Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Fuck Valentine's Day (original version posted on Facebook, 14 Feb 2016)

Matt and the housemates are out with friends, so I'm alone. Matt wanted me to come, and I said no, so it's not like they left me here on purpose. I just couldn't.... like I can't do anything any more. I think-- no, I know-- that part of it is that I am isolating myself from him, socially, so that he can have a good time without worrying whether I am comfortable or in pain or having a panic attack. So he can be away from that, and just have fun.

To be honest, I don't even think he really loves the person I am now. I think he loves the person that he caught glimpses of a few years ago, the person I could be if I ever got better. He doesn't understand that I'm never going to get better. It's all downhill from here. There's only going to be little breaks in the clouds, here and there.

I am in a serious emotional crisis. I am writing in order to keep from doing anything that would necessitate calling 911 and having the squad haul my ass to the psych hospital. I should have listened to my psychologist's warning, and my own gut feeling about having that IUD placed just over eight weeks ago. It seems like everything has been worse since about 48 hours after insertion. My current physical symptoms (some related to Mirena, some not) include migraines, poor temperature regulation, vertigo, painful IBS, and even more extreme fatigue than usual. On top of that, there's the mystery of my "disappearing-reappearing" kidney stones and bladder irregularity (I pee when I don't want to, and can't when I do.) All this, plus the usual aches, tremors, spasms, and strange nerve pain I have grown used to with fibromyalgia, and back and neck pain related to degenerative disk disease that is, well, degenerative, and is not going to improve.

But all that stuff sounds like a bunch of lame, hypochondriachal excuses, doesn't it? I don't look sick. Compared to our hardworking roommates, I look like a fat, lazy fuck. I fear that they think I am a weakling, or a liar, or both. I feel that they have done more to earn their places here than I have, and that I'm more trouble than I'm worth. I'm just one problem after the next, and Matt is so patient, and he is so kind, and he tries so hard not to lose his temper, but it's starting to wear on him. I fear that pretty soon, I will be too much to handle. I'm little more than a roommate to him now. We don't even have sex, because I'm always in too much pain or too anxious or I feel too ugly or whatever my brain is telling me today.

I really feel that any sane person would have left me by now. Any smart person would have left me by now. Any idiot would have left me by now (not that Matt's an idiot.) I am in a co-dependent relationship, and Matt's taken on  the role of caretaker, not husband... that isn't what he signed on for. I don't deserve him.

He deserves someone like I should have been. Brilliant, energetic, a hard worker who takes pride in her craft, "an enthusiastic and dynamic individual possessing a powerful mind, who would be an asset to any organisation," one of my ancient letters of recommendation read. Yes, I memorised it, because even then, I couldn't imagine someone could think so highly of me, let alone a professor of philosophy.

And look at me. I'm nothing. I'm no one. I could have been a writer, I could have been an artist. I could have been a therapist. I could have been an optician. I could have been an anthropologist. I could have been a teacher. Everyone expected me to be this great person, do these amazing things, and I can't even fucking take a shower and get dressed every day.

Every day? Try every week. Going off on a tangent for a moment. I seem to have developed an outright phobia of bathing. Just thinking about having to take a shower the next day in preparation for going out actually triggers anxiety. I have to take a Xanax before I hit the shower. It then becomes apparent that I have sabotaged myself, because, though I hate to bathe, I also hate germs. So, the shower, itself, takes much longer than it normally would, becoming highly ritualized. I wash my hair three times and scrub every inch of skin with a coarse bristle brush as if preparing to go into surgery. By the end of it, I am so tired, I just want to go back to bed.

I waste a lot of time feeling overwhelmed, and I have convinced myself it's time I really don't have. I am obsessed with my own mortality. I feel the rest of my life could be five minutes, or five years, but it doesn't matter, because I'm a high school graduate trapped in a middle-aged body. I've never held a job for more than a year, and I haven't worked at all for the last seven-ish years because of disability. Oh, but, since I've never worked enough to actually earn disability, I've never had any kind of a steady income. I worked the academic system for as long as I could, fooling myself into thinking I could actually graduate without serious psychiatric help. Now, here I am, two years shy of 40. I'm out of chances, out of tricks, and out of time.

