25 March 2017 @ 12:31 pm
Today I went to yoga, despite the fact that my sides still hurt from yoga two days ago. Win one! And then I did not drop out of down dog even once today. This is such a win! I have crappy upper body strength, but getting better, and I hung in there by mentally chanting "I got this, I got this." JOY DELICIOUS.
21 March 2017 @ 08:29 am
Dr G. nailed my hyper-vigilance for me yesterday. She puzzled out that I am feeling overwhelming stress about money, a situation exacerbated last week by my knowing that I had a finite amount of money to spend while I was away, and I'm finally letting myself feel that stress. Usually I would self-soothe by spending money (as a backward way of saying to myself "you still have money") but because that's not possible, stress hormones are dumping into my system constantly. That triggers my PTSD because that's how PTSD works - it's triggered by physical reminders of overwhelmingly stressful situations in the past - and hence, HV.

Makes complete sense. It also gives me a little breathing room, because as always, if I understand why I'm doing a thing, I can live with it much more easily.

She told me at the end of session how proud she was of me, and what a difference there was in me from the very first time she saw me. I got a little teary, and I thanked her for everything she's done for me. And that was that. I made an appointment when I left with the new nurse practitioner, and a new chapter of things will start with that appointment in June.

I listened to some On Being podcasts yesterday as I drove to and from Dr G's office. One was about how PTSD manifests in the body, and the psychiatrist talking about it said that he first began to understand what trauma is when a veteran he was treating for terrible nightmares came to his second appointment and said he hadn't taken any of the medication that he'd been given to help him sleep. He said that he needed his nightmares to be a memorial to all his buddies who didn't come back from Vietnam. And the psychiatrist said - that's what PTSD does to people; makes them living memorials to a thing that's not happening anymore.

It's the first time I'd heard that sentiment in exactly those words, and it shook me. PTSD means that I think of my abuse and assaults as present-day things, things that are always with me, things that condition my day-to-day life. But they're not happening. I am living a life free of abuse and assault. That realization was so profound. It doesn't magically make my PTSD go away, but it does give me a different framing for what I experience. Here's the podcast if you're interested.

I also listened to a podcast about ambiguous loss - loss where there is no body (such as in a natural disaster) or no definitive end point (like losing someone to dementia, or divorce). And at one point the psychologist speaking said "Closure is a terrible word in human relationships. Once you’ve become attached to somebody, love them, care about them, when they’re lost, you still care about them. It’s different. It’s a different dimension. But you can’t just turn it off."

Wow. I mean, of course, yes? But I really hadn't thought of it that way before. It made me think a lot about my last relationship. I think about it often, in part because it was abusive, and so it's intrusive as all my memories of assault are. But I did love the guy - mistakenly, misguidedly, but I did - and that went away. Thinking about "you can't just turn it off" gave me a new perspective on what it is I'm processing. The same goes for thinking about my dad. So I'm turning those things over in my mind, and maybe I'll write something more pointed about that in a while.

I'm realizing doing something like listening to these podcasts needs to become part of my daily routine. I absorb so much toxicity from the world we live in - particularly the U.S. political situation - and I'm not doing nearly enough to build up alternate resources for myself in hold everything in balance. So that's something I want to make a real point of doing - giving myself time and space to remember the qualities and values that are meaningful to me in a positive way, rather than simply noting their absence in the federal government. And so this morning I'm making a second cup of tea and I'm going to sit with a book and read something beautiful. I hope there's beauty out there waiting for you, too ♥
20 March 2017 @ 07:19 am
I am back in my own home again, and it feels so good. I had a lovely time in Minneapolis, and I love staying with my friend, but there is nothing quite so good as your own stuff and your own bed. I slept like a rock last night (save for the massive thunderstorm that graced us at dark o'clock).

Still, I am realizing that I have been hyper-vigilant for at least a week now - that I was tensed for danger the entire time I was away and that I still feel some vestige of that this morning. I have no idea what caused it, only that I was primed for fight or flight the whole time. I have some digging to do there to ask my body what it's reacting to. And I'm out of practice in dealing with this, in finding ways to assure myself that I'm fine.

I see my psychiatrist this morning. It's my last visit with her - she's retiring altogether, even from teleconferencing - which marks the end of an era. I have been seeing her for at least seven years, maybe longer (the dates are fuzzy for me), and she has been such an agent (angel?) of change. The practice from which she's been teleconferencing is going to hire a nurse practitioner to help take up her patients, and I think I'll try her before I try anyone else. I hope it works! I really don't want to have to do the mammoth search for a new medical practitioner, especially since there are none in my own town.

