the caged bird sings.

written, designed, and edited by Bee Butler

He will carry me.

Bee ButlerComment

I have a lot of memories that are tangled in songs, and one of the strongest is from the spring of my junior year of high school.

That morning I'd told my parents I didn't feel good, and for the first time in my life, they let me decide whether or not to go to school. I chose to stay home, and once everyone was gone, I curled up in my parent's bed and went back to sleep. I woke up to their alarm clock playing a Mark Schultz song on KLTY, the Christian music station I grew up on. For some reason, I felt like I was going to fall apart as the chorus swelled and I burst into tears.

Earlier that year, I'd had a breakdown over how I felt like I was going to hell (even though I was a virgin who had never done ANYTHING with a boy, had never ditched or failed a class, had never smoked or drank or anything else of that nature. Never snuck out, etc.) and I had fallen apart. Growing up in a fundamentalist church where grace isn't emphasized will give you one hell of a guilt trip, pun absolutely intended. The night of that breakdown I decided to make changes. I broke of with my boyfriend, finally began a relationship with a guy from church I had liked for three years, and transferred to a new high school. I was happy. Genuinely, realistically, hopeful and happy. 

Still, that morning the song made me cry. 
I cried largely because I have never felt adequate. The only time I had any peace was when I listened to my eating disorder and went to church 3+ times a week. Then I hit college. Hit serious relationships. Hit failure and rejection and developed a substance abuse problem. I heard the song again once in the drive thru at McDonalds at 5AM, buying 5 egg mcmuffins with hashbrowns and two diet cokes so that I could purge the food faster once I was done. It hurt too much to listen to, so I turned it off.

 

 

Fast forward to 2017. My family and friends and I talk about how I'm on the right track. I'm saving up and I can move into a place and bring all my stuff out from Texas, and I can find a church home, and I have REAL INSURANCE and a gym membership and my job gives two weeks off for Christmas and... I walked in today and was fired.

 

When I say it hurt worse than a breakup, I mean it. The feelings that choked me when my ex fiance broke things off over the phone, the feeling that I needed to beg and prove my worth and oh god PLEASE don't do this, I can't do this, please just let me show you that I can do this... and then the head of HR walked to my car and said she'd have my friend (who also worked there) clear off my desk and give me my things later.

Then I had to tell everyone.

I texted my friend who worked there. She was surprised, but ultimately she was disappointed in me. My mom was broken hearted, but she was broken FOR ME, and she tried to convince me it would be okay. 

The last person I had to tell was the hardest. He had the power to throw all of my belongings into the street, to kick me out, and I was about 90% sure he would. I sent him a text, and I got back "are you fucking serious?" so I started trying to make a plan. Unfortunately, since this felt like a breakup, specifically THE breakup, the one where I was engaged, that one? Since it felt like that, I reacted in much the same way, internally.

 

My brain went places I promised myself I would never go again. What was the point? My dream job was gone. I couldn't get it back. My friend was disappointed in me. Seeing her at work had been the glue holding things together. My mind automatically assumed she was done with me, too. And, of course, there was the matter of "you worthless piece of shit why can't you keep a job start looking now or get out", which was lovely, especially since my heart rate was nearing alarming levels from the adrenaline and anxiety and I was slowly realizing that I could never get insurance again if my coverage lapsed between this job and the next if the legislation currently heading into the Senate passed.

I turned on "He Will Carry Me" tonight and it hurt like I was being punched in the face.

I have no job.
I have no income.                                               [And, as anxiety rears its ugly head...]  
I have no future.                                                                  [Which obviously means...]
I will die alone, penniless, with nothing.                                 [So I should definitely...]

Just end it now.

 

That isn't an option. I love my brother too much. I love my mom and my dad and I could never hurt them like that. I honestly don't know that I would be able to say that I wasn't planning or actively considering it were it not for those three people.

 

This is not a cry for help. This is not wallowing or throwing myself a pity party or being childish. This is getting my ass absolutely kicked by chance and circumstance and surrendering to the fact that I cannot undo what has happened I am not adequately prepared to move forward right now. I feel like I'm going to throw up, to cry, to run... but I'm just going to read and beg God to let me fall asleep so that I can wake up and worry about this shit in the morning, because I've already applied to eleven other jobs in the (less than) twelve hours since my future was blown apart.

I have to find a way to make it work here. Maybe I need to move north, away from San Diego, closer to L.A. I miss Canyon Country and downtown Los Angeles and performing on Sunset Blvd and walking around Hollywood late at night. I want to go there and never come back.

I'm honestly considering applying for some jobs there. If I have to sleep in my car for awhile I will absolutely do it. Anything is better than the way I feel right now, because if this ache doesn't stop, I'm pretty sure my body will.

Uphill, both ways.

Bee ButlerComment

Small steps. Five-pound weights. Short sun salutations. Thirty minutes of simple, easy yoga.

I will fight my body every step of the way, not just to get fit, but to find the endorphins I'm missing because my serotonin production is failing me.

My thyroid is getting worse. Hashimoto's is a frustrating diagnosis. Every six weeks, I fill two vials with blood, and I get a phone call letting me know the "fate" of my medication levels. This week, the answer was "despite your increased dose, your T levels are too low, and we need to adjust". Too much levothyroxine makes me shaky, overheated; too little leaves me unable to get out of bed.

Monday, we check serotonin flow and decide if increasing medication will help, or if we need to move to something else. That "something else" might have terrible side effects, and an increase could cause 'serotonin syndrome', which has happened before. It causes grand mal seizures and a full-body shut down that could kill me.

The idea that my body hangs in the balance, stabilized by a handful of pills, is unnerving. Heart medication, something to lower the tachycardic-level beats per minute, blood pressure medication that raises the levels that fall to nothing when I stand up too fast; antidepressants, benzodiazepines (monitored carefully) to cull the panic attacks that cripple me from the inside out. A nerve pain reliever that helps with anxiety and steadies my day when Hashimoto's (and what may or may not be lupus) knocks me down, a mood stabilizer, a gastrointestinal medication that helps to keep my esophagus from deteriorating further, making it possible for me to eat without feeling like my insides are on fire... an anti-nausea med that would put any normal person to sleep, only taken in my worst moments, but still such a frequent dosage that it no longer makes me tired at all.

Vitamins that my doctors tell me will fill in the gaps. Natural remedies so that I'm not constantly popping NSAIDs for the pain... turmeric, ginger, coconut oil, bee pollen. Essential oils and a diffuser next to ten pill bottles... this is my every day.

It is so tiring. It is SO frustrating. I dread appointments, because no one has answers. I have become my own advocate, something that often infuriates my doctors, because I will no longer sit still and take pills when I know there are other options.

I fight this battle every second of every day. Sometimes it means I need to disappear. Sometimes I scroll through Facebook or Tumblr, posting and reading, but I don't have the emotional energy to reply to messages or texts. Sometimes my phone rings and I cannot summon the strength to answer it. I am too tired, too sad, too empty.

I love the people in my life. I appreciate the support and the help and the prayers and good vibes. I could not continue to fight without the help and the love.

Please, be patient with me as I struggle. I promise, I'm not ignoring you. I promise, I will call you back. I promise that I will not give up or give in if you promise to stick around, but I understand if you choose not to.

Depression and anxiety are no fun. Lupus, Hashimoto's, PTSD, OCD, GERD, and nausea are unbearable. I'm not dead, though, and I don't plan to be for another 60+ years. I just have to keep moving.