The Importance of Doctor/Patient Trust

Today, I received multiple messages from my treating hospital with information I had never sought out because it was off-limits. However, they are now one of the first hospitals in the country to allow patients to view all of our medical records, respond to comments made by anyone who has treated us, and request corrections to the records themselves. This would not be a big deal, under normal circumstances. I’ve already had that level of access and would have to continually roll my eyes, be frustrated with the lies in the file, and ignore the ignorance and stupidity I was dealing with. Until today, when my psychiatric notes were revealed. I read one note from this week, scanned over it three times, and had to calm myself down because I contemplated breaking my doctor’s hands. Pissed is NOT what I felt at all. Worse, he is one of the people who knows me better than others, so I had a hard time swallowing the bullshit.

It took me leaving, and subsequently deleting, nearly ten messages before I was able to calm down enough to say, “I’m not sure if you have been made aware of the fact that I can now see your psych notes. We need to discuss this because I now feel I will have to edit 90% of what I say to you, and that is NOT how we’ve worked to establish trust as doctor and patient, not once from the first day I sat in your office. I’ve always trusted you, and you have always assured me your notes were clinical; yet THESE NOTES WERE PERSONAL. Without correction, they will follow me for the rest of my life. This needs to be addressed. You know precisely what I have been through with doctors writing their perceptions of me, as opposed to the facts I am spelling out, so we don’t need to talk about it next week, but it must be addressed at my next appointment.” I felt like I left the most honest, professional message I could, under the circumstances, and I changed my tone of voice so that he understood how this made me feel and how it would effect me moving forward.

For example, if I say, “I’m a mess.”, I don’t expect to see my doctor put that into clinical notes as the header of our discussion. Really?! Under typical conditions, I can only see we have discussed depression, trauma, PTSD, anxiety, suicidal ideation, etc. I’m using those topics as an example, not as facts. But to read my words twisted slightly to make me seem like a much different person. it retraumatized me from my previous medical trauma, and immediately made me want to say to him, “Are you OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND?! How stupid can you be?

Here’s what many people don’t understand about psychiatric notes; they can be subpoenaed in ANY court case. They can be used against you. One improperly written note can be twisted legally into something it isn’t. This has happened to me before; TWICE. He knows this. He knows it has deeply affected my life to terrible degrees, which is why I reacted as I did. I will, one hundred percent, be going through every damn note he writes from now on, and requesting our private discussions be removed from the medical record. They don’t belong there, especially since he processed this as “psychotherapy notes and ten minutes discussing medication”. We actually discussed medication for under five minutes total, with him saying he’d give it some thought and call me in a few days. I missed his call, and he’s damn lucky I did, because I’m not sure I’d be able to have controlled the tone of my voice or the aggression in what I was saying.

I used to wonder how he kept all of his patients lives straight, because his recollections are as precise as my own, until one day, I saw a notebook on his desk at the start of my session, and it’s one of a few he has on me. It’s a nice, leather bound notebook. The kind I’d journal in, and it is filled with his private notes on me. Lord only knows what’s in there! Yet, the actual medical record had way too much private info on me for him to claim he, “keeps it strictly clinical”. I am going to force corrections from 2017 right up until this past week. If he thinks I won’t go over it all with a fine tooth comb, then he’s forgotten the woman who first walked into his office, and declared herself, “A pretty mess.” I have been assured I looked like I was going on a date, but that nothing about what I’ve been through or said could ever be covered up with concealer and properly blended eyeshadow. At my second appointment, I tore him a new asshole for referring to my pulled together appearance as, “a mask” (after he ended the appointment by saying he was leaving in five weeks.), and he admitted I was right and he was wrong. He earned my respect by being a down-to-earth human-being who saw me as a human-being, and didn’t treat me like another annoying mental health patient who doesn’t respond well to medication. But this? This is a deal breaker. It violates everything I hold dear, and now I feel like my entire medical record needs to be turned over to me for review. If I seem like I’m calm, trust me, I’ve got fangs and I’m not afraid to claw those records apart. And I will absolutely hire a lawyer to get the personal information, which is not necessary for such records, completely omitted. He does not want to test me on this.

When my appointments were cancelled due to quarantine last March, it took me three months to get on board with Telehealth. Initially, I felt like other people needed the appointments more than I did. I had weekly appointments for months before I was forced to go down to twice a month. Before agreeing to these appointments, I kept asking myself, “Am I just a pain in the ass patient, am I a challenge for this doctor, will I ever feel better, or am I going to have to look for someone else?” I strongly considered a new psychiatrist because I was confused about how laid back and comfortable our communication is. It has always felt comfortable, human, and safe. It doesn’t feel that way now. In fact, I feel betrayed beyond words, and I wonder how much will require correction.

In this particular moment, I probably need to hear him out first, and then decide if I still want to break his hands. Of all the people I have met as psychiatrists and therapists throughout my mental health care journey, he is the first I have trusted the most. He’s also the first who isn’t completely afraid of me, but probably should be right now.

