Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For those who have asked: The life of this Paranoid Schizophrenic

"I don't feel safe here anymore" says the 10 year old to her mother one evening.

Living with paranoid schizophrenia, for me, means living in your own nightmare. All of those movies, all of those books, all of those ghosts on TV are suddenly not on TV anymore, not on the pages of the books, and no longer on the silver screen. They're in your living room, they're in your bedroom, you see them reaching for you, grabbing at you. You hear them calling for you, out to you.

You hear the constant naggings.

Most people have that little voice in the back of their head. The one that tells them not to worry, or in some cases causes them to worry needlessly. The one that tells them about the negative consequences of the actions they're about to take. The harmless voices that most would consider a "gut instinct."

Mine come with faces.
Mine come with anger.
And fear.
And hate.

My voices appear as the skin and bones version of myself in the mirror, telling me exactly how beautiful I'm not. They appear as the ex-lovers of my life, reminding me of everything I did wrong to lose something so amazing and how I will never have that again, how I will never be happy again. As witches, and ghouls in the back seat of my car, screaming at me to listen as they tell me how wretched I am as an individual. Worst of all, they appear as scary, shapeless men in the corner, brandishing creepy smiles, and a wicked silence.

My voices attack me.
Their faces laugh at me.
Their bodies come after me.

I have to be careful. If I'm not, I black out. I've woken up with strange bruises, cuts I've never seen and a fogginess for what happened in the last few moments. The man in the corner, smiles greedily, patiently waiting for me to break, for me to agree with any one of the previous voices, for me to tell myself what an atrocious failure I have become. If he comes closer than the corner, I know I'm in trouble. If he moves even one step towards me, I need to brace myself. If I yell, his smile goes away, and he leaves, he exits my sight like a puff of smoke. But I know this will only cause a harder blow next time. That he will only take his revenge out on me later, in the only way he knows how. And next time, I won't be able to make him go.

Life hasn't always been like this. I didn't always see my voices. But I could always hear them, always feel them. They have always been a presence in my life. A voice calling out my name. A comforting whisper from a loved one in my ear as I fall asleep. A glimpse, out of the corner of my eye of a face, long forgotten, feared or loved.

I haven't gotten rid of any faceless voices, many of them found their form.

It's not always bad. Life isn't always about avoiding the man in the corner. Screaming at hurtful, cackling ghouls isn't an everyday occurrence.  Sometimes, they're friends, long since forgotten, guiding me through difficult decisions. Old lovers, not seen or heard from in ages, talking me through to a calming realization about my life.

Life as a paranoid schizophrenic isn't a life to be pitied. But a life of strength and courage. To stand up to a man you can't fight with your fists, or with another hurtful claim. To scream back at those who would tear you down. Standing up for your life against those who know it best. Those who have not just heard your thoughts but have seen them, heard them, been those thoughts. To realize, and be okay with the fact that not only do you have complete control over your own life, but simultaneously, you have no control over the life you lead.

This schizophrenic, will live her uncontrollably, controlled life in every way she sees fit. If only because the voices say that she can't. If only because the voices push her until they say that she can.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jelani the Mighty (and a bit odd)

When I was a kid, we had this ferret named Blizzard - Blizz for short. She was this absolutely adorable, mischievous, albino ferret who proceeded to curl up in my dad's fleece coat when he picked her up, and she was ours. Several years later, she escaped from the family room while her cage was being cleaned, and well, a dog got her. Needless to say, she didn't make it. But the love for ferrets never left me.

So as a Junior in High School, what did I want for my birthday? A ferret. What did I get? Well, he looked like a ferret, smelled like a ferret - at first - but he certainly rarely ACTED like a ferret.

I was looking for a specific color ferret - that really nice Dark Chocolate Masked variety. Preferably female. And with lots of spunk. But I went to the store, and found this little teeny ferret and was in love. I dragged mom out to the store and said "this is the one." A cinnamon sable, male, runt of a ferret, who would go on to change my world.

