Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I don't even think drug dealers would accept an ear as payment so that's just silly. Also I geek out a little in this post.

I woke up early this morning. Like stupid early. Like should I make coffee yet or get a DP because I am not technically sure if it is morning yet or still late at night. I opted for coffee.


Why was I awake you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t ask because you don’t care. You might have a dark soul. You should get that checked out.) I was awake because of the nightmares. Surprise! People with OCD often have horrible horrible nightmares. Call it obsessive, intrusive or ruminating thoughts when you are awake, but at night they are nightmares. Not fun ones like a scary movie. Really crappy ones that seem real and often cause me to have nighttime panic attacks.

The good news is that thanks to long term use of my meds and whatnot, my frequency of nightmares and panic attacks has dropped to about once a week or maybe twice a week. This is a huge improvement considering this used to happen about 3 times a night. So anyway, sometimes the drugs can’t turn your brain all the way off. Which is good. Because I still like having portions of my brain at work for me.

So theeennn because I am awake and bored and I already played all of my turns on Words with Friends I thought that maybe I should write something. So I played on my iPhone for like another hour and then I was all “OK I should really really write something.” And I started thinking about a conversation that I had with my cute as a button little therapist. The question: Do drugs used to treat mental illness inadvertently suppress the artistry, creativity, energy, and occasional insanity of artists and musicians?

My brilliant insight was that all the good musicians/artists are freaking crazy. Tempers and delusions and manic episodes and all that stuff made for some awesome composition and art. Like Schumann for example. That dude was nuts. He writes like 160 pieces in one year and then starts hearing voices and seeing demons and eventually tries to off himself before voluntarily checking into a mental hospital. But if he walked into a clinic today and was all “Yeah, so I just composed music for like 3 straight weeks without sleeping and also this demon over here is driving me nuts. Can you get him to knock it off?” the doc would most likely say “Sure, here are your 4 prescriptions. Congratulations. You are now homogenized.” And then where would all that great music be? Maybe he still would have written it. Who knows?

Then there was Van Gogh with the ear chopping, presumed schizophrenia, and eventual suicide. There was Beethoven who was extremely temperamental and often horribly mean probably because of his bi-polar disorder. Sylvia Plath was a little off her nut too. Would any of these people have been the same on medication? Would their creativity and productiveness have been stifled? Or would they have become more productive thanks to having their thoughts and moods and behaviors stabilized through the miracle of pharmaceuticals? Or maybe they would just be a bunch of junkies on the corner trying to sell a severed ear for a hit.

The point of this you may ask? (That is if you are still reading and haven’t headed over to some other cooler and less geeky blog). I don’t know if I have a point. I guess if you forced me to have a point it would be that it seems that creativity and artistic temperament are closely connected to mental illness. What does that mean for me? Probably nothing. I’m still going to take my meds. I appreciate the more organized nature of my thoughts. And I can still be creative. And awesome. And apparently my “awesomeness” can still bust through the barrier of medication. Now if there were only a pill to cure lazy. Besides meth I mean.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I NEED YOUR HELP! OCD IS NOT A JOKE.

I came across an episode of MTV’s Disater Date recently that featured an actor pretending to have OCD in an attempt to annoy and irritate the unwitting participant. It involved touching, counting, and arranging all as a joke to make people laugh. As a real life OCD sufferer, I instantly knew that I could not pass up this opportunity to call attention to the inappropriateness and unintentional discrimination. I often use humor in my descriptions and explanations of my experiences with OCD, however I assure you that the illness is very real, very challenging, and still woefully misunderstood.



My response to this situation will be an attempt to capture the attention of MTV executives, programmers, viewership, and anyone whose ear I can bend. Below is a copy of my letter to as many persons involved with the network for whom I could find contact information. I am asking for the network to use their influence to help educate young adults about the realities of living with, seeking treatment for, and not discriminating against mental illness.


