Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Ridiculous "Hello" from Halloween

Hello Friends:

So there I am, in my kitchen, trying to make something to eat.  No, this story is not about mice.  Much.  Other than to say you know how hard it is to cook in a kitchen that has recently been visited by varmits.  I still do not have them out with certainty, but it's been five days since they've been sighted.  Heard one in the walls last night, but it did not enter the actual house.  Traps are empty.

Okay, I said this wasn't about mice.  It's about me trying to make lunch.  I'm having a very down day, with a bit of bad news, feeling overwhelmed in general, and dealing with my mice-heightened kitchen OCD issues that are not fun at the best of times.  And I know I am supposed to eat lunch, if I don't, I feel much worse as my sugar drops.  I struggle with myself, and finally settle on something I think I can force down.

I usually eat lunch as quickly as possible, with as little fuss as possible.  I am just not a 'lunch' sort of person.  I don't like lunch food, like sandwiches.  So I end up making either dinner or breakfast for lunch.  I knew it would be more work that I was quite up for, but I chose to make some pasta with red sauce and a good dose of cheese for added protein.  I knew that would hold me through the rest of a busy day.

Cook pasta.  Stand around.  Stir pasta.  Turn on fan above stove because steam is all over the place.  Right.  Stand and stir.  Feel hungry and bummed out.  Pasta finally done.  Drain pasta and put in small serving bowl.  Return pot to burner and dump in sauce, onion, garlic, and pepper.  Feel less bummed out since sauce smells good.  (One pot is always the way to go ...)  Stir and simmer.  Starting to actually want to eat this stuff, and hunger is pretty bad.  Dump pasta back into pot with sauce.  Stir.  Get cheese from fridge.  Sprinkle pasta in pot with healthy dose of cheese.  Then ...

Yeah.  It's like a sitcom around here sometimes.

Then ... a SPIDER, a big hairy black SPIDER drops on a line from the oven hood, inches in front of my face, and nosedives it right into the pot!  I $hit you not.  I about peed myself.  And get this.  He doesn't immediately croak because he is a big cuss and happens to have landed right on a bunch of cheese that just came from the refrigerator.  I am gape mouthed, and just starting to yell, when he seems to realize he is in MY POT OF BOILING SAUCE and starts reeling himself back up out of the pot!

The story ends here for the spider, because I hate them.  I'd have killed him even if he wasn't just spotted in my LUNCH.

I return to my pot.  I shut off the heat.  I sort of stare at it a moment, feeling bad for myself because there is just no way in heck I can eat this now.  And then I start laughing.

Because I am about to die of an irony attack.  I've spent the last two days decorating for Halloween, which is a holiday I love.  I do up the house like a vampire's lair, with fake spiderwebs and the whole shebang.  In fact, I have a bag of over 100 spiders I can put in the webs and scatter over the tables.  They really creep me out, which is sort of what I want on Halloween.

So what am I supposed to do?  Get all pissed off with the universe for giving me a good scare?  Too hypocritical.

Doesn't mean I was able to eat lunch, but I did get a serious laugh out of it.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Spiders on Flikr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Varmint Warfare

Hello Friends:

I was far, far too optimistic to hope I had managed to rid my abode of mice.  A week after we returned from our trip, my spouse spotted yet another varmint.  This time in the LIVING ROOM and the little sucker ran into the KITCHEN and went into the cupboard where my COOKING PANS are.

Of course you know, this means war.

At this point, there is no food they can get to, at all.  Everything in my pantry is now in glass.  All bread is in the microwave.  Everything else is fridge or freezer.  There is nothing here to tempt them.  There never really was, given I didn't see any signs of chew marks on anything, ever.  But for some reason they have moved into my townhouse.  I have now heard them scratching at the walls between us and the neighbors.

And all I can really think is, now what?  Seems like those sonic repellers, of which I now have six in my home, do pretty much nothing.  Well, that was always a possibility.

The land lady has been notified.  No response yet.


Where is my kitchen stuff possibly safe?  Do I have to find a way to pull everything out of the cupboards on the ground and only use the ones over the sink?  That's gonna put a dent into my dish holding capacity for certain.  Otherwise, I'm going to have to wash my pans all the time.  And I don't even like that idea because if the mice are ... are ON MY PANS then I don't think I even want to touch them.

Trap was empty this morning.

MY PANS.  Not to mention my KITCHEN and my LIVING ROOM.

Calm. Yes.  Calm.  We are eating out every meal today as I try to figure out how to deal with this.  Just not sure.  This is nuts.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info:  Promo photo for the Movie Caddyshack.  Character Carl Spackler plans his attack on the gopher that has been tearing up the golf course.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blog Carnival - World Mental Health Day

Hello Friends:

Welcome to the October 10, 2011 edition of World Mental Health Day Blog Carnival!!!  (At last!  Six hours late, thanks to Blog Carnival being down and then my own internet being flaky.)

