My Seven Favorite Quick Mood-Changers

7qt_lyceum_v2I’m a bit more of an expert in this area than I’d like to be, since I’ve attempted suicide and ended up in a locked psych ward for a few days with intensive outpatient therapy for two weeks after that. I still see my psych guy regularly. My inpatient and outpatient experiences added extensively to my “toolbox” of coping mechanisms. Some are odd. Take what you want and giggle at the rest. Sometimes you just have to laugh or cry.

— 1 —

Anger. I have a lot of anger. For the doctor who fucked up my second surgery and washed his hands of me. All he had to do was read the radiologist’s report of my X-ray and he’d have known my vertebrae weren’t fused. All of this could have been avoided and now I’d be working full-time and being myself. I’m angry at all the patients I did stress tests on who had chest pain while running a 10K or lifting a hundred pounds. When I asked what sort of work they did daily they said, “Oh, I’m disabled from back pain.” I haven’t been able to work at all since 2011, I spend 18-20 hours in bed, and I still can’t convince a judge I’m disabled.

When the anger gets to be too much, I want to yell and break things. So I close the windows, give the dogs treats, and sing/shout along with “angry woman” songs until my throat is raw. Pat Benatar works well, as does Miranda Lambert. Aerosmith is a great choice, too.

I have a stash of Goodwill plates. No stoneware – the more fragile the better. Grab some plates: two if you’re angry, five if you really want to hurt someone. Put on protective eyewear, shut the dogs in the house, and throw those plates as hard as you can at a concrete or brick wall. Of course you have to pick up and throw all the pieces away, but it’s so worth it!

— 2 —

Depression. I’ve got a lot of this one, too. I take my meds, and I read from this book before I get out of bed every day.
It’s secular, not religious, and it’s what we started our meetings with during outpatient therapy. I love this book. You can get a used copy cheap on Amazon.

If that doesn’t get you through the day, distraction is my most-used tool. Call or text a friend and ask about how they are doing. Don’t talk about yourself, just them. If you’re able, go for a run. I miss running. I was never fast, but the scenery distracted me. Read a book that you know is funny or uplifting. Or even better, watch a movie that makes you laugh until your sides hurt or makes you get all the tears out. Steel Magnolias always does it for me. I should write Sally Field a thank-you card for the funeral scene.

— 3 —

Envy/Jealousy. This is one I have to deal with more frequently than I’d like. I know, intellectually, that most of the people in the world would love to be me. I can walk and talk, I have a fantastic family, and I worked more than twenty years at a job I loved. I can worship the way I want, say anything on this blog, and I still have health insurance (praise God!).

I tackle this one with my prayer journal. It’s an old Nurses’ Day gift. I write the date, then what I’m thankful for, then what I pray for. It puts in all in perspective. If that doesn’t cover it, or if I’m feeling jealous of the whole world (Hey, it happens!) I write. My words are mine and only mine. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing lyrics, a short story, a blog post, or phrases and doodles in my journal. It’s mine, and no one else on Earth can claim it.

— 4 —

Exhaustion. Extreme emotions are exhausting. So is chronic pain, which is another issue I deal with 24/7. I read somewhere that you should treat yourself like you’d treat your beloved sister or daughter. Let yourself rest, treat yourself now and then.  Most importantly, have faith. I highlighted a quote about faith in an ebook I was reading recently, but now I can’t remember which book it was in. Anyway, it was something about believing everything is going to be OK somehow even though all evidence leads you to believe it won’t. That’s how I get through it when I’m forced to look at anything further ahead than the next day.

— 5 —

Loneliness. I’ve been alone in a room of hundreds of people. I’ve been alone in my own home, with my family surrounding me. In addition to the faith I’ve mentioned it’s important to have a physical companion, physical affection. I’ve seen all the samplers and pillows talking about how cats and dogs are angels with fur, and I firmly believe it. If you can’t have your own, volunteer at an animal shelter. Pets are overflowing with love.

— 6 —

Pissiness/Bitchiness“. That’s what my husband and youngest son call it, anyway. Personally, I think my filter just finally wore out. I translated mean into polite fifty times a day for over twenty years. Then I spent five years jumping through hoops for people who couldn’t string a grammatically correct sentence together to save their lives and completely lacked compassion. Maybe theirs just wore out, too. My psych guy gave me meds, but the filter hasn’t grown back yet. Obviously, I don’t have any tips for this one except to try really hard to keep your mouth shut, or at least keep the sarcasm out of your voice. If you have tips, I’d love to hear them. I actually offended my 17yo yesterday with my language. Impressive, huh?