He won’t hear my message until Monday, and that’s fine. It gives me a few days to cook, read, maybe get in some yoga, do some psychic work, and remind myself that even though he’s taller than I am, I can still knock him out, and by that, I have to say that my message should be enough to make him see reason. As honest as I’ve been here, I will be ten times more honest with him because he needs to know what those notes did and can do.

Anytime there has been an issue between us, he has been good about hearing me out and fixing the problem. On that level, I should consider this before getting upset, but I couldn’t help reading through it and thinking, “Is this how you perceive me?” Because if it is, then there’s a bigger problem underneath it all and that won’t fly with me one bit.

In my message, I made it abundantly clear I might be undermining and/or underestimating my coping mechanisms going into the month of May (If you know, you know. If you don’t, you’ll see what I write next month or you can go through the previous years’ of work. It’s a rough time for me. Period.). I had said, “I don’t think I’ll make it through the month unmedicated.”, and he wants to revisit this discussion because he’s concerned about side effects, even though I suggested a medication I am extremely familiar with. I said this mostly because he will be away next month, during the worst of what I’ll be dealing with and that’s never a good feeling when I have to relive one of the worst months of my life, despite the fact that I have his permission to have him paged no matter what, and also have his personal cell phone number in case of emergencies.

The level of my trauma is a terrible loop and if I block things out, they can (and will) come up out of nowhere and throw me down a metaphorical flight of stairs. It cycles the trauma over and over again, and as he and I discussed this week, “We can’t medicate trauma.” Maybe one day, in the future, this will be possible, but for now, it isn’t. Not being about to help trauma victims and survivors is something the mental health community fails at deeply; in my personal experience.

I wanted him to know I wasn’t demanding the medication, and that I will defer to his guidance, but he also knows I agree to disagree with him a lot. And I do so respectfully. I might be upset, but that’s because this is a relationship I highly value. I’ve felt blessed that someone cared enough to have my back, and today, I felt stabbed in it by the one person who should know better because this is someone who, long before Covid, is the person I spent the most time talking to about the heaviest shit in my life. I will wait to see how this is handled on Monday, and next month when we speak at length. But I’m not going to lie; I am now contemplating dialing my appointments back to once a month and not being anywhere near as forthcoming as usual. As a direct result, I will be searching for a full-time therapist because clearly, if personal things are going to end up in the record, then he is not following proper procedure under the psychotherapy terms and conditions, where every note truly IS clinical and boring as hell.

***On the plus side, the notes state I’m ten years younger than I am, so that’s something he can keep on record. 😉 I’m maintaining the whole reverse aging thing. The fact that a specialist told me this week, “You’re young. You don’t need ANY cosmetic enhancements. There’s not a single wrinkle or mark on your face, and this has not changed since the day I met you.” These are the small things that make me smile while I am going through internal and mental HELL. Last weekend, I stopped into a liquor store to pick up wine and a few other items (I am craving Pina Coladas like nobody’s business! It’s odd. I’m not much of a drinker. I feel like quarantine turned me into a maniac I don’t always recognize.). The second I asked for two small bottles of Jack Daniels (for a recipe I love, but one that is very time consuming and doesn’t require more than a few ounces of JD. I think it calls for a few tablespoons, but I usually eyeball it.), was the moment when, not even realizing I’m behind a mask and sunglasses, the cashier asked to see identification. I could have been anyone. She couldn’t tell my height, eye color, NOTHING. Legally, they have to ask and I always offer, but it amused me. Like I said, these are the small things that make me smile.***

I hope everyone looks into their own medical records for this very reason. Don’t hesitate. Once I calm down, I’ll be tearing through mine like a starving vampire. It’s a good thing I’ve already fired most of the doctors who are in my chart, because they can’t fight me when I ask for something to be removed. It is my legal right. I’d hate to have to do the same with this doctor, so here’s hoping everything gets straightened out. I’d like to think that maybe this situation was a slip on his part, but I won’t ever make excuses for him, and he knows that.

It would be a shame for him to be on vacation with no hands. 😉 I have zero shame in being mean. After all, this involves my life. I should be fully involved in what is written about me, and so should you.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Positively Honest

I would love to sit down and write hearts and flowers nonsensical prose, but right now, it isn’t where I am. Also, if I ever DO write anything remotely like that, please send men in white coats to do a psych eval.

Life is crazy at the moment. My primary care doctor is leaving, so even though I will be handed off to another physician during the remainder of Covid (Someone to authorize three of my prescriptions a month and handle a few referrals.), I will still need to find a new doctor for post-Covid care. 😦 This sounds like no big deal, but could take 6-18 months in total. I’m talking from experience. It will be my fourth primary care doctor, too. If you’ve been lucky enough to never have to change doctors, kudos to you, but I have lived in many different places and in each place, I’ve needed a new doctor. In Massachusetts, primary care physicians aren’t very good, so this should explain why I am extremely nauseated at the idea of a fourth one since moving here.

I’ve been dealing with self-induced stress, because I am always in fight or flight mode. It’s not a good place to be, but it’s how you survive, sometimes with (or without) lasting damage. I am doing my best to pull myself out of the quick sand. I’ve asked no one for help, nor have I discussed this with anyone. My independent streak about many things is taller than I am, but at the end of the day, no one else can credit themselves for digging me out of my own pain and suffering.