Neither one of them truly enjoys baths...
Here's how life with this little guy went:

Ferrets love baths.
He hated water. I don't think I've been glared at more, than when I said it was bath time and tossed him into a tub.

Ferrets love running around and doing their "war dance"
He slithered just about everywhere, like his legs were broken. Similar to a snake, but covered in fur...

Ferrets dook constantly when they're excited.
He never really made a peep in his life.

And the list just goes on. He took just about every stereotypical ferret behavior you could come up with and threw it out the window. He acted as tough as he could though, and - after much research into where ferrets probably originated - I named him Jelani which is Swahili for "mighty."

Jelani was my baby boy - my baby Je. But now my baby is gone.

He was never a healthy ferret. Even when he was little. Some nights he would just start vomiting. And if you're unfamiliar with the way ferrets vomit, it's a scary thing to witness, as they truly define the phrase "projectile vomiting." His weight constantly fluctuated for no apparent reason.

But he was never the same after he and I took the long trek to South Carolina.

When I moved to Columbia, I thought I was going to lose him, he lost a lot of weight, his fur started to thin, and he started getting lethargic. He was thought to have a tumor, but eventually, the idea was dismissed, and we continued life as normally as we could.

But he played with Eeva, although, admittedly, a bit roughly. He loved to tumble around with her, and chase her all over. After separating a tumbling pile of squealing fur, Tristan of course always defended the Christmas Kitten, and I always took the side of my mighty warrior. They were the topic of many arguments. And as he seemed to have a good bit of energy, we continued on, with the continued idea that it would be awhile before I had to say goodbye.

And once again he saw life throw me a curve ball, and he took another 10 hour drive with us back to North Eastern Ohio.

Jelani (bottom) and Majivu (top) Chillin' together
He began seriously losing weight, and sleeping more often. So, when a ferret at work stole my heart, I brought home Majivu, with the intent to give Je a companion, as well as make him more active. It was working, for quite some time.

After a couple of months things quickly took a turn for the worst. He lost a lot of weight, extraordinarily quickly. He wouldn't and almost couldn't play for that long, and it was obvious something was wrong. I watched as slowly his weight loss turned from "Senior animals just tend to be bonier as they age" to "his eyes have begun to sink in, and I haven't seen him eat more than a couple of bites in a couple of days..."


Kidney failure was the diagnosis. The prognosis? "...just make him comfortable"

So that I did. I bought - or more like had Dad buy - bottles of Pedialyte, and warmed up baby food chicken, which I fed to him through a syringe. I put wet ferret food slurry in the cage about once a week, and things looked up a tiny bit for him.

But not enough to change anything.

A few weeks later, I came home from a dance, to find a stressed Majivu pacing the front ramp of his cage, and every once in a while, frantically trying to warm up his best friend. I've never seen a ferret more worried in my life. I watched Je's body for the sudden heave of his abdomen - ferrets will commonly look like they are not breathing when they are asleep, and then will suddenly have a deep intake of breathe before breathing normally for a few minutes, it's almost like they forget how to breathe temporarily - but it never came. I shifted the hammock he had himself curled up in, and the whole body shifted awkwardly, the ears never twitched, his head never popped up dazed and confused, and I realized suddenly that I had lost my beautiful baby Je. We proceeded to move, placing him in a box, digging a whole in our backyard near where my beautiful Batik rests, and buried my handsome warrior.

But that's not how I will remember him. I won't remember his lifeless body, curled into a ball against the wall of a hammock at midnight. I will not remember him as a box in a hole in the ground in the ivy of our backyard. No. Surely, that will not be the case.

