Archive for April, 2013

April 27th, the Second Anniversary

   April 27th, 2011. 

      My room mate had woke me up at around 6 a.m. because a severe wind and thunderstorm was going on. I heard it, but it was integrating into my dreams and not much else. He had turned on the news and I think he stayed up from that point on. I went back to bed. Later on in the day, I was aware that all the stop lights on highway 280 were out and I had heard sirens through out the day. I did not know there was a tornado watch and if I had, I may not have thought much about it. There are always tornado watches and in Alabama, they may touch down in some areas but they are known to just “blow over”. Work had told me to go ahead and take the day off, because it was not worth fighting the traffic to get there. That was the tennis shop, and no one was playing tennis because another storm was coming in. I was watching Ally Mcbeal, and a friend and neighbor from work came over and said “you need to turn on the news”. 
   From that moment on, what happened to me and the rest of Alabama is probably only akin to the people of Louisiana in the time of Katrina. James Spann had his sleeves rolled up and was showing the traffic cams, begging people to get off the road. His warning was “I know you are listening thinking this Alabama, it will just pass like all the rest of them, but this is not like the rest of them”. The picture on the screen was not even a funnel, it looked like a wall and it was the most frightening thing we had ever seen. In a separate screen, there were pictures of Tuscaloosa-only a couple of hours away. 

  The last time I sat in front of a tv feeling helpless and silent was during 9/11. My brother was texting me, because he couldn’t call. He was in his car listening to the radio because the power was out. He was an hour and half south of me. Suddenly friends from college all over the country were texting me or messaging me…I was in Birmingham , Alabama..where at the moment a historical tornado was occurring. I couldn’t get in touch with my father, so I got on face book (on my phone) and found a former co worker from my hometown’s number. He lived up the road from my father, and I asked hoe things were. As far as he knew at the time there were no casualties but the power was out.  Small towns…people look out for each other.

   At the end of the day, my room mate came home, the storm was over. They had been in the safest place. There is deep basements at work. He wanted to go out..he had watched the mayhem on the computer and various tvs all day. We went to a grill where the aftermath was being shown on tv. He was talking about it but my mind was everywhere else. I was still texting my brother when his phone would allow and no one had heard from our father, or other family in the small that speckle Northeast Alabama. My mind went to friends in Auburn, hours away and Hayden just miles away. I texted and checked on people just as I had been checked on. Everyone I contacted was fine.

   The world remembers Tuscaloosa. But in the towns I am from it, it was just as bad. It never occured to me until this past month that I had never really talked about it. My brother and I talked for two hours last week remembering the event. How we felt, the after effects. Where we were and what we were doing. I remember that Prince William and Kate Middelton were getting married either the same day or the next day. I remember little geeks on Tumblr slamming all who were interested in that event, because look at what is going on in the heart of the country…I remember thinking those tumblr teens must feel important making their little post-heck they aren’t here what do they know about it? Let the Prince and his Princess get married and be merry, and anyone interested in it. I remember opening my wordpress and staring at it. I couldn’t write, I didn’t even know how I felt yet. It was too personal, yet I felt like a loser because I was not DOING something. I emailed my Pastor, who I knew would be “in the field” helping any way he could and told him I would like to help. He said he would contact me if something came up, but nothing ever did. I was in Birmingham. So close to the chaos yet so far away. I finally heard from my dad, who had many trees down and how none of them hit that house, or the house was even still standing still stands in my memory as a miracle.

