Sunday, March 29, 2015

I Had a Wonderful Afternoon


So I finished reading "Mary Boleyn" by Alison Weir then read "The Children of Henry VIII" by John Guy and I am ready to start another book so I will need to chose one from my wish list on Amazon. I have succeeded the amount of books I can buy under my book club therefore the last four books I purchased outright and since I have to wait another week for the book list credit I will be purchasing another book today. I think I have gone above and beyond using my love of reading history as a coping mechanism. Reading keeps me out of my head therefore allows me to manage daily life even though the anticipation of April 13th draws closer.

Again, it is better than taking pills. If I learned anything over the last four years it is how to cope in a positive way without resorting to chemicals psychiatrist love to prescribe and yes I am in the mental health field and realize some folks need medication in order to function however I stick by my beliefs that no one needs to resort to benzodiazepines in order to cope. Benzodiazepines are "Band-Aid" drugs that do not address the reason behind the symptoms of anxiety but doctors will prescribe them for anyone who presents in their office complaining of "stress or anxiety". Talk Therapy works for symptoms of "stress and Anxiety" because it addresses the underlying issues. Learning how to cope in positive ways such as tapping into your strengths (reading, journaling, exercising, ect) takes the "edge off". No one has died having a "panic attack nor insomnia". It is so important to tell yourself to "roll with it" and you will be surprised how better you will feel in the long run. I think the major problem folks have is the inability to feel uncomfortable therefore they need instant gratification instead of being able to sit with uncomfortable emotions. Life is having good and bad days. We are not suppose to feel good everyday. Everywhere around me I hear people saying they need to take an "Ativan" or "Valium" or "Xanax". Bullshit.

Apparently, I have some opinions today. If people knew how "bad" they will feel coming off those "drugs" they would more likely not start taking them to begin with and actually get  into Talk Therapy. Again. I am not referring to folks taking other types of psychotropic medications for Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia. Medication compliance is very important if someone needs to take antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, ect. or a mood stabilizers such as Lithium, Seroquel, Depakote or antipsychotics such as Risperdal even Haldol for Hallucinations and Delusions associated with Schizophrenia. Folks with these disorders need medication in order to function in daily living. Actually, it is a blessing that these medications exit since it keeps people out of psychiatric hospitals and institutions. One hundred years ago, folks with mental illness ended up in jails, and institutions because they were symptomatic.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I am beginning to think there is some sort of correlation behind sleepless nights and impending doom. Last night, I had a restless night and this morning I received a call that my husband's younger brother had a heart attack and an emergency cardiac catheterization during the night. They found two blockages behind the back of his heart that would never show up on an EKG. He went to work as usual yesterday morning and called his finance stating he felt nauseous and weak but had to set up a home show in New Jersey. As the day went on he began to get chest pains and took self to the emergency room. He is resting comfortably this evening in ICU and there is no damage to the heart.
We joked with John and Missy today telling them John would do anything even have a heart attack to avoid getting married next month on a Florida beach in which I am standing for Missy as her Matron of Honor.

Saturday = errands and today we hit Walmart in King of Prussia to look at grills then over to Trader Joe's then a stop for wine at the Wine & Spirits store before we headed back home. Tomorrow we will hit BJ's before heading down to visit Aubree. I have to get my Aubree time in because next weekend I will be in Washington D.C. with Shaun & Nikolas and then the weekend after I will be the counselor on site at work.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Avid Reader

Since March 9th, I have read The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough, Jackie, Ethel, Joan by Randy Taraborelli, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Barbara Leaming and I am currently reading Mary Boleyn by Alison Weir.

I love to read especially if the stories are based in real historical events. Since I read The Johnstown Flood I am now interested in making a trip out to Johnstown to see the history in person. I love everything "Kennedy" and if it is English Medieval  History, I am so there!

My head cold is still driving me a bit nuts however it is improving. I will be the first to admit I am a terrible patient. I spent one day at home and considered taking a second day off from work but made the decision to go to work instead.  There is always so much to do and I have patients on my caseload who depend on me being there. I had to prepare four patients for discharge this week and in turn received four new admissions. In addition to my patients, I assign all new patients who are admitted to all the counselors in keeping stable patient to counselor ratio. I am also training a newly hired counselor this week to replace Sarah who left last month to start a private practice. Jennifer is leaving next week to work in another UHS facility in Brookhaven doing Intensive Outpatient therefore another new counselor will also need to be trained.

