Thursday, March 12

It's a pity party -- and you're invited!

We've all been inundated by bad news, both personal and nationwide. Friends, family and our country as a whole seem to be sinking into a bog of misery. (Anyone else picturing The Neverending Story? No? Moving on...)

It seems like bloggers have been doing their best to report on this but also keep it in perspective. We're all desperately trying to cling to some hope here.

But you know what? I quit.

I'm taking a break from that grasping need to be positive. Instead, I'm throwing myself a pity party. I'm going to soak in my misery like it's a luxuriant bubble bath. And I'm inviting you along for the ride!

I'm about to get to my venting. (Gentlemen, start your violins!) But let me take a moment to explain:

It's exhausting to try and stay positive when you feel the world is crumbling around you. When every day you're almost afraid to find out what's going to happen next.

So let's take some of that simmering discontent and stress and get it OUT! Let's throw ourselves a big ole' pity party.

And if this isn't reason enough, I'll sweeten the pot by adding a prize: Liz Pulliam Weston's books Deal with Your Debt (signed) and Your Credit Score: Your Money & What's at Stake. The credit score book is a newly updated, 2008 version that reflects changes in the credit industry as a whole.

The rules:

1. No judging other people. Maybe it doesn't seem tragic from where you're sitting, but everyone's accustomed to something different. Let them have their grief just like they let you have yours.

2. Don't feel bad for utter lack of optimism. Think of this as the binge before the diet. (Oh, come on, we all do it!) Just purge this negativity out of your system. Get it all out on the blogosphere. Don't pretty it up, or hedge with "but I'm sure it'll all be alright." Just spew it out, folks!

3. Try to keep profanity to a minimum, folks. I do sometimes use it in my writing, so I'd feel like a hypocrite banning it all together. But let's try and keep this a family-friendly contest, m'kay?

4. This has to be something that happened to you. No profiting off other people's misery. That's what the stock market is for.

5. One entry per person. Though I will consider updates from entrants, depending on the severity of new developments. In other words, no "And now I've stubbed my toe!" updates.

6. Contest will end next Friday, 11:59 p.m. Pacific. That should allow time for plenty of sob stories to jostle one another for dominance. I still have no idea how I'll decide a winner. I'm hesitant to judge one person truly above all others. Perhaps I'll take the top ten or so and put those in a random generator? Feel free to write in with suggestions on that score.

Okay: Let me get rolling on my own little misery cloud.

I honestly couldn't tell you when the final straw broke. Or what it was. Might be that the soonest a psychiatrist could see Tim was April 3rd. Or that I missed two days of Lexapro because because the pharmacy couldn't get ahold of my doctor for help. Or that I'm out of my energy medication. Or that all of this has caused writing posts to be a huge struggle akin to extracting teeth. From a lion. A rabid lion. (Do lions get rabid?)

At any rate, there are a few biggies in here:

1. Tim can't find anyone to see him sooner than April 3rd. This means another three weeks of him feeling awful and barely coping. And of course that will only BEGIN the medication process, which could take quite a long time to settle into.

2. Missing Lexapro for two days straight did NOT serve to put me in a good frame of mind for dealing with life in general, let alone our little ups and downs.

3. Energy meds:

Last Monday, my pharmacy tried to run my credit card to charge the meds. Since I buy in bulk, the $330 charge apparently set off some alarms. The card company put a hold on the transaction. Tuesday, it contacted me. I okayed the transaction. But apparently the card company saw no reason to, say, notify the pharmacy that they should retry the charge.

The pharmacy says it emailed me Monday, but it used my hotmail account, which, for no discernible reason, has been blocking just about every piece of mail that comes its way. So when they didn't hear from me by Friday, they called. Except, of course, that I was out. (Seriously, what are the odds?!)

Tim remembered to tell me they called sometime on Saturday. I knew they weren't open Sundays. So I called on Monday. They then explained what the hold-up had been and promised to bill it again.

In other words, if I'm lucky, the meds got mailed Monday/Tuesday. I'll probably get them sometime next week.

In the meantime, I'm sleeping 10-11 hours a day and still so exhausted that I literally couldn't keep my eyes open yesterday while I was working. I'm terrified to leave the house because, on a good day, I can maybe get three errands done. Without the meds, I'm thinking I'll probably start to stall out midway through one.

Oh, and I am currently experience bouts of random sleepiness and/or exhaustion 1-2 times each hour.

4. Tim's skin: It's gone completely whacko.

The problem with this being that light therapy is one of the best ways to help keep his skin under control. But he can't do light therapy when he's all broken out (apparently skin redness increases the likelihood of burning). But he can't get clear without the light therapy...

