Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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Tensions are high in America

Tensions are high in America on this July 4th. The country is polarized politically, economically, racially, socially, and every -ly in the book, and social media and 24/7 news cycles on cable news just escalate words into sound bites that warp and explode as they move through society.

I live in East Texas, a very conservative Republican place that believes in God, guns, white nationalism, President Trump, and that Coronavirus is a hoax blown out of proportion by liberal Democrats and lying media. Although our governor has issued an executive order to wear masks, my neighbors are vowing not do so.

And so I’m hiding at home. I feel like a fish out of water here in this cherry pie red place, or rather, a tiny blueberry in the middle of the endless sea of red. I feel impotent to speak here, to defend myself and beliefs that differ from that of the majority. No one would listen anyway once they know I’m a Democrat. Wait, they would listen and then attack me and talk about me and my stupidity while they polish their guns, eat BBQ, and plan for Trump’s re-election.

I’m afraid for my country. I’m afraid of my neighbors. I’m afraid of getting the virus and giving it to someone else – not of my own risk, which is actually higher because of my age, weight, and recent sinus surgery. I’m afraid the country will tear itself apart. We survived a Civil War but it didn’t solve anything. What will happen this time?

My ancestors fought for the Confederacy – and for the Union. I’ve lived in Virginia, with Confederate statues everywhere. I never really understood why we had statues to people who LOST the war. Germany doesn’t have monuments to Nazis; why should we have them for those who rebelled and lost? Why name schools and military bases and streets for them? I can be proud of my family and my history and NOT proud of what they fought for. I don’t understand why so many are holding on so hard.

But I sit silent because I’m a weenie. I know what I believe but I’m afraid of being overwhelmed and rejected. So I watch “Hamilton” on my own, keeping silent, keeping watch.

I am afraid of what’s coming.

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It started fairly quietly in China and has now swept the globe. A pandemic that spreads like wildfire and is particularly dangerous for older patients with medical complications like COPD, cancer, or other immune-related conditions. Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed. There aren’t enough masks or ventilators or hospital beds for the people who need them, because of course OTHER patients also need them for non-virus problems like heart attacks. And it’s just beginning here.

Italy has been particularly hard-hit and has been in lockdown, something that’s spread to other cities in other countries. Streets are eerily empty in Rome, in Paris, in London. And now, of course, it’s come to the United States. Why would we be exempt? New York City is an epicenter, but states from California to Kansas to New York are now in shut down mode. Schools are closed. Businesses are closed, with people working from home, or just at home not sure what to do. And the hospitals are filling up, and people are making masks at home for the hospitals. Yes, it’s that bad.

People are dying, and a lot more will die before this is over. We didn’t take it seriously enough and made fun of other countries as they started to deal with the reality of this new flu-like disease that has no cure yet. Texans tend to think they are invincible and really haven’t paid attention to things we were supposed to be doing. Washing hands, yes. Not being in groups, no. People were going out to eat, out to play cards or shop. Groceries are one thing, but that’s not what was happening.

I was part of it, I admit. Last Saturday I whipped around to about 5 different stores looking for clothes. I was there early, saw almost no one, and used hand sanitizer. But I shouldn’t have been doing it at all.

What I did right was to start about a month ago, when other countries were reporting illnesses and death, to stock the house. Not actually stockpiling (I don’t think) but making sure I had everything and a little more of it. I bought cat food and litter, extra gallons of distilled water for the CPAP, and large packages of toilet paper, paper towels, and Puffs from Sam’s. I usually buy them there but not usually together. There wasn’t a run on them at the time; now you can’t find TP anywhere. It’s weird, because the virus doesn’t make you have diarrhea.

I also bought frozen fruit and veggies, ground beef and chicken, pork roasts and salmon, and oatmeal packets. All things I eat often. And canned tomatoes, corn, and beans to use to make things I eat a lot. Then I cooked. The freezer now is stocked with portion controlled containers of soup, meat sauce, chili, and chicken teriyaki. Unlike some of my neighbors, I didn’t stock up with chips and cookies and popcorn (yayyy Noom, for teaching me to eat better). I was concerned about having enough prescription medicines, but I have at least one month’s worth of the ones that matter the most.

Last Sunday I decided I didn’t want to go to church. The CDC had announced new guidelines the night before, advising us to limit gatherings to no more than 50 people. Church has a lot more than that and it felt wrong. The next day, the church board executive committee and pastor met and decided to cancel church services for an indefinite period of time, and to suspend all scheduled church activities. There will be no choir rehearsals, no Good Friday service. Maybe no Easter, unless we can figure out a way to do it in golf carts and still get the sound to project. But of course there IS Easter, even if we’re not in church with lots of lilies and big organ and wonderful music.

Now is limbo time. My colleague and I decided this morning that, at the rate things are changing, we may be under lock-down mode come Monday, with orders to stay home. We used our work time to do things that could only be done on-site such as updating paper files and processing payroll. And then we packed up work to bring home and set the computers so we can log in remotely. I can do much of my job from anywhere (as long as Ellie doesn’t sleep on the laptop while I’m working), so I will be fine.

It’s time we all pay attention to what is happening. We are going to know people who get sick, maybe even people who die. We might be those people ourselves. We need to take care of each other as best we can, maybe just with words online or in phone calls to neighbors to keep them from being isolated. I’m glad that Daddy is gone so there are no worries about how he would cope, and I’m not afraid for myself, though I’m generally anxious, irritable, and tired.

