Handling Hate in a Healthy Way

Most of us have noticed, by now, that there is a whole lot of hatin’ goin’ on in the online world and in real life. People are feeling hot-headed and divided and what were once quiet disagreements about politics or the way they see the world have become screaming voids between loved ones and leaves every one of us with a sense of sad wonder. What is happening to our world? What is the future going to look like with this kind of hate seething in our midst?

I’m not an expert by any means, but I have found some healthy ways to cope with the negativity and opposition. I promised myself I wouldn’t get political on this blog unless I felt a particularly strong call to action, so these tips are going to be vague in their examples. No matter what side of the argument you are on, you should be able to read this and feel better equipped to handle situations both online and in real life that make it uncomfortable or outright unbearable for us to function sometimes.

Facebook and other online forums:

We’ve all got the handful of friends that, in light of the recent political climate, we may have realized have REALLY different views than we thought they did. This can cause a few different emotions to crop up. I personally, have found myself feeling hurt and angry that these people I thought I knew could have the kinds of opinions and feelings they’re expressing. It can be really alarming and jarring to have this window opened, sometimes even painful if they are someone you were close to or trusted.

So that’s where my first tip comes in to play: start a calm dialogue. This only works if both you and the person you are approaching are willing to stay calm and talk openly and honestly about things, but sometimes, people may not realize that the memes they are sharing or the opinions they are shouting are hurtful to you. Maybe what they are sharing is outright false and they didn’t know that when they shared it.

When talking to them, be sure to use phrases like “when you shared this particular thing, it made me feel this certain way.” Using statements with “I feel” allows you to take ownership of your feelings without casting blame on the other person. Avoid statements that do cast blame (“you don’t know what you’re talking about”, “you’re wrong”). Try to calmly explain what you felt when you saw the offending post or opinion and ask them why it is they feel that way. Understand that it is okay to disagree, but disagree respectfully. No name calling, no taunting, no questioning the other person’s intelligence. The end result of the conversation might not be that they suddenly change their minds and believe what you believe. It might not make any difference at all (I’ll get to that in a minute), but it might give them pause the next time they’re about to share a harmful meme or encourage them to fact check before they post that article.

Unfortunately, there are some people who will not be willing to talk. You might even have a handful of people where its a better idea to avoid bringing it up. If your crazy uncle is sharing violent or unsupportive things to his page, that is his right, but it might make it a little awkward at the next family gathering at which you see him if you confront him. In cases like that, sometimes simply unfollowing the person so that you don’t have to see the things that are offending you is the best option.

My last resort is unfriending or blocking someone. I’ve reached this point personally several times. If someone is being just plain hateful, its okay to cut ties. No matter how long you’ve known them or what kind of relationship you have with them, it is okay to cut toxic people out of your life. I found myself in this position just before the election with a family member and, after a few failed attempts at trying to talk things out with him, I took the step to protect myself by unfriending him and blocking him so that I couldn’t see what he was posting. It’s never an easy step to take, so think carefully about it before you take it.

Comments sections of anything (articles, memes,etc.)? Just avoid them. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Don’t feed the trolls. No good, sane, rational, or positive conversation has ever come out of a comments section.

In Person/Real Life

This is way harder than online because its easier to forget that, when talking to someone online, you’re talking to a real person. I’ll keep this part pretty short and sweet by breaking down the three most common situations you might find yourself in.

1.) Overhearing Hateful/Opposing Views

Ignore it if you can. If people at the table next to you at your favorite restaurant are talking about something you don’t agree with, that’s their business, not yours. Just ignore it. If it’s really upsetting to you, ask to move to a different table so that you don’t have to hear it anymore.

If you see someone being harassed or attacked, get help. There are guides aplenty online explaining ways that you can help get someone out of that situation in a way that is safe for both you and them. Most of them revolve around the goal of ignoring the harasser and engaging the victim in conversation. If the situation is violent, call for help and don’t try to be a hero.

2.) Someone You Don’t Know is Harassing You

Try not to engage. It can be really hard to resist, but ignoring them is the best possible way to avoid escalating the situation. Get yourself into a safe place, call a friend, or ask for help from someone nearby. Again, do not engage the person harassing you.