Perhaps as one of the last things I ask her, I will ask for a Xanax refill! A fitting way to bring both threads together right now.
17 March 2017 @ 08:45 am
Hello, friends! It has been an epic week here in Cate-land.

Monday, I met with my bankruptcy lawyer - a new guy who works in an office in a nearby town rather than my own. I really liked him. He was a direct, no bullshit kinda guy, and was super clear about how things would progress. He's slammed with tax stuff at the moment, so it'll be about 10 days or so before we formally file, but he walked me through everything, and I will get to keep my house and car. And - this was a great relief to me - the lawyer fees for the process are all packaged up with whatever else I pay to my creditors in my Chapter 13 settlement. I had to pay $500 on Monday for filing costs, but everything else I'll pay off over five years. Whew. I had no idea how a person facing bankruptcy was supposed to pay for a lawyer, but now I know. So that was an intense experience, but ultimately a good one.

Flew to Minneapolis that evening for business, with many delays because of bad weather that morning that had set the whole chain of flights for the day off kilter. But I have to give credit to Delta - they brought out pizza for everyone while we waited, and snacks and water, and they were unflaggingly patient and cheerful with everyone who had questions. Big thumbs up (especially compared to [personal profile] siria's awful experience with United this week. She left Wisconsin on Monday and got home in the eastern time zone on THURSDAY. Criminy).

Since then I've done a lot of business-related research, and met with a bunch of people, including the editor of my last book. Turns out, once I talked to her, that I realized I have 90% of a second book ready, so I spent one afternoon this week outlining it. Such a good feeling! I also stopped by my favorite bookstore in the world (or, at least, in the parts of the world I have shopped in) and it's such a restful, beautiful place that I was just delighted by everything. And I got to charge books as a business expense. Win!

I'm enjoying being in a big city and having access to many delightful things, especially food that I wouldn't usually get to enjoy in my own small town. That said, I am tiiiiiiired. I'm not sleeping well for reasons that escape me, and having the most whackadoodle dreams. (Last night I was in some sort of Matrix-y set up where I survived by getting hold of a mackerel/swordfish the size of a boat and stabbing people with it.) I think perhaps I'm feeling very professionally "on" this week in a way that I can't quite shake when it's time to wind down? I'll keep digging on that one.

Today is a day for writing, which I'm looking forward to. There's something so relaxing to me about the rhythm of my fingers tapping away at a keyboard, and it'll be fun to start to see the shape of my book. Woot! Happy Friday, all!
12 March 2017 @ 09:16 am
Yesterday was such a lovely day - a reprieve from all that is stressful right now. I spent the morning hanging out with my friend AM (I'm in Chicago) and then at noon met up with other friends (who were staying with family) and we went to see Hamilton! (Again, for me! And again I did not pay for my ticket. I am SO FREAKING LUCKY.)

It was wonderful - I fell even more in love with Lin-Manuel Miranda, that he could write this beautiful thing that can be produced by multiple, wholly different companies, and it blows your socks off no matter what. This time my seat was high up, but that was great, because I got to see the choreography and lighting from a really different perspective. I just had a blast, and laughed and cried, and was completely worn out by the end of it. But then! It was Broadway Cares day, so they were accepting donations and selling certain items to raise money. So I came home - for $20 - with a real Reynolds pamphlet from the show, signed by the Burr and Hamilton we saw yesterday afternoon. Eeeeeee, it makes me so happy. (Other souvenirs included a Hamilton cocktail glass with a cover so that you didn't spill (procured with a cocktail in it) which is going to become my cocktail travel cup. Farmer's market? Mimosa in a glass! Afternoon at a friend's house? Gin and tonic to go! (All these places are walking distance from home, I hasten to add)).

And then I took everyone to Cindy's, one of the bars inside the Chicago Athletic Association hotel. It's up on the roof, and there was a patio with big fire pits, so we sat there and bonded with two other people sitting there who were going to see Hamilton that evening. (The drinks were out of this world, including the very complicated kiddy cocktail the bar tender made my niece for free, which she adored, especially because it came with a flower in the top.) And then as we were picking up all our stuff to leave, including a prominent Hamilton poster, some more people came by and one of the women exclaimed, "Did you just see Hamilton?" We said we had. "DID IT NOT JUST CHANGE YOUR LIFE?" she asked. So that was cute and funny.

