Daily Archives: January 4, 2014
Time is up. No more entries accepted for the Name My Blog contest. Thank you to everyone who solicited ideas. I’m overwhelmed that I received well over 100 ideas. This is going to be difficult because I would have an idea in my head of what I wanted and then I’d read a couple of … Continue reading
The other cool thing that happened Friday was stopping by my old workplace to surprise my 22-year-old son and say hello to my former co-workers (and maybe even a resident or two). Now, up until about three months ago, I got palpitations whenever I even thought about going there—hell, just taking the exit gave me the heebie-jeebies—but I finally got over it when, flush with the success of a good job interview and more than a little hypomanic energy, I decided to pop in.
The response had been exactly what I needed to put what happened there to rest. No more nightmares, no more humiliating memories. It was great! So when I decided to drop in yesterday, I didn’t even hesitate to march right through the front door, just like I did in the old days when I actually belonged there.
This time was different, however. People were like “hey, how ya doin’?” as if I’d never left. The same staff members I’d worked with were all sitting around in the break room while my son and the other medication aide were preparing the residents’ dinnertime meds, and even though eight months have passed since my departure, it was just like old times as we chatted and joked around.
And then I went to the restroom.
It wasn’t two seconds after I closed and locked the door behind me that the flashbacks started. You see, during the last few months before I left, I spent an awful lot of time in that bathroom, hiding from the residents and the ringing phones and the families who always wanted a piece of me at the worst possible times. It was the place to which I would escape when I desperately needed to gather my fleeting, disjointed thoughts and take big gulps of quiet to try to steady myself in the midst of utter chaos. It was also where I’d stare down at the floor tiles and see faces, animals, and all sort of things in the patterns.
The latter was most noticeable when I was manic, and it was weirder than THAT when I was mixed, which was pretty much all of the time by the end of my employment. I’d sit there in the dim fluorescent light, listening to the muffled sounds of walker wheels going up and down the hall, and watch the patterns morph into Indian heads, ladies in hoop skirts, hound dogs with floppy ears……
I guess you could say I went crazy in there back in those dark days. Then yesterday, as I roosted for another moment or two, I was suddenly engulfed in sorrow for the sick, frightened woman who used to work in that building—the one who looked like me and wore my clothes and sat at my desk.
And then it struck me: I am not that woman anymore.
I haven’t walked in her shoes in some time, actually. Through all the mood swings, Will’s cancer diagnosis, financial ruin and other unfortunate events I’ve experienced over the past eight months, I’ve never again been crazy like I was then. No, not even when I hallucinated during that last manic wing-ding in October. I’ve changed a great deal, learned a lot of things, taken more than a few lumps, and survived it all. I’m not as scared and broken as I used to be. There are still some areas where I need help, but that’s true of all of us. And I realize, at long last, that the time I spent rebuilding my life after I left that place has been a time of healing and growth, not one of stagnation and decline as I’d feared.
I looked down at the bathroom tiles one more time before leaving, and I smiled because this time, I didn’t see anything at all.
Never really liked Billy Joel much, but this lyric from “The Piano Man” is really poignant (imo) “….He said, “Son, can you play me a memory? I’m not really sure how it goes, but it’s sad and it’s sweet, and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man’s clothes…” ~ Billy Joel “The […]
If they gave out awards for Best Medical Provider Visit Ever, today’s appointment with Dr. Awesomesauce would win it hands-down.
Not only is he happy with how well I’m doing, he said he’s proud of me for sticking with my “curfew” and FINALLY realizing that mania—not depression—is my worst enemy. (I guess everyone else on the planet knew that long before I did, but what the hell…..better late than never, right?) I’m not sure exactly when I realized it, but now that I have, it makes all kinds of sense.
After all, mania is what ruined me at my last big job. Mania is what has caused endless friction between me and many other people in my life. Mania is also what gives me the idea that I can think, say, or do anything and everything I want with impunity, which has NEVER gone over well in social interactions, and in fact has made me look like an asshole on more than one occasion. In other words: mania is no bueno and I must do everything I can to prevent it…..or at the very least, put out the brushfires before they blow up into an inferno.
To this end, Dr. A advised me once again to be seriously protective of my sleep, even if it means—gasp!—waiting till the next morning to finish a post or write a report. I am also to take PRN Zyprexa if my sleep gets wonky and I lose more than an hour for more than a couple of nights in a row. Even when I’m out “in the field” as a surveyor. He agreed with me that playing the ‘disability’ card or disclosing my actual diagnosis probably won’t be necessary, but again, it all depends on my ability to tame the manic monster with sleep and meds. Or meds and sleep. Or meds, sleep, and a STAT call to him if the first two don’t work right away.
Of course, the subject of the Yellow Toucan Shirt came up again, as it always does during any discussion of mania. I asked him how the hell he can remember an individual patient’s little quirks when he has two practices and is starting a business on top of all of it; he just chuckled and said, ”I dunno, some are just more…..well…..memorable than others”. Obviously the toucan shirt story is one of them, for he then began to look around in his portable-office cart and produced a tiny wooden sculpture of—you guessed it—a toucan.
He handed it to me and said, “Merry Christmas”. Yes, it really happened: my doctor gave me the bird.
Well, I just about fell off the sofa laughing, because its bright colors perfectly matched those of the toucan on that horrid yellow tank top. But I knew why he’d given it to me: not only as a whimsical item to tickle the funny bone, but as a reminder to be ever vigilant against my sworn enemy.
