Welcome Back!

Only one post last month!  I feel like such a slacker.  Actually, I don’t, because all the time I was away, I was working on a Caregiver Conference for the area.  That little project (which ended up with awful attendance) ate up most of my time.  I really don’t think, for all the work my company put into it, that we got any kind of helpful publicity.  There were maybe 5 people attending the thing that were not connected to the vendors, and two of those people were my family and already knew about us.  It was a rainy day, so I’ll just hope that’s what kept people away.

StressAnyway, it looks like we’re lined up to help again next year.  That was another terrible thing last month.  My work laptop got the FBI virus from some news site I was on, and I thought I was going to lose ALL the conference files (because of course I didn’t back them up).  It was after the conference, so I wouldn’t need to recreate them on a deadline, but the upside to doing it next year was that I’d have all the things ready.  I cried.  It had been such a source of stress in my life.  Communications with the head coordinator never went well.  I would need something to go further with my part, and I would contact her.  This may or may not end up with me getting the thing I was asking for, but almost certainly ended up with me getting a new request for some other thing.  We sort of got roped into it this year, because last year we weren’t even invited.  We’d attended the year before and were completely overlooked last year when they were inviting people to set up booths.  My boss wanted to be sure we went this year, but ended up on the planning committee, and they needed someone who could make flyers.  My boss returned from the meeting saying that she’d volunteered me for it, and that I could do this while I’m at work so I at least get paid for it.  The flyer would not be enough.  Before it was all over, I had done the flyer, the registration form, the pharmacy bag fillers, the conference schedule, the speaker bio page, and the powerpoint presentation, and was in charge of running the projector at the conference (after which, many of the fonts from my laptop were mysteriously missing).

I was extra cranky on the weekends if I didn’t get a day for myself.  Since the doctor put me on the mission to lose weight, my mom had been coming by once a week to walk with me in the park.  I understand that it’s important and having a schedule with another person keeps me accountable, so it wasn’t really a problem until this conference planning.  I’ve been increasingly unpleasant as the date drew near, to the point where one morning I practically made my mom cry because I needed quiet, alone time really badly.  Could have been PMS, because it was about that time, but I just could not handle people.  I’m so glad I’ve got at least 8 months before I have to think about the conference again.  And, yes, I backed up the files.

So last night I got to bed early.  Yeah 11:30pm is pretty early for me.  I normally nod off at 2am.  When I woke up, I saw that a friend had been unable to stay asleep, and according to my mother, another of her friends was also having sleep difficulties last night.  I was totally unprepared for the alarm this morning.  It caught me in the middle of a dream and I couldn’t understand why I was hearing music.  When I turned it off, I still had no idea why this little machine was making noise, or what 5:50 meant.  As usual, it meant that I had to get up and pick up my boyfriend from work, which I figured out after a few minutes of feeling completely out of place.  Sleep continues to be fascinating and strange, and I hope to pick this blog up where I left off.  Sorry to keep you waiting so long!

September 10th – World Suicide Prevention Day

This is for you.  Did you know that suicide is now responsible for more deaths than automobile accidents?  You’re more likely to lose someone to depression than drunk driving, and there are plenty of warning signs for depression.  We’re only starting to come into an age where depression is seen as a disease, and people begin to realize that sufferers aren’t just lazy and making their own bad situations.  To someone outside the situation, the solutions seem so simple.  You don’t have a job? Well keep looking until you find one, even if it’s flippin’ burgers.  You have a job, but you can’t pay your bills?  Get a second job, or look for a better one.  You’re lonely? Make an attempt to be sociable for a change instead of locking yourself up at home.  Can’t stand the things you’ve done? Can’t change the past, so start doing good things; good deeds for other people will make you feel better about yourself. Depression can suck the life out of you.  Telling someone with depression to just get a second job can be like asking someone who has just given everything they had to win a race that they’re only halfway done. Your simple suggestion doesn’t feel like constructive criticism or support.  It feels like rejection.  Another person just trying to fix the side effects with trite suggestions.  And on the other hand, if you try to suggest treatment for depression, the subject comes up about the cost of therapy and drugs, which seem like another great burden on an already tight situation.

It was July 2008 when I got the very last email from my dad.  He had been struggling with his studies and with work ever since his dad died the previous November.  If I had kept in touch with his ex-girlfriend (who he was still living with) we both would have known he was using us to get him through his college courses, and might have realized how severe the situation was.  He wrote me one more email to tell me that he was lonely, because she had time for everyone but him, and that he was almost out of money and couldn’t pay his truck payments.  They’d be repossessing the truck soon and he needed to move out as soon as possible because he wouldn’t be able to haul his horse trailer without a truck, and where could he go with a horse?  At the time, I had no idea he was getting medication again.  I thought he was still taking classes and wondered what had happened to the last job.  I suggested he sell the horse and trailer and use that money to find a place closer to school, and maybe a job within walking distance.  I also recommended he find a church he liked, because church had always been very important to him.  I couldn’t offer him more than a spot on the floor beside my bed, a package of ramen made from a single-cup water heater, and cold showers.  There were other people in the family that were well-off who would have taken him in, but not without making him feel utterly worthless.  It was bad enough when I took some time off from college and still wasn’t married at 22, and if your job doesn’t pay twice minimum wage, just don’t even mention you have one.  I can understand why he wouldn’t want to go to them, but god help anyone who needs ME.