I’ve made some important decisions over the past six months. “Invest in yourself” is the best advice I can offer up to anyone, at any stage of their life, and I am proud of myself for following through on this, and continuing to make investments as I move forward. A few more steps and I’ll be sharing a whole new venture with all of you. One I know will be better at maintaining connection. 🙂

In the past year, I’ve realized connection, in all forms, is quite important to me. I can’t express enough disgust at those who’ve not even bothered to check in or ask if I’m okay. That’s doing less than the bare minimum in a friendship, and I don’t need friends like that. I am not a surface level friend in any way, shape, or form. I like depth, partly because I can talk about anything, but have no patience for small talk. I catch myself tuning out the second the subject matter isn’t of a higher level. It’s sad, really, because far too many people prefer to stay surface level. It’s boring.

When all of this craziness began last year, I reached out to everyone I consider a close friend or family member, and I included a few people I’m not the least bit close with anymore, because it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring. It was disheartening to watch, as the year came and went, very few people remain connected. It must be nice to live in your own bubble and not care about anyone else (Yes, that’s sarcasm.). I can’t relate to that kind of behavior because, as a writer, I live inside my head, but I do come out to check on those in my world. I don’t pretend I’m too busy or that a text or a few lines of an e-mail is too much work for me to fit into my day. That would be bullshit. I can track how much time I spend promoting on social media, and I can always reduce that time, or multitask.

I am learning that it’s perfectly okay to move on without closure. I am learning how to do this because I don’t aim to come off as a bitch. It isn’t who I am, but am I ending friendships which, if you follow the Marie Kondo philosophy, aren’t bringing me joy? HELL YES. Especially if there’s nothing to hold onto.

Friendship, and all relationships, are built on a foundation. If both of the people involved aren’t doing the work, why should one person alone carry all the weight? They shouldn’t. I will not allow myself to feel guilty for cutting people off. Clearly, no one cares enough to even realize they’ve been cut off, so it goes.

I have to thank all of the new subscribers. It is such a joy to reach out to you and realize I AM connecting with a broader audience. I appreciate all of you. Every time I log in and see new subscribers, I feel proud of what I’ve been doing with this site. Many readers have been with me for YEARS, and I feel blessed knowing I still keep you reading. I’m never 100% sure why, but I do feel that people relate, and therefore, they connect to the things I talk about.

Of late, my time has been spent in rewrites. I am trying to complete a novel for sale. Not because I have to, but because I want to establish growth. I read plenty of fiction (The darker, the better.), but writing it is different. My entire career has been based on truth, and I feel confident in the things I have written which have made an impact on others. I’m not good when boxed into one category, because I know I can do more than that.

I remember, quite vividly, shredding years and years of fiction before I moved away from home. If I think back to those days, I remember trying to develop compelling characters. It was, quite frankly, a never-ending story that I eventually saw for what it was. Thus, the shredding. Coming out of that experience shuddering, and embarrassed, I knew any fictional work I might do in the future would have to grab the attention of the reader immediately. I’ve already got editors breathing down my neck for this novel, so I’ve thrown myself head first into rewriting and developing the characters into multifaceted jewels.

I am confident in how the process is going. Instinctively, I know when something is working and when it is not. I trust my own judgment. Someone recently told me that because I trust my judgment, I don’t seek approval from others. They were accurate in this assessment. I will only ask questions if I’m unsure about something, and this rarely pertains to what I write. I write specific material, but I know a lot of my personality shines through. Sarcasm, humor, and wit, can all be involved in serious subjects. If you lose those things, you lose the individual voice.

Other things are happening, too. I am looking at almost all of it as positive. Sometimes, things occur and I am reminded of my strengths and how much I can achieve. Those are good moments, but we all have to take a step back at times and remind ourselves to achieve without feeding the ego, the superego, or the Id. I have watched people, over the past few years, truly feed their superego and it is such an immense turnoff. I choose not to say anything to them because you can’t talk someone down from that level. It slowly becomes a disease and I’m not trained to deal with everyone’s disease-feeding. Factor in that we all know someone who has reached this level of narcissistic behavior, and they now feel free to share their hideousness with the world. Over time, it is shown for the cancer on society it truly is. Add in closet racists and it’s very easy to see why many people choose to fully back away from society at large.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead. Mine involves some stress. I am meeting a new doctor this week (a specialist) and have had the appointment for five months. Before I got an appointment, I waited eight months just to get the phone call! Here’s hoping it goes off without a hitch. Fingers crossed.

Boker Tov,

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from the material also require consent. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Check In

Is it really Thursday? AGAIN? My best friend and I say this every week, especially if we don’t get a few hours to chat about what’s going on in our lives. Factor in a seven hour time difference. I won’t lie; there are many moments when I have almost crawled into bed and stayed up because she was messaging me as I was about to turn my phone off for the night. What’s a little lost sleep between the bonds of friendship?