I signed up for an online class in Irish History at Trinity College in Dublin,  (Apparently, I cannot get enough of school.) I visited Trinity College when we where in Ireland last year. It is a truly beautiful school so when I saw they had a class online for Irish History, I could not resist. It is an accelerated six week course which is find with me as I spent most of my time in college taking accelerated classes that spending an entire fifteen week (regular) semester would appear way too long.

Did I mention I am tired of this cold and even more tired of eating soup? Three days of soup is even too much for this soup loving human.

Time to get back to my book so I can keep Amazon in business with the number of books I purchase for myself, and my son Joe.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sick Day

It has been a long time since I called out of work sick. That is exactly what I did today after fighting this head cold the last two days. Yesterday in work, I had my patients use the hand sanitizer as they came into my office for individual sessions to protect them from my germs. I spent the day sneezing coughing and blowing my nose. I went through three packs of tissues. I left work at 3p and came home and crawled onto the recliner with my pillow, lap top computer, comforter, water, tissues, cell phone and book and called it a night. When I felt no better this morning I decided the head cold won and successfully kicked my ass therefore I called my boss and told him I would not be in. Thus began a day of writing reading taking cold medication and drinking tons of water as I remain in this recliner.

As I nurse this cold, I have been surfing the internet shopping at Macys, Amazon and QVC though I did not buy anything as I already purchased a new sofa for the shore house as well as solar lights which still need to be installed. On a positive note, the screen room has been repaired after being damaged by a tree falling on it this past winter.

I booked reservations for a Washington D.C. Easter weekend vacation in which I will take Shaun & Nikolas. I love to vacation with my grandsons.  They love Washington D.C. almost if not more than I do. We have not been down there in a few years and there is a new hotel in Washington D.C. that we will try. The most appealing part of this hotel is its roof top lounge with a fire pit that overlooks the city. When I was in Southern California a few years ago, I stayed at a hotel that was similar and it was wonderful sitting on the roof top in front of the fire pit as I looked over the pacific ocean. I still like travel and adventure and new experiences and this time of year I need to future pace as to keep the current and impending stressors at bay the best I can manage. Some people pop pills for anxiety. I seek out history and daily experiences. In my book, there is no better way to reduce feelings of anxiety or boost one's mood than to read write and travel.

Bittersweet Day

 Yesterday, we were up and out and on the road early to travel out to Harrisburg to visit my youngest son. The four hour visit was bittersweet as my son looked and sounded well and appeared to be on the right track though at the time same time the enormity of the situation was huge and overwhelming. Children played all around us as they were visiting their fathers. Knowing my own son had not seen his own child in a very long time was a chronic and searing pain within my heart. We spoke a lot about her, the future and the hope that continues to remain despite it all.

One statement my son made did bother me and I sit here wondering if I should mind my own business or take it upon myself to say something. When I asked him if his Dad had been up he stated "What you mean after the first and only time he came"? It maybe my imagination, however, there was a little bit of hurt behind that statement.

After the visit, we ventured into the historic town of Lancaster stopped at an Irish pub had a late lunch/early dinner and explored the area. I have been to Lancaster numerous times however I never went into historic downtown and explored the neighborhood. It reminded me of Manayunk and I wondered what the industry was that employed this town since the early 18th century. It also occurred to me that a section of my Keller clan left Manayunk and moved to Lancaster in the early part of the 20th century and I recall an elderly family member who was a Lutheran Minister (Lancaster) came to my grandfather's funeral in 1980. My grandfather's mother was Mary Keller.

Of course, my first stop of exploration was Lancaster City Cemetery in the heart of the small town where Thaddeus Stevens was interred. Thaddeus Stevens was a powerful political figure in the area born April 4, 1792 and died August 11, 1868. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representative from the 8th District. He was a "Federalist  Anti-Masonic Whig Know-Nothing Republican who was born in Danville, Vermont and died in Washington D.C then interred in the Lancaster City Shreiner-Concord Cemetery. He was considered a "Radical Republican" and "a Fierce opponent of slavery". He thought President Lincoln moved too slow and wanted President Johnson impeached. The confederate generals were known to say "if we ever get a hold of Stevens, we will hang him and distribute his bones throughout the southern states".

The historic downtown area was not easy to navigate and before we return I will brush up on the history of the place. The Irish pub was called Annie Baileys where we ate Corn Beef and Cabbage Chowder and drank a Guinness. I personally love to eat in pubs or taverns because they have a cozy atmosphere. I rather have a meal in front of a warm fireplace in a cozy pub than in a stiff fancy restaurant. As I get older I crave simple living.