    The first time I visited home and the little town my brother worked in was sobering. Everything was clear….finally it hit me, all the trees were gone and the sky was visible. Some of the staple buildings were gone. Many actually. To this day there is an eerie feeling driving through there, like something is missing and even after all this time, after listing the building that were gone you still have missed one. In the conversation with my brother, remembering that day I learned things that may have been said in that year but forgotten in the heat of the battle. The national guard had its head quarters right next to the store he works at. The Secretary of State visited. The President was supposed to, it was news around the area, but he did not. He flew over and everyone seen it. It became commonplace seeing the uniforms and looking at each other with a zoned out asleep look that only those who have lost or witnessed loss understand. My pastor and my brother visited to help clean up in various areas but were unable to because of insurance claim back ups. Every single person in Rainsville Alabama has lost someone or lost homes. Bodies were found and young men who went to various areas to help clean up have still not gotten over it. 
   Miles away in Pisgah/Flat Rock area, family on my mothers side were lost as well. My aunt was in her basement and the basement caved in. A child also in the basement dug them out. To this day certain sounds give her flashbacks of that horrific day. While that information was being given to me, in Birmingham, I volunteered at the Salvation Army sorting through the record breaking donations that were made. 
   Two years later, I blog about it. I blog about it because, the two months of April since 2011 people get tense around the 27th. Last year there was a tornado watch and James Spann was easing people’s mind that it would  not be another “April 27th” though it WAS a significant tornado. Tomorrow it is supposed to rain. A week or so ago, I was talking to a newer manager from Michigan. She was not in Alabama in 2011.  She said “that hit Tuscaloosa right? I tried to explain, but you just had to be there. There is no explaining. For once I truly empathize with people in New York and people in New Orleans. Yeah….the rest of you watched ot on tv and sent help or donations. But you weren’t here. There is nothing like a tragedy so close missing you but hitting people you know-it is a so close yet so far feeling. A feeling of relief that you are alive, but feeling guilt as well because you hurt with them. People back home seemed to think I missed it, yet on the other side of me was Tuscaloosa-I’m calling people and cant get in touch with them. I tried to help yet couldn’t. All I could do was watch, then look at it all for the next year. I couldn’t write or take pictures…who would want to do that to their fellow man? 
  April 27th in the south. It is our Katrina and what 9/11 is to New York and those who lost and are still recovering. 

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What Is a “Junior”?

I remember when I was in my pre-teens and early teens. I couldn’t wait to get into high heels and wear make up, and essentially look like my mother. There were many things I was not allowed to wear, not allowed to look like and then there were things that I just simply never got to wear. When I became a young adult, up until just a few years ago, I shopped from the teen section of Wal Mart…until Miley Cyrus made me mad with her sizing meant for the validation of anorexia….but I digress. I am still a small person and sometimes wander into the junior /miss sections of department stores. In a recent venture for a “perfect” dress (that I did not find on this particular venture), I wandered into the junior section of Macy’s.

Now I DID know that Madonna had a teen line of clothing produced under the face of her daughter Lourdes…yeah coincidentally Madonna also has her own line of shoes and fragrances, also available at Macy’s…so OF COURSE this line is created and managed by a teen for a teen…so much easier to swallow this tacky line of 80’s hair band street walker clothing (and pay for it) if it’s also made and thought up by someone so much younger than-Madonna. I am very careful what I say about teen girl clothing…well wait no I’m not….I am careful HOW I say it, because I really hate the word “slut” and I don’t like it when I hear the word used about young girls, because of what they are wearing or their body shape of which they cannot help. Today it seems “junior/miss” has been styled to fit and accentuate what we know to be a generation of young girls who are maturing faster than my generation did. Again, this is something that cannot be helped, unless you cut out the gmo’s and hormone fed dairy and meat in your children’s diets. This has been proven. Girls are not the only ones developing faster-it is just more obvious and can be taken advantage of much more than with boys…especially when it comes to the banks of beauty and fashion industry.

Bright pink tiny jackets, zip front corset dresses….yes…zip front corset dresses…reminiscent of the Like a Virgin era. What bugged the heck out of me was the backless tops, and cut out dresses…you know tiny dresses with holes in the side waists. Granted, there were a few things that I might wear, maybe in a different way, but there are a few tops I might wear…might. However, I am thirty years old…and the current model for Material Girl is Georgia May Jagger, who is 21…the last model for Material Girl was Kelly Osbourne, who is 28….but if you are in your local Macy’s store there are not 28 and 30 something year old women flooding the Material Girl corner and lets be honest, I’m not the only female who has heard self righteous and insatiable men quip that “she doesn’t LOOK 13″…no they are not right, but neither is dressing a developed 13 year old like Madonna or any other fully grown adult woman. Is there something dirty about a woman showing her shoulder, no and I’m not implying we give our daughters fearful complexes, but in a world where everyone is growing up faster and almost nothing, not even our social lives are secretive or sacred, some taste and class need to be remembered.

