Used to Be

I used to write a lot but am finding it harder and harder these days as life takes over and I have no energy left to write. In time I know I will get back to it but these periods are always unbalancing for me because writing is akin to breathing for me.

I also used to be a home owner. Four homes I owned consecutively with my ex and each sold swiftly for full price because of all the decorating and landscaping I did. Yes, he helped some. But he was no good at landscaping, he could mow the lawn and that was about it because he often overwhelmed himself with projects he simply stopped mid way and I finished the job as in installing hardwood floors, mill work, crown mouldings/trim, painting, setting tile, installing backsplashes, pressure washing and staining a cedar deck, pressure washing and coating the aggregate patio and much much more.

Decades ago when I was seeing a psychologist to try to save our marriage the psychologist told me my ex has a “theme of negligence” going on through out his life. Yes, the psychologist was absolutely right and even though my ex would never go for help himself (this way he could always say I was the crazy one who needed help, but I digress)… he did agree with everything the psychologist said of him.

Anyway, I used to be a very good wife but I am no longer in that relationship, have not been for over eight years now. I do have photos of all the homes we owned and they were very nice especially after I finished updating and upgrading so many of the rooms and gardens. I say used to be because I now live in a wee basement apartment that receives little natural light. To that end I have decorated with cheerful light and bright decor to make up for the windows I wish I had.

I used to be able to paint a room in a day by myself, have it all back in place by the next day and I used to work in the back gardens for days on end especially in the spring and fall when they required so much work. I used to have a lot more energy but that was before Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Fibromyalgia stole it from me. Some days are better than others but on days I can’t even get out or can’t get past the physical pain, it helps to have pretty things to look at.

I may never own a home again but I love my peaceful pretty place. A good friend once said that my homes all feel the same, they were peaceful, an extension of me and an expression of my artistic soul. If he is right and he often is, you will now know me better after seeing these pictures taken from my current “home.”

More writing soon to come and meantime, enjoy this little glimpse into my current world.

(c) Janni Styles (all photos and text are property of the author/photographer)

 

PTSD, You and Me

Post traumatic stress disorder

P      T      S      D

Tightening every muscle

A giant fist of anxiety

Unkind, abusive people are not safe

Safety is on much higher ground

Pay no mind to the nasty folk

They will only bring us down

There is no known cure for this

It’s just the way the brain is wired

Stress and cruelty can wear you down

Leaving you emptied out and tired

Some days are better than others

There is no telling how they might be

You just wake up and try your best

Hoping things work out peacefully

The world is rife with assaulting sounds

People ready to argue on a dime

Guard your heart, your mind and ears

With soothing sights and music sublime

On the days when nothing will work

Take heart in how well you have done

You may have been through wars of many

Yet you are here, living and moving on

PTSD may never be completely gone

It may always be lingering inside

Make friends with your worst fears

Let your “safe people” be your guide

We may never win the war on PTSD

The grueling challenges may never end

Take heart, know you are not alone

In me you have a PTSD friend

(c)  Janni Styles

Here is my latest PTSD poster, number 7 in the series:

Bell Let’s Talk Day January 25, 2017: Let’s talk about PTSD

It seems hardly a year has already flown by since the 2016 Bell Let’s Talk Day and yet here we are again. Let’s hope this year’s campaign results in more people keeping the conversation going instead of shutting it down as so many are wont to do when it comes to mental health issues.

Instead of stuffing the big purple elephant under the carpet yet again, let’s talk about why people are suffering without help or experienced support. Some are too ashamed due to life conditioning around mental health matters. Some do not have the financial resources to obtain the expert help they need. Some areas are so lacking in funding for mental health services that programs are limited and wait lists can be up to two years long.

Two years is far too long. In two years a person can grow so desperate they may self harm, grow addicted to drugs or alcohol or suffer a complete psychotic “break” that costs them or those they love their very lives as was the recent situation in Nova Scotia where a man killed his family and himself. He was a soldier needing help for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and just did not get all the help he needed in time.