So I heard there are two cemeteries in Lancaster called "Keller Cemetery" and we passed a street also called "Keller". Of course my genealogy brain wondered if there was a family connection. Anyone who knows me also knows I will be researching all of this and returning to the area prepared.

We drove Rt 30 towards home and as we passed Dutch Wonderland and all the familiar shops and restaurants, the memories overwhelmed me and the flood gates opened. Dutch Wonderland symbolizes a simpler happier time when Shaun, Nikolas and Ava were all together with us traveling and exploring and experiencing. The feeling of lost which I am generally able to keep at bay suddenly consumed me on Saturday and the pain seared within.

  I adore being a grandmother, and I plan time with all of my grandchildren over the weekends in the month. Though my relationship with my oldest granddaughter Ava is now monetary and by mail, I try to sustain that as this is the only relationship I am permitted to have with her at this time. I see Aubree every other Sunday at her house and at the times when my middle son visits me. I make movie, dinner and travel dates with Shaun and Nikolas. My oldest grandson Shaun shares the same interests as myself. He loves history and exploration as much as I do. He has traveled with me the most. When we open the shore house next month, I hope the boys spend a lot of time in Cape May.

This morning, I am nursing a head cold. I spent most of last night feeling rather sick and unable to breath. It appears to be a spring-like day today though I doubt I will do much more than lay in this recliner with hot green tea and chicken noodle soup. Motrin helps keep the headache at bay while the tissues and decongestant tabs address the rest. I have a sore throat and at times lose my voice. Bill is off to Lancaster again today as he left his very expensive camera in the pub at Annie Baileys and will take this opportunity to do some photography.

I know I wrote about many different topics this morning however this is where my mind is traveling this morning.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

One Type of Depression. My Struggle.

Dysthymic disorder, also called dysthymia, is characterized by depressive symptoms that are long-term (e.g., two years or longer) but less severe than those of major depression. Dysthymia may not disable a person, but it prevents one from functioning normally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.

It is difficult to explain to someone who has never had this struggle or fought this fight. The above is a textbook definition taken directly from the National Institute of Mental Health. You see, I may be a counselor who spends most of my days everyday teaching educating and counseling others who struggle with this form and/or other forms of Mental Illness. There. I said It. Mental Illness. This is the form of depression I struggle with and though I am not disabled from it, the feeling is always there like a dark cloud that hangs over my head all day everyday despite interventions. It is there something unseen to the naked eye however it is still there. Some days I feel like I am drowning while other days I feel like I am keeping my head just above the water. No matter how I feel, I move one foot in front of the other with the fear that this will consume me and I will fall into the deep dark tunnel. Twice I fell in that dark tunnel. The first time was 1994. The second time was 2011. In1994, I had no idea what was happening to me. One day I could not get up and it took an entire month to get back up. The first time I ever took a leave of absence from work that did not involve the birth of a child. The second time was 2011. I knew what was happening and missed three weeks of work.

I am one of the lucky ones because I never had to be hospitalized and took a holistic approach minus the outpatient therapy and Zoloft. I learned how to take care of myself. It is so important to take care of yourself when you are not feeling well.

Why am I talking about this? Now?

The last few weeks have been difficult. Though I get up everyday and go to work, I find myself with little to no motivation once I am home. I have no desire to do the everyday things that need to be done. When I force myself to do the minimal of tasks, it is with great effort. I am surviving and not living. Oh I recognize it. So I am forcing myself to write about it because writing is one of my coping mechanisms. Reading is another coping mechanism. I have been reading a new book nearly every other day the last two weeks. I have always been an avid reader but reading this many books in a short period of time supersedes even me. Remember, I have a fulltime job. I guess my point is I work then read and that is about it.

My blood pressure has been high too. Not a good thing for a person diagnosed with Ischemic blood vessels in her brain. I was given that diagnosis when I suffered a TIA about eighteen months ago. When I tell people I feel like I have really aged over the last four years, I was not kidding. I feel more exhausted and slower in my gait. I never felt older before. I sure feel it now.

So I feel like I am complaining. My intent was not to complain but force myself to write. I hope my effort results in a more motivated person tomorrow not the walking dead person of late.

Friday, March 13, 2015


I was in a house and I remember making sure the doors were locked and closed the blinds to keep the danger out. I felt afraid. My mother was in the house with me and she was afraid too. We kept looking out the window to see if Michael was coming. There was some sort of danger around my brother Michael.

I awoke from the dream and have been awake since 3a. At first I thought "great" it is only 2am and I have two more hours of sleep before my alarm goes off. The sleep never came and here I am writing about a dream on this site.