Matt, he's just beginning. He followed the yellow brick road and connected all the dots just like a brilliant student should, got some great references and ended up in a decent career, where he's on his way up. He's quite responsible, while still being able to enjoy the fun, nerdy stuff that we shared an interest in initially. Now he owns a house, has a handle on his finances, and... keeps a wife.
He shouldn't have to keep a wife, like some sickly pet. He should have someone who can give him at least as much as he's given me. Honestly, if I had anywhere other than my mother's or a mental institution to go, I would go there, because he didn't ask for this stone around his neck.
I love him with all my heart, but I don't have anything left to show him that. I'm spent. I'm barely alive inside. He might as well be married to some comatose vegetable. If I could flip a switch and erase the errors of my last ten years, then maybe I could be the kind of partner Matt deserves. As it is, though, we're codependent, and it will end badly if nothing changes.

So, I was hoping against hope that having the IUD removed would return my brain chemistry closer to normal operating conditions, even if "normal," for me, kind of sucks. So, I called my gynecologist's nurse, explained to her what was going on, and told her the medications I was taking for depression and anxiety. She agreed it sounded like it was best to have the IUD removed, and she scheduled me an appointment.

When I got to my appointment, expecting to have the IUD removed, a doctor (who was not my usual doctor) refused to do it. I hit my breaking point, then. I admit it. I made a scene at the office. I don't remember exactly what I said to the doctor next, but it was something along the lines of...

Wait, so, you're NOT taking this out of me? Oh no. You ARE taking this out of me. I have not stopped bleeding, I've had suicidal depression, terrible migraines and unbearable pain. If you're not taking this out of me, why am I half-naked under a paper sheet? You ARE taking this out of me, that's what this appointment was for. I did not come here for nothing!

She threatened to call the squad because of the "s" word. I told her that I was under the care of both a psychiatrist and a psychologist who could vouch for me. She said she'd need papers from them in order to proceed, then continued to downplay my symptoms. She argued with me that I had the "wrong kind of migraines" for this kind of drug. I asked her if she even looked at the list of medications I was on and knew of all the possible interactions. Eventually, she told me I was "making her uncomfortable," and that she would be in the other room. Shortly, she returned, informed me that my visit was over and to "please leave." I did leave, in a blur of rage and humiliation.

Sidenote; feminist question: Why the fuck does an adult woman need papers from her shrink to get an IUD removed? Do they think I am going to go all crazy-cakes hypersexual and have a litter of bipolar babies I can't take care of?

And the final insult to my injury was a letter from the practise banning me from their premises for "threatening staff," or something like that. Rather than risk another snooty-arse lady parts practise chosen randomly from the Internet, I decided to contact Planned Parenthood. The only good thing that has happened all week is that, when I explained the circumstances, they agreed to remove the device, and reassured me that, even if they were not able to, for some reason, they would refer me to someone who could. My appointment is on Monday.

Okay. Off the subject of my lady business, and back onto the subject of me being bad at being married to someone who actually treats me well. There's a lot of childhood stuff I could get into, but for now I'm going to focus on my adult life, and sum up my childhood as a grilled shit sandwich in which I knew, from toddler age, that my parents didn't love each other but pretended to "for my sake."

 It's funny. I've spent my whole life running, taking all the blame in relationships, rather than listening to my intuition, that told me to shatter illusions before it was too late. But those mirrors and smoke were, for the time being, providing something I needed. I let myself settle into my false security. Illusion after illusion, the time in between spent seeking out my next escape route, a new town, a new state, a new school, a new country -- anything but home.

Now that I'm finally safe, I can't accept it. My brain can't believe it. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm sure Matt will hate me when he sees what I really am, or even if he loves all of me, he won't be able to "handle" me, and he'll just drop me off in the middle of the hell hole where he found me. I know this is irrational, but I can't stop scheming and planning my next stop on the road to survival. I am always looking for cracks in the foundation. Always ready to bug out. Always listening for the dreaded phrase, "we have to talk."