I spent the evening hanging with AM and her sister, whom I love to pieces, so it was a lovely evening. And around 11am this morning we are headed back home, before a snow storm hits us and dumps 5-6 inches of snow. ("WHAT?"). I'm traveling to Minnesota tomorrow, so I hope that the roads are clear for me to get to the airport by the afternoon. I'm glad we're getting some snow, as we haven't had any major snowfalls at all this year, but I'm also all *shakes fist* it had to be tonight?

My appointment with the bankruptcy lawyer got bumped up to tomorrow, so by noon I should have a good idea of what I'm doing and I'll have paid my retainer to get things moving. I hope everything goes as smoothly as it can!

How are your weekends?
10 March 2017 @ 07:52 am
The date is set - on March 21st I will meet with my lawyers and we'll file for bankruptcy. I will pay $500 as an initial retainer for this service. I've gone back through my work-up of my situation from January and updated it to the new amounts owed for March - a thoroughly unpleasant task.

And then yesterday I came home to a note on my door saying the county sheriff's office had tried to serve me with legal papers, so I had to go down there to pick them up. It was a summons - and I thought, at first, this would be to do with the bankruptcy, that one of my creditors had hit the point of suing. But no. It was from the other person in the car accident last summer, suing me for damages.

My mind blanked and I got to my car and started sobbing and drove to my lawyer's office because I didn't know what else to do. All I could think was 'but I have no money!' and 'how much more wiill this cost in legal fees?' The lady who runs the office was so calm and kind, and she reminded me that insurance usually covers this. Once the head lawyer was done with his client she talked to him called me back and affirmed that I should contact my insurance company and scan and send them a copy of the summons. I should also get them to confirm they'd defend me in this matter. I sent everything off last night, and hopefully I'll get that confirmation today.

It's all handleable, especially if I take it one thing at a time. But my god, this is a lot all at once.
08 March 2017 @ 06:26 pm
I went on strike today. I recognize that it speaks to a certain privilege that I was able to strike - no one at my job would have to stand in for me and my actions did not displace responsibilities onto the shoulders of others less able to strike. I'm single, so there's no one in my home who usually requires emotional or domestic labor from me, and I don't have kids to look after. I wore red pants and I did buy batteries at Target, but that was it for my purchasing. And my niece and I had a long conversation about international women's day and what it all meant.

It felt really good. And precious, like a stolen day.

What was particularly fascinating was that initially I didn't know what to do with a day without work. Even weekends are, for me, full of errands and chores that allow me to do my job the other five days. This was a stolen day - a day free from responsibilities. And at first I didn't have a clue how to use that.

So I did laundry. And then I noticed that my kitchen was suffering from random corners in which I was stacking things to deal with later. So I dealt with them - rearranged my tea cupboard; moved some objects around; put excess plastic bags in the car to take to be recycled; rethought how I stored platters and cake plates and the like. The result is a kitchen with so much less clutter shoved in corners, and more counter space to use for other things. And I can think of no other occasion where spending 30 minutes reconfiguring my tea cupboard would be a good use of my time.

And perhaps that's the point - when we get a day to do only what we choose to do, the smallest things bring delight. And so often those things are forgotten in lieu of utility, and yet whom does that utility serve? Capitalism and patriarchy profit from my working like a good little cog in the machine, but do I? And when the tea cupboard is reorganized, how many other bigger, more powerful ways are there for me to do something in this world?

I took the time today to watch the documentary 13th - Ana Duvernay's film on the meaning and effect of the 13th amendment since its passing. It is flat-out amazing. I'm pretty well versed on the history of the 13th amendment, Jim Crow, civil rights, and such, but I learned so much that I didn't know. (ALEC? I am appalled that I didn't know about ALEC. Jesus.) And I had to reckon with my privilege - the privilege that means I didn't know this stuff, that I haven't had to grapple with it personally. I have to do better as an ally than to wait for a documentary to show me just how much more I need to give / think / do. But now I do know. And I need to take action.

I watched my niece after that, and we had a great conversation about International Women's Day, and who counts as a woman (trans women and femme folk, not just cisgender females), and what feminism is and why I am so proud to identify myself as a feminist. It was a perfect little moment.

Happy International Women's Day, friends. If you're a woman, I stand with you, and I"m committed to educating myself to be ever-more present and useful to you. ♥
04 March 2017 @ 08:20 am
Hey-o, what a strange old week this has been.

Last weekend I started with the beginnings of a cold, and almost immediately it settled in my sinuses again. By Monday the headaches were so severe I had to leave work after lunch, come home, and go to bed. Tuesday I took the whole day off. Wednesday I went in as usual and came home after lunch again. They were awful - pressured, sharp, painful. It was driving me nuts.

