When I was fifteen I had a friend who was pretty much opposite of me in any way I could imagine.
I was a short, brown-eyed, brunette female.
He was a tall, blue-eyed, blond male.
I was a people pleaser, got good grades, and had a lot of anxiety surrounding perfectionism.
He had trouble getting along with people, was failing at least one class and had anger issues.
I never skipped school.
He regularly walked out in the middle of a class if he got pissed off at the teacher.
I would think things through to the nth degree...
He didn't think beyond how he felt in the moment.
What, you might ask, were his redeeming qualities? Well, he was honest. Mostly because he wasn't very good at hiding his emotions, but I really valued the honesty.
And at the time was finding it difficult to trust people around me. So this blunt, overreactive boy with anger-management issues was a breath of fresh air.
Don't think that this was some kind of bad-boy infatuation or a Romeo and Juliet kind of thing. Because it wasn't.
He was not interested in me in any romantic way (trust me, he would not have been able to hide something like that.) And I was only interested in him as a trustworthy peer. His not being a girl was a bonus, because most of the people I had trouble trusting at the moment were female.
I may have told this story before, but I'm not sure and I don't care. I'll retell it. And if it doesn't sound the same, well that's the nature of memory. Truth is malleable.
I was seeing a therapist after my friends had ratted me out for being Depressed. I did not like this therapist. I never learned her proper name. It started with a G. I made up some horrible-sounding name and that is how I thought of her in my head.
Because I did not like this woman, and I had no desire to be in therapy, I figured my best option was to cooperate to the fullest extent and just get the hell out of there.
But I seemed to be making little progress on the exit strategy. I had to go see her All The Time. Maybe it was once a week. Maybe less. I don't know. I didn't find it very helpful since all I wanted to do was GET OUT.
This therapist was super pregnant and needed to hand off her patients to other counselors. So she needed to meet with me and my parents. They set up the appointment without checking with me. (Of course they did. I was a kid. Were they supposed to ask me to check my calendar and see if I was available? Still, I was livid.)
I had a French test scheduled for that day at the same time that they had scheduled. And I hadn't told my teacher that I would be gone. This infuriated me. I told them I refused to go see Mrs. Gweklefrunge.
Too bad. I had to go. Fine. You can make me go, but you cannot make me participate.
Every other time I had ever been to see this woman I had been the epitome of openness and charm. She asked a question, I answered it. Even if sometimes it felt like I was digging for an answer that didn't really exist. But this time, with my parents there, I vowed to myself that I would say NOTHING. No. Matter. What.
Mrs. Gweklefrunge started out by saying that when I first came in that, on a scale of 1-10, her worry level about me was maybe a four. But now her worry level was at a 10.
My lack of response was an indicator of my true state of mind. I had been pulling the wool over all of their eyes for the last gazillion visits. I was clearly a danger to myself and others. She recommended that I be hospitalized immediately.
And somehow, still, I managed to say nothing.
Until she left. Then I believe I was quite vociferous with my parents. I was terrified of hospitals. And I was in no way a danger to anyone. I wasn't just saying that to them. I am telling you now. I was not dangerous to me or anyone else.
Happily my parents said that they wanted a second opinion. I demanded to be taken back to school even through Mrs. Gweklefrunge said it was a horrible mistake and that I should never be left alone and someone should follow me everywhere I went, including and especially the bathroom.
My angry friend was the first person I saw when I returned to the school. There was another appointment set up for me once school was out. If I didn't pass inspection there I would be checked in to the hospital. Which was terrifying.
He asked what had happened and I told him the whole story. He could relate to the whole silent thing, even if he would have just walked out and possibly shouted a few choice words as he left.
Then he made one of the sweetest offers I have ever received. He offered to hide me. He knew how scared I was about going to the hospital. And even talking to this colleague of Mrs. Gweklefrunge made me get the shakes.
So, he suggested that we leave before school was out. His reasoning was that my parents had no idea that we were friends (which was true) and that he could hide me where they would never think to look (which was probably also true).
My reaction to this suggestion was the 15-year-old equivalent of patting his hand and saying, "Oh honey, that's so sweet of you." Because I could see straight through to the time when my parents would find me and then there was no way I could legitimately claim to be trustworthy or mentally well.