Let’s not make this another year full of needless tragedy.

Let’s make this the year we not only say “Let’s Talk” but let’s keep on talking and talking and talking. No matter who tries to “shush” us. Let’s keep talking for the sake of all those who are still with us and who still may have a chance to get the support and help they need to heal.

Below is a link where you can learn more about Bell’s Mental Health Day January 25, 2017 and all the wonderful work they do to keep people talking and healing. Following that is my latest PTSD poster and yes, you may share as much and as often as you please. I would be very grateful if you did.

See you next time.

#BellLetsTalk

http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/bell-lets-talk-day

Learn more about Bell Let’s Talk Day January 25th 2017

ptsd-poster-4

 

Why don’t people want to learn about PTSD?

My name is Janice and I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  There, I’ve said it aloud to the whole wide world now. Yes, I know my loyal blog subscribers have read it before but not everyone bothers to read what I post here and often many don’t want to read about PTSD at all. I understand. I wish I could write cheery, delightful posts every day but that’s not likely to ever happen on my blog anyway. I am not much on small talk and idle missives. I like what I write to mean something, more importantly to possibly even help even just one person in the world.

Usually when I start talking about PTSD people skitter away and want nothing to do with even learning about it. Why is that? So many people have died because of it, including an entire family in Nova Scotia mere days ago and yet people want to stuff it under the rug along with all other manner of mental health issues as though sufferers should be ashamed and not talk about it or even dare be triggered into a full blown episode.

The shame is not ours but belongs to anyone who would rather look away than learn about this awful disorder that can strike anyone at any age. Trauma is not something we ask for nor do we want it. Yet, many of us have experienced so much trauma that we just lose our ability to cope. This includes many who were abused in childhood, many who will likely suffer PTSD all of their adult lives. This includes a man who works as a Police Officer. This includes the woman who works as a Paramedic. This includes all people working all front line jobs where trauma occurs daily from the Emergency Room to the soldiers who return from war torn daily life to be triggered by hearing a car backfire down their street. Some people may never develop PTSD but others, it seems, cannot avoid it. We do not lose our intelligence, we merely lose our ability to cope. All the intelligence in the world cannot prevent a person from getting PTSD.

How did I get PTSD? Well, the doctors feel I may have had a mild form of it from all the shocks I endured in my marriage. But I managed to cope and soldier on until 2012 when a long time trusted friend physically assaulted me while my ex held my arms. A near 20 year friendship down the drain with a kick by a woman who has martial arts and could have exploded my bladder and killed me on the spot. (No, she was never charged because he and she lied to the police and police dropped the charges). For two years I had health issues that stemmed from that kick, some I would rather not mention here. Not to mention my shoulders both now full of scars from clawing myself awake from nightmares for two years.

Some things about having PTSD are better now. The thing I struggle most with is the “trigger” unpredictability which can overtake everything so that you need sticky notes all over just to remind you of every day tasks or things you promised you would do for others. It’s not that you don’t want to do those things, you simply, well, speaking for me, I simply cannot remember everything and greatly appreciate reminders.

The first year I had PTSD I was unable to take in any amount of information. No matter how many times the clerk at the bank might repeat herself, I could not make out what she was saying. Her words were foreign, another language, it was all gibberish to me even though she was speaking English, my birth tongue.  I started to tremble, then tears flowed and the manager was called. I asked to have it noted on my file that I have PTSD, I also asked that they please “speak slowly” and “be patient” with me because PTSD is not something I can control.

Jumpiness used to be worse for me than it is now but I can still be startled by people coming up behind me in the grocery store (why oh why do people do that anyway…sigh).  Even walking right out in front of me virtually cutting me off, stopping me from walking because their royal rudeness couldn’t just wait their turn can trigger me.