In the end, he's now on yet another dose of steroids and Bactrim, in case part of the redness is due to a staph infection. This is the second dose of steroids in about five weeks' time, so we're going to have to try to stave off weight gain, since that would require a new round of jeans-buying that we really can't afford right now.

5. Tim's smoking again, which is just so great for his asthma and his skin. Not only does the smoke probably help dry out his skin, he has to go outside to have a cigarette. It's been particularly cold and dry here lately. So he's really not helping his own eternal quest to keep his skin moisturized.

6. Because of the stress on his mental and physical state, he's been sleeping even more than I currently am. While I understand on a certain level that it's a coping (and, for skin, healing) mechanism, the chronic fatigue part of me wants to shake him and yell, GET UP! Plus it gets boring being the only one awake at any given time.

Still, I've promised not to try and force consciousness on him. (When we thought it was regular depression, I tried to get him to sleep more regular hours and get out more.) From what I can tell about bipolar disorder, these states are pretty normal and trying to alter them is probably an exercise in futility.

7. Tim's parents are once again currently housing my favorite brother-in-law while he waits for an available bed in a rehab program. His parents keep being his favorite fans -- I swear, you'd think they were talking about a 5 year old, "He's doing sooooo good, Abby. Soooo good. And he knows that as long as he stays away from the people he needs to stay away from, he'll be okay."

Of course, no one talks about the fact that he was back to not only using drugs but dealing them, while still under the supervision of a parole officer. They just applaud him for being self-aware enough to know that he "needed help" -- something which, quite unremarkably, coincided with the time that he knew his UA was going to be dirty.

Meanwhile, my husband is fighting for any chance at stability and employment, trying to pay off debt, and be financially responsible. But his parents rarely reference that. They ask how his skin is doing. They ask whether he has gotten an appointment yet with a psychiatrist. Then they start talking about the new wonders that Matt's doing.

And about half of that tends to be things he made up. Like the fact that he gained weight in prison (yeah, you read that right) because it cost a bunch of money if you wanted to work out. Though he didn't have any trouble calling his parents so often that they ran up a $500 phone bill thanks to the prison's collect charges.

Or that his Fossil watch cost him $900. This would, of course, presume that he paid for it. It would also presume that Fossil made it out of white gold, since nearly identical watches were selling online for $80-90.

When we confronted his mom with this fact, she was quiet and then said, "Well, I'm just telling you what he told me." But it doesn't seem to matter how many times we out and out prove he's lying. His parents keep taking his word as gospel.

(Note: I understand that I'm not a parent and thus cannot fathom a parent's love and how hard it would be to admit that your son is an addict/will keep doing this until you stop helping him. Still, it's pretty damn hard to watch Tim struggling to lead a decent life and only hear positive things about his ne'er-do-well brother.)

8. Oh, and guess whose brother now claims to also have bipolar disorder? I swear, that kid can't stand for the spotlight to be off him for a minute. It makes me ache to know how it's affecting Tim to constantly watch this cycle with his parents and his brother. Frankly, I'm worried about how much all this stuff is affecting his depression. It sure as hell can't be helping.

9. And speaking of family, Tim's aunt Jackie passed away, making her the THIRD family member of his to die in 9 months. First his paternal grandmother (his last remaining grandparent), then her daughter, who everyone knew was just sort of hanging on until her mother passed away, and now his mom's sister. None of them were in good health, but it's still quite a blow.

It also means a trip down to be with family, because there's no way he's missing the service. (If my energy meds don't get here in time, we've already agreed we'll find another way to get him down south.)

This means: More exposure to smoke/smoking (mom and brother smoke), more exposure to brother (and having to practice calming exercises so as to not set him on fire), more exposure to skin irritants (they have a dog) and probably more spending, since going to see his friends in a nearby city tends to be a half-day excursion.

10. Oh, and we got the promissory note back. The debt is Tim's. So that's another $3000 or so we'll have to pay back.

11. To top things off, we still haven't gotten word from the unemployment office about whether Tim will qualify for a second extension of benefits. If he doesn't, our budget will shrink down to $1700 a month, with $700 going to rent, $502 going to insurance premiums, and $100 going to utilities (cable modem/cell phone lines/satellite TV/landline). But to qualify for help with DSHS, we'd have to earn $1517.

Okay folks! Get out the streamers and party hats! Let's get this pity party into full swing!

I want some "Why me" stories, and I want them stat!

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Blogger Alane said...

You Win! I can't top that post. Keep plugging away though you really are doing an excellent job.
I will say though to tell your DH to stop showering so much and to do it in cooler water. He is only making the eczema worse. Also dairy and/or tomato products may be causing flair ups. My youngest DS has it too so I definitely sympathize.

March 13, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Blogger Abby said...


Well, I suppose that it's a *good* thing that you can't "top" my post. But venting is good nonetheless.

Thanks for your well wishes though!