Thursday morning I added caffeine to the cocktail of decongestants and saline spray etc and it seemed to help. Off I went to therapy (for the first time in a while, because I can't afford the sessions right now, not until I've reached my health insurance deductible) and Jan and I had a good chat and caught up with what had been going on. I told her about the headaches and she said, "do you think they could be psychosomatic?" And my response was, "That's a really good question!"

Psychosomatic doesn't mean an illness isn't real, it just means that the cause is mental/emotional. Jan pointed out that the only time the headaches got better was when I was lying down - when I was complete out of action from everything else in my life. True. And there were other things to consider, too - like the fact that last Saturday I went to yoga for the first time in four months, and stretched out and moved things that hadn't stretched out or moved in a long time, all of which can trigger memories / emotions that are locked into our physical body. I'd also had some stressful things going on at work, so . . . we came to no direct conclusion, but it's worth me thinking about more. Perhaps the best evidence that it may be psychosomatic is that the headaches have been minimal since then. Bodies and brains, yo. Bodies and brains.

We also did EMDR on a meeting I had on Tuesday after which I was furious. It was good to dig into why that was, and how ultimately it circles through about seven emotional states to get back to insecurity or feeling a lack of affirmation on my part. The good thing is I can communicate to my colleagues that I need that affirmation, which I haven't been doing, so there's a ready solution to some of this. And it's always useful to remember that when other people make me angry it's generally because of something in myself, even if they're assholes themselves.

Jan is also having me keep a Joy Journal, in which I write down moments of joy during the week. Her hypothesis is that we all feel joy much more than we think we do, but we don't make an effort to remember those moments, and sometimes they're fleeting, so we forget they exist at all. It's also much easier to carry a narrative of 'bad things are happening!' around than 'I had four moments of joy today!' so this is a practice to train my brain to look at things differently. I dug out a journal and have been toting some colored pens around with me, and it's a pretty fun activity. And sure enough, I do experience joy, even on days when people drive me up a tree.

Other than that, I got to focus hard on a couple of projects at work this week, and that was really satisfying. I also got to set up two business trips - one to the Twin Cities in a week or so, and one to Virginia in August - and having those little changes in routine scheduled lifts my spirits. I'm seeing Hamilton again next Saturday - yay! - and even better, I'm seeing it with my friend's daughter, who is 10, a huge fan, and has never seen it. Being in her company is going to be incredible.

I'm excited for my weekend, and have no idea what I will fill it with yet. Which is part of the fun - getting to ask myself, "Self, what would you like to do now?" is always such a great way to plan out a day. And my self tells me that right now it would like another cup of tea, so off I go!
25 February 2017 @ 07:43 am
light bulb  
This week was a good week. Despite some frustrating blips, it was mostly a week in which I got my work done, was able to use my flex hours, and felt rested enough to give time and attention to other people. That's a win. It all started with giving myself last weekend off, so I plan to take a bunch of time for myself this weekend, too.

But what also made this week so important / good was a realization I had half way through it. I was emailing with a friend who also has PTSD and who has been having a rough time of it. We've been talking about what it's like to navigate a neurotypical world with these kinds of brains. And the other day zie wrote '[something something] because I'm disabled.'

My whole world slowed. Of course zie's disabled. And if zie is disabled, I'm disabled. Talk about a light bulb moment. So many things fell into place and I had an explanatory framework for the things I find difficult and the things I don't all at once. I remember thinking - how has it taken me this long to realize this? How have I called PTSD a disability but not said 'I am disabled'? It was a really good moment, completely empowering, because instead of thinking of myself of someone who tries but just can't work 8 or 9 hours a day, especially not in my office, I was able to think about how it is literally impossible for me to that with the brain and body that I have. Being able to leave early or work from home are not just personal choices, they're the accommodations I need to be able to function.

So that was huge. But perhaps bigger yet was Thursday, when I was at work for 8.30 as usual, but was scheduled for a meeting (with many other department heads) at 4.15pm I knew that was going to be challenging to do; I knew I was going to be exhausted and unable to think straight by then. But at lunchtime I talked to a close colleague about my realization about disability and she affirmed everything, and I suddenly thought - why am I trying to go to this meeting? So I wrote my boss, apologized, and explained that my disability meant that by 3pm I was completely spent and unable to process new information, so I'd catch up on what happened from someone else who was there.

She never replied, but that's beside the point - it was the first time I'd said "I have a disability" to someone and honored my own limitations. It felt awesome. And it's continued to feel awesome this week to think clearly about what I can and cannot do, and to give myself the space to do exactly that. Instead of constantly feeling like I'm falling short of the ideal worker, I'm realizing how much I do do, and that finding alternate ways to support myself - like working from home in the morning, or napping late afternoon and then working on my laptop afterwards - are absolutely legitimate.

I feel like I woke up to a whole new world on Tuesday. YAY.
23 February 2017 @ 07:45 am
I had a meeting yesterday about something a colleague and I are trying to get done at work. Our proposal has to be vetted by a committee, and the committee declined to approve our proposal on their first try. Instead they had a lot of questions for us, so we met the chair of that committee to talk about things. The chair was not the problem - he was the bearer of bad tidings, but not himself opposed to anything - but the conversation was deeply frustrating and completely tanked my day. I've been trying to figure out why ever since.

And this morning it struck me - it's because all the questions pointed to the ways that racism and sexism are structurally embedded in the place where I work. The questions the committee had weren't simply questions, they were dog-whistles for anxieties about race and sexuality and gender that they would never in a hundred years own up to possessing. No wonder I'm so aggravated!

But at least I know, now, what we're up against, and can fight back against that in every thoughtful way my colleague and I have at our disposal.

Some people. I just. *hands*
19 February 2017 @ 09:46 am
The local newspaper wrote a story about my citizenship that was published this week, and my cousin shared this on facebook, thereby making the story visible to my mother through my father's FB account. Mid-interview I asked people to consider that people who were prevented from getting back into the country on their visa or green card might have lived in the U.S. their whole adult lives, have their families here, and have no meaningful connection to their country of origin anymore.

My mother read this as I have no meaningful connection to my country of origin anymore and was quite put out, something she took up with me on our weekly phone call this morning. I pointed out that I said this about other people, but my mother continued to worry the idea to death. Mercy.

It's been that kind of week! I made a powerpoint for a presentation I had to give to our Board on Friday, and spent two hours making sure it was beautiful - sleek, minimalist, and visually accessible. I then sent it to our IT department because they wanted to combine slides from three of us into one slide presentation. When I next saw my powerpoint, all the formatting had been stripped out, and all my fonts changed to something scarily close to Comic Sans. So the Board may know more about X innovation at my job, but they surely think myself and my co-presenters have the powerpoint skills of a pre-schooler. Oy. There have also some yucky political things going on this week that make me alternately mad and resigned. *shakes fist* Boo!

Of the good, however - on Friday I hosted a midwife from Doctors Without Borders who was in private practice for twenty-five years, and then retired specifically to go work for MSF. She's now birthed babies and taken care of new mothers all over the world, and trained other midwives and nurses in all kinds of pre- and post-natal care. She's off to Uganda next, to establish an anti-sexual violence program for a refugee camp receiving refugees from South Sudan at the rate of 100,000 people a week. She's about 70. She kicks so much ass, and her presentations were amazing. I also got to meet her husband at a dinner and he has represented the Klamath nation of Oregon for twenty-five years, so we got to talk about all kinds of Native history and legal stuff, including No DAPL. They were a DELIGHT, and so my week ended on a really good note.

Yesterday I took a real day off (okay, after first doing some stuff for the Board), which is the first day off I've taken in three weeks. Working all weekend is a terrible idea, I know, but I felt like it was the only way to catch up with everything I had to do. But that manifested this week in me being bitter and crotchety, so I resolved I would not do that anymore. Instead I went to my friend's house and babysat her youngest daughter so that mom could go get a pedicure. We painted, we read books, and I painted youngest's toenails. While we were waiting for them to dry I asked her why she loves Frozen so much (because she loves it more powerfully than anything imaginable. She's also four.) "Because it's beautiful and I love their outfits," she said firmly. So now I know.

I stuck around after my friend came home. Youngest and I were coloring pages from her Frozen coloring book by that point, so my friend joined in, and when her eldest came home, she, too, started coloring. It was so chill! And then we did jigsaw puzzles, had excellent pizza for dinner, and the adults hung out in the kitchen drinking wine while the kids watched some TV. A lovely way to spend the day.

My slow cooker adventures continue. Yesterday I made some dal for lunch this week, and this afternoon I'll put in a classic chicken stew to cook for dinners. It has worked out exactly as I had hoped - that I eat well, do not have to cook when I'm tired, and don't spend money eating out. Yay!

