Facing the weekend

**** Update October 2008: If you reached this site from a weight loss/weight loss surgery forum, please tell me who posted it or why/how. Suddenly, I am receiving hundreds of hits from these forums, but they are private, so I can’t see anything about why my site appears on them. I’m really curious, drop me a  note. – Sara ****

Yesterday I left work late. I stopped at the book fair on the way out, and bought a Curious George Collection – but as it turns out, they aren’t the original stories at all, they are these crappy new ones that someone wrote in the style of the originals, even though it was listed as being written by H.A. Rey. I am so pissed off! When did everything in the world go to crap?

I also woke up angry today. I changed phone numbers because I work such odd hours and telemarketing often wakes me up. Somehow, they didn’t make the new number a blocked one either, so I had to file this special request to make it unlisted. So – 8 AM on my day off, what happens? The phone company calls me to tell me that, yes, thank you, they have made the change. Fuck.

They are building a house across the street. One day, it was extremely hot and the construction workers asked for some water. No problem. But now, one of them comes here banging on my door and yelling my name every day to request that. He is incredibly creepy, always looks like he is casing the place, or casing my bod. “You live here alone? Are you married? What do you do?” It is gross. I am also sick of washing glasses for the neighbor’s construction crew. I know this sounds terribly bitchy, like, Christ, all they did was ask for some water, but it’s over and over again. What, they never can bring water for themselves? You can’t even be nice to anyone anymore.

Then I got to panic about how much money I owe for student loans. The calculator said I’d have to make $180,000 a year to pay them back.

I guess some of this must be PMS type stuff, which also was not nearly as bad when I was well medicated. I guess there’s a whole field of perinatal/gynecological psychiatry, and guess what – people like me get worse with hormones and especially pregnancy. It just gets better and better.
In non-pleasure reading, I came across this title: How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying To Kill Me. Anyone know anything? It looks like it might be good, and I notice that they say she said something about how suicidal thoughts seem to be addictive, which I’ve noticed too. But it looks also like I might already do most of the things she says. I mean, journaling – here, helping others – my job (and yes, it does help immensely), feelings vs. facts – I do that reminder all the time (“It’s just how you feel, not a fact”). The excerpt has something about recognizing and not feeling guilty for the thoughts – that they are just a symptom; also very good advice that helped me a lot that I found on my own. Actually, it looks like this book is sort of what I wanted this site to be. Might be worth a read anyway, though. I like the title, but wonder if she intended it with the twist of irony or wryness that I hear in it.

The photosensitivity from the previous good med has stopped, or at least I’m not noticing it when I use good sunblock, so now I’m tempted to try taking it again.

I am sort of worried about this weekend. I have no plans, and was counting on being able to read that Curious George book for a while. I also have Moby Dick and am still dragging through Lie Down In Darkness…but nothing is really sucking me in. I could use some exercise, but it’s hot right now. I also should make some minimal house-cleaning effort.

No one is really in town this weekend. Usually I like alone-weekends, but something about this one is making me nervous. I’m not sure why. I think that I have become fairly sensitive to things that aren’t really happening yet – the ability to feel when a mood is going to swing before it has started to.

It is something deep, in my mind, always like tectonic plate shifts – beneath the surface, invisible, out of control, and carrying tremendous force.

I had a blip of a high this week, one night I worked all night and didn’t sleep and the next day I was so happy and everything seemed funny. That was actually good, because after a few weeks (how long has it been? I have no idea, time gets all bent weird in those states) of crippling hopelessness, to slip out of it for a while, to feel happy, to feel alive again…it feels like crawling out of a grave or hell or some other bad metaphor. On that day, I walked to the parking lot with Jake after work, and we were laughing. I was funny, and the sun was shining and it just felt so good to be alive. I can’t even tell if that is because things were really swinging into a high, or just that the relief of the misery and the return of hope were so profound at that point.

And then I felt strange. I realized that the worst thing about melancholia is how it robs you of hope. People can survive anything if there is a reason, or if they know it will end. I was convinced that things would never change, that my brain would never be able to think again (as I said, this time the cognitive problems got to me more than anything). It was impossible to imagine anything different. Then, the plates shifted, scarily, lurching out of control, but they settled fortuitously, and I was myself again. Even more than myself.

As we were walking and the hills behind the lot were so beautiful, and everything was blooming, I felt resurrected. I felt a little sorry for Jake and everyone else, who would probably never feel as exquisitely and unconditionally and gratefully alive as someone who, suddenly and inexplicably, rose out of her own grave, was granted something that felt like a miracle.

And then I see why I want to write books about myth and legend and larger-than-lifeness.

