50 kids showed up, and I personally was so nervous about everything going terribly wrong that it was more than halfway over before I realized how great it was. During the last minute organizing decisions, most of which centered around creating policies to safely deal with intoxicated youth, I realized that I’ve got no knowledge about or experience in working with teens. Luckily, lots of rad people stepped up with excellent ideas and protocols for creating respectful, fun, safe spaces! And I stuck to serving (non-alcoholic) drinks at the bar all evening, which gave me a great chance to have brief chats with most of the youth. I also had a fantastic view of the dance floor, so I can tell you with good authority that the youth were really into the DJ. At the end of the evening, we had a couple parents thank us as they picked up their kids, and even a few of the teens themselves made a point of letting us know how much they appreciated our work. I can’t say for certain that we’ll take on such a party again next year, but for now it feels nice to have had this success.

Yesterday at the Pride festival itself was another first for the collective: We actually had a table! For a loose, anarchistic group like ours, this was a big step. Since we still had the button maker we’d borrowed for the crafting station at the youth dance, we decided to bring it plus all the required supplies to Pride. It was so cool… People loved making buttons! And they couldn’t believe we weren’t charging anything. The funniest thing was how many folks asked if we were some kind of promo gear company, or other media business. No, just your local radical queer dance party collective, making stuff and having fun and co-creating a revolution… You know, the yooj.

I made A LOT of buttons, mostly just mini collages of text and images from magazine, plus glitter glue.  Almost all of them got snapped up by the people who stopped by the table but didn’t want to make their own… Which is going to be fun:  I hope I’ll randomly see these little creations of mine around town in the coming months!  I did manage to keep a few though, including the three on the left in the pic above… Oats made me the one on the right, because she said it looked like me.  Note to self:  Pink barrette? Also, consider sculpting eyebrows.

As I Hiked One Early Spring Afternoon

Oh, the flowers! Blooming everywhere...

Typical Sunday night insomnia.  It’s not anxiety-driven this time, which is a relief… I’m simply thinking too much to go to sleep.  Usually I take some melatonin, then lie in bed until it kicks in.  Sometimes, nights like these will see me applying for jobs, or schools, or once, an international work visa (Australia, as you may recall).  Tonight, though, I’m passing the time with some internet-related tasks from my to-do list, which’ll reduce the number of things I have to think about when lying in the dark.

I joined a group of friends for a long hike on Saturday, a strenuous adventure that was both invigorating and exhausting.  We started on a trail that I’d visited several times in the past, but then followed it for another hour or so beyond the section I knew.  All up and down, the path well-maintained but kinda intense, with amazing views high over the surrounding hills and inlet:  It was just what I wanted, really.  By the end of it, my throat was sore and the glands in my neck were swollen… Apparently, all that sweating was pushing some sickness out of my body.  So I went home and crashed, sleeping in late this morning.

I’ve been hiking a little every week recently, finding that time in the woods or on rocky peaks or next to the ocean are the perfect antidote to school.  Even gardening, which has also been a preoccupation lately, isn’t quite as appealing as a ramble down a trail.  Springtime is when I rediscover all the reasons for which I live on the west coast.

Mo loves a good ramble too.

Did you ever read Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning? Our recent sunny spring weather has been reminding of it, and of how that book had an impact on my life.  I was too young when I first picked it up, maybe ten years old or so, and even then I was taken by the romantic notion of walking to London, and to Spain.  Later, rereading it as teenage punk, I was surprised to realize that it was my beloved anti-fascist International Brigades that Lee went on to fight for, in the Spanish Civil War.  In a weird way, Lee was a traveller punk before traveller punks existed, busking on the streets and sleeping in vacant buildings… Though in his case, said buildings were collateral from World War I as opposed to modern industrial capitalism.  At any rate, Lee made it seem right, to walk out the door and experience life.  I like to think that’s how I ended up here.

Take me with you

I first met Sum in a Spanish class at university, almost exactly eight years ago. Never at that point did I suspect we’d end up sharing a house (and a loopy landlady, and chickens), and both have such awesome partners, and see each other almost every day.

Living here together has been one of the most important contributions to my mental health over the past couple years: I’ve often said that I’d go off the deep-end if it weren’t for the stability of my home.

With that in mind, please understand how I panicked two weeks ago, when checking my email during a fit of anxiety-induced insomnia on a Sunday night. I hadn’t talked with Sum or Captain Pestou all weekend, though they’d been in and out of the house a lot. My heart skipped a beat as I read the message from Sum: The reason for their hectic weekend was that they’d been exploring the house across the street. With a realtor. With the intention of BUYING IT.