Exposure Woman presents Exposing OCD: I am the Keeper of My Time posted at Exposing OCD.

Kat presents Am I Worth the Investment??? posted at Keeping In The Sunlight, saying, "World Mental Health Day post about being worthy of investing in your own mental health."

Blue Morpho presents Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace - A Little Goes a Long Way posted at Adventures in Anxiety Land, saying, "Some thoughts about how investing some time and energy in the workplace might help everyone, especially those w MIs."

Aliquant presents The Anatomy of Assault posted at Purple Noise, saying, "I'd like to submit this post as an example of where there is a severe *lack* of investment in simply being human. Someone who self-injures is seen as a second-rate citizen. Current political position is moving away from mental health considerations altogether with the focus being on physical health only - and there is no provision for danger to self including self-harm. Is it any wonder it's common practice to treat us worse than animals."

Jack presents Why doesn't mental illness have a color? posted at One Man's War on Depression, saying, "I wrote this week about Mental Illness Awareness Week and my struggles with depression. Many thanks! This is my first "carnival" since childhood."

Kat presents World Mental Health Day: Investing In Mental Health posted at Keeping In The Sunlight, saying, "My view on what it means to invest in mental health."

Blue Morpho presents Investing in Ourselves - Treating the Whole Person posted at Adventures in Anxiety Land, saying, "A past post that is relevant to this year's WMHD Theme. A call out to MI sufferers to invest in ourselves by getting all the different kinds of treatment we need, and to advocate for ourselves."

blog carnival index page.

Technorati tags:   , .

Thanks so much to everyone who submitted to this little carnival!  I'm going right now to read and comment on all of your posts!

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Ferris Wheel, CC 2.0, Flikr via Creative Commons

Accommodating Mental Illness in the Workplace - A Little Goes a Long Way

Basic Office - No Touchy My Chair
Hello Friends:

The theme for World Mental Health Day this year is "Investing in Mental Health." With the wide variety of options for interpreting this theme, I finally chose to highlight the need for accommodations, particularly in the workplace. A little investment in time and energy, and much less investment in actual money, would improve the workplace conditions for many people who suffer with mental illnesses. In the process, conditions could be improved for everyone in the workplace.

In the US, certain mental illnesses fall under the Americans With Disabilities Act. This act requires that reasonable accommodations are made for otherwise qualified employees. You have a right to ask for changes to your workplace environment that will make you a happier and more productive employee. Of course, the kinds of accommodations needed by those with mental illness can differ radically from those with physical disability. We don't necessarily need ramps, elevators, or water fountains placed within easy reach. Instead, we might need a dedicated 'quiet' space to cool off, feel safe, or meditate, for example.

I first learned about possible accommodations by reading the materials at the Job Accommodation Network. Since the kind of accommodations we need can be seen as strange to others, you can't just go into your boss or HR department and say, "Make my life better." They might want to help, but have no idea how. You need to think of the concrete changes that you want, and consider how they can be implemented.

I started by making a list of everything in my work-day life that triggered my OCDs, GAD, phobias, and the rest. I tried to be as specific as possible.  I thought of ways to mitigate these situations, then went and discussed some specific ideas with my boss. He thought some of my request were odd, but did his best to grant what I asked.

Some things were easy.  I wanted a chair no one else would use. My OCD's make it difficult to use items that are 'public.' When we had big meetings, chairs would be pulled randomly out of peoples offices and dragged around the table. Even if you were not present, your chair might be appropriated. When I would come to my office and find my chair moved, I wouldn't be able to sit in it until it had been 'decontaminated' which can be a lengthy procedure. The same was true for other items, like my desktop computer.  He agreed that I alone had access to my chair and computer, unless IT had to do maintenance.

Some were more difficult.  The commute was very hard on me, over 1:15 minutes, and most of that on public transportation.  I have a very difficult time dealing with the GAD and OCD issues that come up on public transport.  Since I could see no way to change that situation, I asked to be able to work from home two days a week, so I could have a break from the stress.  He couldn't do more than one day a week, given the schedule of meetings.  But even that was a big help for me.

Mental illness, like any invisible illness, is very difficult for others to perceive and understand. The stigma remains - if you don't *look* like you need an accommodation, then you are taking up resources unfairly.  When I asked to have a chair of my own, some of my co-workers acted poorly.  Even though it was a small change, it was a noted change in office culture.  A few times people used my chair for meetings even knowing they were not supposed to.  I knew they were confused and some people interpreted any change as me trying to get attention or be 'special.'  They have no idea how badly I wanted to be 'normal.'  Some people were actually offended, wondering what was wrong with them that I wouldn't share my chair with them.