But I am afraid for my country, for how we will cope with the reality of what is coming. We haven’t seen anything like this, really, since the Spanish Flu in 1918. World Wars took place in other places, not on our own soil. We will have significant disruptions in our lives for a long time, that will require serious attitude, behavior, and cultural adjustments for years.

Take care of yourselves, my friends.


Sick on Saturday

Tonight I can almost swallow with minimal pain and sort of breathe through my congested head, big improvements over yesterday and earlier today.  I came home from DC with a very sore throat and aching head, signs of a cold that was going to the next level.  Yesterday I stayed home from work and slept for long hours and a nap mid-day, which made the kitty happy but didn’t help a lot.

This morning I went to Urgent Care – yes, I know, hard to believe – and confirmed that it’s a sinus infection. Turns out the nurse practitioner is someone I see every day on the bus, which made it more personal, and now I have antibiotics which should start to work soon.  After a quick stop at the grocery store, since my house had almost nothing in it, I’ve spent the day being quiet and blowing my nose.

And I did some medical research, which is not always a good thing.  Sometimes too much knowledge gets in the way.  My gynecologist left me a message that there were abnormalities in my annual pap smear, so now we’re going to follow up with a pelvic ultrasound and endometrial biopsy.  It’s probably nothing and even if it is, they can deal with it.  My mind, however, has gone to cancer and hysterectomies and a feeling of great loneliness that I will be facing it alone.  Oh, I have a big network of supportive friends but right here, in the physical world, it’s a bit different.  Let’s just hope I can get the tests done quickly so I know what I’m dealing with.

Sinus infections are easier.


Gym Follow Up

Sometimes we ask for what we want and it doesn’t work the way we expected.  Case in point:  I decided at my WW meeting yesterday that I would be brave and go back to my gym and ask to set up a real orientation session to learn how to adjust the machines.  It seemed easy enough and how threatening could it be, to just go in and ask some questions?

I stopped on my way home from work, all bundled up with cold weather clothes and with a bad case of hat hair which doesn’t do much for feeling pretty.  I went to the fitness desk with the little blue-shirted young perky trainers and asked about getting one or two paid sessions with a trainer to make sure I know how to do the logistics of the machines.

The next thing I knew, I was talking to a manager – who turned out to be the same 24 year old guy who did my original orientation, the one that had consisted of a quick tour and a hard sell on the packaged trainer sessions.  He did say that individual sessions were available at $60/ea, up to 12.  But if I were to pay that, it would be cheaper to just sign up for the smallest package, which is twice a month at $40/each.  But then I would need to also pay an enrollment fee.

The numbers got me muddled because, let’s be honest, what I wanted wasn’t what he was talking about.  I can appreciate that they want to see us achieve our goals – as long as that means they sell more training packages.  And I admit that having a trainer twice a month could be very motivational, assuming I went.  Since I’ve been particularly good at avoiding the place completely, I just didn’t want that option.

I left having not signed up for anything.  I’m saving up for a new car (more on that another post) and think that I’ll just try again to go back and figure it out on my own.  And if it’s too hard for me to make sense of it, or to get over feeling intimidated by all the men and perky toned youngsters, well, we’ll see what happens.

Richard Simmons’ Sweating to the Oldies sounds better all the time.


Hiding behind Anger

Angry womanI stayed home sick today and watched Oprah, something I rarely do even though I like the show. The topic today was creating a spiritual relationship and started by having the audience write down 5 words to describe their marriage or whatever relationship they were focusing on. They were then challenged to go home and ask their spouse or partner to do the same thing, writing down 5 words, and then comparing their list and talking about what they wrote.

From there guest Gary Zukav began talking with couples about what they learned and how they would move forward from this point. I got distracted by one thing he said to the first couple — that lashing out in anger at each other was acting out of pain and that the pain came from fear. Basically where there is anger, underneath it all is fear. It’s a cue to pay attention to the things in yourself that need to be fixed, not about fixing your partner.

I found myself thinking about how this applied to me as an AngryFatGirl. After all, “angry” is part of the name and it represents so much. I find myself lashing out in anger far too often and I knew that it was coming out of pain but I don’t think I’ve allowed myself to focus much on the fear that is underneath it all. Fear of being alone, fear of being rejected, fear of dying early, fear of being the butt of jokes, fear of being ugly, fear of failure, fear of success and not being able to handle living as a thinner person after all the work to get there. That’s a lot of fear to hide.

It’s a lot easier to just bury it and not try and address those really deep, elemental emotions. Acknowledging them, facing them, trying to FIX them, leaves me very vulnerable and drained. But not doing that means they are still there and they don’t go away by themselves. I haven’t dug deep into my emotional stuff lately because I haven’t had time for the introspection that requires, but it does need to be done.

One thing I’m afraid of is not being able to get back in the groove of comfortably following my WW foodplan and exercising regularly. I did it for a long time so I know that it’s possible, but I’ve had trouble getting back to it. But it’s important not only for my body but for my spirit. I think this is the first fear I will address because it’s manageable. I can deal with the other fears in turn but with some success in facing this one, I’ll be able to do so feeling more confident which is a better place to be in dealing with powerful emotions.

I didn’t get fat or angry or fearful overnight; they are intertwined and grew with time. So it will take time to face them. But by recognizing the reality of what’s going on inside and how it’s all connected, and not giving myself a deadline, I can do this. The first thing was just to understand and recognize what was hiding behind the anger.