3.) Someone You Know is Debating/Harassing/Upsetting You

This one is the hardest to deal with emotionally, in my opinion, but has the simplest answer. Tell the person in a firm and calm tone “I do not agree with what you are saying and I do not want to participate in this conversation.” That’s it. Walk away, engage someone else in a conversation you do want to have, anything. The other person may try to pull you back into conversation with them, at which point you just tell them again until they either give up or you realize that you need help in getting this person away from you.

That’s all I’ve got to offer. If you have anything you think is helpful to you, feel free to share it in the comments. If you choose to share, be respectful! No hate!

 

Replenishing Spoons

I met with my primary doctor today so that we could talk about what happened with Cleveland Clinic. I was anxious going into it because it was, frankly, an unhelpful trip and I knew that would frustrate my dear doctor Amanda. And I was right. We both commiserated that the vagueness of the situation, the insisted urgency paired with long waiting periods made poor bedfellows and that, in a nutshell, the situation is just plain crap. I left the appointment feeling incredibly downtrodden. I simply wanted to go home and hide from everything.

I needed to wait for my Mom to get done with a brief meeting with our church pastor before she could help me get home, so I waited at the pub where church would take place tonight (Church in a pub is a thing for us, it’s pretty cool). It was while I was waiting that the worship leader, Jeremy, spotted me moping at a table and said “oh! I wish I had known you’d be available. I was gonna have someone sing “Shake It Off”, but she’s sick and couldn’t do it. You could have done it!”.

Five minutes later, we’re downloading a karaoke track of the song and I’ve agreed to sing the song for the two services. I get through the first sing through and sit down to hear the message “on tap”, which happened to be self care.

Right away, a quote goes up on the TV screens in the pub’s back room where we worship:

“From a theological perspective, the most dangerous thing about mental illness is that it can lock us in ourselves, convincing us that we are indeed on our own, and completely on our own, isolated in our own distress.” ~Kathryn Green McCreight.

I felt the lump form in my throat and my eyes start to sting. Then Jeremy sidles up next to me ever so briefly and expressed how thankful he was that I could sing for the services and how special it felt, how blessed he felt to have me there.

I wept.

I couldn’t have held back those tears no matter how hard I tried because I knew, in this moment, some higher power knew what I needed better than I did. God or whatever power you believe in or just sheer dumb luck if you don’t believe in anything put me exactly where I needed to be. Instead of coming home and sitting alone with my fears, my doubts, my anger and sorrow, I was in a pub, giving my energy and my time to people that care about me and to people I care about. I allowed my church to shoulder my burden with me and I felt lighter for it. If I had come home, I would have stayed in that dark, lonely place my depression always has waiting for me. I wouldn’t have taken care of myself.

Now, I feel at peace. My body is tired, but my mind is quiet and my soul feels full. I know the steps I need to take in order to move forward from all of the frustration and negativity of my health and I know that, if I falter, I can lean on a good number of people to help pick me back up.

Much love to all of you, Lemons and Spoonies. I hope you find peace tonight. If not, I’ll try and share some in the morning with you.

Writer’s Block

It’s a beautiful Sunday with the sun shining, happy cats dozing or playing wherever they’d like to play. Nikki is happily watching one of her favorite shows (at least until she realized it was the last episode available) and I woke up to the pleasant discovery that I have somehow managed to get pink eye.

My luck, as I’ve mentioned, is kind of amazing in it’s scope of inconvenience.

I thought I’d wake up today feeling slightly more inspired after a good night’s sleep and have something to write here, but being home just made me comfortable and dumb.

Its these moments that I feel a healthy respect for other writers, especially bloggers, who manage to churn out great and engaging content every single day. But that’s likely the Imposter Syndrome talking. Nobody can be perfect all the time. No writer can sit down every single day and feel 100% good about what they’ve written. They can choose to sit down and write every single day no matter how they feel, though. That’s what makes you a writer.

I gave myself the day off yesterday to process some of the things I needed to think about coming home from Cleveland Clinic. Decisions that needed to be made in regards to what I’m aiming for and what I’ll be discussing with my wonderful primary doctor in our appointment tomorrow. Part of that was accepting the inevitability of my conditions. Not death, but that no matter how long I live, these conditions will live with me. It isn’t dying that scares me. It’s what my life will be while I live it.

