Hearing update

Huzzah, it went very well. I’ll just give a small anecdote to illustrate: after the hearing, the person playing devil’s advocate (arguing against my appeal; opposing counsel, effectively) asked to hug me. I’ve got to think my nominally adversarial hearing went well when the tribunal hearer was in tears a few times, and opposing counsel wanted to be comforting when we were done.

Should get a reply in a month or so. I’ll take any and all warm thoughts or other supportive gestures you feel like offering,

The (duh-duh-DUHHHHHH) hearing

…it’s tomorrow. 13h EDT (GMT -5), I get in front of a one-person tribunal (do I address them as “Tribune”?) to hear my appeal of the decision that I’m not disabled. My lawyer is cautiously optimistic, depending on whom we draw in the lottery of tribunes. She thinks we shouldn’t have had to get this far.

The hard part is going to be overcoming my tendency to understate things. But we’ve warned the lawyer about that, so if she’s prepared, hopefully it’ll be alright. And Her Ex-Cellency will be there to be supportive, and she can slip me the Eyebrow of Doom if I’m minimising.

If performing the bureaucracy hoop-jumping to get disability is the Monkey Dance, ths is the Monkey Dance Iron Dancer Super Challenge Round: 1 hour to talk someone into making my life liveable.

The up side, if I’m turned down, I can apply again the very next day. My doctor would probably kill me, because it’d mean she’d have to do all the damn forms again, but it could happen. Let us hope it is not necessary.

On another note, Fuck. Cancer. Susan, we hardly knew ya, beautiful.

Re-watch update

I should be posting Hook Man tomorrow; I did most of it yesterday, but my partner needed to re-watch the Harry Potter films today for a project she’s working on, so I will finish up tomorrow morning. I’ve also worked ahead on some of the fringe stuff for the next three shows, and there are some really good ones coming before we roll into mythos territory. Next after Hook Man is Bugs, one of my least favourite of the first season. But then we get Home, Asylum, and Scarecrow, before Faith leads us into the execrable Route 666.

Hair Update

Well, since my last post, both I and Her Ex-Cellency* have been working on brushing out my hair. There were four notable mats forming: one on each side, one on the top, and one down by my neck. So far we’ve gotten through the neck one completely, and the right side and top side are nearly done. The left side (I’m right-handed) is the hardest, because it’s physically the most difficult for me to brush that side. But even it’s coming along somewhat, and my ponytail is back to reaching my bra strap again – loose hair gets closer to my waist. If we keep on at the rate we’ve been going, I should be able to have fully brushable dark green hair within a couple of months. I’ve been working my way down the spectrum, started with purple (very popular), did blue (popular, but not as much as my “natural purple”), now green is up.

Had an interesting seed of an idea this morning, about a game combining deck-building with worker-placement mechanics to simulate elections. I dunno if it’s viable, but it’s going in my file of game ideas, and I always like getting more ideas.

There is your totally fascinating hair update. I’m writing about it as much to make myself get over the whole shame thing as anything else..

I’m actually thinking I might be able to get back to Supernatural soon, been dragging through the 10th season, subsisting on the occasional gem, but thinking the show looks tired and kinda out of material. Still, there’s plenty of meat left to look at in my re-watch, and we’re almost out of the doldrums of the strictly monster-of-the-week-ness of the first part of S1.

* My ex-partner, with whom I still have a close relationship; we were together for eleven years, and raised three kids together (two of them her bio kids, one foster daughter). We broke up nine years ago, but still talk daily.

Writing about Depression

I’ve always admired people who can write about depression, because for me, depression means not writing. Writing is my life, I love writing, my old Livejournal (which is private, if you’re a friend ask me personally for access) I used to average about Pi posts per day. I’d write fiction, hell, my standup comedy routine had me reading my own structured poetry (sonnets a particular speciality), and even writing one during the show using words chosen by the audience. I love writing. And depression as it is for me, that I love it means I haven’t been doing it. Anhedonia, thy name is Cait’s depression. Painting has also gone by the wayside. Only gaming has survived, so far.

And yet here, a perfectly cromulent place to write, where access is as easy as picking up my tablet, if I want (I don’t, I won’t be posting from it until i can get a bluetooth keyboard to use with it, it’s just too tiring and slow to try and type with a touchscreen one-handed)…I can’t seem to get a regular thing going.

This is all despite the fact that my new meds have seen me much more effective in many ways. I’ve been getting some housecleaning done, allowing for my body by doing it in small stages over time. I’ve designed an entire new game, and I’m over the hump of the boring stuff needed to make a prototype, now I just need Craig to help me physically make it and we can get playtesting. That’s kind of amazing, and given the history of the other games we’ve roughed out in notes over the years, which have always foundered on my inability to get that boring stuff done – to wade past pain and ADD and depression so I can push the boat out and get some damn fishing in so I don’t starve – I got over that hump this time.

