16 Ways To Keep From Going Stark-Raving Mad!

I’ll bet this isn’t going to be the post you thought it would be!

We have become spoiled brats. We are destroying the planet, ignoring climate change, bullying people from other cultures, not treasuring other forms of life, etc. We listen to celebrities instead of experts. We believe conspiracies. We refuse to believe science over some nit-wit who hasn’t the brains God gave a turkey. The list goes on. We have done this to ourselves. We have created a planet where ‘crazy’ has landed and has taken on a life of its own.

I say we break away from that crazy and create our own crazy. What better way to keep from going completely bat shit crazy than by creating our own ‘crazy’? Wait. Did that make sense? Bear with me.

So many people have forgotten how to enjoy their lives and have let depression and anxiety take control – I’m guilty of this myself. It’s not easy to control it. Mental illness is no freakin’ joke, but we should try and relax and find some fun ways to reduce the crazy in our lives by going a little…crazy. Just let it fly. Your imagination is your only limit.

Today’s post is all about some crazy ideas to help make your days of social distancing a bit more fun. Grab everyone in your household and create some activities together.

Here are 16 ways that I have come up with to go a little crazy and have some fun!

  1. If you’re out n’ about getting essentials, wear your mask. To make wearing that mask a little more fun, just try sticking your tongue out at people as they pass by. You could even mouth certain things (if you know what I mean) behind that mask and no one would be the wiser!
  2. Laugh maniacally at no one or nothing in particular in stores and all the way to the car. People will think you’re nuts but you’ll be releasing all kinds of crazy stress and anxiety.
  3. Make a video. Pretend you’re the sole survivor of a deadly virus and your video is your story. Be creative and emotional. Don’t forget to add a bit of paranoia.
  4. Read a survival guide and invite your spouse and children to go on an adventure in your backyard. Pitch a tent and create the atmosphere of the wilderness. Try to survive the entire day without TV, devices, and other modern conveniences. Pack a few buckets with ice and food items for the day. Whole foods – foods that you would find in the wilderness if you were really on a survival mission. Fill a bucket with water and use a ladle to drink. Try it! It could be fun!
  5. Write a journal or an online blog. Write about the stupidity of others, your adventures of survival, or anything you like. Be creative and make shit up as you go, all while keeping your identity a secret.
  6. Have a “Musical” day! Sing…everything! Just sing. Sing your conversations, your questions…to your spouse, your kids. Encourage them to sing back! It doesn’t have to sound good. It only needs to be fun! Add in a little expressive dance and what a blast you could have!
  7. If you get angry or upset with someone, just bark. Bark like a dog. Leave them wondering what the hell is wrong with you!
  8. Dye your hair the craziest color you can find! Don’t worry, it will fade. You can use the less permanent hair coloring kits. Do the entire family! Be a rainbow of crazy!
  9. Write a letter to your future self. Tell your story; be creative and seal it away in an envelope. Decide when to mail it to yourself; 3 months from now, 6 months? Your choice. Be surprised when you open it on the selected date. If you’re like me, you will have forgotten what you wrote!
  10. Hide canned goods (or whatever you like) all over the house for the family to find at random times. Act like you have no idea how it got there. You could even make it a whodunit game!
  11. Create your own weird language and see if your family can decipher what you’re trying to say! No clues in your native tongue, just your weird made-up language!
  12. Wear your shoes on the wrong feet and see how long it takes the rest of the clan to notice!
  13. Create a game show and give it a unique name. Invite your family to play. Give away strange prizes such as toothpaste, baby carrots, a spoon, etc. Your imagination is your limit!
  14. Have a costume day! Dress up as your favorite cartoon character, or whatever your strange heart desires! See how creative your family can be!
  15. Create a class for your kids to take at home! A cooking class, rock n roll high school, movie trivia, how to bathe the dog, whatever you might be good at could make a great class! Make it as silly as you like.
  16. If all else fails, hit the bottle. Get drunk. Pass out. Maybe in your drunken state you’ll come up with crazier ideas to make life interesting! (Just kidding, really. Be safe. Drink alcohol responsibly!)

There you have it, folks! 16 ways to go crazy without going stark-raving mad! While you’re working on these things, I have angry aliens in my backyard waiting to be fed. I hope they like ketchup. Snort!

Hypervigilance Rears Its Ugly Head

Oh, boy. I had a rough night. My anxiety is at full throttle. I don’t mind staying at home because it’s pretty normal for me anyway, however, I miss the option of going out IF I so choose. That’s not what’s causing my anxiety. My anxiety is coming from the deep, dark crevices of my feeble brain…and my brain wants to know “will this nightmare ever end?” It’s worrisome. It’s frightening. Not knowing what’s going to happen, how it will all play out is what’s causing my anxiety. My therapist once told me that I most likely had PTSD from some rather nasty personal experiences in my life and I’m sure this pandemic has added to it. Anxiety and I had an agreement; I will chill if anxiety would chill. We were doing well until last night.

