Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Tribute to Denise Amber Lee from my piano family

I started visiting on line forums back in 2002. Mark and I were seeking a divorce and I was home living with my parents in Maryland. I had a lot of serious mental health issues back then. I had been on anti-depressants for 18 years. I started on them, oddly enough, not for depression but for headaches. I was experiencing chronic headaches. We tried everything to find out the cause. We monitored my diet, the weather, stress, noise levels and many other things to figure out where they were coming from. One doctor even suggested that they started after I contracted Giarrdhea (sp?) while hiking in Montana's Glacier National Park. Mark and I had been hiking and camping. We were, oh, I can't remember exactly but probably at around 12,000 feet elevation. When we spotted the coolest looking stream. It was beautiful! And I was so tired of boiling water! And I thought "gee, just a little sip!!!!" Well... that little sip led to major problems while driving through Idaho. Oh my gosh, the pain. Poor Mark. We thought I was going to die. Mark thought I had appendicitis and we were in the middle of nowhere. He nursed me through the worst. We didn't have health insurance but we saw a doctor in Moscow, Idaho. What a nice town and what a very nice doctor. This was way back in 1981 so things were different then. Most people didn't have cell phones. I don't even think they were out yet. Anyhow, beceause we didn't have insurance, the doctor was kind enough to see me and never charged us. He wanted to hospitalize me but that wasn't going to happen. Anyhow, we were laid up in this little motel room for several days. At least a week. Mark would go down to get breakfast and loved it. He would listen to the ranchers and farmers talk about what ranchers and farmers talk about. "I'm going to plant (whatever they plant) over in the south pasture and put the (whatever they raise) over in the north pasture etc......." When we checked out of the motel room our finances were fairly exhausted and we were worried about how we were going to get back home. The lady at the desk only charged us for one night. We were like "oh, you've made a mistake! We've been here...." She cut us off with "one night. You didn't mean to get sick and so we're only going to charge you the one night." Well, how cool was that?

Gosh, how I got onto that story I have no idea. This post is suppose to talk about on-line therapy. So back to that. I was a pretty messed up cookie when I left Mark and the boys to go home to my parents. I had been on every anti-depressant on the planet, it seemed. All because a neurologist many moons ago prescribe amitryptiline for headaches I was having. After so many years on that (and I loved it, it used to make me sleep like a baby even if I did hallucinate every once in a while) medication, I think it did actually start causing me to be depressed. So, they put me on this, and took me off that, and put me on this and all the while they wouldn't (the doctors I mean) touch the amitryptiline. I was on it for 18 years. It practically killed me. And I mean that literally. But that's another post for another time.

I was so messed up on medications, that I was no longer myself. And was doing very out of character things. I won't mention them all because they would definitely embarrass my family. But I'll give you a prime example of how "out of character" I was acting. I left (drove away!) on Brian's fourteenth birthday. Now, anyone who knows me, knows! I might leave for whatever reasons but I would never do it on Brian's birthday. Gosh, that's just cruel. I'm crying thinking about it. Brian, God bless him, laughs it off when I get upset over it.

So, there I am at my parents in Maryland. Trying to recover and get off every medicine they every put me on. And, no, I wasn't seeing a doctor. And, yes, I took myself off everything. I wouldn't suggest this to most people. Actually, I would never suggest it. But in early 2002, it saved my life. I went off everything cold turkey.

That's when I started visiting on-line forums. I started with the old Compuserve forum. I was "LibertarianAtBest" because at the time I had very Libertarian political views. I still do. What therapy! Being able to say whatever you want and never having to worry what other people say or think! Always being able to win an argument by simply walking away! I loved it. Also, you learn so much about other people and other views.