I don't know how to be married. I don't know how to be domesticated. I have to learn, or I am going to sabotage everything, My instinct is to isolate myself if I think I've been a burden. I imagine that others mentally keep score of my  flaws, and every time I screw up, it gets struck in stone. When I think that score is getting pretty high, I assume that my partner must be angry at me almost all the time. So I isolate, and I break it off, cut my losses, and leave. It's what I've always done. "No hard feelings, no regrets. It's okay. We just didn't work well as a couple, but we can be friends." And, indeed, I am friends with a number of my exes, just not the assholes.

But now is different. My name is on the deed to an actual house. We aren't going anywhere for maybe even a decade. I can't fathom it. I've not stayed in once place for more than two years since I moved back from England in 2004, and I usually only kept an address for six months to a year before I met Matt. And this unconditional love thing, how does that really work? How sick can I get before he can't take it any more, or worse, bears the burden in silent misery?

And for all of this paranoid, maniacal shit, I can thank my abusers, from my parents, to bullies at school to some of my partners, and the great American healthcare system that gave me too little, too late. Oh, I am long overdue for some vitriol. Well-directed anger is so much more productive than turning inward and tearing myself down. I just don't know where to direct it. I need focus.

Which is why I went running back to my old friend, Academia. Oh, silly me, applying to Otterbein's communications program as an adult student. What a joke. I couldn't even get transcripts from most of the schools I attended, because I owe them money, and I'm behind on my student loans as it is. Why should this time be any different? I'm grasping at straws, trying to find something for my brain to do, trying to find meaning, be that star student again, and online classes from a diploma mill ain't gonna cut it. Hah. I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeVille.

*Footnote, Valentine's Day is also the day of my first ex-fiance's mother's funeral in 1998. I've lost touch with my ex, but I will never forget how his mother treated me more like a daughter than my own mother ever did. I had just begun to trust her when she died of a massive heart attack at the age of 49. So there's that. February has never been a good month for me.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How am I still married?

I'm terrified that he is slowly getting tired of me. I'm afraid that every time he wants to go out and do something, and I can't, because of the state of my mental and/or physical health, that resentment is building in his heart, and that someday, he will realise the monster he bound himself to, and will leave me.

At the same time, I fear that he will never leave me, even though I am slowly destroying him. He is a giver. He's the ultimate "nice guy" with a white knight complex. But he can't fix me. Only I can fix me, and I'm doing a piss-poor job, and he is paying for it. He pretends he is okay with staying home on a Saturday to make me feel safe, but I know he would rather be doing something else. He feels obligated. I don't want to be an obligation. I want to be a source of joy and happiness for him. I want to be a good wife.

Today, I crossed the line. I was in a fog from some new medication, and he asked me if I wanted to go somewhere with him, later. My mind said "no, absolutely not, I just want to go back to sleep." But my mouth said "Sure." Half an hour later I backtracked, because I felt I needed to be honest with him. I told him I wasn't that interested in the activity that he invited me to.

It was a beer tour. He runs them, here and there, for extra money. This time, he had the opportunity to go as a guest, and there was room for me, too, because of cancellations. I made him look like an idiot because he had to call the guy back and cancel. I felt awful. I felt he must be very upset with me, and he was.

But he doesn't show it, when he's upset, because he doesn't want to be like his dad. He hardly ever raises his voice, and he didn't, this time, but in my mind, I felt like he should have been screaming at me. Hitting me. Telling me how useless I am, what a burden I am, how I just hold him back, cost him money, and keep him from doing things he wants to do.

But maybe all this was in my head. Maybe he wasn't really upset. I asked him if he was upset. I could hear the frustration in his voice. "I wish you would have told me 'no' to begin with," he said, and went into how he had to call the guy back and tell him I'd changed my mind.

BATTLEAXE. That's what the other guy must think, that Matt is married to a controlling, manipulative bitch. At that point, I blurted out what I was feeling. I was simultaneously thinking about how manipulative it was to tell him I was thinking of hurting myself, and that I needed him to stay with me so that I felt safe. I was turning the anger on myself. I told him of the image of the knife in my left hand, carving deep into my right arm, flooded my mind.