As for Tim's eczema, we've had the hot water/shower discussion before. His eczema is so severe that hot water is the only thing that numbs his skin. Technically, yes, it's bad for it. But... Well here's how he put it to me: Have you ever had an open scratch on your head or body and the water made it sting? Well, now extrapolate that over pretty much most of your body. So showering/bathing is excruciating unless he keeps the water hot.

March 13, 2009 at 1:45 PM

Blogger Alane said...

Ug. I hear you. My DS was so miserable when he was younger. If I had a nickle for every time it got infected his college would be paid for. Has he ever tried icing it? Never tried it here but who knows maybe it would help. I hope someday there is a cure. My son's is pretty under control but I would love to see him with soft, smooth skin.

March 13, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Ice is good temporarily, but it also increases blood flow which means more itching once the numbness stops. And it's not good in general to keep putting ice on one's skin. Glad your DS's skin is under okay control. Has he tried the Aveeno line? It was called Eczema Care but is now under another name (FDA made 'em change it). It's great stuff.

March 13, 2009 at 3:07 PM

Blogger Alane said...

We do basic Aveeno stuff, All Free &Clear detergent and Downy Liquid. He is at that age though where he doesn't want to listen to mom at all. So, I just buy the stuff, leave it in an obvious spot and hope he uses it. :)

March 13, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Blogger Anonymouse said...

I don't know if I can top that, but let me see...

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I have fibromyalgia and it sucks. I hurt. I'm tired. I have weird symptoms that make people wonder if I'm a hypochondriac (because they don't understand what that $!!@$%! word even means).

My husband and I are deep in debt. Not counting the house, about as much as he makes in a year. I don't make anything noteworthy because I got sick before even leaving high school and have never been able to get enough SS work credits to qualify for disability. I tried vocational rehab, but I couldn't make the morning meetings because I felt so terrible. Plus, they seemed more into helping people become Walmart greeters and don't seem to have ever heard of this thing called the internet.

It didn't help that my husband and I lived off of credit cards for months because of the stupid dot com bubble / post 9/11 job market. But then came the medical bills, forever chasing first a diagnosis and then a treatment.

I've gained lots of weight from the meds, but little relief -- except from one med.

It was recalled just as I discovered how great it worked. It costs $400 from Canada for a month's supply and I just can't justify it when I don't know for sure that it would enable me to get a job that could pay well enough to be worth it (it's not like it's a cure, either).

Right now, I'm totally off my meds so I can participate in medical studies at $50 a study (usually for a few hours of time where they apply heat in spots and ask me how bad it hurts, and it definitely does). It's the best money I've ever made, but I hurt so bad. I stayed in bed several days this week.

And we're worried that my husband might lose his job because the company won't listen to him and they're idiots (they also treat him like crap!). They won't fire him because they couldn't find anyone to replace him, they'll just go under.

But he can't find a job elsewhere, especially that pays enough to cover our minimum payments for debt. And companies that are hiring want someone with a specific degree he doesn't have even though he knows more than 99% of those in the industry.

We also spent most of our emergency fund trying to get our home value up enough for a refi that would have helped us out a lot. That gamble failed.

We're still making progress, but it's slow and will be years before we're debt free. The only reason we're making progress is that I have stopped stuff like physical therapy, have gone off some meds, and haven't had further studies done (the kind that we pay for). And this is with $!@!$! insurance!

But of course, my sacrifices go unnoticed by everyone except (fortunately!) my husband. To the world, I'm nothing but a lazy/spoiled/lucky housewife who wasted her college education.

He is great, especially considering that medical issues definitely hamper our sex life and he doesn't want to hurt me. But, I still can't forget that he betrayed me with two of my best girl friends years ago. I have bad luck with best friends, but then I always seem to gravitate towards those in need and then they turn out to be spoiled brats who don't realize how good they have it. And the moment I just start being nice instead of "so nice it hurts and gets me deeper in debt" they tend to do things like unfriend me from FB and stop talking to me.

But I seem to keep doing it because I'm lonely and it's nice to feel needed.

March 13, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Oh Anonymouse!

I'd say you topped me -- but that wasn't the point anyway! The point is to vent. And it sounds like you more than needed it!!!

I'm sorry to hear you can't work. I admit that (as someone on disability) I'm annoying ignorant about disability process, but I believe there's one for people who didn't work either. I mean, some people have grown children with disabilities that keep them from working -- ever --and get some social security help.

I have a little experience with invisible illness, though nothing as complicated as fibromyalgia. I am sorry to hear it.

And about the debt. It's so frustrating to feel impotent against money issues. I struggle with this all the time, and I do actually have some income.

I'm glad at least your husband knows the sacrifices you are making (though I have to say from personal experience that I think depression worsens how we think people view us). Just know you're welcome to vent here ANY time. Thanks for being the first official pity-party participant!