Material Girl is not the only celeb line for teens that Macy’s handles. Jessica Simpson also has a line of clothing in the junior section. Her line is much softer and more carefree, not as hard looking, though there may be some dress length issues for some people. I was looking at her jeans…and then I saw the name of her jean line….wait for it….Forever Skinny….and.…Skinny Kiss. Yes folks, if celebrity faces pushing sexy clothes to your daughters is not enough, the name skinny right there on the brand tells them what sexy is. It is not enough that after the age of maybe 15 (or 13 in todays world) a girl cant fit most clothing in the junior section because hormone riddled food has made her develop and all the clothes in junior section will fit are skater boys, they will design the clothes TO fit that body type so a girl feels like something is WRONG with her own body type. This was not just “skinny” jeans (a type of style which I have in my drawer) this was NAMED Skinny….FOREVER SKINNY…..I dropped the pair of jeans and walked away…far away.

There was a line of classy lady clothes in juniors of Macy’s. I did not get to see it in store, I just saw it online when looking for images to hyper link for this article. It is a Marilyn Monroe line. Form fitting cropped jeans..which all ages are wearing. Long sleeve and sleeveless 50s style shirts. 50s style dresses, that by the looks of it depending on your height may or may not be too short. Cardigans to go over said 50s style sun dress. All of these are basic colors, black, white and lip stick red. I might let my 16-18 year old wear these. with moderate accessories. I still would have an issue with a younger girl wearing them. I would wear the whole line…I’m thirty, if anyone is gonna look like a classic pin up it is GONNA be me.
The point is not to shame women, or girls. Girls all through out their lives like to be pretty, to be made pretty and to be told they are pretty. If we are not nurtured in knowing we are pretty and balanced with modesty without feeling guilty about being a girl, then we grow up with all kinds of complexes… believe me I still work on complexes. I don’t think I ever proudly wore red or pink until last year. My point is that girls are maturing and the world is not safer nor more innocent. Girls may learn the powers they have early, but they do not know the value of them and they cannot protect themselves against the onslaught of judgement or prowling lurkers. When I hear grown men say things they shouldn’t about little girls, and when I hear even good men say things like “she should know better than to wear that”, “she shouldn’t prance around in that” or “well it’s a slut fest in here isn’t it”all I hear them saying is “she shouldn’t be where I can see her”. We may wish we could change the way things are and we may get on our pedestals about teaching our daughters to be proud of their bodies and sexuality…well pushing adulthood on her wont do that, and undersized sexy clothes that never fit an average healthy girl also wont do that. What it means to be a junior should be revamped. It should be ok to be a little girl, a teen girl, just as much as it should be ok to be an adult woman…when we actually get there.

What is “Body Integrity Identity Disorder”

    Last year, I was watching my one of my favorite day time talk show, Anderson Live, shortly after it’s debut. The subject matter in one particular episode was so disturbing, that a year later it randomly comes to my mind. In this particular episode there were what normal people would refer to as “fake paraplegics” but these people were not faking paralysis for the purpose of monetary gain or sympathy…they claimed to truly desire to be paraplegic. Needless to say this upset the paraplegics of America, who commented on the Anderson site, and wrote their own blogs. One particular guest on Anderson Live, named Chloe, has since been on numerous television shows and told her story of suffering from “Body Identity Integrity Disorder”. When I watched the Anderson show talking with Chloe, felt physically ill. Not because I could not venture out to believe that this woman does indeed have severe psychological problems, but because the psychiatrist on the show with Chloe seemed to believe that closely accommodating her desire to live in a alternate reality is the answer. Chloe is in a wheel chair twelve hours a day. “Unfortunately” most surgeons do not take Chloe’s disorder seriously…and refuse to perform a surgery to snip her spinal cord and purposefully paralyze her for life…..yes, how “unfortunate”. That last bit was what still makes me cringe.