I’ll ask for your patience over these coming days as you check in to the blog and find updates. I can’t promise that they’ll be much good, but I can promise that they will be here. I will still promise honesty and openness. The opportunity to turn inward and truly examine my emotions may be something that presents itself here and maybe, if I’m lucky, one of you will speak up and share with me some wisdom that will change me as a person and as a writer.

The most important part of this entire journey is being on it, right?

Cleveland Clinic: Appointments and Shenanigans

I’ve been hard on Ohio. It isn’t that bad, really. The roads are better than Michigan, but that’s not really a claim to fame. Forest trails are in better shape than Michigan roads. We arrived on the Clinic Main Campus about an hour before my appointment, but confusion over how the hell to park put me right on time. The main building stole my breath away. It was huge, beautiful, and all at once, I was so overwhelmed by not just the building itself, but the realization that, with time, this wouldn’t stun me anymore. It will eventually become a home away from home.

wp-1487976410125.jpg
The main hospital building!

I got into my appointment and met my new doctor. We clicked pretty much immediately as he asked tons of questions, answered tons of mine, and performed dozens of physical tests to determine how my neuropathy is progressing. The short answer, it’s doing what he expected it to be doing. My reflexes are both over and under compensating, my heart rate is rocking out its POTSie self, and my blood pressure managed to confound both the assisting nurse and Dr. Shields as it remained the exact same no matter what we did while my heart rate went crazy.

Then came the time to schedule all of my tests. We were braced for the onslaught of testing needed to find more information about my conditions and had booked our hotel through Saturday to make sure we could do everything needed, but scheduling had other plans. Only basic lab work was available to me. We already have another trip booked for May, where I will spend roughly 10 hours straight in medical testing, starting at 7:30am.

It’ll be a long day.

I was a little disheartened by this, but Nikki had the remedy. We found one of the many restaurants hidden in the main building and she showed me all the cool things she found while I was busy being  quizzed by Dr. Shields.

wp-1487977230242.jpg
I wanted to touch it!
wp-1487977220959.jpg
A wall of silver.
wp-1487977212030.jpg
This was Nikki’s favorite.

After eating and exploring a little, we headed to where I would get lab work. It was then where I was asked to sit perfectly still for 30 minutes in an uncomfortable chair, knowing that at the end of the 30 minutes, I would be faced with needles.

wp-1487977505192.jpg
So. Much. Fun.

After an agonizing 30 minutes of not even being able to swing my legs or fidget, the wonderful lab tech came in and confirmed who I was and walked me through what we’d be doing. As she spoke, however, I found myself becoming more and more concerned about what she was doing, not what she was saying. I knew a blood draw was part of the lab work, but I watched with horrified humor as she seemed to pull vial after vial out.

wp-1487976503902.jpg
I don’t need any of my blood, right?

It took one poke to each arm, but we managed to fill every one of those suckers. After the adventure of having all of my blood stolen by Barb the Impaler, we went back to the hotel where I promptly devoured almost all of our snacks and fell asleep.

Day two, now unencumbered by testing, started with food at the hotel bar, then we set off to Nikki’s touristy place of choice: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

wp-1487977239068.jpg
In hindsight, I should have sat in the letters. 

They don’t really like you taking pictures in the Hall of Fame, but there was one exhibit we couldn’t resist. In pure good luck, we managed to visit at the time one of my all time favorite albums was being featured as their limited time exhibit.

wp-1487977258479.jpg
All we are is just another brick in the wall.
wp-1487977251005.jpg
You’ll never get your pudding if you don’t eat your meat!

To put it bluntly, it was cool as hell. Real props from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, along with Roger Waters’ explanation of what inspired the wall written on intermittent bricks. It was larger than life and I was giddy over it all.

Finally, fatigue got the best of me and we hoofed it back to the hotel for another calm night in. We depart for home tomorrow morning, with the possibility of more adventures.

 

Cleveland Clinic: On the Open Road

We left a little before the sun was up and, while its a beautiful day, poor Nikki is wishing it were a little dimmer. Heading southeast in the morning in February is, well, bright. 

Don’t selfie and drive, kids!

Nikki has just suggested we go to Canada instead of Ohio. My heart says yes, but I imagine my doctors would be less than pleased with the decision to vacation abroad. 