This week took its toll on me. Neurologically, I’m not looking forward to having, “the serious talk” with my doctor next week. But I have to, because everything I’m experiencing is indicative of a stress related breakdown or a possible stroke. When I’ve brought these issues up to both my primary care physician and my neurologist, both of them refused to order tests, deeming them, “unnecessary”, and proceeded to ignore my suffering. I’m putting my foot down and demanding an fMRI of my brain to rule out specific issues.

My mother had half a dozen strokes, and because they don’t always show correctly in women with precise indicators, we didn’t know about them until after tests were run and doctors were shocked that none of them had been serious. I remember the first one quite clearly, because she nearly hit a newly planted tree and I was with her. We both thought she’d had an anxiety attack. I talked her down, got her cold water and a tiny dose of anti-anxiety meds. She said the medication helped immensely, so she believed it was anxiety. Fast forward two hours later when the police showed up to ask her where she’d been and if she’d hit a tree, because some asshole called it in, but didn’t bother to come out and make sure either of us was all right. I have to wonder about the priorities of a person like that. Ultimately, nothing came of it; there was no damage to her car and no damage to the tree, unless you count some earth getting moved around (I thoroughly checked it all before we left.), but as I have thought about that day many times, I am experiencing some of the same brain related issues and it’s scary. Language issues, where I type not in English, but in another language entirely, or where my brain scrambles the words I use in my daily vernacular, is difficult for someone like me, who prides herself on her memory and her skill set. Generally, I type with zero typos or spelling errors, but now, I am having to retrace my steps through everything because I find the most basic mistakes. One has to be concerned about their brain when they are experiencing such troubling symptoms.

A close friend is trying to help me navigate this mess, from another state, and while I appreciate the bits of guidance and encouragement, I also get annoyed at times because I don’t want to be anyone’s pet project. I should not have to fight this hard for proper medical care. No one should have to endure this.

Add in a month long migraine, vertigo attacks, balance issues, and a lot of neck and shoulder pain, and I’m basically a husk. One day, I will have better news.

For now, I thought I’d check in. It’s the equivalent of sticking my head into a room and then ducking out gracefully. 😉

Amid all this craziness, I am doing the final revision on a novel. I cracked 150,000 words, and realize this is an achievement all by itself, but I’m still polishing the diamond (because it needs polishing, and a few more facets.). The character development has far exceeded my expectations and I’m pleased with the new material I’ve written, and what I’ll continue to write as I head toward the finish line. I’ve also done some writing on the psychological thriller, which I feel good about. I chose to do it to challenge myself, and I’m so glad I listened to that voice that told me, “You have a story to tell.” Those characters are developing at a slower pace, but they will get there. In between, I’ve been focused on a lengthy piece about racism and then, I began writing about a few incidents which occurred earlier this week. When I get mad, I make sure I am doing something constructive to get it out of my system, and help others think or look at it from a different point of view. I don’t write anything I don’t feel is valuable to others, so hopefully, upon completion, these pieces will make an impact on someone. Both will be submitted to magazines. I have an additional creative idea for my followers, so stay tuned. I am determined to make major changes this year, and I’ve been doing a lot behind the scenes. 🙂

Someone had the audacity to make it sound like writers don’t actually do any, “real work”, and they, quite stupidly, said it to me, as if that kind of thing is acceptable. Not understanding something does not mean you get to insult it. It’s a good thing we’re still social distancing, or someone would be missing their face.

If this person knew how hard I worked (sometimes for 16+ hours with no real break), with no guaranteed salary, they would be in a psychiatric wing, because what I do is not simple, easy, or lesser. Writing is a high form of art. It’s not black and white. It is full of grey area, and I tend to drown myself in the grey most of the time. I am a writer because I have talent, a voice, and I know how important it is to use that voice on the right platforms, at the right time. I’m not trying to be funny or force humor, which is usually when people find me hilarious. When I’m serious, sometimes people think I’m kidding and they laugh even harder. Other times, I’m genuinely kidding and people think I’m serious. <shrugs> This person doesn’t seem to grasp that if you insult me, I will work harder and, eventually, make you cry for your disrespect. What’s worse? The fact that they don’t grasp that it is an insult to begin with.

As such, I will now return to work. Then I’ll catch some sleep. Wish me luck!

Buena notte,

We Only Have Ourselves

No, this won’t be a cheerful post. If you ever expect that level of dishonesty from me, please unsubscribe/unfollow now. I’m many things, but direct and honest are the top too words used to describe me as a person. Obviously, I share the good things, too, but I temper most of my enthusiasm. I am not about ego.

Today took its toll on me because I was remembering this precise Saturday, many years ago. I had weird dreams last night into the morning, and then the realization jolted me harshly. Despite taking medication for Complex PTSD, I can see that this time, on the lowest possible dose, it’s failing. Instead of keeping pain and nightmares away, it worked against me. 😦 As the day progressed, I ended up doubled over with what I believe are kidney cramps. I have to give it few days to see if that’s actually what it is. If it passes, or not. Having had kidney stones, I can tell you the pain is excruciating. Right now, I can’t do a whole lot. I can barely go up and down a flight of stairs, but I digress.

I talk about life and loss because it’s part of who I am. I am formed out of loss and built up by life, love, and loss. It’s a vicious, yet honest circle of life.

On the back of my neck, beginning just underneath my hairline, is a tattoo. I call it “The backbone of my life.” because there are others that stretch down the length of my spine (and more to be added), but the first symbol means Life, Death, and Rebirth. It also means Maiden, Mother, and Crone; the three phases of woman. The third definition means Past, Present, and Future. Love, Loyalty, and Friendship is another meaning of this particular symbol. It looks like stained glass. It is done entirely in shades of blue. I get constant compliments on it, but the truth is, I forget it’s there. I forget, until I take a deeper look at my life and how it always cycles back to Life, Death, and Rebirth.

Essentially, it cycles back to all of the key meanings I have shared here. When a friend mentioned how much she likes this symbol and wanted to get it done in the exact same spot, I cringed. She didn’t fully grasp what it means; it was just a symbol she liked, as if looking at flash art in a tattoo studio. She ended up with a massive cross instead, and I breathed a sigh of relief because of how I hold the values of my chosen symbol deeply. It’s not something I did without thought. I actually waited a long time before I decided on something so permanent. I sort of regret the second symbol, but that’s a story for another day.

We all have private pain which is hard to discuss. Some more than others. For me, the memories are so fresh, as if this happened yesterday, but it’s been a long time, and it still impacts my life deeply. As a result, it conjured up dreams about multiple family members. Generally, I don’t dream much about the living, so that was the weirdest part. The dead always visit me. It’s never a question of will they, but when will they.

The past few years have really reminded me how solo I am as a person. This has nothing to do with my relationships, but with how I face life each day. I face it with the knowledge that no matter what, I am an independent individual. I face it without asking for help because people throw what they do in my face. I face it stressed because I am constantly criticized after being praised, It goes back and forth. Nothing I do is ever good enough, so I’ve reached a point where I focus solely on my needs. I’m not a moron and I don’t need to be reminded of anything, especially when I am in pain.

Certain types of people want things they do not give. Respect. Courtesy. Decency. RESPECT. They demand it instead of earning it. Clearly, they don’t know what will work with me, but disrespect and demands will never get you anywhere. I’ll do what needs to be done when I can, but if you place pressure on me, I will snap. Now, more than ever, I am aware that snapping is the next step because I’ve disengaged so many times, and people assume I’m ignoring them. Please don’t mistake my silence for anything beyond silence. I’ve yet to plan a murder out loud. 😉 But man, do some people PUSH until you feel like maybe an orange jumpsuit wouldn’t be so bad. 😦 And please, don’t ever deign to tell me how to speak. I will say what I need to say when I’m ready, not less than half a second after you tell me what you wanted to hear. Genuine thanks comes from the heart and will come once I’ve collected my thoughts; they will not come at all if you try to coach the words. That leads you to, “Go fuck yourself.”, instead of “Thank you.” Obviously, this is a case-by-case basis, but I’m damn fucking tired of being spoken down to.

Tonight, I go to sleep without words. Wash my face, brush my teeth, say my prayers, and that’s the end of the day. Tomorrow, I will relive more of the pain and suffering, and hopefully get a few things off of my list. After all, in the grand scheme of things, we only have ourselves. Obviously, you can believe as you wish. That’s your prerogative.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from the material also require consent. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Forks In The Road

Welcome to all the new readers, and those who’ve been with me for years or months. 🙂 I’m happy to greet you all.

I’ve been working on a piece about racism and my personal experiences with different forms of it, but mostly, I have started to notice just how worn out I am, which lends to me feeling completely useless. I am not sleeping well; and I am trying not to rely on prescription sleep medication because it either doesn’t work or it leaves me with sleep paralysis. I am burnt out, stressed about life and the future, thinking about all of my relationships, etc. I’ve been trying to allow myself the honesty of all of my feelings privately, which hasn’t been helpful, though perhaps I am too close to say if it’s helping or not. I do know there are abysmal highs and lows these days.

I will be taking some brief breaks for the next month or so. I don’t know if they will be obvious or not, but I think it’s necessary and needed. I think it’s time to get my head into some sense of normalcy and keep pushing for betterment. I hope you will all understand the reasoning. I will still be present, but there will be days when I’m not. I hope it’ll be fine, no matter what.

For the month of March, I will be focusing on a few charities in support of Colorectal Cancer and Women’s History Month. I also have my Goddaughter’s tenth birthday approaching. People always say, “You’re way too young to be a Godmother.” I don’t think they understand what an honor it is to be asked to be a part of a child’s life in such a deeply personal way. There is no age requirement or limit involved. It’s an honor and a privilege, and yes, it is also a responsibility. It says something about me, as a person, that people fully trust me with their child.

I will do my best not to be too “out of it” here, but will also do my best to rally. For now, though, this picture near a local trail says it all. I’m walking towards the color, because everything else feels too harming and bleak.

Wishing you all a peaceful week. Bright Blessings.