But I cannot do this alone! I need your help. Please help by forwarding this post, this letter, this information to as many people as you can possibly fathom. Please contact the network with a plea to remove programming offensive to the mentally ill and to create a campaign of awareness and education. Please email. Please call. Please write. Please forward. Everyone can help. The louder we are, the better our chances of being heard. I am thankful everyday for the support and strength you give me through this blog. I am asking you now to please join me in further educating our communities and eradicating ignorance and fear regarding mental illness.


I appreciate you and love you all more than I could ever say. Thank you.

To Whom it May Concern:
Recently while searching the VOD selections that MTV offers I came across the show “Disaster Date.” The episode titles were things like “Hyper Drummer” “Hot Mess” “Fart Boy” and the one that caught my attention “OCD.” The episode consisted of an actor pretending to have OCD in order to embarrass, annoy and humiliate the unsuspecting young woman. He counted, he touched, he ordered objects, all while an entire room full of adults watched and laughed. It deeply affected me. Why? Because my name is Angela Cavett and I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

As a long-time sufferer of this very serious mental illness, I was very disappointed, hurt, embarrassed, annoyed, and subsequently moved to call this outrageous inequity to your attention. Mental illness is not a choice. It is a painful and difficult struggle for those of us who are afflicted. I struggle everyday with my symptoms and behaviors. I also spend each day fighting to raise awareness and understanding in order to encourage other young people to seek help. By choosing to air this program you relegated our very real disability to nothing more than bad behavior or comic relief. Your own website describes the “disaster dates” as “weirdos” and “losers.” I can assure you that we are neither weirdos or losers. We are real people who want to live our lives. We are just tasked with handling different challenges than most. In fact, persons with mental illness including OCD fall under the protection of the Disability Discrimination Act.

I believe that this programming was a result of unawareness rather than malice. I understand that no disrespect was likely intended. So, as a network that has been groundbreaking in educating young people in tolerance, political activism, sexual health and safety, and global responsibility, I along with the support of the community of mental illness sufferers, ask you to be a leader in raising awareness for this misunderstood disability. We ask for this particular episode to be removed. We also ask for a public awareness campaign to be made in regards to mental health. We want young people to know that they are not alone, they are not outcasts, they are not hopeless, and they can get the help they need. We want groups such as the Anxiety Disorders Association of America and the National Institute of Mental Health to be brought to the attention of those seeking help.

Thank you for being a network that opens doors and educates people. It is my sincere hope that OCD and mental illness awareness will soon find a place among your already highly successful awareness campaigns.

Sincerely,
Angela Cavett

Contacts:
Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO MTV Network
Judy.mcgrath@mtvstaff.com
(212) 258-8000
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 1003

Assistant to Judy McGrath: Kristen Mullarkey
Kristen.mullarkey@mtvstaff.com

Tony DiSanto, President of Programming for MTV
tonydisanto@mtvstaff.com or anthonydisanto@mtvstaff.com

VIACOM CONTACTS: Viacom owns MTV
Carl Folta, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications
1-212-258-6352
Carl.Folta@Viacom.com

Jeremy Zweig, Vice President of Corporate Communications
1-212-846-7503,
Jeremy.Zweig@Viacom.com

MTV PRESS
Stephanie Berman, Senior Director (Stephanie covers Disaster Date)
Stephanie.berman@mtvstaff.com
212-846-7175

MTV Message boards and Blogs
http://think.mtv.com/

National Institue of Mental Health
nimhinfo@nih.gov
301-443-4513
1-866-615-6464
NIMH, Science Writing, Press, and Dissemination Branch
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184 MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

Anxiety Disorders Association of America
8730 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20910
http://www.adaa.org/

Contact your government representaives
Use this link for help:
http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=state_advocacy&lstid=970

Cruise Wrap-up Part 2: Mexico and Booty Shorts

After the Jamaican Beach Party and the groping and the general island hijinks, we went to bed ready to see Grand Cayman island early in the morning. So we got up freaky butt early, packed our bag and headed to the breakfast cattle call buffet line. Except…Grand Cayman seems to be moving farther away. OK maybe we are taking a long route. But it is getting even smaller. Hmmm…And then the announcement “We are canceling our port blah blah blah bad weather blah blah blah hope this doesn’t ruin your cruise experience blah blah blah refunded for excursions blah blah blah” Well balls. But at least the announcement was in a British accent which made it so much more tolerable. Something about my leftover Arkansas/raised up Okie accent isn’t nearly as refined.


