In Dreams

sleepless nights
and sleeping in
aimless walks
on dimly lit streets
shooting stars
above a back yard trampoline
singing songs
to the sky that never listens

binging fruit loops
on a front porch swing
dancing downstairs
in our underwear

last two hits
of our parents’ cigarettes
chugging beer
in the bath tub upstairs
washing it all down
with mountain dew

morning cartoons
snuggling in bed
the morning gleam
through your bedroom window
lighting up your skin
a brilliant hue

in all this time
it never hit me
in all this time
i never knew

no time could be like this time
no future could give me you

in dreams i hold you tighter
in dreams i laugh even more
my dreams can give me
what life can no more

Too Close To Home

Okay, so I wasn’t going to write anything about the pandemic. However, I’m in the middle of a very personal experience with COVID-19. I knew I’d be a little bit paranoid about this virus – especially because I work with the public. I never imagined my fear would actually come true. I haven’t gotten my test results yet, but I want to share our story thus far.

On Monday, March 16th, my 7-year-old daughter developed a cough. At first, I assumed it was her asthma cough since she was running around outside. However, the cough had gotten more persistent and deep by Tuesday. Tuesday night, at 11:30 pm, she spiked a fever of 104.2. We made a Dr. appointment the next day. I wanted her to be tested because, it turns out, we’ve been exposed to the virus via 3 positive cases at my brother’s work. He also just flew to NYC a few weeks ago and was in 3 different airports (Pittsburgh, NYC, and Dallas). The Dr. refused to test her and I had to force her to at least test for the flu.

When I left the Dr.’s office, I called the department of health to see if we could get tested without the Dr.’s referral. They put me on a mandatory 14 day quarantine and said I needed to go get her tested. I called a testing site in Pittsburgh, who told me they wouldn’t test her because her fever had broke. Fine. We’ll just finish the quarantine. But, by Thursday night, she was taking 40 breaths a minute, which is twice the norm. Her pulse was 107, which is 20 beats per minute faster than norm. And her cough was even worse.

We went to the emergency room at UPMC Northwest at 2 am on Friday, March 20th. The triage nurse didn’t warn the hospital that a possible COVID-19 case was coming in, so they sat us in the waiting room where we put our germs on the chairs. They had me use the check-in kiosk, so that my germs were on the screen. They had me sign a paper with a pen that all other patients use. They took us to a room that wasn’t set up for the virus. They weren’t wearing proper PPE. However, they did take good care of my daughter. Turns out, she developed pneumonia from whatever virus she has. The hospital wouldn’t test her. They sent us home with a note saying that the Wolfe Center would contact us about a test.

I waited a week for a call, and it never came. I waited so long because I’d already been told by a testing site that they won’t test unless all of the symptoms are present at that time. Well, I started to cough on that Friday (March 20th) we went to the hospital. And, a week later, it hadn’t gotten better. I was short of breath and I was wheezing. But I didn’t have a fever, so I didn’t try to get tested.

By Sunday, March 29th, I decided that I wanted to try one more time to get tested. I decided to call Meadville Medical Center. They decided to test me because of the exposure I had, the symptoms I had, and the symptoms my daughter had. Even though I didn’t have a fever. That’s exactly what should have been done to begin with. Not everyone shows the same symptoms. Turns out, I did have a fever when I went to the testing site, and my pulse was 125. My lungs sounded “junky”. They stuck the test swab so far in my nose it felt like they were scraping my brain. It is terrible. The results will be in sometime in the next 72 hours – 2 weeks, depending how backed up the lab facilities are.

Throughout these 14 days, I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions. Not only do I have to deal with the fact that I have no income right now, but I don’t know when I’m returning to work, and I still don’t know if I have the virus. I had to deal with the panic of watching my daughter struggle to breathe and hear her coughing 24/7 and have her temperature be 104.2 for 24 hours. It was terrifying and I live alone and am quarantined, so I went through all of it by myself. I started having trouble sleeping. I lost my appetite. All while being sick with whatever I have. It’s been tough. Let’s not forget, I’m bipolar, and this is definitely a stresser. I have been on top of my mental symptoms and went back on my anxiety and sleeping meds for the time being.