A nasty phone call or exchange I don’t deserve from a mean neighbor or other person on a rant, an abusive text from my ex or criticism from any source can trigger an episode. An episode for me can last a week. A week’s worth of jumpiness, anxiety, depression and needing lots of quiet, safe solitude to recover. This is better though, for me. You see, I used to suffer from PTSD 24/7, with no end or break in sight. Anything and everything triggered me and I just kept withdrawing more and more from daily life to protect myself.

Even standing in a line at the bank or grocery store where people practically press right up against you can trigger me. I can’t stand anyone invading my space and will try to keep three feet between me and the person behind me. If they push up, I step away, sideways if I must just to get rid of that sense of invasion until it is my turn in the line. Sometimes I have had to flee a store, just drop all my intended purchases and race out the door to my car where I can get in and lock the doors against intrusive, invasive types out there in the public.

Personally I am sick and tired of people being sick and tired of hearing about this very important condition anyone can be struck down by. We were given two ears and two eyes and one mouth for one reason. Let’s stop shaming people for having this and start listening, seeing, sharing and asking more questions instead of bolting away as though the person has a highly contagious disease. PTSD is not contagious. Stupidity can be. If you let it. Let’s not let it.

In an effort to educate others about PTSD, I have begun making posters about it and will share the first two here with you now:

ptsd-and-you-poster-january-2016

 

ptsd-and-you-poster-2

If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, I would love to hear how you are coping and what helps you to calm when you are triggered by people or events out of your control.  Also, making these posters will be ongoing so if you have anything you feel you’d like others to know about PTSD please share and I will include it in a poster.  Take good care and be gentle with yourself.

See you next time.

Suicide: why won’t people talk about it?!

Trigger Warning!

 

Why does an eleven year old child attempt suicide? Nobody wanted me to talk about it then and I am sure nobody wants me to talk about it now.  Talking about it is something I never should have stopped doing. If we kept talking about suicide instead of trying to shame blame people into silence about the very real threat, I believe many would not be so successful at achieving it.

Think about this: An eleven year old child attempts suicide. What must have been happening to that little girl to drive her to such dire measures? What was she going through that nobody would even try to understand or help fix for her?

Two things were happening that this girl can now share. She had more responsibilities heaped on her than most adults have to cope with and she was being hurt by her parent’s drunken party friends but nobody talked about that stuff back then either. When her family moved from the Ontario country side to the city, it seemed predators lurked everywhere. And they did. Nobody wants her to talk about any of that but what they don’t grasp is she blames no one. She is not hostile or vengeful at all about being that little girl who had no safe place to turn to.

As an adult herself she knows that adults are not perfect and some people fail at keeping their children safe because they just don’t know any better at the time. Her own mother wrote on a birthday card when the girl was a woman in her late thirties “you had it the hardest of all my kids and I am so proud of the woman you are, you have achieved so much in spite of all those tough years we went through.” Like my mother, some may not fully recognize situations until they are well distanced from them and able to see with clarity. Keep talking until it is so safe for everyone that suicide becomes an acceptable every day topic for everyone.

If there were more talk about suicide, fewer people would succeed at it or suffer the shaming and blaming that many foist on those of us who have attempted it. This shaming and blaming may be the very thing that isolates the suicidal person, shoves them right over the edge as it did, sadly, with a beautiful young teen named Amanda Todd. She was bullied to death by online monsters who relentlessly rammed at her psyche with their vitriolic and most unwarranted comments. https://nobullying.com/amanda-todd-story/ Amanda is gone. Never to return. Imagine if the kindness had outweighed the cruelty; she would likely still be here if kindness had won out. 

At age thirteen I tried to suicide out again. Adding to the already burdened eleven year old girl’s world was a drastic cross country move at age 12 that tore her and her siblings away from friends, family and all things familiar. They arrived in this place on the edge of the sea only to have her father leave her, her mother and four younger siblings to start a new life without them.  Really, her father was already out the door before he actually left but there was no way of seeing that either until many decades later.