So I declined. I'm pretty sure he skipped the rest of his classes that afternoon to follow me around and make sure i was okay. Which is kinda funny, if you think about it.
When my parents came to pick me up he was nearby and gave me a questioning look. I knew that if I had made the slightest motion he would still have been willing to sweep me away with my parents and school officials and all running after us. And damn the consequences.
How odd that his kind offer has stayed with me for so long. And that i still have a warm feeling when I remember his insistence that he could take care of everything...
Have I mentioned how very glad I am that I am no longer a teenager. Spouse was in high school at the time. The following year when I was also at high school I completely lost track of my angry friend. I don't even know if he was at our school. I hope he is doing well.
So for the time following Christmas up to today, the last day of the year, I have done a fair amount of the following things: read books, bead, drink hot chocolate, hang out with family, did a little work along the lines of "recreational prep" and tapped a teeny tiny bit.
I think that I return to playing horn on Thursdays this coming week so I better pick up my horn. I saw something today about the amazing things that playing an instrument does for the brain.
Just more fodder for my personal prejudice that all children should have the opportunity to play an instrument as part of a free public education. For me it is part of the "free and appropriate public education for all children." (name that Public Law...)
Brain-wise I've been feeling pretty okay. A bit on the super-irritated side, but we'll put that down to ordinary cabin-fever and everyone being home from school. Which can be irritating.
My latest crafty project (still beading) is bead embroidery on some kind of leather than some friend gave me some time ago. I really really really like it. The problem is I keep losing my knife-edge needles. Also called glovers needles, but then people think I am saying "lovers needles."
They have a triangular kind of blade at the end that cuts through the leather. The other option when sewing through leather is to use a regular needle and then have the blunt end of the needle cut through your skin. Non Optimal.
My children sing. And hum. And make terrible noises. All. Day. Long. They have a soundtrack to their lives and it doesn't go well with whatever is going on in my head. And sometimes that is perfectly fine.
Like when the 4yo does a loud head-banger version of "When I sit so silently" as she pounds on the piano keys and does a fantastic rendition of this Quaker classic.
Or when 12yo finds himself vocalizing tap rhythms from our class.
But then there are all the other times filled with whining and screaming and making spit noises and humming. HUMMING. All The Time. Tunelessly or tunefully and very quietly. Sotto voce. Quietly enough that it seems rude of me to COMPLETELY LOSE IT, but that is what I do.
Want to drive me mad? Here is the secret: drum your fingers. And hum eerily in the distance. Then I am gone.
It makes sense to me now that I think about it that auditory folks not only soothe themselves with sounds, but are particularly sensitive to sounds they don't like as well.
I did wear my musician's earplugs throughout most of an entire day. It helped a lot. I could still hear my children even when they whispered next to me, but the overall noise level was manageable. Must bead something cool for them to live in. Next project for sure.
Following my long-standing tradition of doing nothing, I am doing nothing on this last day of the year. Because, you know, time is fake and dates are fake and all this day really means is that I stay off the roads.
grateful crap: central heat
went on date with Spouse
children spent night at grammar
drank enough water
took meds all these days (150mg venlafaxine, 450mg bupropion, 100mg lamotrigine)
did NOT remember to call psychiatrist office to start tapering off venlafaxine.
Also have not returned urgent phone calls from friends and family. I got no reason. Just inertia. And, you know, stuff. Probably because I am really enjoying the illusion of not having to do anything and if I call people I know that there will necessarily be things that I have to do. Even if I really like those things. And those people. Ugh.
I'm pretty sure that is a carol, right?
I missed a dose on Christmas day
On Christmas day, on Christmas day
I missed a dose on Christmas day
On Christmas day in the morning
And pray what were the missing pills?
On Christmas day on Christmas day
And pray what were the missing pills?
On Christmas day in the morning.
My antidepressants I failed to take
On Christmas day on Christmas day
My antidepressants I failed to take
On Christmas day in the morning.
Just one day. Just in the morning. Just the bupropion and the venlafaxine. Didn't realize until Christmas night, when I took the lamotrigine.