BATTLEAXE. MANIPULATIVE BITCH. JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER. ONLY DOING IT FOR ATTENTION.

I owe Matt everything. I owe him the roof over my head, the food I eat, the clothes I wear, the medical care I need. I owe him for all of it, and I have a duty as his wife to do things I don't particularly like, when I am not feeling particularly well, to repay all the times he has done that for me.

He says he doesn't feel that way. He says that he still wants to spend the rest of his life with me. He says there is nothing to forgive, that I'm not "in trouble," that everything is okay. Yeah, that's what they all said. And then, they left. Three fiance's and a husband. None of them could handle me. Matt says he can't stand to see me beat myself up. I do it because I feel I deserve punishment, for not doing enough to contribute to the household, for not finishing anything that I start, for not being a functional human being.

I almost wish he would hit me. I could accept that. I could deal with physical abuse if I knew it would even the playing field. I felt the same way in some of my earlier relationships. I would scream at them to just hit me, that I deserved it. I deserve to be hurt. When my first fiancé refused to hit me, I hit myself. I gave myself bruises, I bit myself. He tried to stop me, but I couldn't stand being touched. Eventually, he left me, because I was insane, and he was gay, or so he said. It was really much more complicated than that. His mother had died some months before. That's another story.

I am married to a selfless, wonderful, patient, adoring human being whom I do not deserve, and I feel like he deserves better than a thing like me. It's days like this that I think I should just disappear. Make arrangements to leave in the middle of the night, go back to the hell-hole that is my mother's house, because that's where I came from, and that's what I deserve.

And the most insane thing about writing this is that I feel very little. It is such an old, familiar script that I just rehearse it with a kind of dismal apathy. I know damn well how it was written, who collaborated on it and where the plot came from. I should have outgrown this by now. I have had more than enough time to eradicate this, more than enough evidence presented to me that shows my thinking is wrong. Yet, it's like trying to prove a creationist wrong by showing him clearly proven geological evidence that their theory is wrong. My douchebag brain won't let go of its faith in the idea that self-flagellation will somehow make up for my wrongs, and that, indeed, I have innumerable wrongs to atone for.

I know there are reasons for these thought processes. I know that, by and large, they're ridiculous reasons. Even so, I feel like writing this entry is just a big fat excuse for being a defective, conniving, worthless, soul-sucking asshole who deserves all of the physical and emotional pain I've endured.

When will he realise he married a monster?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"If only..."

So, lately, I've been like,

I think my brain chemistry has ironed itself out from the shock it received from the anesthesia drugs and the surgery itself. It occurs to me that one of my friends was quite right to suggest that general anesthesia doesn't actually keep you from feeling the trauma of surgery; it only keeps you from remembering it. At least, consciously. I think if your brain doesn't remember it, your body does. I actually scoured the Internet looking for studies about post-surgical trauma, and came up almost dry. Chalk this one up to one of those things I would have done a thesis on if I'd ever gotten that far. Ah, well. Consolation, today, is making progress in my veterinary assistant studies. At least I feel like I'm accomplishing something.

My new shrink finally asked me what my treatment goals are, yesterday. Here's one, and it's a big one: I want to be able to finish what I start. I know damn well I was milking being a student as a way to survive without actually having a real job. Had the money not run out, I would probably have continued forever. My fatal flaw was not being able to stick to one subject, and there are reasons within reasons for that.

Reason, the first: I'm a fatal perfectionist. If I messed up one test, got a low grade on one project, in any class, I would just give up. I wouldn't seek help from tutors, or talk to my teacher about difficulties I was having. I would just drop the class, and I would hate myself for it. This perfectionism problem goes all the way back to early childhood. I began to learn to play the piano when I was four years old. By the time I was six or seven, I was able to play most anything I heard, by ear. When I made a mistake, though, I would become enraged. I would slam the cover down on the piano, and bite my hand until it bled, all for one wrong note. This was likely because so many things came so naturally to me that, when I encountered something I could not do perfectly the first time, I assumed there was something wrong with me. I interalised this, and it remains a problem to this day.