The radio has, by this time, has played no less than three zzzquil ads and we have decided it is purposely taunting us. We have both been complimented, I suppose. Nikki was told by the batista at the coffee shop that her hair looked great. A guy at the gas station asked if I was single. We all know who the winner is here.

Pam is. Because that bitch is still in bed with the cats.

Cleveland Clinic: Twas the night before travel…

Today seemed determined to stress me the hell out. Our plan to get a free oil change ended up not being free, fees for parking we weren’t anticipating suddenly appeared and ate away at our budget, and the realization that not having a credit card was going to be an issue when it came time to check into the hotel left us running around madly. Long story short, if it was inconvenient, it was happening. We were not amused.

And yet, we spent a good amount of the day laughing. A few moments of seriousness, of stress. Of holding hands and reassuring one another that we had this under control and that we’d be fine, then more laughing. That’s what makes Nikki so great. She’s hard to ruffle.

We’re nearly done with laundry, at which point we can go home and start packing. Morning is probably going to come much faster than I’d like it to, but it also can’t come soon enough. Plenty of people are sending love and well wishes, most requesting updates that I hope we’ll remember to give and know they’ll forgive us if we don’t. They’ll understand if we’re overwhelmed by what we learn and need a moment, whether that feeling of being overwhelmed is good, bad, or just plain a lot of nothing.

We’ll hit the road as the sun rises and I’ll update again in the morning (hopefully). Until then, good night!

Mysterious Injuries

Life with EDS means getting used to waking up and doing something resembling a status report of my body before I move. In fact, I’m fairly sure if you were to watch me sleep (please don’t, that’s creepy, and Nikki and Pam already have enough pictures of me sleeping, but that’s for another post), you wouldn’t be able to tell the moment I actually wake up because, for at least five or ten minutes, I am laying exactly in the position I woke up in. In those few minutes, I am slowly taking in awareness of my body to see what has changed overnight.

This morning, my hip and knee were out of place and throbbing. These give me a lot of trouble, since I am a side sleeper and get tired of using body pillows, Kit, or my wife to support myself better. My shoulders are sore from the way I tuck them up, but don’t feel dislocated. My fingers, wrists, ankles, and toes are stiff, which will ease up as I move them. This is also when I can start figuring out what kind of pain I’ll be managing that day.

wp-1487775029466.jpg
Kit, the Dopey Valentine’s Fox

Having completed the morning status report, it’s then time to test how my dysautonomic conditions are going to behave for the day. I’ll start moving my feet and legs, trying to coax blood flow to pick up so that, when I sit up, I won’t get as dizzy. Then sitting up and standing, which even going slowly tends to come with a wave of dizziness and lightheadedness. Head into the bathroom and check for new bruises. EDS means I bruise if someone so much as looks at me, so I’m very used to looking like I fell down the stairs.

It was in this step of the process this morning that I noticed I had a black eye and a busted open lip.

I tried to get a picture, but no lighting in the apartment shows either injury well enough to accomplish anything but making me look like I’m trying to be a pirate, but you’ll just have to trust me on this one. I brought this up to Nikki, to make sure that I wasn’t delusional and she immediately poked at it and asked if it hurt, to which I said yes, so stop touching it. Her theory was that her puppy, Zeep did it.

zeep
He even looks guilty.

 

Sunshine and the Blues

I can’t believe the milestones we hit yesterday. Thanks to all of you, Lemons and Spoons has reached over 530 people and hit a new record of 177 readers in a single day. I am awestruck and overwhelmed, but above anything else, I am grateful to anyone taking the time to visit, to read, and especially to follow me on this journey. I have no idea what I’m doing, but you’re trusting me to drive the bus anyways. That takes guts, you guys. Seriously, I’m impressed.

With all this happy going on and these great things to celebrate, my anxiety was put off a little. I was so pleasantly distracted by the nervous excitement of finally feeling like I found what I’m supposed to be doing, watching stats climb, I forgot to be scared.

Nikki and I will be leaving with the dawn tomorrow morning to go to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for a three day stay. There, I will meet a new doctor who will be reviewing my conditions. There is chatter across many EDS forums about a change coming in how they diagnose and categorize EDS. I don’t know how that will impact me. I will learn more about the dysautonomic conditions and how to better manage everything that is trying to kill me.