I’ve Built…

It has always been important to me to be transparent about my shortcomings and the strengths. I don’t try to pretty anything up. Too often, people pretend their lives are so perfect online, with perfectly posed, edited photos, but you never see the truth of what goes on behind closed doors because all they care about is the imagery. That’s not what attracts me to people or to their work. Honesty and humor attract me. Real humor; the kind that isn’t forced, that isn’t passive aggressive, the kind that is wholly natural. It takes a lot to make me laugh. In the past week or so, I’ve maybe laughed four times. Each time, my cats came to see what was going on. “Is she having a stroke? Should we get help?”, they probably wondered. Of late, laughter hasn’t exactly flowed.

As an extremely private person, I still know that being forthcoming about my suffering (From A to Z) has helped others get help, come out of their shells, talk, trust again… I know this because they have e-mailed, messaged, and shared these facts with me, even if it took them a few years to say anything. I didn’t know my voice would help people, but it has and it will continue to do so, because I know the power of using your voice for change.

Wishing you all a safe, warm, stress-free weekend.

P.S. I will be listing charities ASAP who are helping out with the crisis in Texas. Every penny helps. It took our government way too long to respond to the need for help, and our own people were forced to endure this without an immediate helping hand. It’s disgusting beyond words. It’s Puerto Rico and Hurricane Katrina all over again, and it is NOT acceptable.

I know people who are 6-7 days without power and who have no clean water. Power is being restored slowly, and many are afraid of what will happen when they return to their homes. Will the pipes have burst (A much more common occurrence in colder climates.)? Will they be able to return home safely? They have no idea what they’re walking into. They are NOT prepared for the kind of weather they got. Never again should states be lacking a strong electrical grid, not have adequate salt, sand, and plows for snow removal, etc. This is not being discussed enough! I’ll do my part and hopefully there can be some unity in this country to help where needed.

Run or Scatter?

Life experience has taught me, time and again, that everyone leaves eventually. I had to learn, really young, to be my own best friend and rely, as much as possible, on myself and no one else. I was thirty years old, long before ever turning thirty. It was a blessing and a curse. Early maturity prepares you for real life, but it also provides you with an untouchable level of wisdom.

It prepared me for hardship, heartbreak, heartache, and failures other people have tried to pull me into, along with harsh lessons where I got hurt, because the other person involved was the one learning the lesson, and I was collateral damage. I am still here, doing what I can to turn the corner and find out where I belong.

One of my takeaways from today (and the past few years, on a whole), is listening to how other people sound when they don’t realize how much privilege they have. It blows my mind, really, and it makes me realize that nothing was ever handed to me. I’ve actually caught myself wondering what is wrong with them and how they can justify such inappropriate behavior. I have to stop muttering, “I’m so sick of white people.”, partly because I can pass as 100% white.

I remember when an Asian friend questioned the validity of my Asian ancestry. “You look Italian, not Asian.” she said, as if this was suddenly a fact of my lineage. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that I “look Italian”, but I found it especially disrespectful when she said it. I blew it off, but that moment on a Boston sidewalk hurt me. The friendship is in a holding pattern for many reasons, but I can’t get that comment out of my head three plus years later. 😦

I have never been “enough” for anyone, be it from a religious standpoint, a health standpoint, or an ancestry standpoint. The above quote reminds me of every backhanded, rude, disrespectful, and/or vicious comment I’ve endured.

I can count on my fingers and toes (a few dozen times) based on how many times someone has come up to me randomly and started to speak to me in another language, usually Spanish. Rapid-fire Spanish, which is a totally different thing for me. It takes me a minute or so to comprehend the language change and reply. Each time, if I didn’t reply immediately, they would walk away with this comment, “Ella es solo otra estúpida chica blanca.” They would always say, “She’s just another stupid white girl.” Or I’d be “Just another white bitch.” The first one is low on the scale of insults, and I always ignore it because I’m not going to chase after someone on a city street, but the second comment always makes me feel dirty, and angry.

Even if I don’t speak your native tongue, I will still do whatever I can to help you get to where you need to go. I will still translate directions for you and be kind. So many people should consider this option before blowing anyone off and saying something rude. I’m honest if I have no idea where something is, but really, it takes a few seconds to check on your phone. Kindness has never killed me.

When I got sick, everyone scattered. I’ll never forget it. Just because I don’t think about it every single day pf my life doesn’t mean it hasn’t made me hyperaware of new people and their intentions. Because I spoke the truth when I said that everyone leaves eventually. It’s an unfortunate fact. Everyone leaves. Including you.

PTSD Flashbacks

I always talk about my personal experiences when I am dealing with subject matter for #MentalHealthMonday. All forms of trauma require #Awareness.

Almost four years ago, I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD. Thanks to several bad doctors and three lousy therapists post-diagnosis (My Massachusetts based experiences, only.), I struggle at times with how traumatized I really am. I react to sirens (be it police, firefighters, EMS, etc.), and red and blue lights as though I’m about to be attacked and harmed. It’s awful. I am jumpy about so many things, including someone walking into the room I’m in without saying something first. 😦 If a person knocks on the door or rings the bell, I legitimately come out of my skin. A few years ago, I heard strange noises outside at around 3:00 a.m., and immediately pulled a Glock with custom sights. ON MY BROTHER (Who reacted really well, considering the situation.), who was trying to come in through the wrong door, so he freaked me out. Not a good moment. 😦

Today, as I made phone calls, I was retraumatized looking at the information in front of me, which was an explanatory script for the type of calls I was making. I ended up with a migraine and a panic attack as a result, and let me say I am tired of being dictated to by anyone, but a veterinarian’s office definitely shouldn’t be rude and unpleasant because by doing so, you will lose the business I have no choice but to pay for the health and overall well-being of my cats. Telling me you are going to over-vaccinate 100% indoor cats only makes me angry, and it is not conducive to a good beginner’s relationship. And then, looking down at the list of trauma they have both endured, I got extremely upset and declared myself a neglectful cat owner (Which, is completely ridiculous because if you met these creatures, you would see they are spoiled and get plenty of love and care.). Needless to say, the stress piled on way too high.

