Doing It Right (Granny Style)

When kids play games, they usually play school or house.  They rarely play pharmacy.  I’ve actually never seen anyone play pharmacy.  Maybe that is because it’s not very fun.

Lately I’ve felt like I am playing pharmacy.  I have an impressive collection of bottles that almost completely covers the navy blue tiles of my bathroom counter.  There are fat bottles, skinny bottles, orange bottles, blue bottles… (Where was the Dr. Seuss book about this?  MISSED OPPORTUNITY).  Every night and every morning, I pick up each bottle and take “one of these, two of these, a half of this one…” etc.  It takes forever.

If any pharmacies in the area are robbed, I hope no police officers check my bathroom.  I’d be a person of interest faster than you can say Xanax.  They might just skip the questions and arrest me on the spot.  No one could possibly have that many legal pills (right?).  It doesn’t help that some doctors give me three months of a prescription at a time, so then I have stupid amounts of pills lying around even if I’m only taking one or two per day.

I’ve been resisting the inevitable, but I think it’s finally time:  I’m going to have to do pills granny style.

When my grandma was alive, my mom used to go to her house every Monday morning at 9:00 AM to “do her pills.”  That meant taking grandma’s personal pharmacy of pills and sorting them into easy-open compartments separated by day and time of day so that when grandma had to take her pills, it was just POP! – open the plastic flap and there you go.  All of the pills in one easy spot.  She didn’t have to play counter top pharmacy games every day.   Her pill container looked like this:

pills

Now, that is very handy and nice for grandmas, but I’ve always felt like you should hold a genuine AARP card before needing to buy one of those.  I’ve told myself, “No problem.  I’ll just sort out the pills as I take them.  Not a big deal.”  The problem is that we have a beautiful bathroom counter top, and I CAN’T EVEN SEE MOST OF IT.  Plus, when I’m trying to dispense my own pills at 6:30 AM, half the time I’m still all bleary with Einstein hair and feeling angry at the world for existing so early.  I’ll frequently pour too many pills or accidentally drop one or two on the floor (then subsequently put them back in the bottle because – hello – ten second rule, and also it’s too early to think about germs).

Basically, it’s time to bite the bullet and go granny-style with pills.  It will save me a lot of time, it will clear counter space, and I’ll stop accidentally eating dog hair from my bathroom floor.  I started shopping on Amazon for a good pill container, and I tried to find a hip, non-ancient-person looking one.  I tell you, fashionable pill containers do not exist.  Why can’t being crazy also be kind of cute?!  This is unfair.  I’m going to create a line of stylish pill containers, and all of my mentally-awesome blog friends will buy them.  I’ll sell them to psychiatrists for distribution.  This could catch on, y’all.

Until then, I’ll use a dumb granny-looking one.  I’ve decided I’m also going to put a gummy bear in each pocket. I hate taking pills, but I feel like I can’t possibly be that mad when I open the container and see, “Hey look!  A gummy bear!”

Wait a second, that’s kind of like when my parents used candy to potty train my sister, isn’t it?  I am using candy to make myself form positive habits.  Oh boy.  I’m a granny, but I’m also two years old.  Faaaantastic.  My life is strange.

Here’s to you, Grandma K.  Let’s rock these drugs old-school style. Maybe I’ll even do my pills on Mondays just to be like you.

Tattoos and Semicolons

I don’t have any tattoos, but I plan to get at least one eventually.  The problem is that I can’t commit to what I want.  It’s a pretty permanent decision.  I don’t want to be in a knitting group when I’m eighty and have someone ask about the saggy hibiscus on my shoulder, where I would then sigh and say, “Okay…so this one really stupid time when I was 19…”  Then I would have to relay a dumb story for the millionth time, and I would also hopefully wonder why I’m eighty and wearing a tank top.  This is the situation I am trying to avoid.

Anyway, I want the tattoo to have some sort of significance, and I want to know I’ll like it in the long term.  I’ve made a pact with myself: when I want the same tattoo for a full year, I’ll get it.  I made that decision when I was in college, and I’ve yet to want the same one for a year.  I always eventually change my mind.  Hence I am still tattoo-less.  Au natural.  Somewhat boring.

TODAY I am officially declaring Day 1 on wanting the tattoo I just discovered.  On May 18, 2017, if I still want it, I’ll get it.  Maybe this is “the one.”