Her mother blamed the girl, said it was her fault the father left and her fault the younger ones were acting out because she was the one the little ones were supposed to look up to. The girl asked the mother who she was supposed to look up to but that question went unanswered. Then, also still at age thirteen I had an overwhelming urge to run home from a friend’s where I was to sleep over. I found my mother unconscious and covered in vomit from pills she took trying to suicide out.

Finding my mother trying to suicide out proved too much for this already shattered girl’s mind. I get that my mother was mentally and emotionally  in trouble but many in my family do not or will not, many of them are angry that I even dare talk about her suicide attempt. All I have to say to them is not talking does not help a single soul, Mom lived to her eighties and it is a well known fact mental illness runs in families. Just look at the number of family members or relations treated for depression and anxiety,  the hostility visible all over the internet from some relatives too incapable of dealing with their internal anger or misery in a healthy manner, the self harm of cutting or multiple addictions in one family alone and you can see the writing on the wall –  and not talking about suicide or mental health matters has ever  helped a single soul. Ever.

At age fifteen I tried to suicide out again. Suffice it to say I still had responsibilities heaped on me no teen should have. Being resourceful as I had learned to be from the age of eight onward, I was able to connect with people familiar with crisis and dealing with people in crisis. This helped me learn coping skills I still carry with me to this day. In my twenties I started taking courses that ultimately led to me working with victims of violence and being a lay counselor and serving on the board of directors at the local rape and trauma center. I was good at those jobs and services, I believe my own trying childhood and teen years were why I was so effective in those jobs. I did burn out after years of doing this in the non-profit sector and the justice system, though and had to leave those types of emotionally draining positions behind me.

Fast forward to 2010 when a twenty year friend of mine began visiting me for as much as twelve hours at a time, sleeping over and spending weekends at my apartment I had taken after leaving an abusive 32 year marriage that proved to be a false front, not a true marriage in any sense. Silly me thought my friend was just being kind to me, spending so much time with me because I was newly single. I could not have been more trusting or more wrong. She was pursuing my alcoholic, gambling and porn addicted ex by sleuthing information out of me to pursue him with. He thought it magical she knew his favorite candy, beer, meal, etc At the end of it all, I felt raped. Inside outside, all around every side. It felt so “incestuous” and “mentally raping” as the trauma counselor put it. I was so blindsided by she who claimed to be so Catholic she would never even touch a married man, let alone one she knew had committed so much harm to others, myself included.

When I went to retrieve the rest of my pretty things (I had no room for them in my tiny apartment, I just wanted to get them out of my former home of many years and give them away or sell or donate them so she was not touching/using them), I arranged this all over the phone with him when he was at work because that was the only time you could find him sober.

What I did not expect was that he would set me up not once but twice. Twice I arrived to find her there. The first time he said she is leaving she just came to say goodbye because I broke off with her. Well goodbye, you may go, I told her but she refused to leave. I grew more distraught and sobbed, asking her to leave as did he, repeatedly. She refused and when he grabbed my flailing arms waving and pointing to the unblocked exits, she started kicking me.

It was like being in a horror movie you can’t escape. It was surreal. The second time I arrived (again arranged when he was sober at work and under assurance she would not be there as, again, he said he was sick of her and they were done) she called the police to say it was a “home invasion.” The police were astonished she did that because they sent eight units to my former home that night but she was never charged with the mischief that should have been the least of the charges against her. They were very surprised when they asked how I got in and I showed them my house key and told them my ex knew I was coming, we had arranged it three days ago. I still had my key as it was my former marital home where many of my things were being stored and I still slept in the guest room on occasion to visit with family of choice and their children living near that home a good hours drive away from my apartment, if traffic was favorable.