Now the challenge for our illustrious bona fide Italian boat captain (who would not have looked out of place in the mob. Honestly gold chains, obvious love of pasta, the whole deal) was how NOT to arrive at the next port too early considering there was now an entire extra travel day (and also how not to drop dead from a heart attack). His solution was to move as slow as physically possible. Honestly I think we might have been moving backwards a few times.

Finally the NEXT day we made it to Cozumel. Early. Even after all the barely moving. This was a day that we were going to swim with dolphins. Except that my body had other plans for me. I tried to leave the ship only to immediately return thanks to the horrible stomach pains. A few hours later I’m all “Yeah I’m cool. Let’s go eat nachos.” Note: When having stomach craps, do not eat nachos. The best part about the nachos was when it was time to pay. And we realized that neither of us had any money. And the nachos were starting to attack me. The solution was for Luke to leave me at the restaurant as collateral while he sprinted all the way back to the ship for money and back to reclaim me. It was touch and go for a while. Will he come back? Am I going to have to outrun a tiny Mexican man? Does anyone else see those black dots? Are my guts still in body, could somebody check please?

He paid and we made it to the taxi in time to get to our “Swim with dolphins” adventure. Only my adventure was more like “don’t pass out in a Mexican taxi and wake up as a sex slave or house pet” adventure. Yep. 10 minutes after arriving, I was back on the taxi headed back to the ship which I never should have left in the first place. Only this time I was with two Japanese girls and some Europeans. Who got out at the next stop. Leaving me sick and alone in a Mexican taxi driving through the streets of Cozumel for 10 minutes. And I didn’t even care because I was all “Just try and abduct me. I will so puke on you dude.” I finally made it back to the ship and stayed in bed for the next 24 hours. Luke swam with dolphins, went to dinner, saw a show, hung out at the piano bar, and assured me that nothing too crazy happened during my sick leave. OK.

And on to…Madonna day! The last night was the night of the big show with all the karaoke winners. We had a rehearsal in the afternoon. I got to have my own dancer all to myself. And also he was a pint sized little thing. I found my marks, learned my *gasp* choreography, and tried on my most fabulous Madonna costume. It was a pink frilly slip thing that you would wear like under a poofy dress or something with a black corset, lace gloves and my own boots and fishnets. They tried to give me fishnets from the costume room but I have a policy about keeping my feet out of places where other people’s feet have been. I also have that policy about my husband's man parts.

Finally, show time! I Madonna-ed myself all up and headed back stage with all the rest of the singers/dancers. When it was my cue I headed out to the center stage. With four male back-up dancers. In booty shorts. Yeah they were. It was amazing. I had no idea that 4 men in tiny amounts of clothing could make me so popular with the crowd. I’m thinking about adding them to my regular concerts. Booty shorts work with Puccini, right? Who am I kidding? Booty shorts work with everything.

And then it was all over. We left the ship the next morning bright and freaking early. And drove home to rain and cold and snow and more cold and clouds. But we were home. And my own bed was never so comfortable.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thankfully Thursday and Friday and Saturday...

I was thankful yesterday. On Thursday. I’m just not so good at the writing about it and posting it on Thursday.


Yesterday (and actually today too, but since yesterday today hadn’t technically happened yet I’ll just focus on yesterday) I had the chance to sit down at the piano and play. Not practice for a wedding or accompanying event or funeral or some other job. Not sit at the piano as a teacher correcting and training and listening and practicing the art of maintaining my patience. I just got to sit down and play music that I picked for me.

It was fabulous. And also kind of frustrating because when you play events and accompany and teach students for so long, sometimes it takes a while to get back into your own personal rhythm. I definitely don’t suck. But it just takes me a little longer to work into the pieces and have them sound recognizable and not make little children cry and husbands protest. The dog will howl no matter how good or bad I sound so I don’t use dog howling as a measuring stick.