Reason, the second: Physical disabilities and pain. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was 14. I've lived almost all my life with chronic pain, and it's exhausting. Fibromyalgia, itself, comes with a host of other symptoms, including IBS, headaches, apparent allergic reactions that come and go, serious sleep disturbances, and, of course, constant fatigue. The degenerative disk disease began in my early twenties, as did arthritis in my knees. Even early on in my ill-fated college career, there were some days, some weeks, that I just could not get out of bed, or I missed class because of an IBS attack, or I couldn't concentrate because of "fibro fog," or a headache. All of these are invisible illnesses. I felt that even if I tried to explain it to my professors, they probably wouldn't believe me, and at the time, I did not have the resources to see a specialist.

Reason, the third, which should be abundantly evident by now: Mental illness and learning problems. I'm bipolar, and I also have ADD. The problem I have always had is that the medications used to treat ADD worsen my anxiety and manic or mixed episodes. The medications used to help my bipolar and PTSD worsen my ability to concentrate. It's an evil little catch-22. For most of the time I was in college and university, I muddled through with no medication or just an SSRI. It wasn't enough, but all I had at my disposal in terms of mental health care was a local sliding-fee clinic that was always packed. They mostly treated people in extreme poverty and dual-diagnosis cases. I was constantly asked if I was on illegal drugs or drank alcohol. I guess because I didn't, I was a low-priority case. When I finally got to see the psychiatrist, all she did was double my Lexapro. This worsened my anxiety to the point which caused me to drop down to part-time that semester, and, eventually, lose my financial aid entirely. My student loans were in default for years.

Reason, the fourth: I am literally interested in everything. The universe is an amazing and terrifying and beautiful place. Were it not for my weakness in math, I may well have gone into astrophysics, or molecular biology, or neuroscience, or meteorology, or any number of the "hard" sciences that require one not to have failed algebra three times in high school and managed to avoid maths altogether in college. ("I'll do it next semester...") I always scored high on science reasoning tests, and did well in biology, anatomy and physiology. Concepts, I could grasp easily, but calculations were another matter. The last thing I studied in college was journalism, because I felt that if I could not actually become a scientist, I could write about science, interview researchers, and let the world know about new discoveries. Did I care about Greek life at Kent State? Hells, no, but I'd write about it if it meant that my name got out there, and my writing recognized as good.

Looking back over what I wrote, it sounds, to me, like a bunch of lame excuses. If you could see the bruises from where I've beat myself up over all of this, I would look like I'd been in a fight with a pack of angry hyenas. There are a few physical scars, from where I used to cut, a faint ladder of whitish lines on my right arm. I say I don't want people to feel sorry for me, but at the same time, I crave understanding and validation, like any human being. I don't want to be exonerated from my sins. Philosophically, I don't even believe in the concept of sin. Yet, I can't forgive myself for wasting a good chunk of my life for no real-world gain. My mind keeps saying, "if only," and the clock keeps ticking. I don't know why, but I've always had this sense that I will not have a particularly long life. I've probably lived at least half of it already.

What are my goals in terms of treatment? I don't want to waste the second half of my life.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Great Escape

Quick thought of the day:

I am going to attempt to consciously stop using a colloquialism that annoys me. When someone tells me that something bad happened, I will no longer say, "I'm sorry." I didn't cause the thing to happen, and saying "I'm sorry" all the time programs me to feel guilt. Instead, I will say, "My condolences," or, "I empathize," or, simply, "That sucks." I will also stop saying "It's not your fault" to people who say "I'm sorry" to me for something they had no part in. I will just say, "Thank you for caring."

Song of the day:

I'll use a lock that has no key
Aren't you in chains
That no one else can see?

Let the water creep over your face
I'll send it in waves
Just to watch you perform the great escape

How long can you hold your breath?
While you hold mine again and wait
Just to watch you perform the great escape

I'll pull your arms tight behind you back
Use myself as weight
And wonder while you fade

How long can you hold your breath?
While you hold mine again and wait
Just to watch you perform the great escape

Moby - "The Great Escape"

Not hard to see the metaphor, here. This is depression. I don't know if the author of the lyrics meant for it to be about depression, but it really sums up nicely what it feels like for me.