I am fairly certain I have never missed a dose of the lamotrigine. Thank goodness. Don't want to have to restart. Don't want to face Stevens Johnson syndrome, or whatever it is.
This morning (Boxing Day) I woke with the feeling of a shortened spinal cord and a very bad headache. I remember this once before. I should check if it coincides with the last time I missed the morning meds. When it was for three days and everything sucked.
Today I am going to start using the Optimism app again. Right now. Okay, maybe not right now. Apparently I don't remember my password.
Okay, here is the other thing... I have not been taking any of my supplements. No vitamins. No fish oil. No magnesium. And no allergy medication either. Because I only refilled my pill minder with the bare minimum. I will also go through and reload it with all the extras.
Now I will take anti-inflmmatories and rest.
Grateful Crap: okay, this doesn't actually count as grateful crap. Except maybe it does. Let's see: grateful that my achilles tendons have not ruptured. I found out over the holidays that not only did both of my brothers and my dad have to have surgery to reconstruct achilles tendons, but so did my grandfather and his brothers. Here's hoping that his crap is gender-linked. Except that of my siblings I was the first to be identified with ankle problems.
took it easy
I will tap today
Being half Swedish, Christmas Eve is when the big dinner happens. Christmas is reserved for the frivolities of opening presents and playing with the new toys (a nod to the non-swedish half). I spent some time looking back with fondness (?) on Christmas Eves of yore...
There was one Christmas eve that I accidentally double-dosed myself on cough medicine and was fairly well stoned on Christmas morning.
There was another Christmas eve that I forgot allergy medicine and had some quite significant breathing difficulties.
Yet another time I had recently given birth to a child (4 days prior) and had just been released from hospital after sever postpartum pre-eclampsia (who knew that was even a thing!) and after being told to "take it easy" I made several batches of caramel rolls and attended three Christmas celebrations in a single day (or possibly two). Then I ended up going back to labor and delivery a week later because my blood pressure was in the red zone and they thought I might need to be readmitted.
So remind me again why I think of Christmas as my favorite holiday?
Anyway, this Christmas eve I found myself to be remarkably zen. Okay, I actually told spouse that I felt like I was on The Valium because I seemed unnaturally calm. I was not prepared. I did not care. Numb, blunted, far-away.
There was not a real tree (other than my home-made one), I had not decorated a single thing. My children had not chosen presents for anyone. My house was not prepared for visitors. I didn't even know if we would be having visitors.
Then my daughter woke with a fever, meaning that things were not going to go as I had planned. I would be going to dinner with family in absence of Spouse and daughter. Which for some reason made me Super Sad. Or Super Anxious. Super Something. And not a good super, either.
Why? Don't know. It was not rational. Back to the fact that I was seeing people that I like. I went from being concerned that we leave as soon as possible to dragging my feet... planning to leave home later and later.
Then when I did leave, I managed to take a wrong turn at every available intersection. I was driving from one familiar place to another and managed to get hopelessly turned around. Probably on purpose. But on a subconscious level.
Things were fine. Children had fun. There was dinner and people and presents and stuff. I am afraid that I was a dull, lifeless, cheerless blob. Or at least that's how I felt. Maybe it was just the absence of being hyper-worried that everything had to be perfect.
Or this could be the flip-side of the all-or-nothing Christmas.
Either I was determined to have everything turn out just like I want, or I give up completely and decide that since things aren't going to run according to plan... screw it.
Whatever. I was not Anxious. Not Sad. Not Super Irritated. Just a bit floaty. Maybe that's part of why I was nervous and reluctant to go without Spouse.
Here is how I would choose to interpret things, if I could manage to convince myself that it was true: I embraced fully the Quaker idea that no one day is holier than any other day, so this whole Christmas Eve thing was just another time to have a dinner with family and break bread in company with one another.
Instead of this whole huge deal that had to compete with decades, if not centuries of family tradition. And the stories. And the legends. And the Perfect Gift or the Perfect Food or the Perfect Company that had likely never been as amazing as anyone remembers.
Gosh this sounds cheery. I'd better sign off before it gets any worse.
