Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm Blogging for Mental Health: May 15, 2013

You guys.  I can't believe I forgot about Mental Health Month Blog Day.  Well, actually, I can believe it because, quite frankly, I've had a lot on my plate lately what with leaving my husband and tough-loving my kid and trying to keep myself together AGAINST ALL ODDS because oh, yeah, I'm MENTALLY ILL.  Whatever the fuck that means.  So here's an oldie but goodie and I hope you'll like but it won't bother me if you don't because I'm really not paying attention to anything besides hanging on by a thread on this emotional rollercoaster ride I am on at the moment.  But you should pay attention to mental health and stuffs because it sucks being blamed for being sick.  You just never know what's going on with someone so just don't assume.  Unless you see me wandering around in the supermarket in my bathrobe.  Because then you should assume that you need to take my elbow gently but firmly and lead me back to the car and drive me home.  But I digress.  Surprise.

I wrote this post before I even had a blog.  I was inspired by a friend who had just been diagnosed.  She was in a full-blown manic episode.  Watching her go through that reminded me of what my own episodes were like.   I'm calm enough now to articulate what it feels like to be so brilliant that you can't describe it.  Which is pretty goddamn ironic, if you ask me.

A Beautiful Mind--it's a lot like that
The hallmark of mania for me is how I feel like a superhero.  Creative and brilliant and simply on *fire* with wit and humor.    When I was riding the crest of a manic wave,  I used to say that I didn't need to eat or sleep because I was bionic.  I got really angry with people who said I was wrong to feel that way and that I needed to go to the hospital and take meds so that I wouldn't feel that way any more.   I would get so angry that I would snarl at them and claw and hiss and refuse to get out of the car.  Wouldn't you?  After I was finished the treatment that stopped that wonderful, invincible, genius feeling, I would quit taking my meds cold turkey.  I would carouse until all hours of the night, telling anyone who would listen my bright new ideas that tied up every loose end in the universe with one beautiful bow.   Holding court on the floor of my room in college, knocking over the bong with my expansive sweeps of my arms as I pontificated to my housemates, who thought I was brilliant, but knew I was nuts.  Destroying relationships.  Winning hearts and breaking them. Staying in my room for days, talking to myself and scaring my roommates away.  Ending up in the nut house time and again.

Now I can recognize when that superstar quality starts to burn and I know I have to nip it in the bud.  I let my husband know (like he can't tell) and I go see the shrink and get extra support and what have you.  It is the hardest thing in the world to voluntarily let go of that genius feeling.  I simply cannot tell you.  But I know that I must.  As great as the high feels, the low is going to be a gut-punch that knocks me flat, even though I know it's coming.  So I take my meds and gather my loved ones around me and brace myself.

The hallmark of a depressive episode for me is not wanting to be here. I don't think about suicide per se.  I don't want to die.  I just want not to be here.  Everything I've done wrong (which is basically everything), every mistake I've made, every conversation gone awry, every wasted opportunity with my kids, my career -- they all gather together in a threatening thundercloud that hovers over me.  The horrible angry voices of what I call "The Committee" begin the litany of exactly how worthless, no, harmful my presence on the planet has been.  As evidence of why I shouldn't be here.  Shouldn't *have been* here.  This whole time.  I just want to curl up as small as possible, until I take up no space.  No one sees me.  I'm not here.

So.  Staying in the middle is a good thing.  Boring and safe.   Learning to feel my feelings, but not too much.  That's a tough one.  Because I feel my feelings.  A lot.  Possibly more than I should, whatever that means.  Apparently there is a normal amount of feeling, though how you could measure it, I don't know.  It certainly doesn't sound very fun to me.

My job is to stay safe.  To have creative energy, but not too much.  And to channel it in ways that make me glad to be here.  And to let it be okay to feel sad, from time to time.  But if "worthless" pops up on the psychic horizon, it's time to blow the whistle.  Time to remember to do the things that help me, in addition to my meds.  Swimming.  Playing music.  Creating this page, working out my thoughts, writing, laughing.  Making people laugh and shake their heads in self-recognition.  And maybe a little relief that they are not alone.

I have a mantra that is blinding in its banality.  It's insultingly simple.  And yet it works for me.  I'm embarrassed to admit it, but my mantra comes from a sitcom (yeah, I watch TV, I have teenagers, don't judge) called "How I Met Your Mother."

"When I'm sad, I stop being sad, and be awesome instead.  True story."

Of course it's not that easy.  But it reminds me that this too shall pass and I will be awesome again.  Until I'm not.  And so on.  In the meantime, I have a blog and a page.  And a lot of friends I've never met.  Who get it.  More than most people I know in real life.  I'll take it.  I mean, what else ya got?

Namaste.  And if you're wondering what that means, suffice to say that we meet in the middle where there's mutual respect and understanding.  We give each other the benefit of the doubt.  We forgive ourselves and each other.  We're good to one another.   We don't have a choice.  This is it.  Namaste.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Things Mr. K. Did Wrong

You guys.  Once more unto the breach.  That's Shakespeare.  Big whoop.  In any case, there's one last thing I wrote before we roll credits on this marriage.  If my husband won't listen, if the counselor won't listen, I know you guys will listen.  But it's okay if you want to skip some.  It's superlong.  And that's not what she said.  Dirty.  Anyway, one more round.

Response to Counseling Session, Part 2

Mr. K. has had a lot to say about what I did during our children’s formative years.  I’d like a turn now to observe how Mr. K. behaved during that time.  

Mr. K. worked hard to make the money our family needed to thrive, and I don’t want to minimize that.  He is an excellent provider.  As much as we fought about money and the best way to spend it, we never wanted for anything.  I know that Mr. K. wished he could stay at home and do fun things with the kids.  I felt sorry that we weren’t able to swing that financially.  I felt that Mr. K. resented me because I got to stay home.  

When I was pregnant, I read books, made a birth plan, went to childbirth classes.  I think  Mr. K. found these things awkward and they made him uncomfortable.  He didn’t seem to enjoy the Bradley classes we attended.  He didn’t want to do the exercises.  Once the kids arrived, he refused to change diapers.  Three kids. I think he changed maybe ten diapers.  It was a big joke.  

Since the very beginning, Mr. K. needed more sleep than I did.  I got up with the babies in the night and changed them and fed them, while Mr. K. slept on.  It was hurtful to me that he wouldn’t wake up to help me.  I told him that many times.  He responded with polite indifference.  Occasionally he would joke that since I was already up, he didn’t need to get up too. 

He wanted to sleep in on the weekends and I did my best to make sure he could do that.   When the children reached school age, I would get up with them each day, help them get ready, and get to school on time.   I drove the carpool when it was our turn.  In the mornings, I would be concerned that Mr. K. was oversleeping.  I would gently shake his shoulder and ask whether he needed to going for work and he would be annoyed with me that I had woken him up. 

Because he was had to be away from them all day during the week, weekends were precious quality time.   Mr. K. was passionate about family trips, Saturday excursions, Sunday trips to the zoo. While we all enjoyed these outings, it often seemed that his idea was solely to entertain the children.  I used to joke that we could never get divorced because he was already a weekend dad.  

He did lots of projects with the kids and they got a lot out of the knowledge and experience he brought to our family.   At the same time, Mr. K. acted as though playing was more important than learning important life lessons as though the two were mutually exclusive.

While he loved to go places with the kids, there were events and excursions and weekend trips that Mr. K. did not attend.  An annual spring weekend in Yosemite was an event that the families from school put together.  I think in the fourteen years we have been attending, Mr. K. went with us possibly three times. Throughout those formative years, the ones that only come around once, the ones that he claims that I demolished, "Where's Mr. K.?" was a question I heard more times than I can count.  

Throughout the decade that I managed the children’s schedule and got them everywhere they needed to go and insured that they had all the supplies, clothing and equipment they needed to bring with them, I heard very little from Mr. K. in this regard.  I think he was in awe of how I could take care of everything with such efficiency.  We used to chalk it up to the hypomania of bipolar disorder.  We laughed together about the man who thought he was a chicken.  His wife didn’t want the doctor to cure him because they needed the eggs.  My ability to manage multiple projects, a side “benefit” of being hypomanic, was the egg our family couldn’t do without. 

Now I would like to talk about my bipolar disorder and the support I needed to get it under control and to manage it.  Mr. K. says that he was panicked for years about what to do.  He saw me struggling, but felt powerless to do anything to help me.  He stood by, wringing his hands, and watching the debacle unfold.   At the same time, he blamed me and judged me and resented me.  He felt he needed to protect the children from me.  Looking back on it now, I’d like to raise a few points about that.  

If I was that out of control, if the children’s well-being were truly in jeopardy, I think Mr. K. would have, or should have, taken charge to change that situation.  If he truly felt he needed to protect them, he should have done so by intervening as soon as he realized they were in danger.  If he were truly worried about what was going on with me, if he felt that my illness was out of control, he would have and should have taken over and forced me to get some help.  He has made it clear that he feels I was out of control.  If that were the case, how could I possibly take the necessary steps on my own to realize that, seek treatment, and regain control?  I did eventually come to that conclusion on my own, and sought help on my own.  Mr. K. likes to talk about how worried he was, but looking back, I see now that he was very passive, taking no initiative to get me the help I couldn’t recognize that I needed for myself.  

Now I would like to talk about how focusing on my bipolar disorder and things that happened years ago is a very useful smokescreen to avoid talking about the more recent events that have led us to the brink of our marriage and family life.   Mr. K.’s indulgence in Troubled’s wayward behavior and his dismissal of my protests have led us to this point far more directly than events from the distant past ever could.   If Mr. K. is going to assert that Troubled is living in a crack house with a drug dealer because I yelled at her a lot ten years ago, then I feel confident that my decision to end this marriage is valid.  There is no way that such a relationship can or even should continue.  

It is cowardly to hide behind issues from the past to avoid facing the current ones.  Mr. K. is determined to keep rehashing scenes from our past in order to deny that his alcoholism has prevented him from taking an active role in our parenting partnership.  It has prevented him from paying attention to what is happening in our family.  It has prevented him from seeing how destructive his own behavior has been.  If our counseling sessions are not going to address this, then I want no part of them.  

The Fall of the House of Klon began in earnest when Troubled first met Juvie and sneaked him into her room overnight.  She neither sought permission nor asked for forgiveness.  Troubled moved Juvie into our house without seeking permission.  When I questioned her about it, she would tell me that Dad said it was okay. It became clear to me that Troubled was talking to Mr. K. about these things after he had had a few shots of alcohol and sometimes an Ambien.  She would eke out the answer she sought and he would have no recollection of her having done so. 

Around this time Juvie’ friends began to hang around the house.  Sometimes they were there when no one else was.  When The Gamer came home from school one day, there was a stranger passed out on the couch in the living room.  The Gamer had brought a friend home from school that day.  But it turned out that they went to his friend’s house instead, because they couldn’t rouse the man and it creeped them out.  Troubled and Juvie smoked pot in the house constantly.  I would insist that they stop.  I was met with derision.  Mr. K. did nothing to back me up.

It was around this time that Mr. K. was hospitalized for the second time with pancreatitis.  (His first bout, two years earlier, required a week-long stay.  The doctors told me to watch out for signs of alcohol withdrawal, which can be fatal.)  

I took him to the hospital the morning after he had fallen in the bathroom so hard that he broke the toilet tank.  He had washed down his Ambien with vodka.  That stay in the hospital lasted only three days.  I sat in the room, holding Mr. K.’s hand, when the doctor told him he couldn’t drink at all with his condition.  Mr. K. confided to me later that he didn’t think he could face life without alcohol.   In the next breath he told me that that wasn’t what the doctor had said, that he’d be okay if he just cut down.  

Troubled began to fail her classes.  She would go to work high.  She let Juvie drive our car.  When I protested because Juvie wasn’t insured, Mr. K. contradicted me in front of Troubled, saying, “It’s the car that’s insured, not the driver.  It’s fine.”    It turned out that it wasn’t fine.  The car was impounded when the police discovered that Juvie was driving with a suspended license.  Mr. K gave Juvie money to clear the warrants.  I paid off the car loan rather than ruin my credit with the bank.  And still nothing was said, still nothing was done.  Still I was cast as the villain when I demanded that this madness stop. 

Troubled came home with a puppy, again without permission or apology or acknowledgment or gratitude that we would allow it.  She was incapable of managing the puppy’s housetraining and it shat everywhere, but oftentimes, she wouldn’t clean it up. I threw a fit one day because I found five piles of puppy shit throughout the house and no one made a move to help me clean it up. Troubled and Mr. K. rolled their eyes at me.  Mr. K. allied with Troubled to my face, agreeing with her that I was unreasonable, encouraging her to disrespect me by doing the same.  That was the first time I left.  I spent the day at a friend’s, asking, “Does this seem right to you?”   Of course it did not.  Not even a little bit.  Not even close.

But still it continued.  It got worse, if that’s even possible.  Juvie finally moved out shortly before the end of the year.  Because he insisted that he had nowhere else to go, he began sleeping in his broken down Cadillac that he had had towed to our cul-de-sac.  I called the Abandoned Vehicle Hotline several times in the hopes that they’d tow the car away.  But every few days, Juvie and his friends would push the car a few yards down the road, and then back again a few days later.  And still Mr. K. said nothing, did nothing.  At one point, the pair spent several nights in our SUV parked in our driveway.  They ran an extension cord from the house to the car so that they could watch movies on our daughter’s laptop.  Mr. K. called it “romantic.”  

During this time, Juvie was arrested at least once that I know of.  The police were aware of Juvie and his proximity to us.  They came one Sunday to tell us that Juvie’s ex-girlfriend had attacked the pair while they slept in the Cadillac around the corner.  I had to sit and listen to the police lecture me on my poor parenting skills and what I should do to correct the situation with my daughter.   I was furious beyond measure.  And still Mr. K. did nothing.  Still I couldn’t convince him that action was required.

It was around this time that I realized I could no longer tolerate the way Mr. K. ignored my concerns, refused to acknowledge how dangerous the situation was getting, dismissed me and blamed me and called me crazy and selfish.  I began to believe him when he told me there was nothing wrong, that the problem was with me.   It was like a nightmare and I couldn’t wake up.  I moved to a friend’s house because I couldn’t take the madness any more.  Mr. K. admonished me that I had “broken the rules” by taking our private issues out into the public eye.  I was having trouble processing any of this.  He had changed so much from the man I fell in love with so many years ago.

I spent as much time as I could with The Gamer.  I couldn’t bring myself to make him leave his home, so I did my best to make sure he was taken care.   I made sure he knew to call me if he had a problem or wanted to talk about what was going on.  I continually asked him if he understood that what was going on was wrong.  He assured me that “the takeaway was:  stay in school.”  I would leave work in the afternoon to spend time with The Gamer after school.  After I saw him through homework and dinner, I would return to work and stay late to make up the time.   This was during tax season, when I was working 15 hour days as it was.

The slide hasn’t really ended, although at every step along the way you would think that that rung was the bottom.  Currently our daughter lives somewhere in another town twenty miles away, in a room that we haven’t seen, for which we give her $400 per month for part of the rent.  She claims to be taking online classes but I have not seen the bill nor the receipt for these classes.  She does have a job making sandwiches at the deli counter of a large supermarket chain.  But she posts pictures on Instagram in which she and Juvie are smoking pot.  The most recent picture was of Juvie holding a bag of pot with $20 and $100 bills spread out over his thighs. It added up to over a thousand dollars.  Yes, I counted.  it’s what I do.  Clearly they are selling drugs.  

At this point I need to stop talking about what we should do because there really is nothing to do.  I have simply given up.   Mr. K. is just beginning to see how hopeless the situation has become.  Whether he will ever admit that he encouraged and exacerbated it through his failure to take action at any point along the way doesn’t matter now.   The damage has been done.

Nevertheless, I feel compelled to tell the story as it is instead of how Mr. K. would like it to be.  The fact that I even have to defend myself in light of recent events is ludicrous.  I look back with disbelief at the pages I have written here.  It looks even more incongruous on paper than it does in my head.  My daughter is living in a crack house with a drug dealer.  But it’s not because my illness was uncontrolled when she was growing up.  Not even a little.  Not even close.

Things Klonnie Did Right

You guys.  Another round in the email wars.  Now it is a letter instead of an email because Ms. Pussy Couples Counselor doesn't have an email for her clients to use.  (I'd like "Things That Make You Go 'Hmm'" for 400, please, Alex.)  Anyway, here's some stuff I wrote to the counselor.  It's called "Things Klonnie Did Right".  I'm mailing it tomorrow.  I'm copying Mr. K.   Take what you need if you can use it.  Nod in recognition if you recognize.  Pound your fist on the desk if you are so inclined.  There's another document in the works.  It's called "Things Mr. K. Did Wrong."  (It's at least twice as long).  But anyway, here we go.

Dear Ms. Pussy Couples Counselor:

Your gross mis-management of our session yesterday was a real betrayal.  You allowed Mr. K. to throw the equivalent of a three-pointer at the buzzer.  And all I was allowed to do in response was sob and swear and cut a check for the privilege.  Mr. K. stated that there was a direct line drawn from my issues with my illness to the family crisis in which we find ourselves today.  He let that sit out there with no opportunity for me to rebut in my own defense.  He should never have been allowed to make that kind of statement in the first place.  But having done so, it should never have been the last thing said before the session ended.   It was a clear violation of my emotional safety that you, as a trained professional,  are supposed to maintain during sessions like these. I’m surprised that you have not called me to apologize yet.  I was expecting your call by the end of the day.

I’m going to take the time and space to rebut what was said.  I'm going to detail all the things I did for my kids in the twenty years that I have been their mom. I’m going to talk about all the good things I did.  I’m going to talk about the good stuff I taught them, the positive messages they heard.  Things we somehow don’t address when the accusations come up.   I also have several pages worth of things to say about Mr. K. and the events of the last few months.  I have created a separate document for that, so that Mr. K. has an opportunity for rebuttal, a courtesy that so far has been rather unevenly extended.

Before the babies were even born, I was thinking about them and planning for their arrival and what it was going to be like to have children!  When the kids were infants, I took them with me to La Leche League meetings, where I could get support with breastfeeding and meet other moms.  We developed play groups and I played a pivotal role in that.  Throughout the time that the kids were little, I worked to keep the house clean and neat, to have clean clothes and healthy food, to nurture them and make sure they had what they needed.   

As they grew, their needs expanded and they went to nursery school, where I volunteered and also watched other babies so their moms could volunteer.  When it was time for kindergarten, we decided to take them to a parent participation school.  I attended and eventually led the parent education workshops that were required for parents to work in the classroom.   I studied child development and worked to implement the things I learned.  I was concerned about concrete things like limiting tv time, performing chores, completing homework.  I tried to teach them how important it was to have a little bit of work and a little bit of play, a little bit of healthy food, a little treat, all in balance, a little bit of everything each day.  I encouraged their emotional growth by talking about feelings and how to handle them, how to interact with other children, how their behavior affected others, and how important it was to pay attention to that, to have respect for other people and their feelings.

I volunteered for everything that came up.  I worked in the classroom and at home to make sure art was available, crafts, cooking projects.  I babysat for other moms and arranged for play dates both at home and at the park.  I coordinated music lessons, sports practices, and social lives (birthday parties, play dates, outings).   We laughed about my calendar and how detailed it was – color coded for each kid and their activities, highlighting where events conflicted, etc.  There were days when there were three different soccer matches on three different fields all at the same time.   There were many days when I got up at 6:45 a.m. for school and didn’t wind down until after 11:00 p.m.   And through all this, I still managed to stay out of the nuthouse, despite all the triggers I was facing, pretty much single-handedly.

Each year, in each child’s classroom, I was assigned a different project.  I had two kids in two grades.  That meant four hours in the classroom and multiple hours of prep each week.  I also had a toddler at home to account for while the school activities required me to be away from him.  There were field trips -- about twelve per year for six years -- I drove a carful of children and chaperoned every one.

I got up every weekend to make sure they were where they needed to be with the stuff they needed to have.  I signed them up for every sport they wanted to do.  We did swimming, soccer, whatever they wanted to try, every season.  I was on the executive board of every group my kids ever belonged to, from soccer to swimming to PTA.   I want to emphasize the fact that at times this kind of socializing was extremely difficult for me given the vagaries of my illness.  There were many days when I felt overwhelmed by the tasks of the day that lay ahead of me, yet I got out of bed, got dressed and did what needed to be done.

I focused on Troubled especially.  Soccer was extremely important to her and I made sure that she got to all the practices, all the matches.  When there were weekend tournaments, I made sure she got to those.  I rented motel rooms and socialized with other parents, way outside my comfort zone.  I did all this precisely because it was so important for Troubled to foster her self-esteem and well-being by encouraging her to excel at something she loved. 

I supported Troubled through all her academic struggles, arranging for tutors, trying to find ways to reach her when she was at her worst in high school.  When she got caught shoplifting, I went down to the mall to get her.  I single-handedly dragged her through the last quarter of high school, or she would not have accumulated the required classes to graduate.  Troubled would not have walked with her class if it hadn’t been for me.  

I offer all this not for any kind of applause, but to point out that, even in the throes of bipolar disorder,  I managed a complex system for three children, keeping them engaged and active and stimulated and healthy.    I created and maintained an incredibly nurturing environment in which the children were encouraged to do their best, to learn and to grow and to thrive.  When I lost my temper, I did my best to calm down each time almost immediately and apologize and explain what had triggered it.  I did have lots to work on, and I freely acknowledged that.  I did a lot of work in therapy and tried to implement what I was learning at home.  I explained what I needed and asked for support.    We are done beating this dead horse.  It is old news and does not need to be revisited.  Ever again.  Not even a little bit.  Not even close.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In Which a Bird Chases Me Into the Fridge

I'm renting the downstairs bedroom in my friends' house, blissful surcease from the nightmare my own house has become.   I'm very grateful to these friends -- without their love and support I wouldn't have been able to leave.  I would still be stuck in the madness, miserable and resentful and angry and guilty and frustrated and trapped and all the things.   So. Damn. Grateful. As we are fond of saying in my Facebook family.  I am grateful, really I am, to have this place and these friends.

But fuck me if they don't have a bird.   IN THE HOUSE.   They take it out of the cage and it sits on the dude's shoulders. And its wings go all fluttery and rustle-y and fuck if it doesn't start flapping all around the place and the next thing I know, I'm climbing in the fucking refrigerator.  I know I exaggerate sometimes but this time is not one of them.  I'm climbing in the fucking refrigerator and the dude is
either not noticing or pretending he doesn't and I'm all embarrassed and polite, like "oh, um I kinda have this bird phobia, really it's nothing -- no-- aaaah -- as the bird is swooping and diving all around the kitchen.  I try to pull the fridge door shut behind me.  "Really, it's no big thing really, I just -- aaaaah  -- okay."   I continue talking with my face nestled into the corner of the freezer.  I am seriously IN THE FRIDGE.

And maybe he's passive-aggressive or maybe he thinks I'm kidding or maybe he has Asperger's which isn't likely since he seems genuinely sensitive and receptive otherwise, but the thing with the bird is fucking freaking me out.  But he doesn't do anything to corral the bird which is mixing metaphors but fuck it, I'm in a weakened state. So I have to get out of there and head to my room and pray to all that is holy including Tom Fucking Cruise like in Ricky Fucking Bobby that the bird does not somehow follow me and fly into the room before I can shut the door like Tippi Fucking Hedren.  So of course I nee -- er, want a double klonopin with a beer back but the beer is -- wait for it -- in the refrigerator and I so very carelessly left it behind during my recent stay there.

So I wait at the door of my room, listening for sounds of the bird being put back in its cage and that dude who I have decided is neither passive-aggressive nor oblivious but downright sadistic going upstairs so that I can run back to the refrigerator, (my new vacation home) and retrieve a beer to wash down my evening klonopin (and before you get all up in my grill about drinking with my benzos let me assure  you that I have honed the craft of medicating myself to a fine art, having thirty years of practice as I do. And let me also tell you that skill comes in quite handy when I find myself in situations like the one I just described which takes place with the veepveepveep squeaky violin soundtrack that heralds the pivotal climax of most Hitchcock films, especially The Birds, a film that solidified my distrust of birds in general, and birds inside the house in particular.)

So, as much as I am enjoying the solitude and freedom from all the bullshit that has been my marriage for the last few years and the clusterfuck of the last few months that put it in the ICU, I do have moments like this time with the bird where I wonder if it's worth it, and other moments when I feel such homesickness and grief that I am this close to running over and slipping in the back door so that I'm in the kitchen making french toast and the coffee's ready when he gets up because I just want it all back to the normal that it never really was in the first place.

And now it's time to say "Namaste" as I often do at this point in the post, but I have to confess that I will have come back to write this part later when I edit it because I can't really see well enough to type at the moment because I'm crying pretty hard.

And there you have it.  Namaste, you stupid bird.  Hit the lights but leave the fridge door open because I might need to climb in there whether you're in your cage or not.