Then the flashbacks started. Again. Over and over, as if someone left my life on repeat.

People meet me and have no idea there’s anything wrong. They are clueless about what it takes to get me out of bed and focused on my day. And that’s sad, because they don’t ask. But what’s sadder is that trust is not something I have left to offer. It’s been shattered too many times for me to keep giving people chances.

Anyone else understand this?

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Discussions of Funerals and Such

Today is the funeral of a friend of the family who died as a result of Covid 19. My brother is there now, and there’s nothing I can do except be encouraging, even though it puts me into the headspace where I relive every funeral I’ve ever been to. Funerals aren’t usually anyone’s cup of tea, but my brother especially, is not good with them. He has his reasons, and they’re perfectly understandable. That’s why he texted me this morning to ask if he looked okay and to go over certain things since we don’t usually get asked to attend non-Jewish funerals. There are religious and cultural differences between the two, believe me.

I’m in an okay element at the majority of funerals I attend. I’m being brutally honest when I say I’m invited to funerals, but no one ever invites me to their wedding. I’m serious about this, too, so don’t invite me to a wedding out of pity. I have nothing to offer there.

Having always been honest about life and death is likely crucial to how I handle things as an adult. My mother didn’t try to pretty it up for me when my Grandfather died, or when subsequent family members passed away after the fact. There were no bullshit stories in my home growing up, and I had no tolerance when people attempted bullshit stories with me. I haven’t changed on that level.

I cringe when people tell me how they (tried to) explain death to a child (at age three-ish or so), and fucked up royally (My words, not theirs. They think they did the right thing. My eyes rolled to Japan and are on their way back. Excuse me one moment.). I’m mortified by the shit they tell their kids because that level of dishonesty will shape them as they get older, and I’m not good with it. To this day, I still can’t tolerate the lies people tell. If you ever wonder how dishonest you come off, ask me and I’ll tell you.

Yes, I was the kid who told all the other kids that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy weren’t real. And I’d do it all over again, too. I mildly got in trouble for my honesty growing up, but it was mostly in the sense that my mother understood why I was being so honest, and told me it was the responsibility of other parents to also be honest with their children, or not. And if “not” was on the table, then I needed to try and keep my mouth shut, so as not to interfere with what they wanted their children to believe. I don’t think I’ve ever been on board with that.

In my eyes, a funeral is where you go and pay your respects. You’re not doing it for you or those involved (unless you’re really close with them), you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Period. Respect is something I find lacking in so many relationships these days, and it’s disgusting to me. If you are unable to attend, then you send something, based solely on your relationship with the survivors of the deceased. I generally send cards and fruit baskets, but last year, when my cousins lost their mother to cancer, I had trees planted in Israel in memory of her, because I knew it would mean more to them, and it did.

When my father passed away, I sorted through hundreds of cards. I’m not exaggerating; cards came daily for over three months, and there were a decent amount of people at his funeral. When my mother passed away, I didn’t get five cards in total, and I got only three phone calls. It was bizarre as hell. My support system (i.e: Family) sucked then and it sucks even worse now. I cope differently than I used to. The person who buried her parents five months apart is a completely different woman now. I am colder, harsher, and darker, but I respect myself more for that than I once did. You see, these hard things change you, and when they do, you should honor the change, and not think of it as something awful. Change means growth. That’s not negative, and don’t let people tell you otherwise.

Did I want to burn my Aunt and Uncle’s house down after my father’s funeral? Absolutely, but I didn’t (Instead, I marched over to my Uncle’s grave and tore his spirit a new asshole. It felt good to get the anger out of my system, in the moment.). Did I want to rip people to shreds at my mother’s funeral? Yes. Instead, I stayed quiet, behind dark sunglasses, like a lady, and spoke when spoken to, after eulogizing my mother. I admire the woman I was that day because behind her pain, she was poised as hell. I am still poised. If you’re kind to me, I will be kind in turn. If you’re disrespectful, it’s not beneath me to throw you into the nearest open grave and shovel dirt over you. Everyone picks their own poison with me, no pun intended.

Today, I am sad. I’m sad that people still don’t seem to understand how serious this pandemic is and I’m sad many people have had to say goodbye to loved ones way too soon, and I’m angry with the knowledge that much of this could have been prevented.