   I study psychology and since the airing of that Anderson episode, I have read about disordered minds, literally, back to back. It is enough to make any average person with average dramas and fears believe themselves to be crazy. There is a difference in emotional scars causing disorders, and neurological mapping disorders causing identity disorders. Since BIID is relatively a newly discovered disorder, and one that is under researched, I have yet to have the gagging privilege of studying it academically. So I tortured myself by reading about it today. 

   “Psychiatrists thought BIID was a fetish for a long time, but in the past two years brain research suggests it is a neurological condition in which the affected limb is not represented in the brain’s model of the body.

“For cases where sufferers want to amputate healthy limbs, that is a possible explanation.

But for cases like Chloe’s it is more difficult to explain on those terms.

“A minority of sufferers want to be paralysed, or believe that they should have been born with conditions such as MS or diabetes, or that they should be blind.

So far there have been no more than 300 documented cases, the vast majority of which were documented by Michael First, the psychiatrist who originally coined the name BIID in 1998.

But if you suffered from this condition, you probably wouldn’t want to tell anyone – not even the people who are closest to you.

Sufferers have tried antidepressants and psychotherapy, neither of which seem to work.

Often, the only treatment to help someone is giving them a clean, medical amputation to stop them causing harm to themselves.

Doctors in America are currently developing Mirror Box Therapy – an approach generally used to treat people who have had limbs amputated for medical reasons, and are experiencing phantom limb syndrome.”

Further I found a site Biid.org with a banner with a morbidly sad looking face of a man…

Walking down the street and admiring someone’s shoes or outfit is perfectly normal; it’s human nature to glance at others when we pass them. Seeing someone coming down the street that has clearly had an amputation and wishing that you were them may not be as widely accepted as the previously stated situation. Those who feel this way may be suffering from a condition called body identity integrity disorder. Someone suffering from this disorder actually longs for the absence of a limb. They may fantasize what it would be like to only have one arm or one leg. Although it may not be very common there are people who suffer from this disorder. This disorder can actually take over someone’s life. They may become overly obsessed with trying to obtain that absence of a limb. These sufferers feel that without a limb they will finally feel complete”
   
I’m no saint…I did laugh. Further reading on the site, did talk about the various therapies, including some cases where anti psychotic drugs and anti depressants, and some of the same drugs used for ADHD or OCD have proven to be partially beneficial for these patients…some reported not fantasizing as much about cutting off their limbs.

  I am still a skeptic. BIID is more than a disorder of identity which manifest themselves in various forms of self abuse, such a eating disorders or cutting. This is much like the new interpretation for homosexuals who don’t call themselves homosexuals but instead believe that they are the opposite sex in the wrong body, and therefore are not lesbian or gay, but are instead a straight male or female being forced to live what looks like a homosexual lifestyle until they have gender reassignment surgery. See any Chaz Bono interview to explain what I just said. Back to the BIID, if the brain is not identifying said limb or body in the correct proportion, what neuron or chemical is NOT firing…it is not a mood disorder so an anti depressant may not be working for a reason? Has behavior modification therapy worked….maybe using props like the limb you do not desire…this is my leg it works for a reason…repeat after me. Ok I am being a less than compassionate snob. What has helped Chloe is performing in a wheel chair for about twelve hours a day, this keeps her from throwing herself down slopes to attempt to paralyze herself. This may be a form of behavior therapy, but is just seems to me that it is what we know as behavior therapy in reverse. Modeling more towards what Chloe thinks that she wants to be…or believes that she is or was born to be…instead what she IS…which is not paraplegic. I fear the day, when there ARE surgeons who snip the spines of healthy people to make them more “comfortable”…why cant we just tell the truth. What about the numerous cases where there is really deep emotional pain and people with REAL amputations and REAL paraplegia who are suffering from it. In all honesty I just want to be like…

But that is not the psychologist way….which brings me back to Chloe. Chloe is a research scientist in psychiatry. On one hand this tells me that yes, BIID is real and a real burden to live with. Chloe is smart and is looking for cures for herself. On the other hand, it could tell me that Chloe is smart and is looking for ways to live the way that she wants to…in a wheel chair until the day comes that she meets her ultimate existence as a paraplegic…not a quadriplegic and not dead-just paralyzed from the waist down…or at least in one leg.

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