*side note*  I decided after two months of dating that I wanted to marry the man who became my husband, and we’ll be celebrating ten years together this fall.  It takes me longer to commit to a tattoo than to a man.  I’m not sure what this says about me.

The tattoo I want is a semicolon.

Yes, the punctuation mark.  That’s the tattoo I want.  A small punctuation mark, probably on my ankle.

Stop judging me. I can feel your judgement radiating through my screen.  HEAR ME OUT, OKAY?!

First of all, something you should know about me: I love the semicolon.  It’s my favorite punctuation mark.  I’m an English teacher, so I do weird things like have a favorite punctuation mark.  You’re allowed to judge me for that one.  Anyway, I received a letter a while back from a student I had three years ago, and she put in the letter, “Did you notice I used a semicolon correctly?  I know how much you love semicolons!”  I spoke at a symposium with a team of teachers last year, and one of them actually put a semicolon in our presentation specifically because, “Hillboro loves semicolons, so let’s throw one in there.”  I don’t talk about them all the time.  I’m not sure why everyone knows this about me. Maybe it’s just that when you hear a person has a favorite punctuation mark, you remember that type of quirk.

Here’s the thing about semicolons: they are very underrated.  People almost never use them.  Commas get all the attention.  Teachers are all, “COMMAS! COMMAS! COMMAS!” and then there’s the sad little semicolon over in the corner, waiting to jump into the middle of a sentence, living in the shadow of the stupid comma. Half the students can’t even draw a semicolon at the beginning of the year when I ask them if they know what it is.  There aren’t many uses for it.  I picture the comma and semicolon as family members, but the comma is the one with all of the achievements and accolades.  It’s the super talented one.  The semicolon goes to family reunions like, “But hey, I’m really, really good at the two things I can do!”  No one cares because they all just want their picture taken with the comma.  It’s a sad story.

Anyway, I’ve always had a soft spot for semicolons, and I guarantee no one leaves my classroom at the end of the year without knowing how to use them properly.  I have lots of respect for people who use semicolons correctly, because so few ever do.  It’s like using a semicolon correctly puts you into a secret club of highly successful punctuation users.  We should name the club.  It would probably be called “nerds.”

A few days ago, I stumbled upon this quote on the internet:

suicide semicolon

I find this to be quite profound.  A semicolon is used when a period could have ended the sentence, but there is more to say.  A whole separate independent clause is going to come after it.  This made me think of my suicide attempt this past fall.  It’s like I put a period on my life – I said it was over.  Then God grabbed the pen out of my hand and was like, “Ummm…absolutely NOT!  You messed that up, but I’m going to change that period to a semicolon and make you keep writing.  This story is not over.”  One clause ended, but another one was just starting.  This is a grammar AND punctuation metaphor, so I’m oddly in love with it.

It’s weird to be alive when I tried to die.  It makes me feel like each day I live now is part of a second chance that I didn’t deserve to have.  I realize that no one should take any days for granted and that we should all live each day to the fullest, but it’s eerie to consider how close I came to ending things.  These words I’m currently typing would never have been written.  I have the rest of my life – however long that is – to find out how to spend this second chance.  I’m thankful for that undeserved opportunity; I’m thankful that this fall was only a semicolon.

Uses for Old Pill Bottles

What can I do with dozens of empty pill bottles?

The possibilities are endless.  Don’t ask me why I have dozens of empty pill bottles.  I have no explanation.  I swear I throw them away, yet they still end up in all corners of my house.  Maybe they’re reproducing.  I find them everywhere.  My nightstand is FULL of pill bottles in various states of emptiness.  The other day I found an old green pill bottle from 2010 and thought, “Awww…my very first Prozac prescription.  How cute.”

I have issues.

I wish there was a pill bottle fairy who would come scoop up old pill bottles and trade them for money.  Surely old pill bottles would be more useful than baby teeth?

I decided to find out all the uses for old pill bottles, hoping I could stumble upon something inspiring to do with my army of plastic cylinders.  I went to Google images and typed in “uses for old pill bottles.”  Here were some of my favorites (with my own commentary, of course):

pills2

This one is actually a good idea (one of the very few I found).  Dig a hole, plant a pill bottle, and keep a house key in it.  Just remember which rock it’s under.  Also, I might actually leave a Xanax or two in the pill bottle, because if I forgot my keys again then it’s probably a Xanax sort of day.

pills6

Deck the halls with proof that you’re sick, Fa-la-la-la-la-la  la-la-la-la.  People will think your brain is a brick, Fa-la-la-la-la-la  la-la-la-la.