So the resources that have to be applied are mostly the time and energy to educate ourselves, and have our workplaces educate themselves, on what mental illness is, and what appropriate accommodation means.  Money is not usually the issue.  If we want people to be productive at work, we need to make the workplace as non-threatening as possible, and management needs to ensure and enforce accommodations and provisions so the requester does not feel like they are being outcast as other worker try to adjust.  Everyone needs to be educated.

Offices that begin to make accommodations or provisions for those with mental illness often find that it improves working conditions for everyone. Morale as well as physical wellness go up in environments where people are treated as whole people, not just workers.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: My workplace, CC 2.0, Flickr via Creative Commons

Fun with Blog Carnivals - Update

Hello Friends:

UPDATE:  Blog Carnival site is still down.  So when I finally get access, I will extend the deadline.  Bother.

Annnnd ... blog carnival site is down.  For crying out loud.  If it stays down for too long I'll extend the deadline.  But I wanted the edition to come up today for obvious reasons.  Sigh.

Computers make our lives easier.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Sunday, October 9, 2011

World Mental Health Day - Blogging on Investing

Hello Friends:

Want to join in on a little blog carnival for World Mental Health Day?  The 'how to post' is here.  That post also has a few links to other sites of interest.

Submit your post by noon EDT Oct 10, tomorrow to be included in this 'edition.'  The edition will list on Blog Carnival, and I will also post it completely in one blog post, myself.

I've been thinking more about the theme this year "Investing in Mental Health."  At first it might seem like it refers to how we can put more money into mental health care, or programs for mental illness.  But to me it is broader.  We have a lot of different things we can invest besides money - like our time, energy, enthusiasm, prayers, etc.  And we can invest them in a lot of places - ourselves, our family, community, food, jobs, planet and much more.  So there seem to be a whole host of ways we can view "Investing in Mental Health."  I know that I think a lot about how I invest in my own personal care.  I'm going to submit an older post about that, as well as a new one that looks at several ways to invest.  'Cause I can't stand the idea of missing out on anything.

I've read a lot of great posts on your blogs in the past that have to do with all the ways we can invest in mental health.  Please consider submitting them and/or writing up a new one and submitting that!

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Stopwatch, wwarby on flickr via Creative Commons, CC2.0

Friday, October 7, 2011

World Mental Health Day - Updates to Blog Carnival

Hello Friends:

Here's a friendly reminder, please join in on the Blog Carnival!

Okay, responding to some commentary from the people, I've made a few updates to the info for said Blog Carnival.

First,  Deadline change.  Deadline for the Carnival is now Noon, EDT, October 10, 2011.  So now it is possible to have your relevant post come up on October 10 (instead of before), and also be included in the Carnival.

Second, You can submit up to 2 posts.  Some folks want a little wiggle room.  Fine w me.

Third, Your blog does not have to be a mental health blog.  Even if you've never posted about mental health before, it would be great if you'd like to post about mental health just for this Carnival.

Fourth, If it is irrelevant, it will be deleted.  Here we are trying to do a little thing of our own for Mental Health Day, and already I've had companies submit stuff they are trying to sell.  Or just people submitting about the latest supplement or whatever.  Unreal.  So just to make it clear to the people who aren't bothering to read this, anyway, you can post a personal, non-selling, real life kinda thing.  Other stuff will be deleted.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Namibnat, Creative Commons via Flikr, Wild Elephant

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

World Mental Health Day - Join Me for a Blog Carnival

Hello Friends:

World Mental Health Day is on its way, October 10, 2011.  The theme this year is "The Great Push:  Investing in Mental Health."  Here are two of the sites promoting WMHD ... World Federation for Mental Health and World Health Organization (United Nations Sponsor).

My major contribution to WMHD will be to put up a blog post on Adventures in Anxiety Land on October 10, 2011 (of course) and to read what others post that day (of course).  There are a few places that are promoting us bloggers to blog the subject.  The one that caught my eye first was ... PsychCentral (Blog Party).  I'll be connecting my post that day to the PsychCentral Blog Party list.  But while it'll be fun to be a small part of something huge, it also sort of feels a little too impersonal.  I've really enjoyed reading all of your blogs, and thought it might be nice to do something a little more "close to home."