Today it's going to be 68F/20C, which is deeply concerning for February, and yet I cannot help but respond with joy to the sun and the warmth. We really need more winter, including a couple of heavy snows, but today I'm going to enjoy that it's so beautiful. Have good days, all, wherever you might be! ♥
11 February 2017 @ 09:07 am
I have been radio silent all week (including in comments - I apologize for that) because I have been absolutely tapped out. Part of my job includes meeting with people one-on-one and actively listening to their situation, then offering what advice I can (or better yet, asking questions so that the person figures out what they need to do on their own). These meetings rarely run more than half-an-hour, but they require a lot of emotional stamina - stamina I have not had to give. I finally got my last, missing mental health medication on Tuesday night, but because I was without it for two weeks, it's taking some time to build back up in my system. I definitely feel the lack. Not uncoincidentally I'm experiencing some S.A.D., and that makes things that much tougher.

I was supposed to go to a big meeting on Monday, and decided not to go. As I told a colleague, I'd be happy to be there if my boss wanted another irrationally angry person in the room, but I figured the white men had that covered. Zing.

I applied for a new position on Monday, still within my organization. It's hard to explain, but I would basically be swapping out part of my existing job for this new opportunity, and I think it could be cool. I applied as soon as the announcement went out, and then actually looked at the closing date for applications. March 27th. So I guess I have a leetle bit of time to wait :D

My friend G has her birthday on Wednesday, so I went to the store this morning to buy the fixings for pecan pie (her favorite). This will be my gift this year, and it's odd to scale things back so much (I love giving gifts), but so absolutely what needs to happen. And I know she'll love it! It's just part of the ongoing work of shifting my mentality around money that feels uncertain and weird to me. My other friend, AM, directly asked me in an email yesterday whether I was doing okay financially, and so now I have to tell her about the bankruptcy. I was avoiding this because I am just so convinced she will shame me (she has done before, albeit unintentionally - our relationships to money are just so radically different) and I didn't want to deal with it. But now I have to. And perhaps that's as it should be. I would have to tell her eventually.

I have some curried cauliflower soup cooking in my slow cooker right now. Last weekend was my first weekend making food in the slow cooker, and it delighted me - as did having food for the whole week in my fridge and not having to think about cooking when I got home each evening. So today I'm making the soup, and tomorrow I'll make a Moroccan chickpea and chicken stew. I also baked scones last night, and plan to make vegan muffins to take to work on Monday (one of my colleagues is a vegan, and regularly gets left out of morning treats). There's something very soothing about cutting and measuring and processing, and it helps me save money, too. All good things!

I hope your weekends are lovely. Do something that speaks of kindness for yourself today!
04 February 2017 @ 11:18 am
Holy majestic moley, it's been a week. The insurance debacle continues. I still don't have my Abilify, which is a mood stabilizer, and my god can I tell I don't have it in my system now. And I went two days without Adderall because again with the prior authorization nonsense. I picked up the released prescription this morning and now I'm waiting to return to some semblance of myself.

It's not just inconvenient, it's debilitating. I have to fight to get up, to get out of the house, to do my job. I can't concentrate. I find it hard to prioritize things, or express a coherent thought. My brain sets itself to 'panicky' and I find myself jumpy and distracted. I am the grumpiest imaginable grumphead.

Amid all of that, I got paid, and - imagine this - my lawyers were right when they said that companies would claw back unpaid bills if I didn't close my bank account. The *moment* I got paid, a shitload of people I didn't pay last month (at my lawyer's direction) swooped in and took money. I hadn't been able to close my account because I was overdrawn, so there is absolutely no way I could have avoided this. But now I am left with very, very little for another month. (I did close the account yesterday, and opened a new one at my local credit union, which feels good.) (Oh, and did I mention that my therapy has gone up by 50% under the new insurance plan? GOOD GRIEF.)

(Jan continues to be wonderful. I'm sure she'd say hi if she realized she had a following here, so let's just say she said hi.)

But of the good: this article in the Washington Post which throws truly epic amounts of shade at Trump. I imagine Trump hearing about it and I laaaaaaaugh.

♥s to all
02 February 2017 @ 07:37 pm
My Abilify prescription is now in insurance hell.

31 January 2017 @ 07:41 pm
goddamn mother puss bucket.

I finally got my prescription covered by insurance.