pills7

You can use them as party favors!  It’s the absolute perfect choice if you don’t really like your friends.  You can creep them all out so they’ll never come to your parties ever again.  Finally – peace and quiet!

pills4

You could make this…..thing.  I have no idea what this is.  I don’t have any clue why someone put this online.  I say throw it in a science fair and see what happens.  Weirder things have won prizes at science fairs.

pills5

This is a cool idea.  My earbuds always ensnare the contents my purse into a wiry mess.  This would keep them separate and relatively tame.  I wouldn’t put that girly decoration on the side, though.  I’d slap a white label on there that says “YOU CAN’T OVERDOSE ON MUSIC” in black Sharpie.  That will make me look hipster and deep.

pills1

This one is my personal favorite.  I sort of want to do this one day just so when people comment on my beautiful chandelier, I’ll say, “Thank you.  I took all of those pills myself.  It took ten years of bipolar disorder to make that chandelier.”  Then I’ll smile and ask if they’d like a glass of champagne, and they’ll get all squirmy.  It could be fun.

 

After I posted those pictures, I realized Google overlooked some very simple but effective uses, which I will add here now:

Glitter Bomb.  As soon as I thought of this, I thought, “BRILLIANT!  WHY HAVEN’T I DONE THIS BEFORE?!”  Fill a bottle with glitter and keep it in your purse.  When you’re at a store and someone is super rude, or when someone takes your parking space and makes you mad – BOOM – glitter bomb.  It’s like pepper spray except less aggressive and prettier.

Halloween Treat.  Take the labels off so parents can’t track you down, then put white mints in the pill bottles.  Hand them out to kids who come trick-or-treating.  Look extra crazy and say, “These make you feel reeeeeeeal good, kid…” then dart your eyes around wildly and slam the door in their faces.

Shot glass.  Hello…does anyone else think that pill bottles are just the right size to be shot glasses?  Unfortunately, you have to shoot 7-Up or whatever since the side of the bottle clearly tells you not to drink alcohol.

Tiny Bowling.  Line up ten pill bottles in a triangle, get a good bouncy ball, try to knock them all down in one roll (STRIKE!!), and wonder why you have nothing else better to do on a Saturday night.

Modern Art.  Everything’s art, right?  I feel like modern art is especially weird, so you could probably throw a pill bottle in that genre.  Melt the bottom of the bottle a little bit, call it My Fading Life, and sell it for thousands.  Millions, even.  It’s art.

There you have it, friends.  My top uses for old pill bottles.  Let me know if you have any other ideas.  Also let if me know if you want to buy a beautiful piece of orange plastic modern art.  I’ll cut you a deal for following my blog.

Eeeep! No Awareness! Except…ALL THE AWARENESS!

Mentally ill people find themselves in a weird paradox.

May is national “mental health awareness month,” and I don’t really know what to do with this.  OF COURSE I want people to recognize mental illness as a real thing, and OF COURSE I want them to know more about bipolar disorder. OF COURSE I’m sick of people seeing mental illness as “oh yeah, that’s like, serial killers, right?  I watch those people on CSI.”

I AM NOT A CHARACTER ON CSI.

Although that would be kind of fun…hmmm…I bet I could play a crazy person really well…um, never mind about that.  Back to the point.

I want awareness brought to mental illnesses, but I certainly don’t want to be the one to bring about the awareness.  Therein lies the paradox: I want the awareness without the attention.  One of my friends posted something about the best young adult books for mental health awareness month to facebook.  She put some status about how they might be tough reads for people who struggle with depression, and she tagged me in it.  She’s a teacher, I’m a teacher, and in reality I’m pretty sure that it would be great for my kids to get some exposure to those things.  It was quite a logical tag.  Still, here was my internal reaction:

*eyes bug out of my head*

She tagged me in WHAT?!  WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?!  I don’t want anyone to know I struggle with mental illness!  What if they think she tagged me in this because I’m mentally ill, and THEY WOULD BE RIGHT?!?!  UNTAG! UNTAG! UNTAG!  How long ago did she post this?!  How many people might have seen it? FREEEEEEEAK OOOOUUUTTT!

For someone eager to have awareness, I’m certainly not doing great about making it happen.  Still, it seems a bit unfair.  When there are events for breast cancer awareness, people wear pink ribbons without shame and (rightly so) declare their pride in being survivors.