I’ve (and this is hard to admit) been working on my hair, even. See, I’ve got long hair, and it’s Medusic. That is, it writhes and tangles like a live thing – the single way to make it not get too tangled is to braid it. Then only within the braid’s strands will be tangles. And over the last several months as my depression got worse through the winter, I’ve gotten rather badly sloppy about brushing it. In short, it’s matted in a few places, and I’ve been slowly, slowly, working on brushing it out. It’s painful and difficult, because it necessarily involves my arms up over my head, so I can only do it for ten minutes or so before needing an hour to recover.

If I didn’t have to perform femininity in order to have people not misgender me, I’d just cut it all off and start again. But I do. So I’m brushing, and washing, and brushing, and washing, and lathering conditioner in like you wouldn’t believe, but it’s all about the brushing. I wish there were a way to get help, but I don’t know of any such opportunity. :/

Wow…the shame on this runs deep. Since you’re reading this, I got over that enough to hit Publish, so yay me. But just thinking about mentioning it publicly feels so shameful that I’m weeping like a child writing this para. Can’t actually see. Stupid. But there it is. Intellectually, i know it’s not my fault. It’s depression, the big double D, depressive disorder and disthymic disorder both, and it’s the end of winter (and it fucking snowed yesterday…no…no more snow now, please?), but it’s very hard to get that fact to penetrate my feelings, in whatever weird brain chemistry is going on.

Sorry for the rambler, folks, sometimes it’s just what I need to get out. Trying to love writing again.

The Excitement Tariff

I’m using “tariff” rather than “tax” here, because taxes tend to do things, in my world, and thus I’m loath to hate on them.

What I’m talking about is a subtle part of my disability experience: that doing exciting things, even when sitting still, can be intensely wearying.

The last two nights (Saturday and Sunday), I’ve been at a friend’s place, sitting on very pretty dining room chairs that are more or less stools from the point of view of “is this a supportive chair?” Each time for about three hours and well-medicated, but at the end of each, I’ve been really sore – like, spasms hitting 8 out of 10 on the unhappy-face scale sore – and it’s carried over into the next day.

Tonight, my friends want to play Heists on GTA Online, which is something I find exciting. Mind, I’ll be sitting in my comfortable chair, well-supported, with a heating pad on my back as needed, and I can get up and move around if I need to. Ideal conditions, so it shouldn’t be too strenuous, you’d think. But you’d think incorrectly. Because it’s exciting. And excitement makes us tense our bodies.

Three hours of alternately tensing various parts of me for several minutes, and trying desperately to relax in the few moments’ downtime between missions? That’s hard on my body.

Even in optimum conditions, the excitement tariff cuts down on the amount of time I have to spend doing things I like. Now cycle back round to the depression, where getting myself interested in doing the things I like has been one of the main challenges, and you can begin to see another aspect of the ways in which my mental and physical disabilities interact so that each is made worse by the other. Not only is it a blow against dualism, but also against treating mental disabilities as “less than” physical disabilities. When someone makes a joke about how being sad making them eligible for disability, help us out by reminding them of the difference between “being sad” and “being in depression”.

Pranks and Rape Culture

The “posting regularly” thing. I’m trying. :)

Today, I want to talk about pranks. I hate them. I hate pranks, prank shows, April Fools, and any other setup where the goal is to humiliate another human without their consent. I get enough humiliation in my life, every time some kid in the bank says, “Mommy, why’s that man wearing a skirt?” (granted, this doesn’t happen like it used to, but it still burns). What I don’t need is extra doses from people who consider themselves my friends.

Specifically, though, what I wanted to discuss was the idea that pranks are a crucial supporting element for rape culture. There’s an innate requirement that one “be a good sport” about being humiliated, and a stronger one on those looking on that they find it funny, and (crucially) that they don’t intervene when a “prank” is being played, because doing so would be being a “spoilsport”. This is a way of reinforcing people’s tendency to be bystanders in the face of cruelty, helping to train us even as small children in how to maintain the rape culture. It also allows us to write off as “pranks” what might otherwise be seen as something dangerous or frightening to another person, training us to question our own judgement in what we see around us: is that guy really attacking that woman, or is it just a “prank”? Was that really racist bullying I just saw, or just youthful hijinks?

It would surprise me not the least little bit to find that people who enjoy playing pranks on others are also people who have a hard time with the concept of consent in other realms. To be “successful”, a prankster cannot seek consent ahead of time, but must hope for the bystanders to keep their noses out of other people’s business while they violate someone’s consent. The excuses made afterwards are similar to those of rapists: I thought they wanted it, nobody spoke up to object, everyone does it.