Adventure time outside
I will remember my Mighty Warrior scuffling around the living room of my old 2 bedroom apartment. Slithering his way through the grass of our big backyard. Bouncing around Azael, confused, because the spiky ball didn't want to play with him too. Stuck in his big blue ball, unable to properly move around in it, and walk anywhere, so he just sat there, looking at you pleadingly to let him out. I'll remember how the vet swung him like the pendulum on a big grandfather clock, to calm him down so they could check him out. The way he used to hop around silently, afraid of the paper towels being shaken in his face, proceeding to attack every roll of paper towels he came into contact with. I will look back and remember the dozens of squeaky mice I've had to buy from the cat toy sections of pet stores because they were his favorite, and he always tore them open, ripped out the squeaker and bit down hard enough to prevent it from squeaking - of course proceeding to get bored of the mouse, and walking, or slithering around continuously sighing in boredom, until I was guilt tripped into buying yet another mouse.

I will remember the night before he died, when he actually chose to cuddle me, before choosing to play with Majivu. Sleeping in my lap, and on my shoulder, while I cleaned his cage, and played tug with Maji.

I will forever remember the joy this little boy brought to my life. And know that he was there for me, during all of the high school heartbreaks, deaths of other family members and pets, through my successful graduation from high school, and my failures as an academically inclined college freshmen, though the pains of moving away from home and starting a life far from anything you've ever known. He supported me, whole heartedly, through fights with a fiancee, the stress of moving once again, the heartbreak of being dumped, and the feeling of defeat as I packed up a truck to move back home.

I'm just glad he was able to see me happy again. That he left us, knowing that he took fantastic care of me. There are many times where I believe he did more taking care of me, than I did of him. I gave him what he needed, sure, but he gave me so much more. And for that I am so grateful, and so glad he was a part of my life.

 I will forever miss the little stinker, but he was my baby, and I'm simply glad my baby feels better.

Glad he can finally be at peace.
My baby, the day we brought him home. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The product of being hassled...

So, I am apparently rubbish at updating everyone on my life properly, and am being told to update my blog with another "life update" post.

I still work for Petco. Its... well... stressful is an extreme understatement. There's currently a lot of drama and I'm not really sure it's worth it some days. We've got a lot of people going after others, some people trying to get others fired, a lot of hated, and a level of dramatics that rivals... some... drama production... probably Shakespeare...

Bright light at the end of the professional tunnel? It will hopefully work itself out in a month, tops. I'm also FINALLY in the program to be a trainer. I'm a trainer trainee (which makes me laugh more than it should). I spend 2-3 nights a week up in Strongsville where I watch classes and discuss technique with a mentor trainer. Hopefully I'll be able to take over classes before the other trainer leaves, and we don't have such a huge gap between us without any classes...

What else, what else?

OH! (IO) I'm going back to school this fall. It's about 6 months earlier than I expected to be thinking/stressing about school, but I spoke to my adviser and because of how small ATI is, it would be better for me to start this fall and take two full years at ATI before going back to main campus Ohio State. Soooo here comes Chemistry (again) in August. I'm very nervous, very excited, and partially relieved. Not really sure how to feel about school again, as the last time I tried this, it went HORRIBLY, but I'm relieved that I am finally taking steps forward with this whole career thing. So I don't have to sit here and wonder if I won't be stuck in retail my entire life. (Let me clarify that statement by saying that I actually have an incredible respect for people who make careers out of retail positions, and even more for those who enjoy it, I just happen to really NOT LIKE retail... AT ALL. It's just not something I see myself doing 10-15 years down the line.)

The animals are doing much better!

Azzy is quilling currently... so... he doesn't come out much, even at night he's not as active... Imagine teething... big spiky things... all over your body... I can't really say as I blame the little guy for being extra grumpy for the next few weeks.  Otherwise, he is as adorable as can be. Even comes out of hiding to play. Generally, he has to be coaxed out with food first, but it's progress!

Sarafina meows all over the place and has so far managed to escape the dogs' love of chasing cats around the house. She's adjusted to stairs and jumps and mantles quite well!

Jelani has a new playmate: Majivu. The two of them were NOT good friends for the longest time, going as far as big fights that I had to leap out of bed to break up in the middle of the night. I had to bathe them to clean up blood a couple of times, but now, they can't STOP cuddling with each other. And are generally adorable and hilarious. Majivu has done exactly what I had hoped he would do and that is help keep Je active.