I’m running a 5k in a few weeks for a place in my hometown that helps mentally ill teens.  It’s a bullying/suicide prevention run.  I’m running it because – *ahem* – “I am a teacher and want my students to know that they can stand up against bullying.”

I would never say, “Because I am a suicide survivor” (a term I hate anyway), or “because I have a mental illness and want people to know that the struggle is real but that it can be overcome.”  That would be the “bringing awareness” route, but instead I’ll shuffle through the 5k and hand over my money to the people who are actually bringing awareness.  Then I’ll go quietly home.

Maybe that makes me cowardly, but you know what?  I’m trying.  I’m telling people about this illness one person at a time, and a lot of times it goes horribly, but I’m still doing it.  I’m never going to be the person who wears my heart on facebook statuses.  I’m not going to walk around town wearing a shirt that says, “LOVE ME.  I’M BIPOLAR.”  I’m actually pretty sure I’d get fired if my work knew about my illness, because those people just couldn’t handle it.  You might say, “No! They’d be super understanding!” but

  1. You have not met the people who run my school, and
  2. Do you want your child to have a teacher who has been diagnosed as mentally ill?

That’s what I thought.  Because no one wants the villains from CSI teaching about adjectives.

This is why it’s unfair, people.  Many people with mental illnesses cannot speak out about their experiences because the personal cost is too high.  I’ve lost friends. I’ve alienated family members.  I’ve…

Wait.  No.  That’s not true.

Bipolar disorder has cost me friends.  Bipolar disorder has alienated family members.  Because none of those people treated me poorly until they learned about my diagnosis, and then I went from being a person to a pitri dish.  I was interesting, but wholly untrustworthy.  What used to be seen as “spontaneous” became “volatile and unstable.”  I’m the same person, but they don’t see me the same way.  That’s not exactly the encouragement I need to start shouting from the rooftops about my disabled brain.

I feel like we all want awareness brought to these things, but none of us want to be the one to do it.  We need to stop hiding, but we need a world that is ready to receive us.  I’m really not sure how to achieve one without the other.  I guess this blog is a small step.  Each person I tell is a small step.  We’ll get there.  It’s just going to take longer than May.

Mental-Health-Awareness-Ribbon

My Profane and Wise Friend Once Said…

“It’s really about cultivating your shit,” Betsy told me.  I was sitting across from her at a dingy bar.  We were snacking on cheap popcorn and sipping our respective drinks (me: a girly pink cocktail.  her: some obscure microbrew).  People were shooting pool in the corner, and a group of guys at the bar were getting all worked up about a basketball game that we were ignoring.  No one was paying attention to the crazy people in the corner talking about cultivating life’s shit.

Betsy has been my friend since we were four.  When you have your entire childhood in common, sometimes that’s all you need to stay friends.  If we met now, we probably wouldn’t be.  I’m an English teacher living in the suburbs with a picket fence and “sensible” (read: boring) work-driven wardrobe choices.  She’s in a band, wears leather jackets and hipster clothes, has half of her head shaved and the other half crimped in a fabulously random way.  I wear lipgloss.  She wears eyeliner on only one eye.  I drink cocktails.  She drinks microbrews.  On the surface, we don’t have a lot in common.  Under the surface, we do.

On this particular night, she was passing through my town on a break from her current thirty-city tour.  We’ve both had hellish years for different reasons.  We drank to the fact that we were still friends even though life turned out oh-so-differently than we imagined back at sleepovers when we were seven.  Or nine.  Or nineteen.

Sometimes good life choices result in a happy life, and sometimes they don’t.  There’s no guarantee about that like teachers and parents want you to think.  We talked about the things we wished we would have known as kids and the things we wish we could know now.  Then Betsy came up with this gem:

“It’s really about cultivating your shit,” she said. “Because sometimes life gives you shit.  A huge pile of it.  But you know what?  Shit can be a really good fertilizer.  Beautiful things can grow from shit, but nothing’s going to grow from it if you leave it in a giant pile and say, ‘Ugh.  Look at all of this FUCKING SHIT.’  You have to work with it.  Deal with it.  Don’t just leave it there.  Put it to use and let things grow from it.  Make it work for you so that someday you might see that it actually helped you in the long run.”

That’s pretty beautiful for a disgusting metaphor.  Both of us are trying to work toward a place where we can look back and say, “That helped us in the long run,” but until then we’ll keep not caring about basketball games, eating cheap popcorn, and being there to catch each other when life knocks us down.

I’ll drink to that.