March 13, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Blogger Anonymouse said...

Thanks, Abby! You're very right. I've needed to vent that for a while now. Thanks for giving me the opportunity!

March 13, 2009 at 6:58 PM

Blogger Alane said...

Anony- Abby is right you should qualify for some kind of SS benefits.
I don't have any money probs right now but will share the Murphy's Law my life has been for the past two weeks.
Last Tuesday DS1 told me he had a toothache in a root canaled tooth. Wed.he had a scheduled cleaning so I told him to let doc know. He came home and sure enough its infected. Dentist gave him meds, told him not to go back to doc who did the work instead go to specialist ( I don't think so, they screwed up they should fix) Wed. night I am at work and start not feeling good. Uhoh. Thurs. DS1 still has pain and I am really sick. DS2 starts coughing. Fri. DS1 wakes up and half is face is swollen and I am feeling worse. DH calls out of work takes DS1 to dentist I go to docs. DS1 goes to oral surgeon things are that bad infection spread to 3 more teeth they open his gums and put in a drain. I have sinus and ear infection. DS2 slowly feeling worse all weekend. Mon. back to surgeon for drain removal. Kept DS2 home from school. Tues. DS1 goes on senior trip. DS2 goes to doc. Bronchitis for him. Doesn't go back to school till Fri. Me, I feel better but ear infection was in right ear and now my left is bothering me. DS1 calls. He overdrew on his checking account and has no money for food today. Had to do a transfer thank goodness he comes home tonight. I really wish Murph would leave so my house could be semi normal again One more illness in this house I am going to move back in with my mommy cause I am tired of being a mom. LOL!

March 14, 2009 at 10:47 AM

Blogger Anonymouse said...

The only SS disability that might apply -- that I know of -- is if our income was very low. As it is, we're in debt but our income is otherwise fine.

Of course, if anyone knows differently, please let me know.

March 16, 2009 at 9:03 PM

Blogger Revanche said...

Ok, this was originally meant for the EF post, but it's morphed. Mutated. Like my life. :P

Honestly? My EF formula is: the more freaked out I get, the more cash I need.

And then when I reach any goal at all, I raise the bar. It's perverse.

It's also born of a desperate fear that this time, whatever the emergency is, it will be more than I'm able to bear, since the job market is so bad and my job's about to end. (8 months into the job search, and nada.)

It seems irrational now because I have a positive NW, and through *ahem* interesting events earlier this year, we've eliminated almost every last bit of debt. Almost. It took selling a truck for way too little and then totaling the other one.

But, I've been there, balancing debt and saving. All through college, all my money was juggled between tuition fees, books, rent, my parents' debts that seemed unending. Every time I squared away or BTed one debt, another would pop up. It seemed like I'd never get out from under their mistakes. Five years after graduation, I still haven't.

Even though I've paid off tens of thousands of dollars of debt, there's always the haunting despair of knowing that their health is rapidly declining, that my RA is getting worse, that I'm about to be out of a job and still can't find another, that we're all uninsurable and I "made too much" but still couldn't afford proper health care for them. Oh, and my dad is the king of bad financial decisions. Seriously. So every time I make some progress, I cringe, knowing that he's going to do some godawful stupid thing that's going to waste my time, energy and money fixing.

And he's got nothing on my idiot brother who still won't make a living wage because he's a selfish, self-centered, consumptionist loon who mooches off the family as best he can, and has to be policed within an inch of his life and human dignity just to force him to be tolerable.

So um, yeah. I can depend on my family to be there only to make really colorful messes for me to clean up. I ... need to get away.

March 18, 2009 at 10:27 AM

Blogger Abby said...


It sounds like your parents and my in-laws have a lot in common. My in-laws' debt is relatively limited, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel. But we have no idea how much longer Tim's dad will be able to work, at which point they'll be in trouble.

Meanwhile, we've had to tell Tim's mom -- to her face -- we're not going to take Matt in. You need to let him grow up. We cannot support him and we will not. She rushed to assure us (you know that annoying/disturbing way that makes you realize they're not really listening?) that she doesn't expect us to.

They continue to make worrying decisions with finance. I will probably do a post about it at some point. But I don't want to seem to be trashing them too much.

They're very sweet people, who would do just about anything for us. But when it comes to money, I'm a little terrified about their decisions.

March 18, 2009 at 7:32 PM

Blogger Monroe on a budget said...

I hope you get more comments, this is a great post!

There are times when I just want to scream. I don't know what to say on the details, because it just makes me screamy thinking about it!

But to explain the context: we live in southeast Michigan.

Yeah, that's why my frugal blog is so popular.

What a horrible topic to be such in demand!

March 19, 2009 at 7:25 PM


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