Today, though, I am free of my chains. I have had an exceptionally good week so far. I think I have truly recovered from the psychosis caused by the anesthetics, and I am more grateful than you could imagine. I feel like myself again. I admit, I have been slightly manic, but I remain self-aware, and thus far I have been able to ride the wave without crashing. I have been dressed and out of bed every day. I have spent much of the last two days out of the house doing both productive and enjoyable things. If I feel like I'm getting too high, I take a moment to breathe, and, if I can, go somewhere quiet and dark, to collect myself. It's been working. I do not feel insane. My girlfriend told me that it's been really good to see me up and about, laughing, having fun, leaving the house. I'm also taking personal responsibility for my health, and calling doctors and such, instead of Matt having to do it for me, or constantly remind me. My head is clear and free of static, and I know that it's having a positive effect on everyone in the household.

That doesn't mean I think I have been magically cured of mental illness. I know that the depression and anxiety still exist inside me. They just aren't active at this moment. What a precious moment. I hail my gods, but I give myself credit, too. Keeping those monsters at bay isn't for the faint of heart.

I hope, I pray, that I can stay strong. With few exceptions, it's been over a year since I've felt like me. In that year, I have battled chronic pain, opiate addiction, multiple unsuccessful medical procedures, major surgery, and completely unexpected and terrifying side-effects from anesthesia. Through all of it, my husband and my closest friends, whom I refer to as my Chosen Family, have been unselfishly supportive, kind, and patient. I am incredibly fortunate to have them in my life. I have lived much of my life without a real network of support, and many times, I forget that I'm not alone.

That's all I've got for today, really. Kind of afraid that if I over-analyze my current positive state of mind, I will lose it.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Crazy, Insane, and Accomplisment: the relationship between them

I'm afraid my shrink will think I'm crazy, and try to eradicate that part of me.

I don't want to lose my crazy. I do want to lose my insane. There's a difference, and it all has to do with being functional and accomplishing things.

Crazy is where my creativity and my spirituality live. Crazy is going out and dancing in a thunderstorm and getting completely soaked and hailing Thor. Crazy is waking up in the middle of the night and deciding to walk to the 24-hour coffee house. Crazy is reaching down deep and expressing the unexpressible. Crazy is standing in the middle of a forest or a city and looking around you, feeling the connectedness of everything, and laughing out loud because it is so absurd. Crazy is meditating on a candle flame and seeing the whole universe. Crazy is weeping at the beauty of something as trivial as the shape of a cloud or the perfection of a work of art. Crazy is intimate. Crazy is synchronicity. Crazy is love. Crazy is doing the most godlike thing that we, as humans, can do: create something from nothing. Crazy is the thrumming undercurrent of the primordial drive to survive and create and love and be remembered. Crazy is god. Crazy is really feeling deep down that we are all made of stars. Crazy is beautiful.

Am I one of those people who believe manic episodes can be spiritual? Absolutely. Do I understand the danger? Absolutely. I've lived with this all my life. Every moment of every day. I know how it can so easily tip over into a mixed episode and leave me incapacitated for days. But don't want to lose my crazy. Ever. I pity those who have never experienced it. Crazy makes me want to live.

Insane, however, is another matter. Insane is staying in bed all day because I believe my body is paralyzed (and genuine episodes of sleep paralysis do not help.) Insane is being so afraid to leave my dorm room that I pissed in cups in my room rather than open my door and go down the hall to the bathroom (That was a long time ago, when I was withdrawing from Paxil cold-turkey and had no idea what was wrong with me.) Insane is hearing the music when I take my headphones off and feeling like I can't rid myself of it. Insane is the sudden, unwanted, intrusive thoughts that bring me visions of gruesome acts perpetrated by me, and feeling as if I am barely keeping a lid on it. Insane is having coffee with a friend, when suddenly, her face melts off her skull, and when I blink, the vision is gone. Insane is feeling as if I am falling, falling, falling, faster and faster, into a void, the edges of my vision darkening and blurring. Insane is violence against myself, physically and mentally. Insane is what the pills are supposed to treat, but have, over the years, made worse. Insane makes me want to die.