The night the kicking happened I felt sure the police would protect me. But I was wrong. She lied to the police about kicking me because she was in health care and would instantly lose her job if she admitted to assaulting anyone like that. He was blithering drunk and supported her story, said he didn’t “see” the kick, so police treated me like the wrong doer and a week later dropped the charges because their stories lined up but mine did not even though her kicking left me with bladder trouble for over a year and I was so traumatized by all of it, I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My sleep time was so full of nightmares of them coming after me, I have permanent scars all over my shoulders from clawing myself awake for the next few years.

This whole experience thrust me into the deepest depression I have ever been in since my teens.  Not only was my whole marriage a false front but my 20 year friendship with her was false and now the people who should have protected me were traitors, too. There was no one I could turn to and no one I could trust anymore.

Blackness was my home for the next couple of years. I could see nothing to live for. Everything I ever believed in was a sham. All I wanted to do was suicide out. I lost time, I went through days of being on my couch or in my bed not moving.

Fortunately I knew of many resources from my work with victims of violence and I reached out to the local Women’s Center where I received Trauma Counselling for about 1 and 1/2 years. I also used the counselling services through my ex’s work and received massive amounts of support and coping skills to manage the grief I was also processing because at the time this was all unfolding, I lost my mother, my job (they laid me off to hire their relative), a guy I was seeing (mutually exclusively he said, ha) cheated on me, my dog had to be euthanized and some of my sisters and their adult children who were unaware of all the harm my ex had done in the marriage and to others (because I never told anyone about it all until after I left him),  sided with him and her, leaving me with no safe place to turn. I just could not believe people could be so cruel. But they were. There was no one I could turn to and no one I could trust any more.

If not for the Grief and Trauma Counselling and those safe environments I would not have made it. I would not be here. They were kind and supportive voices that called to me in the dark of night, helped me feel safe and stable and if I could remember, to employ the techniques they taught me to manage my trauma. I credit those counselors, Vicki, Mary and Sean with my life because they are the ones who helped me breathe and live again. Talking about suicide as well as relationships, realities and ways to help myself heal from all of that trauma and loss saved my life.

In May of 2014 my ex phoned me to tell me that former friend of mine finally admitted to him that she kicked me. Kicking is considered lethal force where I live. You or she, I told him, should phone the police and correct that file, it is too late to press charges now but the least you owe me is the truth.  Neither of them did that nor will they likely ever despite driving me into such black abject despondency for nearly three years.

In 2013 I met a man who loves me just as I am and says my ex, that former friend and those three sisters of mine and their adult children owe me a big fat apology. I will likely never get that either. But I’m okay with that because  of all of my relations who never abandoned me, who loved me and supported me through my darkest nights are such loving kind people, I really couldn’t ask for more.

In our first year or so together, this man would wake me up because, he said, I sounded so distressed in my sleep, I woke up screaming or crying almost every night in those black years, when I could get to sleep, that is. In the safety of this man’s acceptance and support of me, my PTSD and newly diagnosed Fibromyalgia (which many believe was triggered by that physical assault)  I was able to breathe and let myself learn to trust again because this man did not judge me or blame or shame me for anything I had been through.  He warmly welcomed me into his world and said, “We’re your family now.” And, as if to prove him right, all of his family also welcomed me with such love and respect, some days I am still in awe that I got so lucky. Many say luck had nothing to do with it, it was not giving up that got me where I am.  That may well be so but I still believe I am one of the lucky ones because I found love in the midst of the darkness and had professional help that kept me going.

These days I don’t look back so much despite the emotional and mental scars that can still dog me on days when  stress or pain levels are high. I am sure I drove my readers and followers around the bend in talking so much about all the trauma and losses I survived from 2010 onward but really I wasn’t even aware that I repeated myself so much, it was all I knew in that moment and it helped me keep going, stay breathing and for that I am eternally grateful.  And, though I am in a much better place now, I will never forget the lessons I have learned. If I ever get strong enough to write the book, I am sure it will outdo Fatal Attraction at the box office, lol. So, you see, I am dreaming of life goals and looking forward again. 