It’s hard to describe the feeling, but I know a lot of Lemons and Spoonies will understand. On the one hand, it’s so important to stay positive and optimistic. The mind is a powerful thing and sometimes, it all comes down to how you choose to handle things. On the other hand, however, I don’t want to walk in expecting all sunshine, flowers, and rainbows. There’s not going to be some dramatic moment where the doctor looks at me, runs some amazing new test and says “you’re cured! Be on your merry way!”. At least, if that does happen, I’m going to be extremely skeptical and seek a second opinion.

What I can expect, though, is answers, which is more than I’ve had for quite a while. There’s only so long you can go without them and it will be nice to have someone who has made their career studying cases like mine. I know that he will have more insight into how best to handle my symptoms and how to manage everything in the long run.

Getting home on Saturday will mean a flurry of friends and family all wanting updates. I’ll be doing my best to keep everyone updated as I learn things, both on here and for those directly in my support network.

Wish me luck, Lemons and Spoonies! A grand adventure awaits!

 

Presenting: The Social Posts! Part 2

Okay. Are you ready? Uh-huh. *sleepily force cuddling our cat, Lacey, and telling her she has stinky kitty breath. Pam tells her that’s rude to say. Nikki tells Pam to sniff the cat. Pam adamantly says no while Lacey cries “no”*

What about you do you think the readers should know: nothing. (Pam: gotta make it all mysterious?) Yeah, queen of mystery.

Why don’t you want the readers to know anything about you? *she mumbles into her hands* I was gonna say they aren’t important to me, but I probably shouldn’t be mean to people I don’t even know. (Pam: you’re ALWAYS mean to people you don’t know! Nikki: only to their faces!).

What should the readers know about me? You have a really good butt. What picture of me are you going to use? Is it gonna be cute? Because me right now is not cute. It’s about integrity.

I’m concerned you aren’t taking this seriously. Pam’s the one laughing hysterically and breaking her stuff! I’m like…half asleep, what more do you want from me?

Maybe you should go to bed if you’re so tired. No, we’re good.

Fine, fine. One last question: What’s up?

What does your role in my support network look like? *she and Pam burst into uproarious laughter because they both think of this scene in the Incredibles movie.*

nikki
At least she’s hot, right?

 

 

Presenting: The Social Posts! Part 1

I bring before you the very first Social Post! Social Posts are going to be when I find a friend or two, ask them questions, and share them with you! I wanted to do this for three reasons:

  1. I wanted to honor my support network by including them in this aspect of my life.
  2. I want to help show that support networks are important and keep that transparency thing I promised going.
  3. It will make it easier for me to talk about people if you know who the hell I am talking about in the first place.

So first, you get two of the biggest pieces of my puzzle, my wife and my roommate! The roommate is here at this moment, so she gets the first round of questions.

Name: Pam. Status: Roommate

Hey Pam! I have questions for you. K. *squints at me* I know what you’re doing.

Good. What would you like the readers to know about you? Um…(swears at something she drops). I don’t know…that I’m a human..probably? Sometimes? I’m sure you’ve already told them that I’m crazily cleaning the house right now.

I hadn’t, but you just did.  Anything else? I don’t know. I hate talking about myself, especially when I’m put on the spot. And you’re a bitch.

Well, that gets into my next question; what do you think readers should know about me? Um…that you’re smart and funny and I have to remind you of that a lot because you don’t really believe me. *begins shuffling through a box, muttering about trash and asking things if they are trash* *murders spider brutally with said box*. What should they know about you….that you are a seahorse.

 

pam
Also, she’s a Panda.

Okay, for my own sake, we’ll stop that question. What do you think your role in my support network looks like? I’m your caring bully.

Care to elaborate? I aggressively care about you and sometimes yell at you and tell you what to do so that you take care of yourself, but it’s done out of love. And sometimes anger. But mostly love!

What do you want to tell the readers? Thank you.

For what? For helping you feel less alone and giving you something to work on that will be really hard for you to quit doing.

That’s it for Part 1! Keep checking in for part 2, where you’ll meet my infamous Wife.

I’m a little scared too, it’s okay.