I’d like to go back to normal. I’d like to not have to wear a mask (I’ve nearly walked out without one so many times.). I’d like to not have to worry about whether or not I’ve touched something that may be contaminated, etc. I’d like for people to feel safe again and not be worried, but I’m too realistic for that. Naturally, I have definitive opinions on the three vaccines that were pushed through and approved in less than a year, too, but that’s a discussion for another day and, possibly, a different audience entirely.

For today, I wish everyone the best and hope that you’re safe, healthy, and coping to the best of your ability. If you’re not, please know you’re not alone.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Pre-Thanksgiving Jitters

Hello, everyone. It’s been a minute, and the reality is, I’ve been sick for over a month. 😦 I haven’t had any real energy, and I’ve struggled with not getting enough sleep and then getting too much sleep, if too much sleep is actually a real thing. <Sigh> According to my body, it isn’t.

Fighting pain 24/7 is exhausting, let’s be clear about that. I might be the only person I know who can have caffeine in her system, or any stimulant (My normal amount is none, but extended quarantine and curfews have led to MANY changes. I keep saying I’m not myself, and I say it because it’s true. I don’t feel like myself, sound like myself, and I am definitely not behaving like the person I truly am.). and fall asleep fifteen minutes later. Not for a short period of time, either. I can be out for twelve hours straight, or longer. My body cannot seem to get enough rest no matter what I do. Yes, it’s possible I’m burnt out, but I am still concerned.

I am seemingly more allergic this year than ever before, so I’m kind of glad I ordered tissues in bulk a few months ago. If I’m not coughing, I’m sneezing. I only noticed this recently. Apparently, you can still get the mother of all colds without being around too many people. Epic suckage.

I’ll be honest; the last thing on Earth I want to do is partake in any type of traditional Thanksgiving meal. On top of having no appetite, which I will be addressing in another piece soon, I would have been totally cool making homemade pizza or anything less complicated than a turkey, stuffing, etc. So when the turkey arrived, along with other traditional items to accompany it, I was immediately nauseous. Let me be clear: I am by no means ungrateful. I know I am extremely lucky to have a roof over my head and enough food to feed my own hockey team, but I already know how time-consuming and energy consuming this type of cooking is. I felt like I had made this clear, and still, I found myself deeply annoyed, bordering on hostile, and then I settled down and decided I cannot be responsible for that which is not wholly my idea. Period. Others have the right to celebrate, even if I do not feel well enough to do so.

I have not made anything traditional for Thanksgiving in a long time, and not once did anyone complain about this. But now, my head cannot stop going over my stuffing recipe. It is actually easy to make, but thinking about it tires me out. Lots of chopping and nailing down the flavor, toss it together in a huge cooking pan, a short amount of cooking time (under two hours), and then you have enough food for a week or more. It’s my mother’s recipe. I have since tweaked it, and yet, it tastes exactly like hers. But do I want to make it, or any carb heavy dish right now? NO.

The more I factor in the realities of “Thanksgiving”, the less I want to partake in it. The historical inaccuracies to modern day truth is something I struggle with, and I know I am not alone in this.

I spent a large part of my life being told I was white, and there was always a measure of shame added to this because of the, “privilege” it may, or may not, bring with it. I am pretty sure my long form birth certificate states I am a Caucasian female, which is incorrect (and my parents were not asked for any unobvious information, either.). To be clear, I was told at a very young age that we were Russian. Eastern European. Nothing else. Blood tests and cheek swabs would tell a much larger story, and it would explain childhood dreams of countries I had never even heard of (Circa, age two), the things I would say before ever learning anything about world history, and the things I surmised from hearing different languages spoken around me. So as someone who is more rooted in her culture(s) and ancestry, “Thanksgiving” is merely a date on the calendar. And it makes me sigh, in sadness.

Someone mentioned this is the 399th Thanksgiving which will be celebrated on U.S. soil. The history of how European settlers were somehow bestowing kindness upon those who actually showed them kindness, and as a result of their arrival, brought illness and death to the Native American tribes upset me into a headspace of feeling the way I’ve felt for a long time. Un-American. And by using that particular phrase I mean, “Different.” or perhaps, “Other”. That’s the best way to explain it. Usually when someone meets me for the first time, they will describe me as, “Otherworldly”. They don’t mean I’m alien, just different to a degree they vibe with.

For me, this is another year without my Grandparents and parents, and that’s painful no matter how I look at it. It reminds me of all I’ve lost. It is another year separated from my brother, who could not be here even if he wanted to be because traveling is unsafe, and while we knew this ahead of time, we did not know traveling into New York City, even if you did not intend to stop, would require being stopped at bridges and tunnels to ensure you have a negative Covid test in hand. This requires a LOT of on the ground manpower for every out-of-state vehicle. And because of his job, I know he can’t be away for too long because he has so many professional responsibilities. I’ve come to terms with the fact that we won’t see each other for a while. If he was a better communicator, this would not be an issue, but he’s horrendous. I have a texting relationship with the asshole. And he’s likely to read this, which is fine. I do miss him, but I have no patience for him these days. And by, “him”, I mean everyone. 😉

However you are choosing to celebrate this year, I wish you good health and peace. Thank you for being on this journey with me. For that, I am incredibly grateful. 🙂

copyright © 2020 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.