I picked out 2 pieces for myself: The first is Debussy’s Pour Le Piano: Prelude. It is awesome. But Debussy is pretty much awesome. I am aware that I am a music nerd and while everyone else was at summer camp playing volleyball and going to bonfires and whatnot, I was in piano camp taking history and repertoire and technique classes. My dear husband is also a quasi Debussy fan. He’s all “Hey that’s that one song on Oceans 11. I think it’s called…Ocean’s 11 song.” He’s so pretty. So the Prelude is awesome and also challenging. Seriously, I was freaking bleeding after I played it one time. Bleeding.

The other piece is a fantastic jazz waltz arrangement of Norwegian Wood which is a Beatles tune for those of you losers who don’t know Norwegian Wood. Honestly, it’s iconic music. Check it out and you will live a longer and fuller life. So I am like the worst jazz pianist ever. BUT this piece has all the “solo ad lib” written out. Um, yes please. That way I can play what’s written and totally make a soulful jazz face and voila…I am a jazz pianist. Sort of. It’s all about the soulful jazz face really.

So that is my Thankful Thursday. I anticipate much more time at the piano this weekend considering there is a blizzard moving through. On the first day of Spring. After today’s high was in the mid-70’s. Because that is totally normal.

"Yeah we have some wildlife out here"

My husband has the best job. He used to talk about toilet paper with customers. And the importance of washing your hands after you pee. Now he gets to watch grown men and the occasional woman try on clothes. Not like lingerie model women or anything so I’m not too concerned about it. Also he carries around like 30 outfits in his car. He has been known to change his clothes from his car stash after unfortunate mustard or soy sauce incidents at lunch.


Once he asked a man to try on the pants and the guy dropped his drawers right there in front of God and everybody to reveal his decision to go commando that day. Another time, he witnessed a man crawling on the floor in the sample pants because he needed to see how the pants worked when he was on his knees.

But today may have been one of my favorite days in his career.

First of all, he was told by his customer to “meet me over in this field.” It’s actually not the first or second or even third time that he has met someone in a field. Fields are always an adventure. Once on the gravel road he was to “look for the pump truck.” Also not the first or second or even third time an inanimate object has been crucial in finding the location.

He made it to the field and turned on the gravel road. That’s when he had to stop. Because of the llamas. In the road. Multiple llamas in the gravel road. Never one to be outsmarted by a llama, he offroaded it in his PT Cruiser wanna-be and continued onwards to the pump truck. He got out to meet his customer by saying “So hey…llamas” My husband has a gift for the words and the talking.

They got the sample clothing out of the car in the field by the pump truck. The customer was to try on the pants. But first he had to empty his bag. His colostomy bag. In the field behind his truck. Because where else would you empty your colostomy bag besides your llama field?

I can only wait and see what other entertainment his job will provide.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cruise Wrap-Up Part 1: Munchkins, Madonna, and Hitler Oh My!

I had a goal this time for our week long cruise.. No anti-anxiety medication. Of course, I would still be taking my 3 maintenance meds daily but I wanted to try and travel without additional anti-anxiety. I don’t think Luke was entirely thrilled with this possibility A) because he was going to be the one defusing any potential episodes and B) because he thinks that I am entertaining drugged up. I was allowed to have the occasional glass of wine. It’s cool. I checked with all my doctors first. Side note: Look at me! I used the word cruise. A year ago I couldn’t speak it or write it. Suck on that!


Challenge #1 was simply leaving the house. Usually I am able to keep my checking of locks/knobs etc in the neighborhood of 2-4 times before leaving the house. However leaving the house for 8 days presents an entirely new challenge. So there was checking. And more checking. And counting. And repeating. And a little bit of cursing because that’s part of it too. It’s like Tourette’s. But with touching. So eventually I took the stupid pill. Technically it doesn’t count because we left a day early to drop off the dog. But good news: We eventually left the house. Every thing we own was unplugged and I spun in a few circles and I might have accidentally knocked over a lamp and cracked my head but, you know, whatever.