My co-pay has gone up 60%.
28 January 2017 @ 01:25 pm
Yesterday afternoon was a doozy. I hit the 'serious physical consequences of withdrawal' spot: waves of nausea, cold sweats, panicked thinking. I had asked a friend if she could loan me enough to buy five pills off-insurance until payday (Tuesday), but hadn't heard back, but decided I should spend my last $30 to get two regardless, because I was a mess. Getting to the pharmacy was hard - I truly thought I was going to hurl all over myself - and then when I got there they were out of the drug. "It'll be in tomorrow!" they told me, cheerfully, and I wanted to do someone harm.

So I went to Target, checked that they had the drug, and waited while they called my pharmacy to transfer the prescription. It took about an hour all told, me sitting waiting and trying to concentrate on not losing my mind, and then I got two precious pills. I took one immediately, and it took about four hours to really have an effect. But today I am feeling SO much better. Thank goodness!

Friend did give me money, so I went back and got more pills this lunchtime. The Target staff were so kind - asking if I was okay, did I feel better today? etc. Thumbs up to you, Target.

I slept twelve solid hours last night. I think my body was just ready for some temporary oblivion.
27 January 2017 @ 01:13 pm
This week. This week. Goodness. Pull up a chair and listen to the story of how the American healthcare system blows.

First, you should know that my company changed healthcare administration vendors on January 1. We were told that nothing would change with our insurance but the name of the company doing the administration.

At the very beginning of last week I called my psychiatrist for just enough Pristiq (my main anti-depressant) and Lunesta (a sleeping pill) to get me through to my appointment with her on February 2nd. I got the Lunesta right away, but didn't hear anything about the Pristiq. Thinking they'd perhaps forgotten, I called again on Monday. The receptionist told me the script had been sent to my pharmacy, so off to my pharmacy I go.

My pharmacy tells me that my insurance company wants prior authorization from my doctor. I find this astonishing, because I've been on this drug for three or four years now. My super lovely pharmacy tech tells me yeah, that's not the issue. This hold means they really want you to be on a different drug, so they're making your doctor swear that a different drug won't do.

Oy. Because my insurance company is in the business of practicing medicine now?

So I call my doctor's office again, and talk to her nurse this time. Nurse confirms they got the details they needed from my pharmacy and they've sent off the authorization. She will call me when she hears back from the insurance company, whether they confirm or deny the authorization.

I hear nothing.

Yesterday I was out of Pristiq. I wrote the director of HR at my company and asked if she could help with the situation. She did - she called the administrators right away, and found out that the problem was that my doctor hadn't written "urgent" on the form. (How my doctor was supposed to know she needed to do this is unclear.) Without the "urgent" the insurance company couldn't fast-track approval (or denial) - only a doctor could indicate that that needed to happen. So I call my doctor's office, speak to the nurse, explain the shenanigans, and she sends of another authorization with URGENT written in big letters.

The HR director also told me two other things. 1) No one seemed to know what "fast track" means. It could be later in the day? It could be Tuesday. 2) My co-pay might not be the same as before if my drug was not on the approved list with the new administration vendor. (In all the discussions of the changes to our health insurance last fall, no one EVER mentioned that our co-pays could change. My one friend has seen a 100% increase in the price of her anti-depressants, and another friend has seen her birth control go from $0 to $158.)

So now I'm on day two of no anti-depressant. I have brain zaps, my body feels all wrong, I'm tired, I'm slow, I'm not in a great mood (imagine!). And there is no information anyone can offer on when I might get the drugs I so very much need. Or what they will cost me if they arrive.

I took an actual mental health day today, and for once it didn't mean "I need a break" but "no, really, my mental health is terrible."

What the what, America.

eta: the insurance company has the authorization, apparently, but it will take 72 hours for an 'urgent' request to be processed. My HR person suggests that I buy five pills without insurance to see me through to after that 72 hours is up (because that's of course 72 hours in business days, not real days). $68.99 says my pharmacy and I have $30 left til Tuesday. GAH. I have emailed a friend to ask if she can float me until Tuesday, but seriously, this month could not be more fired.
24 January 2017 @ 03:51 pm
after the lawyer  
Of the good:

1) The junior lawyer and paralegal with whom I'll be working are both sweet, generous, kind people.

2) The head lawyer outlined a standard of living for me that is better than I had imagined for myself. They will advocate for me to live comfortably, while paying off debt, rather than me living bare-to-the-bone, as I had imagined.

3) I should get to keep my house and my car. (I am considerably wedded to the former, less to the latter. But I owe more on the car than it is worth, so . . . )

Of the difficult:

1) I went in fully cognizant of my failures and weaknesses, and did not need the head lawyer to harp on them. His judgment at one point that he wasn't sure bankruptcy would work for me "because of your lousy spending habits" and him insisting on an explanation for "how you got into this mess" were editorial comments that I could have done without.