I don’t think it takes a diagram to show how this kind of behaviour leads to people unwilling to step in when they see someone being bullied or assaulted. We already have a social imperative, perhaps a necessary one in a tightly-packed society such as ours has become, to try not to stick our noses into things that aren’t about us.

Disability: medications

I thought it might be interesting to see what my daily load of meds looks like. This doesn’t include the one med which is not yet fully recognised as legal, and a couple of others I forgot to gather before taking the pic.

daily meds for CaitieCat

Meds for one day

These are:

  • four large white round pills, marked TEC: 5mg oxycontin plus 375mg acetaminophen (paracetamol) – analgesic plus anti-inflammatory
  • four small white round pills, marked 10: 10mg oxyneo slow-release – analgesic
  • two small green ovate rectangular pills: 2mg Abilify – antipsychotic, offlabel use as intensifier for next med
  • two large orange capsules with black markings: 100mg sertraline (Zoloft), antidepressant
  • six oval white pills, small, marked BAC 10: 10mg baclofen, muscle relaxant.
  • one (should be three) brown round pill: ibuprofen extra-strength, anti-inflammatory

Not pictured are my Concerta (slow-release ritalin, one per day at 18mg), or the various anti-allergy pills I take ad-hoc to combat itchiness effects of opiates, or the laxative and anti-nausea meds I take for other side effects, or that other med which ought to be legalised and makes it possible for me to, y’know, eat and stuff.

That’s one day. And it’s why I’ve been trying hard to keep my dosage down as much as possible, in all things: I don’t want to end up on a liver transplant list. In ten+ years on that pain med regime, I’ve had only two dosage increases, for a total of 15mg/day. And like most chronic pain sufferers, I don’t get any euphoria at all from all those oxy. I know that some people do, and that it can be very addictive in that mode, but believe me, what I’m not getting from them is stoned. What I do get is the Golden Hour, that period a few times a day when the meds overlap in such a way as to give me an hour or so of much-appreciated actual relief of pain. Because of the overlapping nature of the med times – my muscle relaxant is on a 3/day, while my pain meds are 4/day – this Golden Hour moves about during the day, but it’s usually a nice break. I’m headed for that hour next, should be around noon.

The rest of the time it’s all about fidgeting and moving and trying to find a “comfortable” way to sit. Usually failing, but there it is.

Morale will improve until the beatings continue

Things continue to improve, though unevenly. The trend is definitely upward. Feeling a bit cabin-fevered atm, got no money to go anywhere and nowhere to go anyway. And the weather has been so cold, so snowy, that people are being crappy about clearing their sidewalks, meaning I can’t even really go for a walk. I do get out on Saturday nights, when I get together with Craig and Chris at Ken’s place for gaming. Saturday past we played my new copy of Mansions of Madness, which was fun and difficult. We literally lost (everyone, Keeper and Players) on the very last turn, and if I’d had a single action more I could have won it. Much enjoyment all-round.

We followed up with a party game called Time’s Up, a trivia sort of game that was again very close, Chris and I beating Craig and Ken by only a few points in a hundred. It was odd, though; Ken and Chris are ten years younger than Craig and I are (Craig is almost exactly six months older than me), and neither of them is widely read, while we both are. So we were in pairs where one partner would know who Casanova, Malcolm X, and the Marquess of Queensbury were, and the other would know who Kelly Clarkson, John Stamos, and Vin Diesel were. Okay, that last trio was just me. What? I don’t watch reality shows, sitcoms, or action movies much at all. I only know that’s what they do because it had to be explained to me. :)

More posts coming, but I wanted to get the chatty stuff out of the way first.

Improving!

I don’t know if I can express what a feeling it is to have the sense that I’m coming out of the long, long night that has been this latest major depressive episode. It’s been two years at the minimum, probably longer. Last winter was the worst depression of my life, and winter is usually the very worst for me.

And yet…here I am, posting. Not regularly yet, but I’m writing stuff. And I’m making notes in my phone about more stuff to write about. And designing t-shirts for sale. And engaging in social activities.

In February. That’s like MAGIC.

New post today over at The Gaffer’s a Bird – don’t bother unless you’re a fan of the Football Manager games – and if I’m able to, I should be back to posting rewatch episodes here soon. I’m watching a few this afternoon. :)

I think my meds should be slightly raised in dosage, the one that’s made the difference that is, and when it is (I’ve an appointment next Thursday), it feels like fucking OZ is opening up before me, with colours and rainbows and shit.

If you’ve never been depressed, you can’t know how amazing this feeling is. I just hope it’s a real dawn coming down the tunnel, and not a TGV, and fuck mixed metaphors anyway.