Under normal circumstances, when I haven’t just spent a couple hours lying in bed and staring at the ceiling while contemplating all the things I could be doing and am doing and aren’t doing with my life, I swear that I am an empathetic and caring person who is happy for friends with good things in their futures. I swear. At that moment, though, I was filled with panic and horror.

If they moved out, how could Oats and I stand living in such close quarters with anybody else?
Could Oats and I afford to take over their apartment, and find a friend to take our downstairs suite? Where we would find the money?

And what am I doing with my life?

See, it wasn’t really about Sum and Captain Pestou at all.

Eventually, I got a couple hours of sleep, and was functional enough the next day to go to work and bemoan the world. Oats and I agreed that we’d somehow afford the upstairs apartment when Sum and Captain Pestou moved out, and I privately committed to finding a high-paying job by any means neccessary. The Captain Pestou came downstairs to chat with us, and in the midst of our conversation about his potential new house, I suddenly heard the words “basement suite”. Huh?

A three-bedroom basement suite, to be exact.

Sum had neglected to mention this in her email the night before.

We danced around the issue, neither of us wanting to impose such a monumentous request in case it wasn’t what the others had in mind.

Meanwhile, I was telepathically screaming: “TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!”

And they are, taking all of us: Me and Oats and Mo and Ballou, and the four chickens that we share, and the three boats that fill our driveway, and the cat that used to be mine but now is theirs, and the new kitten, and the whole crazy two-household family that we’ve built here over the past couple years. We’re packing it all up in the next couple weeks and hauling everything across the street, to begin again.

One of my parents asked if it would be weird, to have my closest friends become my landlords. Well, I replied, I suppose it might… But we already know how to co-operate after living together for so long, and aside from that, our current landlady is more than a little loopy and unreliable. Given the choice, I prefer to trust my friends with my housing security, because they are more invested in my mental health and the shared social contract of our friendship.

Besides which, whereas our current landlady doesn’t see much point in maintaining let alone upgrading our housing, Sum and Captain Pestou want their new rental suite to be the sort of place where they or members of their extended families could happily live if needed.

Now begins the insanity: We get the new house on October 25th, and have to be out of the old place by November 1st… But instead of spending that whole week moving, we’ll be gutting the kitchen in the basement suite which is so crappy it’s almost useless. A door is being moved, a new window put in, and somehow an entire brand-new Ike@ kitchen is being installed. We’re also planning on pulling up the ugly/dirty navy blue wall-to-wall carpet (Why?!!! Why would anyone lay that in a basement?!!!), and painting a few walls.

It’s intimidating, and it’s exciting, and since I’m pleased to be contributing to my friends’ mortgage payments without having to take on such a legal contract myself, I feel absolutely giddy and keep thinking how lucky I am that my friends bought me a house. That’s what it feels like, as though this is a great gift. And I know that in reality it’s a win-win for everyone, and that the house actually will belong to Sum and Captain Pestou, I still feel honoured to be included in this new project.

Also, I get a new kitchen, and my own room with its own door.

QCB Metapost: Apologies, and lots of new blogs

In the middle of a sexy night at home which I’ve spent baking bread, sewing pillow covers, and canning barbecue sauce, I suddenly got it into my head to check the emails from the Queer Canada Blogs project. Fuck: There were many, many messages. Most were simply notifications about new followers on our Twitter feed, but some were suggestions for additions to the blogroll. I sorted through them, and managed to add 6 to our list. Usually, I publicize the newly-added blogs by sending out a tweet from QCB, but as a special penance for my neglect, let me link them directly here:

Mea culpa, fellow bloggers!  I am truly sorry for ignoring you, and I hereby pledge to do better in the future.  Know of any blogs by queers living in Canada or Canadian queers living elsewhere?  Send ’em in to queerblogs@gmail.com, and I really really really will follow up on it.

In which I try melatonin.

I went to a local herb store yesterday and discussed my insomnia/anxiety with a staff member. She said she approved of the sleepy tea mix that I’ve been using (mostly chamomile and catnip with some lavender and powedered valerian), which was nice to hear since it’s more of an experiment than a set formula. After looking at all the options, I decided to start by dosing myself with a combination melatonin and vitamin B tablet at bedtime, along with some Rescue Remedy tincture. With a nice bath and a ban on electronic devices anywhere near my bedside (let alone in my hands… Oh, the temptation of the sudoku app on my iPod!), it oughta knock me out for a good chunk of sleep.

Last night I went to bed at 8:30 pm and slept for 12 and a half hours.

It may have been the tea, the bath, the boring yet amusing plot of the first Swallows and Amazons novel, the melatonin, and the tincture. Or it may have been the lorazepam that Oats gave me once I started to lose my mind at about 7:30 pm. Either way, I feel a million times better today.