Then I started working for a piano company I had worked for a decade earlier. And I started visiting Now there was an interesting place. I started visiting while I was still working as a piano salesperson. It's a place where people go to discuss pianos. Because I was a salesperson it was difficult to get involved at first. We were called names like "sales weasels" and were continually compared to "used car salesman". There was a joke that went "What's the difference between a piano sales person and a lawyer?" the answer being "the lawyer knows he's lying to you". That joke has probably been used in other professions as well but I took it rather personally because I tried damned hard to be honest with my customer. I had worked for Apple Computer years earlier and was trained to be a professional sales person. And a good salesperson has the best of ethics and think of their customers first.

Anyhow, back to the therapy. On PianoWorld they had a "Coffee Room". I liked this place much better because it didn't matter to these people if I was a piano sales weasel or not. In the "Coffee Room" we discussed everything from religion, politics, health problems, recipes, family problems, losses, joys, ups, downs and anything we wanted to. I joined the forum in June 2003. And started posting in the "Coffee Room" not long after. I was immediately insulted because I openly admitted my son was gay and some man (who oddly now I consider a dear friend) called me a terrible mother. Well, he used stronger language than that. But I believe eventually my arguments with him won him over and others too, to a more compassionate feeling for people different than themselves.

The forum included architects, laundrymat owners, authors, lawyers, doctors, pianists (of course), students, housewives, school teachers, people like me who don't know what they do anymore, etc....

Sadly, during the Presidential election in 2004 things got very ugly politically. I just literally got goosebumps thinking how bad we were. Oh it was ugly. How ugly was it? It was SO ugly, that Frank, the owner of PianoWorld, shut us down in April of 2005. Poof! There we went up in a puff a smoke. There were even graphics of the smoke and cloud of dust. Many of us cried. You have to understand many of the members had met in person through piano parties, many exchange Christmas cards and gifts, etc...

One doctor in Israel saved my father's life. For real. My mom and dad had been visiting us in Florida from Maryland (by this time Mark and I reunited in late 2004) when my dad got terribly ill. We rushed him by ambulance to the nearest hospital where they released him, saying there was nothing they could do. I was so distraught and worried when we got home not knowing what to do. My dad was literally shutting down. In panic I posted a thread in the "Coffee Room" calling all doctors and asked their advice as to what to do. One, all the way in Israel, posted immediately and said "Peggy, call 9-1-1 again. Request the ambulance but have the ambulance take your father to a different hospital. But get him to the hospital immediately." This is what I did! And it ended up my dad had pneumonia. They started hydrating him right away. So, this forum, saved my dads life. Incredible. I still can't believe it but it's true.

Check it out here

Is that cool or what?

Anyhow, this forum was great therapy for me. It saw me through my divorce and helped with reconciling with my husband. I didn't need meds and maybe I didn't need this forum. But, I sure did appreciate this forum. It helped me in so many ways.

When Frank closed the "Coffee Room" down, three new forums cropped up. I won't go into the differences in the forums. They all have their special qualities. Some of the more liberal minded went to one forum, some who are mostly interested in pianos went to another, but there's one special motley crue where I go the most often. Why? I don't know. I landed there and that's where I'm at now. All 3 forums have such wonderful people and I'll explain why.

The night Denise went missing, I was terribly distraught. It was the middle of the night. Mark was sleeping on the sofa because I had Noah (then 2) in bed with me. Mark's mother was prostrate with worry in the guest bedroom. Anyhow, in just the way I sent the SOS to the old coffee room about my dad 3 years before, I sent an SOS to the "New Coffee Room" about Denise.

See thread here:

oh gosh, I best stop typing. I'm becoming overwhelmed just remembering how everyone from all 3 forums came together and supported me and my family.

I still post in the New Coffee Room fairly regularly. but most of my posts now are filled with grief and sadness. Again, the forum has become a sort of emotional therapy.

Different people post on forums for different reasons. I always liked the forums because it just opens you up to the whole world. A world full of different personalities and backgrounds all with varying opinions and outlooks. It's really wonderful.

And now, this blog, has been a therapy to me. The internet is truly phenomenal. Thank you, Al Gore (just kidding). But especially thank you to my on line friends. I love you dearly. I have felt every prayer and good thought you all have sent.

This is in my favorites

Much peace and love to all.