Talking about suicide is the only thing that can keep people alive. Shunning them will not. Ignoring them will not. Ridiculing them will not. Abandoning them will not. Shaming them will not. Blaming them will not. Talking in a safe and understanding way is the only thing that can avert or prevent a suicide.

Please let your people talk about it, make it safe for them to talk to you about whatever they are going through or feeling. Don’t use their trauma against them. Don’t make the conversation about you. Don’t tell them to just “go ahead.” And don’t blame yourself if they succeed in spite of all of your talking or listening.

Sometimes talking or listening won’t be enough. Some who are truly bent on suiciding out will still succeed. I am guessing when I say they are the ones who did not want to talk about it at all to anyone. But there are signs of suicide that you can reference if you think someone you love may be contemplating it and in closing, I will share links to some sites folks may find helpful. Just don’t forget that there is help out there and just keep the conversation going, don’t give up.

You never know who you might save.

(c) Janni Styles

Some links to help if you need them, many more available online.

http://suicideprevention.ca/

http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

image

Note to readers:

This piece took me three months to write. This is how my life is now since PTSD and Fibromyalgia. I do what I can when I can but everything takes me longer now.  I know you would think why should it take anyone three months to write such a brief piece but that’s how my mind works, it takes longer to think about what I want to say, how I want to frame it and present all the information together. It can be very confusing for me and all information overwhelms me now. Still, I do what I can when I can and am glad for that.

 

 

 

 

Is Social Media making us “meaner”?

Before Social Media it seems to me that people were far more polite. There was no such thing as dropping an acerbic comment and fleeing into the night as though you never did it. Being accountable was far more prevalent before the internet. In many exchanges I see things happening that normally would not even hit the real world radar because, if speaking in person to another person, much of what goes out online would simply just stay in.

This happened to me last year when a relative lectured me on how to use Facebook after I posted a “funny” about how we would never walk up to strangers with pictures of our dinner, etc, yet we do it on the internet. My relative talked all about herself and why she is on Facebook and how she uses it while telling me “the internet is not about us” even though her pages were all about her, her family, her…you get the picture. I replied and she blocked me. Go figure. Why she even took such an arrogant stance over a “funny” to lecture one who has been years on Social Media is beyond me. Yet, she did. And apparently did not appreciate my answer. To this day I would guess she is still blaming others for her own arrogant digital deliverances.

The problem is when people online develop this sense of superiority, they throne themselves to become queen or king of the land in ways that they would never do in the real world. In the real world my relative likely would never have said a thing to me. Or if she had, she might apologize for lecturing me and just respect me as I am but, from what I have witnessed, that would never happen on the internet. Rarely do I see anyone apologizing for anything on the internet. I don’t think I have ever seen it. Yet. 

The American political state is constantly showing up in my feed, manic posters of all things one party or the other. Would those manic posters run up to me on the street and bombard me like that with all manner of biased media that may or may not even be true? No. So don’t do it online.

It actually looks quite silly if you ask me. Remember the conversational rule of no politics and no religion? Well, I do and do my best to avoid both online. Your religious and political business is just that, yours. Nobody else needs to know and sometimes when posters over post, I wonder, who are you trying to convince anyway, me or yourself? Silence is truly golden on the internet.

Now, that said, don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy the benefits of social media from staying connected to long distance loved ones to being able to connect with people from all corners of the world. And I do care what happens in the U.S. election because it will affect all of us in some way or other. But I don’t need to see regurgitated newscasts or manic posts favoring one side. Just this morning my Facebook feed was so leaden with all of that, I thought, I am getting really sick and tired of Facebook.  Posed, air brushed or filtered images, posts competing for attention in such a false environment surely cannot be as healthy as life in the “real world.” Not much point doing a daily check in online any more, one day just blends into another in the land of doctored images and bogus articles shared by those who don’t even check into whether what they post or share is true or not. Freeing in some way to not do a daily check in, really, one less thing to do every day. You can leave social media for days and still miss nothing.