Shadow has no idea how to react to the ferrets. She just doesn't get them. At all. They start playing and she is right at that cage, tail wagging, whining away that she can't join in on the fun, or understand what is going on.

She's probably the most surprising of the adjusted animals. We were all afraid she would just constantly cower in corners and bark constantly, and shake 24/7 and just generally not adjust well. Turns out, she's actually a rather dominant dog. She's constantly getting into it with Dawson over the head hauncho spot in the dog line up. Tiberius has taken is spot on the bottom and Shadow's thought is that she's definitely alpha, until Dawson wants to claim his alpha spot and then she is a very close beta.

Tiberius and Shadow are the best of friends. Seriously, they are NEVER far apart unless we have separated them. I think Shadow may have an unnatural attachment to Tiberius, as she whines and paces when he is not around... Every morning, she has NO interest in getting up, until he is. Once Tiberius is up and about, all she wants to do is pounce on me to wake me up, hurry to her food bowl, go outside, and then rush back in to play with him. Dawson, of course, being the crotchety old man that he is, does not approve of the juvenile act of play between puppies. If they get into playing with each other while he is around, he leaps up (as fast and leap like as a 10 year old 120 lb dog physically can) and barks at them until the cower away.

What else is going on in my life?

Not a whole lot...


I'm dancing.

I don't dance as often as I would like, mostly, because I would like to dance every moment of every day. But I'm at least trying to get out there and dance some more. I went to a workshop Cleveland (Burning River Blues) a while ago, and am already registered to go to Exchanges in Cincinnati (CincyLX) and another one in Cleveland (ClevelandLX) with plans for two more (Time Warp Swing in Columbus, and PittStop in Pittsburgh, PA). And am hoping to get some random Saturday night dances in between exchanges.

I'm still painting...

Everything is on my store, minus a couple of things I'm still waiting to finish, but yeah, that's still a thing. More of a hobby thing than anything else. It's not really selling, or working as a hobby that funds itself, but it's certainly a fun hobby to have.

Anyways... I think that's everything... I don't really have a lot going on, which is why I don't really update people or my blog as much as some people would apparently like me to.
Life's a little boring, but maybe that's for the best right now.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sometimes, life tests your lemonade making abilities.

Life very rarely goes the way you want it to. Which, for a person like me is excruciatingly frustrating. I'm the kind of person who LOVES to plan. LOVE LOVE LOVES to plan. I have a plan for exactly how things will go, when changes will be made, and exactly what those changes will be.

Which, upon internal reflection, is a truly silly, and not at all useful trait to have.

For those of you who are unaware, I have moved myself back to Ohio.

After a brief spat, and a long talk, it was decided that it was best that I come home to Ohio and figure out my professional life before things got too serious in Augusta. So, here I am. I currently live with my parents, in my old room. I came back with a dog, a hedgehog, a cat and a ferret.

Life is a little crazy here, mostly because of the new dog, and because I'm not used to all the commotion at all hours of the day (and sometimes night), but we're all adjusting.

I interviewed today (promisingly) for a position as a full time sales associate, reptile and aquatics specialist and dog trainer with Petco! I'm very excited for that opportunity.

As far as the rest of my plan goes, I hope to be going back to school on a VERY part-time basis in the Winter. Take a few classes that are a good mix of fun, and relevant, do that for a year and a halfish, earn up some moneyz, and then transfer down to main campus. The plan is now, to study animal science, and "grow up" to be a Zoo Keeper.

That's the plan, thus far, who knows what will happen in two months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years... I certainly didn't expect the events of the last two years to happen, every 3 months or so I got a new surprise!

But life exists, sometimes, to do nothing except send you buckets and buckets and buckets of lemons to see just what you'll do with them.

Little does life know, my lemonade will sell faster if it also sends me Oranges, Ugli fruit, basil and ginger...