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Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate

I guess it’s time to find a new med. I cannot function anymore. Even worse than the feeling is the mental slowing.

I’ve been doing a lot of the work that is sort of para-work from my actual field – the customer stuff, intrapersonal crap, all that. It’s been fun, but today, there was a serious yet simple technical issue, something I should know cold. I had no idea. I couldn’t scan my memory, just could not make my mind move.

I was semi-ok for the rest of the day, though the co-workers commented, and I hid from this boss lady who is just scary, because my ego couldn’t take yelling from her. So I just did crappy tasks that no one else wanted to all day. That was ok, actually.

But then I got home, and hit the sofa, and I am also getting over some plague-like disease that someone from one of those visiting offices gave me and I’m physically exhausted, and also can’t really exercise which is another thing making this worse, and I put Napoleon Dynamite on, just for something inocuous to watch, with maybe a few laughs, and it was sweet, and just the right thing, and I fell asleep, which felt good, but then I woke up with this vague, yet crushing agony. I found myself lying on the sofa, literally writhing in some kind of pain that I could not identify.

So – agony + mind-numbing stupidity = problem.

What the fuck am I going to do now?

Other than that, I’ve been reading a little about Byron, decided I need to read his works. The excerpts are good. And I feel sorry for him, but on the other hand I envy his money and social status that allowed him to indulge his nature. I’d love to buy a set of peacocks, a chariot. I’m also reading Lie Down In Darkness by William Styron because I liked Darkness Visible so well, but this I’m liking less. It’s just another one of those Southern tragedies. Not that it’s not good, but it almost feels like a cariacature of the genre. And the racism is hard to take. I know, it’s Southern, different times, but it’s brutal, at least sometimes or for someone of the touchy-feely 1990s generation.

Rage Dreams

When I was a kid, when I had nightmares, they were often the “being chased by something you can’t escape” type.

For the last few years, I have less fear dreams, and more rage dreams. The content is not consistent, but the tone is – I am furious, sometimes screaming at someone, sometimes physically trying to hurt them. Tonight, it was a travel agent who screwed up my flight plans home after some miserable work trip, and I couldn’t get home. I was furious, and screaming on the phone. Somehow, it descended into physical fighting.

These dreams are exhausting. I wake up with all my muscles tight, my body aching, tired, and, of course, furious.

I guess that if I had to inherit the legendary temper and temprament of my father’s family, at least it comes out (mostly) in dreams and I’m not forever shooting out people’s tires and such. In fact, I am so terrified of my temper that usually no one ever hears when I am furious. I just walk away, then take it out at home or something. I am the most frightened of myself of anyone.

I am not sure this is a good thing. No one ever knows when I am angry. Or at least, never the right person. People think I’m very calm and collected. But I wish sometimes I could let myself be like the rest of my family – make huge, angry scenes that frighten everyone in hearing distance.

The mantra: It could be worse

Things are still hard. My brain is still stuck. Mornings are still hell. Things still swing around a lot, like last night, when I really wanted to go to bed, but suddenly just had to run and also write about something funny that happened to me yesterday on my regular blog. So I went to bed late. And woke up crappy.

Now I had a semi-short day, finished around 5, did an errand, and came home. Crashed on the couch. I think I finally picked up some infection from one of the various sick people at this visiting work site. So far nothing too bad, but it feels like the start. Ache in the throat, neck, headache. Physical exhaustion. Whatever.

I’ve been working at a different place, and they seem to like me, even offered me a job (for which I am not yet qualified), which was sweet of them…but I just am getting ready to be done at this site. I’m lonely there without my work friends.

But I have a lot to be thankful for. I was so settled in for the worst that I really am surprised that things aren’t so bad. I was assuming crash position. So far, things have been so much better than they could have. For this, I am profoundly thankful. So I can’t work, can’t think. So what? I’m alive, managing to go through the motions at least minimally. That’s a lot.

In other news, I’m just kicking myself for not buying some of these last time I was in Istanbul. They are so hard to find and expensive online. And they were everywhere there! But I just didn’t have time to stop and really try things on and stuff. Damn.

Going through the motions

It’s not that bad. (I am probably dooming myself with that statement.) But seriously, I was expecting things to be a lot worse by now.

True, I can’t get anything really important done. I can’t work on hard things that actually have some meaning. I can’t write, though I haven’t worked on the book for a long time, and I miss it. I’ve been reading more background research stuff for it, but not even getting inspired like I usually do. Day to day, I’m really forcing myself through the motions.

But…it could be so much worse. I expected it to be so much worse. I have not had one of those sprees of calling up everyone I know like a drunk person, but without the somewhat understandable excuse of actually being drunk. I haven’t broken down sobbing or screaming in front of everyone I know.

