07 August 2013

A few careless words.

That's all it takes to bring my self-esteem plummeting, to have me feeling worthless again. There was a time when I was a vibrant and confident person. I would never allow another person to dictate my feelings toward myself. But over the past few years I've become so worn down, I've watched everything I have and everything I am erode into a whisper, an echo of what I once was. 

26 June 2013


Here's something you probably don't know about me, but you do now. I have Pica. You may know Pica as that crazy compulsion that pregnant women get to eat stuff not meant to be eaten. Well I'm definitely not pregnant.

Pica, it seems, can also affect people who suffer from malnutrition. Poverty can play a big part in pica.

My pica seems to have begun when I was living in NH. I would go days without food. All I had was water, and it got to the point where I was desperate for a flavor, any flavor, in my mouth. I began eating salt. At the same time, my tooth problems were becoming more pronounced. I was developing abscesses, and had big holes in my teeth where my fillings had fallen out. And of course, no money to get them fixed.

I would often stuff the holes in my teeth with cotton soaked in salt water, to prevent infection. Sometimes I would suck the salt fluid from the cotton for the flavor. Eventually, I began chewing the cotton, and over time it developed into a compulsion.

I didn't swallow the cotton at first, but now I like to chew it until it becomes little shreds that are easy to swallow. I recognize this behavior isn't exactly healthy, and I would like to stop, but I'm just not in a situation where I feel secure enough to let go of this compulsion. I get hungry. And when there's no food, I reach for the cotton balls. It helps me navigate the long stretches of time between meager meals. It helps give me a sensation of semi-fullness that I wouldn't get otherwise. And it allows me to experience flavor, even if salt is a flavor I don't particularly like.

I have high blood pressure, and I know the salt isn't good for me, but then, neither is the stress of hunger.

28 January 2013


I've mentioned before that I sometimes have anxiety dreams about my cats. Last night I dreamed that Bea was lost in a cave. I was trying desperately to find a working flashlight so I could go in after her. There were dozens of flashlights in front of me, but everyone I tried had a dead battery. I finally went in anyway, floundering around in the dark, trying to find the cat I love so much. 

I've had Bea for nearly 14 years. Every night during that 14 years, she's slept next to my head. And not once have I ever taken that experience for granted. I wake up during the night to feel her warmth near my face, and hear her purring. It always makes me smile. 

She and I grew old together. Neither of us is as young and energetic as when we first met. We've both grown a more frail, a little more plump (though now she's losing weight). Our eyesight has gotten foggier. We're a hell of a lot slower. I figured we'd be together until one of us passed on. To separate us before then would be cruel to both of us. She's been my friend, her calm tenacity has been an inspiration, her unconditional love has been incentive for me to keep going through the worst of times. And I've been her only human, all she's ever known. She's a grumpy girl who doesn't like other cats or other people. She's only happy when she's telling me what to do. 

But life is cruel, I guess, and I'm facing that separation, long before it's time. She's cuddled up next to me, purring and wondering why I'm crying. She's always instinctively known when I've needed comfort. If life has its way with me, she won't be here beside me tomorrow. But she's here now, and like every night for the past 14 years, I'm not taking it for granted. 

05 January 2013

Things I've Learned from Living in Extreme Poverty

Here I am facing the possibility of living on the streets again. Tuesday's rent day and I'm nowhere near close to having enough. I've been trying to remain hopeful toward the new year, but I won't lie, on days like today, depression begins to seep through the cracks in my resolve. I even have thoughts of suicide. Not in a morose, dwelling-on-it kind of way. More of a fleeting thought,  a back-up plan, "If things get bad enough, I can always..."

But giving up isn't like me. It isn't what I want to do. I've been through way too much already, so in times like these, I give a little thought to what I've learned from my experiences: