...that's the best way I could describe living with bed bugs.
In a previous post, I related my own struggle with diabetes and attempted to draw parallels between that and my ordeal with bed bugs. I said that in both situations, the affected party must drastically alter their lifestyle, implement a routine of corrective as well as preventative measures, and that in both cases the idea of giving up crosses one's mind at times.
One anonymous commenter stated the following, to which I feel I must respond:
Ok. I totally understand where you are coming from. Really I do. The "Don't give up" speech. I would trade bbs for a disease anyday. Yes I would. Why. 'Cause then my kids can have their character decorative pillows that they want. So my kids do not hafta live outta fu.kin' plastic bags and ugly, stupid platic bins. So my kids can have their toys and go to school normally. Disease affects that one person only. Sure, family members get sad about the disease, but family members do not hafta be quarantined like some freak or deadly virus. You can have a beautiful home with a disease. I have, really have thought about suicide from this bb bullshit. I even wrote 2 suicide notes. I feel like an unfit parent for doing too little about the bbs in my home. I'm doing the best I can and yet I feel I cannot protect my kids and I feel overwhelmed and outta control. If it was just me living by myself, I really wouldn't give a crap. Really. I would have no furniture except the basics like bed, tv, chair, that's it. But, when you hafta raise kids and seeing what they hafta go through just breaks my heart. I want my kids to have a nice plushy couch to sit on and watch tv and beds, etc. I don't even have their beautiful school pictures on the walls. This sucks!! How do families in other countries do this? I didn't end it because when I wrote goodbye to my kids in my note I just cry and cry. I LOVE my kids. But the pressure from this bb bullshit has pushed me over the edge. I live in NY. Yes, I know NY is infested. But, I feel so alone.I understand where you're coming from, lady. Seriously, I do. I know that's exactly what you didn't want to hear, but it's my blog and I'm saying it. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone contemplating suicide because of bed bugs, though. Tell me you're not seeing a therapist because of the bed bugs! Not that I'm making fun of your reaction or your situation, mind you. There were many times when I too considered looking for a therapist due to my bed bug problem, but my fiancee M was my rock. We really relied on each other for emotional support.
Don't tell me to see a therapist because I am.
Oh yeah, I don't wanna read any comments from people saying that they've been there and that this can't go on forever, etc. and that they understand. If you have bbs no more, then you do NOT know what I'm going through. Your ordeal is over, mine is not. You can move on, I cannot.
I don't think you're overreacting at all, but I do think you're downplaying the impact a disease can have on a person and their loved ones. If, God forbid, one of your children was suddenly diagnosed with leukemia, would you be just "sad about it", as you stated in your comment, or would it absolutely devastate you as you watched your child's hair fall out and grow weaker each day, with little hope of recovery? I can't even imagine how my life would be destroyed if M, God forbid, suddenly was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
My analysis is that you and your family have had a relatively easy life up until now, and this infestation is probably the only devastating event you've had in your life. If you grew up in poverty, if you were abused as a child, if you have a disease or have recovered from one, you'd have some perspective, something to which you can compare your current infestation, and realize that as bad as things are, they could be far worse and you've endured situations that were almost as bad as your infestation.
In your comment you asked how families in other countries deal with bed bugs, and they deal with it because their lives were probably a lot harder than yours even before they had bed bugs. I love my country, but Americans only read international news when it involves the United States. Right now, there are people in Colombia enduring a 30-year civil war, and in Congo and Darfur, people are being shot or chopped into pieces due to tribal genocide. In Sub-Saharan Africa two out of three adults and 90 percent of children live with HIV, according to the United Nations. In Somalia people were rioting over food prices. In the city of Odessa in Russia, 1 out of 4 men have HIV. And in Iraq...well, we all know what's going on in Iraq. According to USAID, 2.7 million people worldwide die from malaria (with 90 percent of those deaths occurring in Africa), a disease that was wiped out in the U.S. and Europe in the early 20th Century, thanks in part to DDT-the same pesticide that was used to nearly wipe out bed bugs 50 years ago.
So how do people in other countries deal with bed bugs? At the risk of sounding arrogant, Americans on the whole live better lives than most of the other people on this planet. I'm a poor person in the wealthiest country on earth, and I'm a Latino in a country run by Anglos. I wouldn't want to be poor anywhere else but America, and I certainly wouldn't want to be an ethnic minority in any other country, either. I consider myself very lucky that I live in a country where so many people of different, races, ethnicities, religions and political beliefs get up in the morning and want to work together rather than slaughter each other. The people in other countries are surrounded by so much turmoil, when they do have bed bug infestations they have something to compare it to.
And please, don't hate on the plastic bags and bins; they're what's keeping your lives somewhat more livable with the bed bugs while you try to completely eradicate those little vampires. That's why I can't sign on to this whole environmentalism movement. These limousine liberals all declare war on plastic, but plastic has basically saved my life simply because bed bugs do not like it. My books are on my shelves in plastic bins; I have plastic dressers, plastic hampers, and milk crates for extra storage. I just replaced my cloth curtains with vinyl ones and I sleep on a mattress that is completely covered in thick plastic and on pillows that are covered in plastic and covered again with pillow cases. The tree-huggers don't understand what plastic means to poor people, and the way this economy's going, a lot more Americans are going to be joining the lower classes. Besides, the idea that the earth needs to be saved by humans, or that humans could ever hurt the earth is ridiculous and arrogant. If the earth ever feels threatened by our species, it will get rid of us like it has to 99 percent of the other species which once inhabited this planet (mind you, millions of years before our primate ancestors even learned how to walk upright 200,000 years ago).
I also can't get with the environmentalist movement because of their success in banning DDT, a chemical which lead to the near-extinction of bed bugs 50 years ago. Despite the fact that there was no unbiased research conducted on the environmental effects of DDT, one dead bitch wrote one book and it convinced the EPA to ban DDT in 1972. As a spokesman for the U.S. chemical industry famously said when the Carson's book, Silent Spring, was published,
"If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth."Perhaps those days are upon us right now.
I don't have kids, so I'm not even going to begin to pretend I understand what you're going through. I do however, invite any bed bug sufferers who are parents to share their experiences and maybe even tips to help out a fellow parent in the same tragic situation.
As for my ordeal being over, you're dead wrong. The problem with one's home being infested once is the knowledge that it could very well happen again, either by accidental introduction of new bugs from the outside or a resurgence of bed bugs previously thought to have been successfully eradicated from one's home. I'm not going to bother to buy any wooden furniture or try to revert my home to what it used to look like before my bed bug infestation, not until DDT is legalized in the U.S. It's like fighting crime; the police know they will never keep their city crime free, but they do what they must to keep it as under control as possible and never allow it to get completely out of control. Just because crime is low doesn't mean you leave your doors unlocked, and just because you don't see bed bugs doesn't mean you go back to the kind of environment bed bugs crave.
But I do appreciate your comment nonetheless, because I know there are many New Yorkers living with bed bugs who feel the same way you do. And I think your comment offers them some small consolation that they are not alone in this. If Bugged Out accomplishes nothing else, it should be to let New Yorkers and everyone else dealing with bed bugs that they are not alone. When I first launched this blog in January 2006 I certainly felt alone, and I don't feel that way any more.
Keep the comments coming, and try to keep a positive attitude about all this, as impossible as it may seem. Might I suggest alcohol, or a less legal alternative?