From the confines of my bed where I have the least physical pain, I write this to say that I have found people growing more and more short with one another since the internet became so user friendly and, to some, so addictive. No manners. No patience. No time. No consideration. The land of Meme’s has created many a monster in my observation over this past decade alone. Time for a change for the better.

What is especially frightening is how this “impatience” dynamic transfers to the “real world.” Yes, there was road rage before the internet but now it seems to multiply daily as though there is a back street factory breeding angry people. People seem all too willing to be nasty online, posting nasty videos, nasty comments and nasty assumptions. I recently posted a challenge to my hundreds of followers on one social site. It was very simple: share one thing for someone or do or say something kind online and come back here to tell us what you did. Only one person, yes, only one out of hundreds of people even responded. Yet, had I posted something political or otherwise contentious, the reactions would be multiplying by the minute just as they did when I recently shared something for one political party just to see what the outcome would be. Well, I was jumped on like nobody’s business with all sorts of negative (of course they were against not for the side I chose to post about), some even stooping to hateful comments and name calling. Imagine. Adults. I cannot but it happened. Acting out online in ways you never normally would in the real world is most distasteful. 

When we were growing up, if we said or did such rude or unkind things we might find ourselves getting clipped about the ears or scolded at the very least. Behaving meanly or cruelly was never in fashion when I was growing up. But then, we didn’t have all this “trending” business going on to keep up with either. I recently commented that people who watch bloody, gory violence for entertainment and then cry out against it when onscreen press or media outlets report about same bloody violence in their town or about people they know onscreen, are upholding a double standard. Why “selectively” balk at it if you watch those bloody, gory zombie shows for entertainment? Isn’t that a double standard? Or are we so desensitized that the gore does not move us unless it hits close to home? Still, I find that to be a double standard, too. Bloody, gory zombie shows have no place in my world, no double standard here.  Yet, no matter the double standard, it appears all too many just jump on the “anger”  band wagon online. What is confounding to me is always this: why do they think they are so important that anyone cares what they have to say anyway? Humility, this is what I wish for those self aggrandizing, angry and inconsiderate people. Humility.

Reducing our language down to symbols, emojis and consonants has not helped at all. Everything is so sped up there is so much online to amuse and titillate (what a word, reminds me of my older brother who once called television the “glass teat” and he was right about that, too), humans are walking and driving into one another daily because they cannot, rather, will not look up from their gadgets whether distracted walking, driving or even biking as I recently saw a man doing. Distracted driving is now said to be causing as many deaths as speeding does.

As with all things in life, moderation is the key. But how can you reach those humans who insist on being “plugged in” 24/7? I do not know the answer to that. I only know I do not like this new culture of ours where being online is mostly where it’s at and truly being with one another, sincerely valuing one another is reduced to almost nothing. In my world, valuing one another is the purpose of life.

Impatience and intolerance appear to be on the rise everywhere with strangers in line ups cursing about the time even if the line up is moving quite well and would be considered a good thing pre-internet. It seems any amount of time longer than a “click” that gouges into the “me me me” gadget time is cause for haughty reactions or verbal grouching aloud to people you don’t even know or loved ones who don’t deserve that abuse. All this I have seen repeatedly from supposed adults who should know better. Far better.

Maybe it’s time for a new trend. A giant internet takeover that demands you get your “human” on again and shut all else off. I always think to myself, what if the power went out? What would you do? Those of you addicted to your clicky clacky internet fixes, what would you do? Would you grow angry as most addicts do when their addiction of choice is suddenly removed? Would you even care that getting angry over no internet just proves you should not be on it, you are not living your life in balance and need to get all that out of whack stuff in line again? Probably not is my guess. Everything in the online world is me me me and now now now. No, make that me first, me first, me first and right now, right now, right now.

And before you say it, yes this is being posted on the internet. But I don’t get on all three of my mainly used sites every day, I just don’t have that kind of energy. Mostly I try to check in for friends, family and loved ones. I don’t really care what else is going on in the world, I just want to know they are okay or see their latest photos of the long distance family members spending time together. Those joyful things are why I don’t completely disconnect from it all.