Did you know that to get to the Port of Galveston you have to drive over an insane bridge to a freaking island? I did not know that. But since I already my one practice pill I didn’t get to have another one if I was to accomplish my goal. Also Houston, it would help if you didn’t scare the crap out of me with a ginormous marble statue man just before getting on the death bridge. What the crap?! Mission accomplished: bridge conquered: now realizing that the marble man is actually a warning to shoo you away from Galveston because it is…umm… scary colorful.

I don’t know where we (Luke and Angela) would be without our fabulous travel agent setting up VIP expedited check-in for us. Wait…I do know. We (me) would be on the floor huddled up in a corner somewhere rocking back and forth having a meltdown. Do you have any idea how many freaking people get on that boat at the exact same time?! I didn’t have any idea. That’s because last time I was chemically sheltered from that disturbing little experience. But this time, because I am “so lucky” to be crazy as I have often been told, we got to wait in a comfortable little room and the check-in people came to us. This was after I handed all of my suitcases to a man I could only hope was a Carnival employee because honestly how hard would it be to show up with a cart and just start taking people’s stuff? Then we marched ourselves right up that plank or whatever they call it. FYI: It had about a million railings that needed to be touched before I could proceed. I think Carnival was trying to kill me. I’m not sure how the guy behind me felt about it. He may have thought I was contagious. I can’t be sure.

Cruise day 1 at dinner: My boots were outrageously awesome and we made our way to the dining room. This is when it came to our attention that Hitler was sitting a few tables away from us. It probably wasn’t actually him but I can’t be sure. Either way…fun times.

The next day we spent a considerable amount of time laying around in the sun despite the fact that we weren’t that far from Texas and the water was still brown and it was freaking freezing. We were pretty much only doing it because we were on a cruise and we were supposed to because honestly it was cold. That night I got to break out my cocktail dress and new boobs. These are the boobs that cost me $10 and were sold to me by the second Asian woman to feel me up and declare that I needed the boobs otherwise my clothes would actually fall off of my little boy body. They looked good. I know this because the Indonesian man doing the portraits that night told me so. He said “Your boobs are good.”

Later that night while sitting in the Karaoke lounge enjoying my color coordinated beverage, Luke decided that I should sign up for the Madonna auditions. The winner gets to be Madonna at the end of the week in the big show with the dancers and costumes and everything. I was all “Yeah cool whatever” but really I was all “Ack! This is decided on by audience vote and I do not make a necessarily great first impression although my boobs do look really good!” It came down to 3 people: Me, Another Lady, and the professional Drag King. I can’t beat that. And the professional Drag King was really good. Honestly, how do you follow up that act? I thought about letting one of my boobs pop out but decided to just try and win with my own unique brand of Madonna interpretation. That whole “now clap for who you think should win” deal is very nerve wracking. I could never make it on Survivor or the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. I would cry. Or throw-up. Um…I won. Rooms full of drunk people LOVE me.

Since it was warmer the next day we went to the deck and promptly both received scorching sunburns. During that brief window of blazing sun torture we were treated to a lovely little display of creepy as the old man next to us berated and disciplined his 20 year old European wife (who was gorgeous) as she barely spoke English. Ah…culture.

Unfortunately this was also the scene of a panic attack for me. I breathed, I walked away (I may have run just a little), I found a seat and waited for Luke to get back with his food. No pills. I just needed a little nap after that. While I was sitting at my little table waiting for Luke to get through the buffet line and resume his role as my safe person, I did get to witness a mother and daughter ripping each other new butt holes; in French. Ah…culture. Anyhow, we went to bed early that night because in the morning we were headed to the Jamaican Beach Party.

Whenever anyone offers you entrĂ©e to an all inclusive Jamaican Beach Party, always say yes. We discovered on the way to the beach that the Jamaicans are an economical people in that they save money by not hiring garbage men and simply throwing the trash into the streets themselves. Also, if one were so inclined to participate in herbal recreation, Jamaica is an ideal place to acquire said herbs. Once on the beach and settled into the beach chairs, we discovered that our Beach Party buddies live within minutes of our house. Because that’s how awesome the Cavetts are; we attract people to us even from thousands of miles away. Anyhow, Luke instantly involved himself in every athletic opportunity available and I most gladly let him. He’s kind of like a ping pong ball. A loud, mouthy ping pong ball.