So tonight, Toucan Sam is perched proudly atop my computer tower, from whence he will probably go to live on my new desk in my new cubicle at my new job. He’ll make a good conversation piece (although I’ll have to come up with a new story that won’t be anywhere near as cute as this one), but he’ll also serve as a symbol of all that I have to gain if I can stay on an even keel…..and all that I have to lose if I let my guard down.
Besides, he’s a lot better looking—and takes up a lot less space—than that crazy yellow shirt. Haha!
I exercised today. For thirty minutes, I rode the stationary bike and watched American Pickers.
Sometimes I forget that I’m recovering from an eating disorder until I’m able to do things like this. It may seem like a stupid accomplishment, but for me, it signified a mini-victory. I didn’t ride until I threw up, I didn’t hurt myself, and I didn’t push too far. I didn’t picture Victoria’s Secret models and curse my body as I worked up a healthy sweat.
It’s too early to blare the sirens of success. I haven’t established a pattern; this is only my first time. But the inkling of hope will cheer me on as I attempt to ride again tomorrow.
Now I am not exercising for a smaller jean size or a slimmer waist. I am not trying to disappear.
I want to strengthen my muscles. Watch me light a fire within my body and lift my wings towards the sky.
2014 just might be the year of the woman.
Yesterday I was minimally functional. Didn’t get dressed, didnt leave, didn’t bathe. Took care of my kid and cats. It dipped down to negative four degrees overnight, ensuring my safe enclosure in my mountain of blankets in bed. The clincher for this day of misery was when my kid crawled into my bed and puked on me. Awesome. Motherhood is glamorous.
This morning I did not want to get up. The kid dictated otherwise. But I sprang into action because we were out of everything and it was direct deposit day. Dug the car out of the snow, ran errand after errand, paid bill after bill. Blah. Mood was okay. Anxiety was off the charts. Traffic does not work for me.
They make a big fuss out of the hazard of talking on a cell phone while driving. I think texting while driving is the true danger, but phones can be too. BUT if they really want to avoid a severe hazard…They should ban driving with children in the car. Half of my driving stress is caused within the car because my kid never shuts up and never stops making demands without regard to the fact I am driving. I understand she is just a kid. I still think installing a mute button on her isn’t a bad idea for the safety of my driving.
My mood dipped a little but not too much. It’s more up tonight than it’s been in weeks, which is a good thing. I’ll take it. Functional is good. I did dishes, laundry (even folded it!), vacuumed (well attempted to clean the floor, I have no vacuum), I wiped counters….I even cooked supper. I bathed. Aside from my hands being cold, I am pretty content right now. My kid has dozed off, bringing me silence, sans the show I am watching. I can breathe, I can think.
I wish I could just stay in this frame of mind all the time. I am not needy or greedy, all I ask for is functional and not praying for death.
The moment of shame today was at the pharmacy. When they rang up EIGHT bottles of psych meds in front of everyone. Of course, no one but the employees know they are psych meds, but still, 8 bottles of pills is enough to scream I AM NOT WELL. It bugs me. Mind you, I am on two different strengths of Lamictal and Lithium so that accounts for four bottles. I just wish I didn’t need them. My proudest time was when I was pregnant and opened the cabinet, faced only with taking one prenatal vitamin. No pharmacy of anti crazy pills.
Except I’m not crazy, I’m troubled, which makes the illness even less legitimate in society’s eyes. I don’t hear voices, I don’t hallucinate, I can tell right from wrong and dress myself and I take care of a kid and cats. I don’t have dignity of being full blown insane. I am ‘unstable’. Such a comforting label to be saddled with, like I’m a step from grabbing a rifle and jumping into a clocktower. I have a mood disorder. Which to society says “She’s too weak to suck it up and pull herself up by the boot straps and get over herself.”
For the most part, I don’t care what people think about my clothes, my style, my likes, my dislikes, where I live, what I drive. But when your existence revolves around people giving you a chance for a job, relationship, outing- you become concerned with what they think. Because one misconception or biased opinion can sink your goals even if you or your illness don’t.
So much ass trash.
The neighbors had maintenance over most of the day fixing something outside. The noise had me on high paranoia and anxiety. Nothing to do with me but the sound of the truck, them getting in and out, walking through my yard to access the neighbor’s pipes…Argghhh. There’s a common misconception that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” That;s bullshit when your brain is sending the wrong signals. It’s not about hiding something. It’s about fearing the invasion of your safe space. It’s about deviation freaking you out. It’s about being so sensitive to noise that abnormal sounds create panic.
My dad asked me the other day why I sleep “so late” (7 a.m.) but go to bed so early (10pm ish) because I don’t work. Well, considering how little he did towards raising his own kids I guess it makes sense he doesn’t get it. Kids are exhausting. They are needy and demanding and require lots of energy. I’d love to return to my former life of sleeping all day and staying up all night. This daywalker thing blows. But my kid comes first, it’s as simple as that, and also simple is, she taps me out. If I don’t sleep at night, it won’t happen during the day. So my dad thinking I get too much sleep…I earn it. I spawned a battery bunny and she is a cruel master. Who projectile vomits on me.
Depression, anxiety, and vomit. Why wouldn’t I feel happy go lucky? :p
So..Decent mood, good functionality, but high anxiety today.
One of the reasons I am SO HAPPY you guys take the time to comment and share your thoughts is your insights often highlight areas I might not have thought to address. A commenter Mr. Dandylion replied to my publishing predictions for 2014 with darker thoughts, which included this phrase:
“A new author will commit suicide after a sustained online bullying campaign, most likely stemming from Goodreads; it will cause major headlines and public anger.”