I’m here to say that, maybe we shouldn’t be panicking about the pandemic, but we most certainly should be taking it seriously. If this is what I have, it is no joke. People who have any kind of respiratory issues (we have asthma) are at a higher risk, and it’s no fun watching someone you love struggle to breathe. Even if you will be fine if you catch this virus, your vulnerable family member or friend may not be. Please take this seriously, stay home, and fight for your right to get tested if you have reason to believe you have symptoms or exposure.

My Demon Said To Me

Broken and alone
Chilled to the bone
Confused, spinning
From the chorus in my home
‘You’re not enough
You’re not enough
You can’t do it on your own’

I concede
I give in
Okay, I’ll listen
I must admit
I’ve come to love
The way the cold blade glistens

But when I close my eyes to go
Among those who
Took fate by the throat
Something whispers
Soft and slow

I tilt my head
To lean in to the muse
And my demon says
No one can hurt you

As long as I’m here…no one can hurt you.

Now I See

Yesterday, I received my very first pair of glasses. I didn’t realize how blind I was. I now see everything so differently. So crisp. So clear. It’s insane. I had no idea that I wasn’t seeing things clearly. And it reminded me of myself when I realized something was wrong with my brain.

I have struggled with crippling depressions ever since I can remember. And these depressions are a lot longer than a week or a day. They last from 6 months to 3 years. My most recent depression lasted 3 years and included 6 months of not eating, which resulted in my body nearly shutting down. It included many, many nights of self-harm. And when I finally came out of it, I dove straight into my very first manic episode.

My manic episode lasted for a little over a year. And it took 9 months to figure out that something was wrong with me. During the first 9 months, I was extremely reckless, hyper-sexual, and felt indestructible, all-knowing, and ecstatic. I didn’t need sleep because I was fueled up on manic energy. I was creating art, music, books, and I wasn’t going to stop just to sleep. In order to stay awake when I did get tired, I turned to drugs, which is COMPLETELY out of character for me. The mania caused me to lose my appetite, so I lost a lot of weight again, and the drug use just made it worse. I overdosed 6 months into my mania (didn’t tell anybody, though). During the next 3 months, I was desperate for money and I was still hyper-sexual, so I began taking money for sex. This is also COMPLETELY out of character for me. It was after I got roofied that I realized something had to be terribly wrong with me.

I went to my PCP, who said it sounded like I had bipolar disorder. However, they weren’t equipped to handle mental illnesses, and asked me repeatedly to go to a psychiatrist. I put it off because I was feeling great (still manic). I also didn’t want to admit I had a mental illness. It didn’t take long before I tripped and fell face-first into another depression. This one was intense, and lasted 3 months. By the end of the 3 months, I was experiencing depression and mania at the same time.

I became extremely reckless with men again, and I was hallucinating a terrifying black demon. I couldn’t sleep anymore. I couldn’t even go into my bedroom; I was so afraid. The only way to get the demon to go away was to cut myself. So I started etching little red ditches in my thighs every time it happened. I begged for help. I went to the hospital and begged to be admitted to the psych ward. They even saw my thighs. They wouldn’t take me because they said I wasn’t a danger to myself or others. I never felt more invisible and helpless in my life.

A week later, I called my boss and told them what was happening to me. She has bipolar disorder, too, so she immediately called 911 and asked them to do a wellness check on me. Instead of coming to my house, they called me and asked if I was okay. I wasn’t ready to go to the hospital yet. I wanted to say good-bye to my daughter (who I sent to my mom’s because I knew I wasn’t safe). So I told them I was fine. Thankfully, my cousin decided to call them again, so then they actually came to my door. It was just in time, because I was just trying to cut a path in my arm that was deep enough to bleed out. They saw my arm and said if I didn’t come with them, they would 302 me (give me no choice). I said PLEASE take me, I’ve only been trying to go for a month. So, I finally got the help I needed, and it was 2.5 years ago. I’ll write about my stay in the psych ward another time.

My whole point is that sometimes you don’t realize how blind you are to your situation, actions, behaviors, etc until something is put in front of your eyes to make you see it. For me, being raped opened my eyes. And then my brand new glasses made my vision clear, for real. 😉 The important thing is to make sure that once you see your issues, you get the right help for them. And then do the research so that you can be self-aware and catch episodes before they have a chance to spin out of control, which we all know happens very quickly.