The thing is, mornings, the “high cortisol hours” of 4-6 AM are horrible, and it kills me to get going. But I do get going. Even if my heart isn’t 100% in it, if I’m just going through the motions, I am at least going through them. I don’t feel horrifically horrible all the time.

There is the other side. I cannot work. My brain is oh-so-slow. All my work and my writing, the things that makes life worth living for me, are impossible. If I stop and think about that, I feel terror. Have these years on the drug fried my brain? Will it ever work again? Will I be able to think again? This, if I let myself ponder on it, freezes me. Will I ever be back? Will the spark come back? Will I ever care again?

And I see signs that things may get worse. Last night, after a quietly decent day, I went to bed after finishing an entire novel that was good and interesting, but couldn’t sleep, had to get up and watch mindless TV. A vague discontent settled upon my quiet, beloved home.

But it could be so much worse. I thank God it isn’t, at least not yet. Even if my mind is blown, I’m not actively suffering. I thought about alternate careers I could have if my brain never comes back. I could be a mechanic, either autos or boats. I probably would make more money and be just as happy. The university I left has a program in naval architecture, though it probably requires that my degree be an engineering one. I could go back. It wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Thinking like this has been eye-opening. I guess that’s a good thing.

On Going Down

I’m so fried that I can really only do busy-work. I did data entry for hours tonight. It’s alright; I had to catch up on that anyway. Today I worked long hours again, because if I do that, I forget everything else sometimes.

I put the radio on in the background. It was hard to find something I really wanted to listen too. Nothing seemed right, which I guess is a pretty good metaphor. But when I did fall onto beautiful songs (which for me usually is related to the lyrics, because I don’t have a great sense of music), they almost moved me to tears.

Every time I stop taking meds that have worked well for a long time, it is sort of interesting (beyond the “look at the car accident” kind of interesting) to have the real me resurface. It’s horrible, no doubt, but also sort of familiar. Hello, there, you! You’ve been gone a long time. Nice to know you are still alive somewhere.

While I certainly cannot fathom actually writing something worthwhile, being effective, doing something useful, when I am like this, in some ways it feels right to be back there. It channels a certain kind of energy, one that is usually surpressed with drugs. These drugs undoubtedly make me a better person, relieve suffering, allow me a normal life. I would probably be dead without them. That said, I wonder how long you can cheat the universe. Letting the real me stumble back out from time to time feels like letting things return to their natural order. It feels wrong, but also right. The drugs pound back reality, alter it. It’s nice to know that they don’t really change it, that without them, everything is as it was.

The monster is back, the freak. It’s funny how for so long I became normal, and then I don’t even miss her. But now, at the beginning of sliding back, before the horror becomes overwhelming, there are a few brief moments where I remember the freaks, the twisted, the broken. I remember their odd beauty, which, when I am well-medicated and happy and normal, is either too odd for me to recognize the beautiful part, or too frightening to look upon closely. I forget that I am one of the grotesque. I work hard to do so, and with long term drugs, it becomes more natural. But I’m not sorry when I am reminded of what I am, even if life is easier when I am not that.

It’s funny that as all the color, even if it is dark, comes back into the world, I get hungrier for sex as well as for tears. Tonight I want to really cry, to read some really amazing poetry, but I also wouldn’t mind really fucking. Which I also haven’t done in about a million years.

Still here

Yeah, I’m still around. It’s just that the going back to work and all that is killing me. I am very tired…even though I slept a lot this weekend. I wish I could just sleep well for once.

I am also now a couple of weeks with no meds. I forgot the actual physical feelings that come back that good meds treat – the mysterious pains, fatigue, heaviness in the limbs. How goddamn hard everything gets. Tonight I came home and slept a little on the couch. I need to empty the dishwasher, and do the dishes in the sink. I’m not being overly ambitious. But even those things seem impossible.

Heh, the opening posts of this blog were so ambitious and purposeful. Now, I’m reduced to whining. I guess it was bound to happen. That’s ok, though. That’s what this blog is for. I promise that once I start feeling better, I’ll put more life advice up here.

I read something about the post-depression shame: it’s sort of like after a bad night of drinking. You have to go back and figure out what you did to whom, in front of which people. I already am seeing the effects. Huge blowup with my main doctor, embarrassment at minor meltdown in front of Jake. The worst thing after these storms blow over is the cleanup, the aftermath, the realizing that I have acted like a totally crazy person (which is fair enough, because I guess I am one). I hope I manage to get through this time without fucking up too badly or too publicly.

Oddly enough, that gets easier with time, because the memories of GREAT SHAME from previous times are a great motivator to keeping your shit together in public at all costs. Lessons learned the hard way. Miles to go. All that.