— 7 —

Self-Pity. Get. Over. It. Really, I don’t mean to be cruel. I tell myself this nearly every day. Go on YouTube and watch someone without the use of their hands and feet paint with their teeth. Watch a soldier who lost both his legs run a 5K. Google things like “worst living conditions”, “poorest country”, and “most painful diseases”. Make a list of your blessings. It’ll be long!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

Changing Sounds

grandfather-clockI miss the sounds of
footie pajamas on hardwood floors
my husband reading “The Night Kitchen”
little boy giggles
Guitar Hero
conversations overheard at sleepovers
two identical laughs at *cringe* Family Guy

I enjoy hearing
music from the studio
sticks on the practice pad
chimes from the grandfather clock
my son and daughter-in-law’s voices from Texas
big paws leaping onto the bed
laughter while my baby’s on the computer with friends

I look forward to hearing
my spine crack at the chiropractor’s
my youngest agreeing to meet me for lunch between classes
brush crackling as it burns in the fire pit
my granddaughter’s babbling
laughter with my husband
a college band warming up . . . again!

I used a couple of the prompts this week from Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop. Drop by every Tuesday for prompts and Thursday to share your post and read the others. It’s a sure-fire cure for writer’s block!!

I Had NO IDEA What I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up!

“What did you want to be when you grew up?” was one of the prompts at Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop this week. I thought I’d throw my two-cents’ worth in, since I’m probably one of the few children to grow up in America with no clue what they wanted to do when they grew up! I was a list-maker and a goal-setter as far back as I can remember. As soon as I could write I insisted on a constant supply of these:
I’m not sure how old I was, since Mom dropped me off for kindergarten and I came home on the bus as a first grader. Being one of the youngest in my class was a bit of a bummer, especially the year everyone turned sixteen and got their driver’s license, so I’m grateful Mom didn’t bump me forward another year when they suggested it a few years later.

I thought school was fun, and I always loved going back to school each fall. The only exception was my one experience with bullying, but it was so carefully done I had no idea what had happened to make me lose all my friends until years later. I read constantly, sometimes finishing two books a day in the summer. My dad had his Master’s in Engineering, so he taught me Trigonometry for fun one weekend when I was a little girl. This served me well since it meant I could sleep through first period Trigonometry in high school after being out way too late the night before. I aced the class, so my teacher gave me a pillow on the last day of class – LOL!

But enjoying school isn’t a job skill. If I could have gotten paid to learn things and take tests that would have been awesome! Anyone hiring? And I am probably the clumsiest person ever. Did I mention that I met my husband when I threw open a door and knocked him into a stack of pickle buckets? Or the time I was a salad bar girl and slipped and dropped a gallon of French dressing? I can’t stand the smell of French dressing to this day. And all my activities on the all-important college scholarship application involved only sitting, standing, and speaking. Individually, not at the same time. I’d have loved to be part of the color guard (what we used to call “flag girls”) in the marching band, but I knew full well that a long metal pole was not something I could be trusted to swing around.

I enjoyed cutting animals open in Anatomy and Physiology, and I always liked writing papers in English, but I got my second B in Physics and dropped that sucker like a hot potato, ruling out majors like Pre-Med, Engineering, and Architecture. And yes, my first B was in gym. I got an 11% on the free-throw test. My mom tried to help. She insisted I take a typing class “just in case”. That was more like an acting class since I refused to wear my glasses and Mom hadn’t given in on the contact argument yet. And my fingers are too short to hit the home keys accurately. So I’d hold my glasses up long enough to memorize whatever was on the board, then type away as fast as I could with two fingers of each hand. Thankfully, my teacher had mercy on me and never came to the back row. Cross out all careers involving typing. What’s left? Cutting open animals. So I earned scholarships and checked “Nursing” on the application form at the University of Kentucky. I didn’t know it was a selective college with a waiting list. I didn’t know anyone who was a nurse. I knew for damn sure I wasn’t going to pin on some silly hat to go to work. But I was a nurse, a pretty good one, for twenty years, and I have never had a nursing cap on my head. Now I write. With four fingers.

But lest you think I was drifting through childhood with no goals let me assure you my mom had goals for me. She wanted me to be Miss Kentucky and then become a paramedic, just like Randolph Mantooth on the TV show Emergency. (Randolph was an actor on the show, but was not Miss Kentucky – just to clarify.)The one episode I remember is when they got a call that a lady was in a bubble bath and had gotten her toe stuck in the faucet. I’m not a paramedic for the same reason I was never an ER nurse. There are many situations in which my only possible response is to look a person in the eye, say, “You are a dumbass,” and walk away. That would have made for a very short episode/career.
One of Mom’s proudest moments was when after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a 3.5 GPA, passing my State Boards on the first attempt, and being hired by a critical care unit that hadn’t hired a new grad in a decade, I passed the ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) Exam, which was at that time the tippy-top exam paramedics could take. But the Miss Kentucky thing was simply never gonna happen. I’ve never been able to walk in heels, I have absolutely no talent, and although I don’t mind public speaking I tend to ramble and talk with my hands. No crown for me! But she’s got the cutest little step-grand-daughter with blonde curls and a “take no prisoners” attitude that I think may just pull it off!

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