I went to bed at 2am and I wasn’t even sleepy. It took about an hour to drift off. I slept for about 2 hours before waking up. As I lay there, trying to fight through my pain so I could go back to sleep, I became very aware of every sound known to man. That’s an exaggeration…I think. I heard the clock in the kitchen ticking…tick, tock, tick, tock. I heard one of the cats walk across the kitchen floor. I usually hear them when they run through the house but walking? I’m pretty sure it was Alice.

A few minutes later, I hear this horrible rumbling and I had to get up to see what it was. The water heater. I never hear the water heater! Then, coyotes in the distance. It sounded like they had pups. Then gnawing… Damn critters in the walls. Gnaw, gnaw. I pound my fist on the wall above my head. I’ve spooked them and now I hear the little footsteps running. A few minutes later, more gnawing. Good grief! The refrigerator is making some gawd-awful noises now!

Getting close to daybreak and I hear an owl at a fair distance so it wasn’t too loud. Now, a fucking woodpecker is in the tree outside of my bedroom. Knock, knock, knock. I hope he knocks himself cuckoo. Crunching. Crunching? What the hell is that? One of the cats is eating dry kibble. Drip, drip. Kitchen faucet dripping. Honey Bear is snoring at the foot of my bed. I hear a whistle and realize it’s my damn nose. My stomach growls and at first, I think it’s another critter. Nope. But now something is in the crawl space above my closet. I can hear it moving around. I hope it’s big enough to fucking kill me and eat me, I thought. I hear a cat scratching on the scratching post now. Ssshhh….I thought I heard a door open. I got up to check it out. I never figured out what it was. Maybe that critter in the crawlspace found his way in and is going to kill me now.

I turned on the a/c in my room just to drown out the noises. I should have used my earplugs. Earplugs are a wonderful invention! With my earplugs, the only sounds I hear are the sound of my heart beating and my own breaths. It’s very relaxing; I wish I’d have thought to use them. It’s 7:30am by this time. I wasn’t having any luck going back to sleep so I just got up.

After chores and lunch, I crashed in my lift chair and took a nice 2 hour nap. I slept hard. I wish I could sleep like that at night and in my bed. Ugh.

Earworm – Real World

Last Saturday, Dad and I were out for our normal supplies run and we stopped at our favorite Mexican restaurant. They used to play Mexican music but for some reason, they now play pop music. Oh, well that’s ok. At least it’s not country music.

Anyway, this song comes on and I love the song, but it has been stuck in my head since Saturday! I wake up with it playing in my head. I go to bed with it playing in my head. The lyrics that resonate with me the most are, “I wish the real world would just stop hassling me.”

The shit going on the real world right now is causing me so much anxiety. I’m not freaking out about COVID-19 but I am concerned. I’m mostly concerned for my Dad, who’s 83 years old. He still wants to go out on Saturdays. We will go out again this Saturday, but I told him when this thing is more widespread across our state, (only 2 cases, so far) then we WILL be staying home. In addition to that, I’m having to jump through hoops to get my pain meds refilled. I know people who rely on narcotic pain meds to function and they have to jump through hoops BUT mine are not narcotics. I’m not sleeping well due to my pain level being extraordinarily high and I’m running out of my meds! Now I have to see a new FNP because the one I had been seeing left the clinic. Holy crap.

I know the meaning of this song is more than that one line, but that one line is what resonates with me in the here and now.

Thanks for following Being Aunt Debbie!

Chronic Pain and Depression

I’ve been depressed lately. I’ve only spoken to 2 other people about the issues bringing me down and I won’t discuss the details here but there are a few things I do want to say.

No one really understands what a person with chronic pain is going through. They will never understand until they’re the ones suffering from it. It’s debilitating. It’s exhausting. It’s sad, and it’s lonely.

I can’t just make plans to go do something because I don’t know what my pain level is going to be from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next! When it rains or when the barometric pressure rises, I am in more pain than usual.

I don’t want to be sitting at home. I’d like to be working. I’d like to be doing the things I used to do. I’d like to be able to pursue the hobbies and activities I thought I would be pursuing at this time in my life. I’d love to be able to go visit my grandkids, near and far. I’d love to go to the movies, hit the Mall, or go to a Flea Market. I’d love to go to museums, haunted houses, and concerts. Hell, I’d love to just do the simple things we all take for granted when we’re healthy, but these days everything is a painful chore.

I have good days and I have bad days, but let me be clear: Having a good day does not mean I’m pain-free. It just means my pain level is at a more tolerable level. Just because I smile or crack a joke doesn’t mean I’m not in pain. It just means I’m trying to be as close to “normal” as I can be, for appearances. I don’t like people feeling sorry for me and I sure as hell don’t like being the center of attention. So, I try to be “normal” like you.

I’m not lazy. Chronic pain is not an excuse to get out of doing things. I don’t have the energy to go to events like birthday parties, weddings or luncheons. When I do attend a function of any kind, I have to leave early. I just can’t handle hour upon hour of socializing and appearing to be happy. Another consideration is accessibility. Will I be near a restroom or will I have to walk a long distance to get there? Will there be stairs or an upward/downward slant? Will I be able to sit down? Is there a place where I can rest? Will I have to stand in line? There are so many things I have to consider before doing anything.

