I\’m stuck at home waiting for the county\’s Housing Opportunity Commission\’s inspector to come out and do the yearly inspection of my apartment. It\’s one of those appointments like the phone company or a plumber: \”the service technician will be dropping by between 9am-4pm, and a leaseholder must be home at the time.\” Balls. Castrated, diseased balls. I\’m no longer used to sitting at home all day, and I\’ve got a loooooong list of things I need to be doing elsewhere, so I\’m rather antsy. One entry, updated over the hours, instead of several providing friends-list filler. LJ social niceties.
1:15p: The county\’s mental health department & What is narcolepsy?
The county\’s mental health department wants to survey me for one of those \”how we doin\’\” things. I\’ve been with them so long, they value my opinion, or did they grab my name/Social Security number at random? I don\’t know. But I\’ll be happy to give them an earful. To start, I actually have a question, which is, \”why is narcolepsy listed as among the mental health matters treated? Narcolepsy isn\’t a mental health disorder, syndrome, or disease; according to the National Institute of Health, it\’s a neurological disorder. Neurologists treat it, usually, sleep specialists mostly, and sometimes the odd psychiatrist who has a level of knowledge and comfort with prescribing high levels of modafinil (Provigil and Nuvigil) and GHB (Xyrem). Is the inclusion of narcolepsy as a mental health matter because those with it sometimes or often need counseling to learn to cope with the stigma and life disturbances that narcolepsy brings? Please explain.\” Yes, that ends up being more than one question.
1:45p: Journaling software for nuts
Earlier today, I found pretty much what I consider to be the best thing since metaphoric sliced bread: MyPsychTracker.com. I\’ve tried using Tranglos\’ Keynote (not the Mac one), paper journals, Livejournal, WordPress with custom fields, a custom designed MySQL/PHP journal that I made myself and ultimately never used due to the memory drag of having to run a server on my home computer to use it, this other software thing specifically for health symptoms that I downloaded while in Australia in 2004 but it wasn\’t quite what I wanted and now I don\’t remember the name of it, XJS… but none of them are quite THERE.
To be honest, MyPsychTracker.com isn\’t, either, but it DOES have a living development community that I can bug to implement new ideas, and it DOES have symptom support groups, which makes using Livejournal look like it usually feels to me — yelling into an echo chamber about my head and getting condolences but few ideas.
I don\’t like in-person support groups because you can\’t pick and choose what you need to hear (eg, if this week I\’m in an insecure place and hearing about sad things is going to make me feel more sad, what I would need is to query a neutral co-group about ways to bring myself out of the sad place and not get brought back down — without having to listen or read about other peoples\’ stories which might set me off). Mental health support you can pick and choose: duh! I can only get 45-60 minutes of actually psychotherapy a week, so being able to pick and choose support outside of therapy could be a great help. Especially these days.
2:05p: My slum lord; How poor folk get housed; DC housing costs; What to do with that pesky federal poverty guideline; Internautte will save us
My apartment did not pass inspection. The windows are swollen in the frames in four out of the six windows without air conditioning units. So swollen, in fact, that they can only be opened about eight inches wide. The bathroom window I can\’t open at all. Inspector said he\’s going to tell the landlord that the repairs have to be made, as well as a crack in the plastic window in the kitchen. None of this will happen, though, I\’m sure. My landlord has had several lawsuits against him in the past few years. He\’s such a baddy, in fact, that the National Fair Housing Alliance uses his practices and one of the many cases against him as a \”model\” anti-discrimination case (top statement). And that instance is just a start for him. Augh.
On one hand, it\’s terrible that people who don\’t have the financial means get forced to do business with people like this guy (and that I was one of those people who didn\’t have the means, so did the business, because there was no place else to go). On the other hand, it does sting that even though I AM working my butt off now, in this area I\’m still essentially making no money and so I\’m still the working and invisible poor.
Before taxes (not sure I\’m claiming/filing, anyway) and without counting my SSI since I don\’t MAKE that, I\’m making $11,840 (based on the last four months of work); almost unbelievably (this is the USA, so stomach-turning financial things aren\’t that unbelievable), $11,840 a year for one person is actually $1,444 OVER the 2008 federal poverty guideline. Which officially means that even though I wouldn\’t be able to afford to rent anywhere (the average rent, according to today\’s ads so far on DC\’s Craigslist for people seeking a roommate or renting an unfurnished room in the District of Columbia, — 33 total rentals, $24,035 total rent per month = $728.33), I still wouldn\’t be considered poor. Think about it: if DC\’s average rent for a room (according to Craig\’s List) is $728.33 a month, that\’s $8,739.96 per year.
Harvard\’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released a study in 2006 showing that though the average American spends 18% of income on housing costs per year, 30% of yearly income or less is the recommended amount (in fact, reputable lenders and landlords won\’t serve you if your home of choice will make you pay more), the Washington, DC metropolitan area\’s average housing cost is over 50% of each household\’s annual income. That\’s normal here. So if I spent my average $8,739.96 to rent a room, I\’d have $3,100.04 left for the rest of the year, or $258 a month for transportation, food, OTC medication and co-pays, clothing, household and hygiene. That\’s basically how I was living, finance-wise, in 2002. But still not considered poor, oh, heavens, no!
Uh, the first thing I do when I become President in 2012 is scrap federal guidelines for poverty and bring them to the municipal level. Even state level is irrelevant. The difference between Montgomery County, Maryland (stinking filthy rich, in places) and Caroline County (rural, poor) or places in Baltimore City (pockets of urban poor), is just ridiculous. And Maryland is the 9th smallest state by land (10th counting DC), the fifth largest state by population density (don\’t know where DC fits in there), and is the 19th largest state by population. Imagine how hard other states, with more counties, and more urban areas but less density, would be to figure out? For fuck\’s sake!