Not to sound emo or anything, but insane is also the baggage I drag around with me, like Jacob fucking Marley with his mantle of chains. Insane is the veneer of emotions from situations long past intruding on my daily life because one little thing triggers a memory I may not even be able to consciously access until later reflection. Insane is the nightmares about being raped by my father and my grandfather that I am not sure are real memories or not. Insane is paranoia that people in my life don't really love me, and are only putting up with me, and soon it will be time to move on, again. Again...

Insane is also a fear of being found out.

Hi. I am thirty-seven years old. I have mental illness. I am also, apparently, a genius. I was a card-carrying member of MENSA in grade school. Everyone expected that I would do well in everything. I coasted through high school, ending with a 3.5 without having put in much effort. If it hadn't been for math, I would have had a 4.0. I went to college early. Since then, I have been to nine different post-secondary schools. I have enough credits for a Masters, if only those credits were all from the same discipline. I've studied anthropology, sociology, journalism, business, psychology, art, opticianry, ophthalmic medical tech, graphic design, and now, veterinary assisting. I remain just as deeply interested in all of these subjects as I once was, but I never had the discipline to finish what I started. I would do incredibly well for a semester or two, and then, insanity would creep in, and I would stop going to classes. Stop leaving my room. Just stop. Borderline personality disorder, anyone? I think that's what my mother has.

Aside from school, I have never been able to hold down a job for more than a few months. Again, I start out doing incredibly well, garnering compliments like, "You're the best temp we've ever had!" and "I can't believe you picked that up so fast," and "I can't believe you're exceeding your sales goals already!" But then, something always happens. I feel the mask of sanity begin to crack. I start to feel like an outsider. Eventually, I quit before they can fire me. Were they going to fire me? Probably, in a couple of situations, but not in all of them. My bosses, though, couldn't see the emotional and physical pain I was in. It's hard for me to put on a different personality in order to do a job. It wears on me. No, I don't give a shit what happened on "Dancing with the Stars" last night. No, I don't want to go to a bar with my co-workers. I find that stuff boring, and I treasure the time I have off work so that I don't have to put so much effort into pretending. My back hurts, my head is swimming, and I want to go home.

So, I have spent most of my adult life stumbling on the first few rungs of Maslow's Hierarchy, never quite making it to the point of being a fully-functioning human being. I constantly compare myself to other people my age and younger, and I am constantly depressed and frustrated because, dammit, I could have done that. I could have painted that picture. I could have gotten that degree. I could have written that book. Accomplishment. Recognition. Respect. I crave these things more than you could imagine. Insanity has taken them from me. Lack of discipline on my part, and perhaps some undiagnosed developmental abnormality, have kept me from achieving any of the goals I set for myself.

And now, my daily goals include taking a shower and getting dressed. I am infantile in my actual ability to function. It is very hard for me to feel any sort of pride in these so-called accomplishments. I should be a teacher by now, with tenure. I should be an artist, with my work shown in galleries around Columbus. I should be a Master Optician, working in an optometrist's office. I should be well into my externship in my Veterinary Assistant program. I should be, but I'm not, because I am not sane. And I am not sane, in part, because of all my past failings.

Help me, doc. My ears are open. You're the first real psychologist I've seen in ten years. Help me fix myself. I'm not suicidal. I am desperate to live.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Twenty minutes.

I got a new shrink, today. Like, a real one, with a PhD and everything. No offense to my former shrink, but I think this fellow is far more qualified. It went pretty much how any first appointment with a new shrink goes. Hi, how are you, nice weather we're having, what meds are you on, are you a danger to yourself or others? Well, not exactly like that, but you know what I mean. He told me I should start journaling again. Essentially, he told me to free-write. So, my next few entries will probably be short and sweet, or not. He doesn't know me, how my mind bleeds all over the page. For that reason, I am going to limit myself to twenty minutes this first time. Okay, and... go.