So, I have created a blog carnival at Blog Carnival called World Mental Health Day.  I would love to have you participate!  The end result will be a listing of submitted blog posts around the theme of WMHD 2011, Investing in Mental Health.  You can interpret that any way you want - investing money in a public program, investing time in a workshop on coping strategies, investing your energy in learning more about meds, investing your heart in hoping for better days ahead, or even investing your mind in blogging all the time :)

It is easy to submit a post.  Click on the link above, and then push the "Submit Your Blog Article to this Carnival" button at the top.  Fill out the form, which basically asks you for the URL of your blog post.  Submit by 9pm EDT on October 9 (UPDATE - Deadline Moved to Noon October 10, EDT) to be included on October 10, 2011!!!  You can submit the URL of an older post, if you prefer, or write a new one.  You can feel free to submit the post to other carnivals, or other blog parties or whatever.  Pass the carnival link on to your friends who have personal blogs about mental illness. (UPDATE - You can submit 2 posts for the edition.)

Then on October 10, the full list of submitted blogs will become available on Blog Carnival for us to peruse.  I think it will be great to have a corner of the world that's just ours, but also something we can point friends and family to to learn more about what "investing in mental health" means to those with mental illness.

(UPDATE - Posts that are selling something, hateful, not directly relevant, etc. will not be approved.)

This will be the first Blog Carnival I've ever hosted ... so here's hoping I don't mess up.

Please join in!  Looking forward to reading your posts!

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: PsychCentral Blog Party

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bitch Slapped by the Universe, Again - Part II

Hello Friends:

I apologize for the cliff hanger, especially since the story might not have the earth shaking climax expected in this modern world of high energy entertainment.  I can say I certainly didn't find the whole experience to be entertaining.  Other words come to mind, but not the sort I can write out online without a lot of $*#!% in them.

So, ah, okay.  There I was wondering how my kitchen would ever be tenable again, and feeling really rotten.  We ditched all the food, took out all the trash, and then I went back upstairs to try to get a few hours of sleep.  It was rough, knowing there was a mouse running around down there and knowing I couldn't do anything until my spouse went to work, came back, and then we went out to Home Depot to get some accoutrements for varmint warfare.

I tossed and turned, managed a few hours of sleep, and then got dressed.  I couldn't eat anything, not that there was much left.  But I couldn't bring myself to eat.  It was a strange feeling, though.  It didn't seem just a simple "this place is contaminated and I'm scared."  It felt more like it just wasn't right to eat.  It didn't feel right.  I couldn't figure it out.  Finally spouse came home and we went out, got some materials for fighting varmints, and then returned.

I bought two voltage traps, feeling bad about it all the while.  Ideally, I'd use catch and release traps, but there is no way I'd be able to handle a live mouse, thinking all the time I'd make a mistake and it would bite me.  And where could I release it around here?  Still, I felt as though this was another case of OCD making my choices for me, and I didn't like it.  Felt guilty.

In spite of all this, I got the batteries in the traps, got them baited, and put into place on the kitchen floor.  My plan was to try to catch the mouse over night, and then either way, to plug in the set of sonic rodent repellers all over the house the next morning, and hope that would discourage future visitors.  Not the best plan, and it sort of hinged on catching said mouse (since there is no concrete evidence that the sonic things work) but it was the best I could do.  I'd spent plenty of time figuring out what I could and couldn't use, like no poison obviously, and this was the best plan I could come up with.  We were going to be flying out the next day, after all.

And somehow at that point I started to feel better.  I sat down on the couch and tried to figure out why.  Mouse had not been caught, and I had no idea what would or would not work.  My husband suggested we go get dinner, and suddenly I felt like I could eat.  It took a while, but eventually it hit me that part of my problem was merely feeling totally out of control.  Once I had made a plan and put it in motion, I felt a lot better.  Even if it wasn't a great plan, I was clearly happy to be doing something, or at least doing the best I could.

My T doc is always reminding me that I don't always have to be doing something, or anything.  Sometimes the best or most functional response in a situation is to acknowledge it and then do nothing.  This really goes against my grain.  I always, always want to do something.  Sitting and abiding is the hardest.  And at least in this case, with a mouse in the house, one really did have to do something about it.  Maybe that's why I felt better, I'm not sure.  I'm not even sure that analyzing it is going to help, but you can't take the science out of the scientist.

Next morning ... there was a former mouse in one of the traps.  I was happy and sad.  Cognitive dissonance overload.  I had my spouse dispose of the entire trap, mouse included.  It's supposed to be good for 50 zaps, but I can't imagine reusing something that has had a dead mouse in it.  Ewww.

I plugged in the sonic repellers, and spouse and I left the house.  I'll have to put an update in sometime about if more of the critters show up or not.  For the moment, anyway, we seem to have success.

As for the kitchen, a good cleaning, and then putting food in glass jars, and the place is tenable again.  I have this strong sense of certainty that the place is okay.  I can't believe it.  I was expecting to be unable to use the kitchen for weeks, but I don't feel that way anymore.  Maybe this is a sign of general increasing mental health.  That'd be pretty nice. 

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info:  Mindy Mouse by Wednesday Elf - Mountainside Crochet, on flikr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0

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