As a writer I have other online connections, too, from health groups to writing groups to writer friends. Still, I can go many weeks without checking in on those groups or connections and miss absolutely nothing. Given the choice, I might be one of those who says let’s go back before the internet when hand written letters were treasured and real time in the real world with your real people was not just valued but joyfully anticipated. No gatherings of people all looking down at their gadgets would you see in my world as I do even in restaurants where parents and children don’t talk, they just “gadget,” only looking up to grunt as the wait staff serve them. Not a pretty sight. Well, that’s me. Old fashioned to the core and loving all things nostalgic, anything that does not include the “snob boxes” of what I see as our current impatient and hot headed culture who expect everything in life to take just “one click” or the huffing and puffing begins.

What are your thoughts, do you think we have become more angry and intolerant as a society on the whole since the advent of the internet, specifically social media? Do you think manners are on the decline?

Time to celebrate and value others in the “real world” if you ask me. Talk softly and carry a big Q-Tip is all I know to do. Who knows, someone might need it after all those years of not listening, hearing or understanding properly.

(c) Janni Styles

Please note the use of “you” in this piece is only in reference to those living angrily out of balance on the internet, internet, internet. Of course, they likely won’t read this anyway… they will be too busy lashing out at someone somewhere over nothing at all, making no good difference in the world whatsoever. 

What you see is never what you think you see!

A while back I was having vision problems and thought, oh no, please don’t let my eyes go, I need them for reading and writing. Little did I know that the issue would fade and a new one would crop up.

It is not so much my eyes I should be concerned about anymore but my hands. I am having trouble typing these days and everything I ever did now costs me twice the time if it involves my hands. In addition to the chronic pain and burning, my hands are becoming very disobedient.

When I drive I have to grip the wheel with both hands, one at 10:00, the other at 2:00 and I don’t move them until I have arrived at my destination. This way there is no chance for error but I find my hands almost have a mind of their own during other activities and chores as I often drop things, burn myself, spill things, knock things over or have other mini accidents.

Peeling carrots or anything with a sharp knife is a huge temptation for my hands to fail, either dropping the vegetable altogether or taking a nice gouge out of my hand that was holding the vegetable or fruit.

Washing dishes is another daily calamity of dropping glassware or dishes in the sink or on the counter or on the floor. I do my best to avert things going awry by preparing well but, as real life will,  it’s the ones you don’t see coming that always get you.

Today I can type a little and am trying to get a few things done before my hands fatigue right out. I can take the pain and burning if I must but I don’t want to lose my ability to type so am thinking if I push myself to type something each day, it will help. But I really don’t know.

Between the Fibromyalgia and Arthritis, I have no pain free days anymore. Unless I cave to the pain meds prescribed my doctor but then, they make me groggy, so drowsy I am still good for nothing but a nap from which I awaken and start all over again at square one.

Listen, I am well aware that many have much worse challenges in life. I am also well aware that there are millions who would gladly trade me places right now. But this has been on my mind for some time now and I just had to get it out there so it will stop nagging me, filling me with fear and fright that my hands will just not work one day. Of course having PTSD doesn’t help because your brain always goes to worst case nightmare scenario.

Who knows, I may be worrying for nothing. Maybe there will be a miracle cure tomorrow for what my hands suffer. Maybe I won’t need to worry about my hands anymore. Maybe they will obey me and let me write unimpeded. Well, one can always dream can’t one?

Forward I go, running on trust and faith that all will work out for the best.  I just wish my hands could believe myself as I say that. Still, better to be realistic alongside hoping for little miracles, all things in balance. Now, hands, do you hear me? I’m not settling for this any more, I am just not. So there. Gee, they seem to have smartened up already. Maybe they are afraid of me now, ha ha.

(c) Janni Styles