When you suffer from chronic pain, you also suffer a loss of identity. The things that made you who you are, are gone. I used to be a cross-country backpacker. It was something I hoped I could back into when my kids were grown and out on their own. I can no longer look forward to that. I used to be a great cook. I used to be a small business owner. There are so many things that made me who I am but now I’m having to find a new me. It’s hard to reinvent yourself when you can’t actually do anything anymore.

I hate when people say things like, “I hope you feel better soon,” or “Have you tried x, y, or z?” Seriously? Yes, I’ve tried everything under the sun. Nothing helps. Someone once said to me, “It’s just arthritis.” If this were just arthritis then I could be more active and exercise some of the pain away. If it were just arthritis I could find a simple remedy that would ease my discomfort. But it’s not just arthritis. I have joint damage in my knees. My legs are bowing outward at the knees. This is what makes walking and moving about so difficult, so painful. Then there are the people who, good intentions or not, are very condescending. Calling me “hon” or ‘sweety” when I’m having a bad day is a sure-fire way to get ghosted!

Chronic pain never goes away. Chronic pain causes depression, anxiety, changes in mood, appetite and sleep patterns. It causes loneliness, grief, isolation, and fear. Yes, FEAR. Every day, I have to think about every movement I make, every step I take, for fear of falling or doing too much and making my pain level go up even higher. I fear that I will injure myself and lose the little mobility I have left. Have you ever thought about being stuck in a nursing home? I have.

I’m so sick and tired of being expected to do things. I only go out when I have to go out. I go out for groceries once a week, go to doctor’s appointments, pick up meds, etc. Yes, I go out to lunch once a week, but that trip serves a dual purpose. I normally have other errands that need to be done. People don’t realize that in between those days is rest and recovery.

On top of the daily struggle, the holidays are approaching. The most depressing time of the year for me. I won’t have family and grandkids around. I won’t be able to cook all the delicious yummies I used to make for my family. I can’t wrap gifts easily, so gift bags it is! I can’t decorate or put up my big tree. I won’t be looking forward to any of what the holidays bring.

I’m not writing this for sympathy or attention. I want people to understand what chronic pain is and what it does to a person’s life. It’s crippling. It’s not my cup of tea and I’m pretty sure it’s not yours either.




Suffering With Chronic Pain

Most people don’t understand chronic pain and how it affects a person’s life. They will never understand until it happens to them. I don’t wish that on anyone! Most chronic pain sufferers have at least one well-meaning friend who is always trying to find a cure for their ailment or pain. The effort is much appreciated but it’s all in vain. Most of us with chronic pain have tried just about everything…because…do you think we WANT to live with debilitating pain? Of course we don’t! We have tried almost everything we can to make our lives more bearable, to no avail.

I have Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Bone Disease, specifically in my knees. I am in Stage 4, which results in the loss of cartilage in the joint. There is NO CURE, only treatments to manage the symptoms. The bone-on-bone friction associated with this can cause severe symptoms, such as:

  1. Swelling/Inflammation – Synovial fluid can increase, which normally helps reduce friction with movement but large amounts can cause swelling in the joint. Fragments of broken cartilage can cause increased swelling and pain.
  2. Severe Pain – Pain during movement, and during rest and sleep. By the end of the day, after use of the joints, more swelling occurs and pain is increased.
  3. Decreased Range of Motion – Movements are slow, with stiffness and pain making it hard to enjoy daily activities.
  4. Joint Instability – The joints become less stable; knees can “lock up” or just plain give out, which can result in a fall or injury.
  5. Weakened Muscles – As joints continue to wear down the muscles become weaker, bone spurs can develop and bone deformity can occur. (My legs are bowed, more so the left.) With weakened muscles also comes an increased risk of falls.

Some of the words I have used to describe my pain are sharp, gnawing, throbbing, stabbing, burning, excruciating, grinding, locking, stiffness, dull, tightening, and debilitating. Sounds fun, ‘eh?

This disease causes severe pain but also affects your life in other ways:

  1. Sleep Disturbances – Interferes with restorative sleep. It’s difficult to find a comfortable position, and it’s painful to even move.
  2. Weight Gain – With chronic pain, you tend to move less so it’s easier to put on extra weight. Pain makes it difficult to exercise or just have an active life.
  3. Anxiety and Depression – With chronic pain you tend to have difficulties performing normal everyday tasks like cleaning and laundry, showering, dressing, grocery shopping, walking, reaching, cooking, stairs, standing in lines, and much more. These are things we take for granted when we’re physically able; we don’t even think twice when doing them. When those simple little tasks become a struggle, it has a negative effect on our mental health. Enter depression and anxiety. It’s all so exhausting!

So, I guess I’m just trying to help others understand the struggle of living with a debilitating disease and chronic pain. Everyone’s struggle might be different but we are all the same. We are suffering, even if we don’t show it on the outside. We try to hide it from others. We try to be “normal” like everyone else. Some days we try. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail.

Some days, we just CAN’T.