2) He made me sit and cut up all my credit cards in front of him. I am quite sure he does this because he has experience with people who say they won't spend more on their cards and then do, and I cannot fault him for supposing the same about me – he doesn't know me. But my god, that was humiliating.

3) He asked questions about every inch of my finances down to whether I had illnesses ("diseases") that required prescription coverage, and when I said yes, I have MDD and PTSD, he wanted to know who my psychiatrist was and where she was located, and who my therapist was and where she was located, and that's when I felt my last shred of dignity leave me. There will be, I realized, no such thing as privacy in this process.

I have to work out the last charges I made on my cards, and then we need to wait 60 days after that to file. I know I haven't spent anything on a card in two weeks, so that means about six weeks of waiting. I may not have spent anything on a card in longer than that – I need to check my statements and let the paralegal know.

I would now like to eat all the chocolate.
24 January 2017 @ 06:34 am
How I got here  
One of the things that most moved me about the citizenship ceremony on Friday was when the presiding judge took a moment to reflect on all the reasons someone might have chosen to become a citizen, and all the things they may have had to leave behind. She spoke about refugees, asylum seekers, people who needed a new start for any reason, people leaving behind abuse . . . and I teared up, because there I was in her words. That was my story.

I came to the U.S. twenty-three years ago to go to graduate school. I'd won a fellowship from my British undergrad institution to go to the U.S. and get an MA and be a teaching assistant (crucial, because it meant I could support myself). I thought, at the time, that I would get that MA, see the world a little bit, and then go back to England, having figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

What actually happened was that I figured out I wanted my life to be in the U.S. So after my MA I went on to get my PhD, and then I stayed to work.

That's the official story - and it's all true. But the other story that I didn't work out until I was in my 30s was that when I came for the MA, I was saving my life. I was leaving behind a history of abuse that at that point spoke to 2/3rds of my years on earth. I was putting distance between me and my abuser so that I could breathe, live, survive. I was depressed and in a terrible mental state, but the distance of those thousands of miles meant I could start over. I muddled through my twenties in a haze of depression and undiagnosed PTSD, but I lived. And I know I might not have had I stayed where I was born.

I could likely have run anywhere - it was simply the U.S. where the opportunity lay at the time - but I'm so glad to have run here. I have made friendships that sustain and support me in a way that family could not and did not. ([profile] scooterlaru and I have been friends since one week after I stepped off the plane way back when.) I have a job I love, and live in a town I love, and have built a whole new world here.

I am so grateful I had this place to run to, and that now, I never have to leave unless it is my choice. That twenty-one year old who was trying to save her own life has done it. I'm here. I get to stay. And that heals something that has been raw and uncertain for most of my adult life.
24 January 2017 @ 06:21 am
I see the bankruptcy lawyer today, and ohhhhhh boy am I nervous. I'm steadfastly pulling myself back from jumping down rabbit holes of thought, because I will know the reality soon enough, but my gosh, I am all a flutter this morning.

Of the good: I have stopped (for the time being) taking a medication that was to help clear up my skin. I stopped taking it over the holidays because I was traveling so much and the pill was a diuretic, and then I continued not taking it because of this sinus infection (24 days and counting!). My skin has been fine, which is fabulous, and I have the meds should I start to break out again. But here is the wonderful thing - a side effect of the med was that it made you hold on to potassium, so my doctor told me not to eat bananas while I was taking it. I realized yesterday that I could now eat bananas again, and had one, and it was GLORIOUS. Who'd have thought a banana could bring so much joy?

Work is going okay, although I am behind on one specific part of my job, but I will catch up. The bigger thing is that I've been put in charge of a new project that will allow me to do something I'm very good at (organize things), related to a subject that I adore, and for which they're paying me some extra money. By March I should be able to work on it - I have to clear a couple of things first - and it will be so fun. I'm creating something from the ground up, and I get to spread money and support to a bunch of people who need it. Win!

Today I may go and register myself to vote. I went to the Social Security office yesterday to get a new card (agh, I think I'm going to have to remember a whole new SS number from now on, because my last number cued people that they needed to see immigration paperwork, which is no longer true) and it was actually so soon after my ceremony that I wasn't yet in the system. I should get a new card in about ten days. But registering to vote will be more immediate! And that will be very fun.

All right. Here's to a tough day - may I conquer it in style. ♥