As for the new folks we met, my husband decided that the best way to acclimate people to my…unique…behavior was just to come right out with it. Just rip it off like a band-aid. I think he may have scared them a little. Sometimes its better to unpack the crazy one box at a time remember?

Then came the beer drinking contest which only deserves mentioning because I believe it to be the catalyst for later events in the afternoon. First of all, passing out drunk at 10:00 am is very unclassy. I’m talking to you girl who passed out drunk next to me at 10:00am. I heard a rumor about putting her back on the ship in a wheelchair but I don’t have the papers to back that up. Secondly, being tanked does not give you carte blanche to touch people. I’m talking to you tiny man who was tanked. Basically, after a fabulous day of beach partying, I was gathering up my things and felt two hands grab my back cheeks and just hang right on. It was pretty much an all out cupping with very little intention of ever stopping (but very gentle thankfully). I turned around thinking it was Luke “he has so much energy are you sure he isn’t on crack” Cavett and I was ready to tell him to cut that crap out because it is inappropriate regardless of how good my butt looks. But when I turned around, no one was there…oh no wait…there was someone there…it’s just that he was the middle one from the Lollipop Guild so I missed him at first. So now I’m thinking “Well that’s not what I expected” just as he mumbles something that might have been “Sorry” or “I need a taco” or “Thanks for dropping your house on that witch.” I’m really not sure. I think it was in his native Munchkin language. Before I could form a response, he stumbled to the chair next to me and passed clean out. Which is where I left him. Because I’m not the Queen of Munchkin Land.

So that’s the first part of our week. And I haven’t even gotten to the part where I put on the Madonna costume.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Vacation Edition

We made it. There and back. All the way.

First of all, I am thankful that I was able to have this experience without one single anxiety drug (besides my maintenance drugs.) Um, yes…I said NO anti-anxietys thankyouverymuch. This is a big deal. At least that is what I keep telling myself because I am supposed to do all of that “positive self-talk” business. I keep making Luke make a big deal out of it too. Because 12 months ago that never could have happened. In fact, our last cruise included vast amounts of anti-anxiety drugs. So that is something to be thankful for.

It wasn’t all without struggle. There were moments and episodes and breakthrough and relapse and all those other words used to describe crazy spells. But we had fun. And that is something else to be thankful for.

Apparently, the world kept turning while we were on our vacation. Apparently it turned rather violently and threw waves against some other ship in some other part of the world. I am thankful that it wasn’t us. And I am thankful that my husband has the good sense to censor me from the news. He is an excellent change-the-channel-at-the-right-moment or change-the-subject or speak-loudly-so-I-don’t-accidentally-overhear-things kind of guy. If we had a subscription to the paper, I’m sure that there would be large square holes where he removed disturbing stories. I’m also sure that I would be all “What happened to the paper?” And he would be all “I don’t know. Must be those dang neighbor kids again. Hooligans.” And I would be like “Yeah, hooligans” because I would totally believe him.

I am thankful for the people who kept care of our dog, children, mail, house and all the other things that needed tending while we were gone. The Cavetts require a lot of maintenance.

I am thankful for the cool people we met on our vacation including people from our very own neighborhood and some pint-sized newlyweds. Like little bity. Like you could put them in your pocket. Like, one evening I towered over the blessed girl by almost 18 inches. Also, thanks to my boots for being awesome. I couldn’t have done it without you boots.

I am thankful that the only people who touched my boobs were people who were allowed to, which is a very short list. I did get groped by a drunk man, but he was behind me. And he also apologized right before he passed out. Seriously.

Stay tuned for the cruise wrap-up coming soon…

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bluuuuuuuugggghhhhh

We made it home.

I have the sickness.

More to come.

Once I can hang on to my food and whatnot.