First thing we do in office (in this fantasy world I am creating, of course), is do a complete public policy overhaul.
3:00p: Internet bye-bye; Backing that shit up; Note to self: don\’t so business like this
This is the most time I\’ve spent on the computer outside tooling around on it in between customer flow at the store on Sundays, since January. And it shows. My RSS feeds have gone into overload (I\’m not even going to bother trying to catch up on ArtsJournal ever again — it has 11,700+ unread news stories!), I don\’t know what\’s going on in the world anymore but my back has been feeling better (uh, until about ten minutes ago, that is), but my writing skills are very, very rusty. I\’m not happy about the last part. But at least I still know how to pull up my data to make an argument.
I miss writing argumentative papers, like for the political sociology and U.S. foreign policy classes I took. Those were only a year ago and a half ago, but somehow it feels like a lot longer — untouchable, like a dream I remember having, but can\’t remember when. I do miss that vital ON BUTTON. While I\’m keeping busy now, and enjoy it, I\’m not intellectually stimulated, which does bug me. I\’m learning to unlock other parts of me, but I miss doing what I\’m good at: RESEARCH, MOTHERFUCKER. Back that argument up.
(It pissed me off a LOT when I went to my boss last month and said, \”We should do coat check for X night in a few weeks because last year I checked Y amount of coats and made Z amount of money,\” to which he replied, \”Really? I wasn\’t going to do coat check this year, forgot we had it last year; I\’m glad someone keeps track of these things.\” WHAT THE FUCK, ISN\’T THAT *YOUR* JOB, TO KEEP TRACK OF THE AMOUNT OF MONEY I HAND OVER TO YOU AT THE END OF THE NIGHT?! Ass. Anyway, I did coat check the night I argued for and made $150 after checked 100-odd coats. Convincing data rarely fails.)
3:08p: I\’m not insane, I\’m just a stressed person with bipolar disorder; \”Odyous of olde been comparisonis, And of comparisonis engendyrd is haterede;\” Normal is also a comparison, if you think about it
I forgot, I wanted to say that yesterday, my psychiatrist comforted me greatly during my appointment. I\’ve been concerned that maybe how I\’ve been feeling lately has just been my bipolar suddenly out of control, but she assured that she didn\’t think that was the case. (Paraphrase:) \”No, you\’re going through two major life events right now that would send even a non-bipolar person off their heads and make them act manic.\” I can\’t begin to explain how much better it felt to have my doctor tell me that, because on one hand I think I am handling my current life (newly married, planning wedding, planning party, working full time for the first time in ten years, changing my identity structure from \”disabled\” to \”with disease(s) but capable, just have to monitor myself,\” my grandfather getting closer to dying every day, and then managing how my illness relate to everything I just listed) well, but on the other hand I am still the abject perfectionist who [okay, I keep retyping this bit — I want to type \”will not allow,\” but I know that\’s too harsh and I\’m trying to not be so harsh, so then I type \”does not want accept,\” but I know that inside my head OF COURSE I don\’t want to accept it, so that phrasing doesn\’t seem to project how severe my mindset is] demands perfection…as a perfectionist does.
I say to myself, yeah, sure, I have narcolepsy, CFIDS/M.E., a broken butt, bipolar, PCOS, diabetes, and a host of other, more minor things like asthma, allergies, cystic acne, rosacea, ocular rosacea, Raynaud\’s, and then all that \”crazy shit\” like social anxiety, BDD, ADD, and BED, but people are always telling me that other sick/disabled people still do things. \”Look at so-and-so! She lost both legs and an eye but still WALKS her dog.\” (I love the use of the word walk; is it because the dog is walking, or because the speaker isn\’t thinking?) Yeah, crips and crazies do amazing things all the time, so… I should, too!
I should be housewife of the year AND daughter of the year AND granddaughter of the year AND mother of my furry children of the year AND get a promotion at work AND work more hours at both jobs AND take on more work AND consider other activities AND plan both a wedding for 100 people and a giant nightclub party all by myself AND keep my health together AND pay my bills while putting $5,000 toward the wedding because Matt isn\’t putting any toward the wedding AND save money to buy and house AND look to move out of this shitty apartment soon AND if I can\’t manage to lose weight before the wedding (because I can\’t) at least I can manage to stop gaining weight AND I will do all these things PERFECTLY. Perfectly; with a smile on my face, no health relapses, no mania breaks sending me and my hard-earned savings into Bulgari to go on a mania-induced shopping-spree, no loosing my cool with anyone, no forgetting to take my meds — just such smooth sailing that everyone around me forgets that I\’m even there except in a helpful capacity.
Yeah, my psychiatrist said I\’m actually responding perfectly normal for someone even without bipolar. I actually agree with her. I mean, I\’ve seen it happen; the people on my mom\’s side of the family don\’t have bipolar, but the women are all fucking nuts, as in they\’re all perfectionists. And the more stress thrown at them, the more they take upon themselves to make perfect. Somehow, it\’s their way of remaining calm: is there is so much responsibility to be had that you can only just barely keep your head afloat and have no time to think of anything except responsibility, then you will survive. Take a moment to think, and you drown. Fortunately, I\’ve got myself a nice level anti-depressant, one level mood stabilizer, and another mood stabilizer on the rise right now, just when I need it. I\’ve got a psychiatrist and a therapist. I\’ve got pain pills, topical pain gels, pills to put me to sleep when it\’s bed time, pills to keep me awake when it\’s awake time and the narcolepsy is being a bitch, pills to make me focus when my mind is racing through mud. What do my female relatives have? Responsibility, marijuana, and alcohol. The playing level isn\’t even; I think I\’m going to win this one, dude.