I'm a little concerned that if he did read some of my past entries, I'd finally get the dreaded "schizophrenic" diagnosis I've always feared, though why I fear it is up for debate. Perhaps it's because you don't hear about many functioning schizophrenics making it in the world, doing normal stuff like having jobs and going to the mall and being allowed near children and animals. And that would really suck for me, because, when I get better, if I ever do, I mean, which is up to me, of course, I would very much like to work in a veterinary office, at least as a volunteer. So I guess you could say the point of this rambling paragraph is that, finally faced with a real psychologist, and not a glorified baby-sitter (sorry, former shrink), I might acquire a diagnosis that hinders rather than helps me.

Do I, personally, care if I'm schizophrenic or not? No, not really. It's like any other label. Take it, leave it, write it on a name tag. It's just a descriptive word applied to, in this case, the state of my mental health. I fear what others might think of the diagnosis. I fear it will further limit what I am able to do with my life, not that I'm doing much with it now. And this is why I think I might be schizophrenic: because I "hear" my gods. And I am not sure whether the way I hear them counts as some sort of auditory hallucination, or whether it's more like a writer of fiction listening to the voice of their muse, but it's something that grounds me, either way. If I can't hear them, I feel lost. I don't fear they've abandoned me, or anything like that. I don't worry I've angered them and made them go away or that I'm being punished. It's just that my definition of "hell" (the Christian idea of the place, not the Norse goddess of the dead) is not to be able to hear or feel the divine in some way. It's to be so wrapped up in my own pain and worry that I lose access to the spiritual.

I was surprised that I was not asked the usual question that I have seen on every intake form from my shrink to my pain management doctor: "What are your goals regarding your care?" GOALS! That's what I'd like! Goals! Goals beyond "Get up. Take a shower. Get dressed. Eat food. Occupy self." Lather, rinse, repeat. The doc asked me today if I was an artist. Well, I'd like to think so. At least I used to be. Where did it all go? I want it back, and better than I've had it before. I want it back on a regular basis, not in spurts between varying states of unwellness. And then? And then I want respect. Recognition for something I've done, beyond, "Good job, you've made it almost to middle age without killing someone, and given your history, well..."

Thursday, July 2, 2015

It's really kind of funny, it's really kind of sad...

My therapist likes to stress the importance of thinking about what I am grateful for to help climb out of a depressive episode. Of course I am aware of how fortunate I am to not be living as a spinster in my mother's house, with no friends and little contact with the outside world. Of course I'm grateful. Every breath is a blessing for someone who has planned their own death many times.

So, making lists of what I am grateful for seems like a good idea, right? Let's post those suckers on Facebook and share the love! But what my therapist does not understand is that "grateful" can backfire. Horribly. I will explain it in a single sentence:

"I have a wonderful life and people love me, but I'm still depressed, so there must be something terribly wrong with me."

Or, even worse- "I have a wonderful life and people who love me, but I'm still depressed, so I must not deserve to be happy."

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: My mother told me, when I was a small child, that there was no such thing as happiness, and that all we could ever hope for in this life is to be less unhappy.

So this bullshit is hard-wired deep in my brain. On okay-to-good days, I can circumvent that thinking, but on bad days, I just can't. What I am starting to learn is that my goal should not be to be happy all the time, but rather, just to have fewer bad days.

But there are days when nothing is going to work. Nothing is going to bring back my friend Valerie, who died of cancer this week on the anniversary of my grandmother's death. Valerie was only 29. I have already lived in this world eight more years than she got to. We never got to be super-close friends, but we were at each other's weddings, which were only a few months apart. She had just graduated with her Master's. When Matt told me she had died, I felt physically ill.

It wasn't just because she died that my stomach lurched. It was because the asshole part of my brain started telling me that life is precious and I could die tomorrow and I have accomplished exactly nothing despite accumulating enough random college credits to add up to a degree, if they had been focused on a single subject. I can't even say, "Oh, well, she didn't have the medical issues you do, blah blah blah." She did all of this with fucking cancer, and she made art and published a children's book, through all her treatments and everything that goes with it, and she knew she was dying.

I have no excuse for having done so little with the mind I was gifted with. Yet, I hide under the covers instead of trying harder.
It would have made more sense for me to have died, instead of her. But that's just the way it is.

So what am I most grateful for? All of the things I think I haven't earned.