He had sent the email at night, and I didn’t see it until the next morning, but apparently enough time had passed that he thought I was ignoring him and downed a whole bottle of sleeping pills.  He felt so awful from it that he begged his ex to take him to the hospital, and spent most of that time sleeping off what was still in his system, so I didn’t call him.  When he woke up, he signed himself out of the hospital AMA, and because his ex was working a 14-hour shift in preparation for her upcoming family reunion vacation, she had to leave work to take him home and then get right back.  He said he was okay and just wanted to sleep, so she trusted him and left him there alone.

In the middle of the night, my phone rang.  It was the sheriff calling to tell me that my father had passed away.  It was hard to know how I felt.  Not really surprise, because part of me expected that to happen, but on the other hand, I didn’t believe it, because it was not within his character.  I would not have thought this was something he would finish, because my uncle has done the sleeping pills thing many times when he just wanted somebody to fix things.  My dad had always been able to fix his own problems.  I asked the sheriff how it happened.  “He took his life with a firearm.”

The seriousness of intent in using a gun was undeniable.  He’d meant to die the first time, and wasn’t going to wait around in a hospital.  He had something to finish and this time he had to succeed.

I was 25.  My parents had been divorced for 10 years, and it always broke my mother’s heart that I didn’t have a closer relationship with him like she did with her dad.  I’d gotten used to his coming back and leaving again that first year.  I’d gotten used to his periods of depression where he’d move back to town in a trailer and go back to his old job for a few months, then patch things up with his girlfriend and walk out on his job again to go back to her.  That’s just the way things would go for him, so when my mom would ask if we’d talked lately and I’d coldly say I hadn’t heard from him in months, she couldn’t help crying.

The signs were there, y’know, the depression, the clues in the email about loneliness.  I, like so many others, ignored the loneliness and tried to fix the side effects.  Doled out the same suck-it-up advice that I would have expected if I’d written that email.  I might have expected worse, like “Tough break! You knew you couldn’t afford a horse.  Sell it and keep looking for work.  How many applications have you filled out since you lost your last job?  You should have been out there the same day looking for work.  And put on a smile.  Nobody is going to want to hire you if you show up looking depressed.  Maybe you’ll just do without a vehicle for a while.  And you really need to move out of your ex-girlfriend’s house.  She wants to get on with her life, and that’s really hard to do with you still living there.  Of course she’s got time for everyone but you, you’re split up and she’s got her own family to tend.”

Am I starting to sound like every heartless argument you’ve seen on facebook?  Because I didn’t even say those things, and my father killed himself.  Can you imagine what people feel like when someone actually does say those things?  Sure, it’s true, but it’s not helpful.  The person is not going to suddenly see how they’ve been making simple mistakes and start putting their life back together logically.

So the next time someone comes to you, not asking advice for what they should do to fix a messed up situation, but TELLING you they have a messed up situation, consider how recently your local paper reported a drunk driving death.  Evaluate the emotion behind the plea and handle with care.  You might be the last resort.
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USC’s MSW Programs Blog Day.

Common Dream Symbols – Pt. 1

Isnake2t’s been established that I’m not big on symbols in dreams.  Visual representations mean different things to different people.  Only you can really determine what these elements mean to you, but here are some suggestions for further self-exploration.

I grabbed a few items from a list of 30 Common Symbols:
Animals are common elements in dreams. Depending on how you feel about an animal, the meaning may vary. Some people are terrified of snakes while others think they’re pretty and keep them as pets, so your interpretation of the symbol really depends on your relationship with the animal or the interaction you’re having with it in the dream. Even something you normally love can have a frightening presence in a dream. It’s suggested that the primal dream of being chased by an animal represented repressed fear, which is understandable.

Babies. Oh boy, there’s a topic for ya! Going back to the animal symbols, I’ve been told that dreams of fish represent desire for children, but I have seriously no desire for children. Babies in your dream could be literal, or they could represent how you feel personally or about someone else. Perhaps you feel you have needs that aren’t being met, or on the other hand you feel like you’re being called upon for caring/nurturing. Babies may also signify a new beginning (though they also say that about death in a dream).

Exams are a form of evaluation. If you felt unprepared for the exam, consider the subject. Perhaps there is something you need to work on. I often have dreams that I’ve returned to school only to realize I haven’t attended my math class in months and I’m sure I’ll fail the class. The exam doesn’t necessarily have to be a school subject, but it could reveal some feelings of inadequacy (even if it’s all in your head and you’re actually brilliant in the subject).

Falling is a really common element. It might wake you up clutching your sheets, but sometimes it doesn’t startle you awake. If you dream of prolonged falling it might actually signify letting go of things in your life that bring you stress. Adversely, it may also represent some perceived failure or fall from success.

Houses in dreams can take the form of any place you’ve been in your life, someplace entirely new, or some strange combination of places. You might find yourself inside your best friend’s childhood room, then walk out the door into a convenience store. However your mind is trying to tie these things together, what you’ll want to pay attention to are the things you associate with those places. Grandma’s kitchen might make you feel happy and welcome, but what’s with the museum in the hallway? Well, it really depends on how you feel about museums. If your grandmother has passed away quite some time ago, that could be relevant, and you’re simply wishing to reminisce about that time in your life.

Yes, I will return with more symbols like teeth falling out, tornadoes and floods, public nudity…all that fun stuff.