Grateful Crap: time off
(stayed up too late doing something... oh yes, embroidering beaded name on daughter's stocking. There was no name the first year because she was not supposed to be born until after Christmas. And then I never got around to it until this year when she cried that she didn't have a stocking because her name wasn't on any of them)
I made my christmas tree. It is very cute. No honest. Here, I'll go take a picture right now... See? Cute, right?
Years ago I saw an old fashionecd Moravian Christmas tree at a living history museum.
They had a tradition of not chopping down trees, but having a frame to which they could attach pine branches (safely trimmed from trees)
So this is what I managed to concoct from 3 lengths of PVC pipe, a roll of brown duct tape, 9 PVC connectors and an armload of scrap branches.
I am writing a book. A new one. Sort of a palate cleanser. The novel that I wrote is very...
My advisor's comment after reading it was that I had a very bleak world view.
So I just don't feel ready to tackle that yet since I am still on a steady diet of Only Romance Novels. (Ones where the cover art does not cut off the heroine's head. Those ones are always terrible.)
I decided that after reading 1,000 or so (possibly not even an exaggeration, although probably it is) romance novels and gotten a feel for the genre I should turn my writing talents to some genre fiction.
So far I have 2,000 words. And it is fun. Fun is good. Fun gets my butt in the chair and my fingers flying across the keys and my brain working in the writing world.
And everyone will get to live happily ever after. That is what will be the challenging part for me. Can I take my bleak world view and write a convincing Romance Novel?
Stay tuned and find out...
Grateful Crap: duct tape
took meds (150mg venlafaxine, 450mg bupropion, 100mg lamotrigine)
tea with friend (I called her and informed her she should put the kettle on)
craft therapy with pine boughs
NOTE: I want to call my psychiatrist's office and see about tapering back on the venlafaxine BEFORE my next visit so that I can talk to him about how it is going. I have four weeks between now and then. I am being a respoinsible citizen though. I am NOT beginning to taper the meds on my own.
I may or may not be hosting a holiday something at my house. Brunch may or may not be involved. I am okay with the ambiguousness for some reason. Although it seems to be stressing everyone else out.
I have not put out a single decoration.
And I am inexplicably building a christmas tree out of PVC pipe, duct tape and real pine branches.
I am afraid to start cleaning when Spouse is not here because in my super-stress-mode (which I am sure I can enter at the drop of a hat if I actually think about the fact that actual people will be in my house) I am afraid that the scope of my decluttering will be massively inappropriate.
I have given myself permission to fold and put away laundry. That is likely 83% of the problem in the living room. And the fact that there are a few boxes of things that need to be put away that are masquerading as clean laundry. And goodwill bags to take away.
NEED TO GET BACK ON THE ONE BAG A DAY PROJECT.
Lately my eating has been terrible. I mean terrible. All sugar, all the time. Chocolate involved whenever possible. Occasionally forgetting to eat breakfast. Must get back to a more regular habit. And good habits, y'know.
Have not been as good at tapping on the days that I do not go to the Y. I need to do that.
The children are torturing one another in the other room. Between having an amazing amount of fun. And each time I get up, wondering if I should intervene, everything is fine.
I have already lost my temper (and screamed so loud that i hurt my throat) once today. It involved one child pushing another child down by shoving said child in the face. Hard. I didn't react well to this.
I don't like the way kids play when they are coming in physical contact with one another. That sounds ridiculous, but I am pretty sure it is true. I tend to object to any kind of playing that involves people not keeping body parts to themselves. I too clearly see that in the very near future tears and screeching will be involved.
But I try to bite my tongue. Unless there is bullying, torture, or bloodshed involved. The problem is, they get SO LOUD. And mean. And they behave like children. Ugh.
I do NOT subscribe to the "Boys will be boys" school of parenting. Besides, one of the children in question (and often an instigator) is a girl.
But I do think that it is very super important to allow children to develop the problem solving skills of dealing with one another without constant parental involvement.
Must remember: "I think this is something you can solve between yourselves."
Something must have happened on the 18th of December. It was the day after my final tap class before the winter break. There were only three of us even though the beginner class (me) was combined with the advanced beginners (two other people.) I think the classes will end up being permanently joined. Which will be fine.
Discovered that my teacher used to play French horn (like me) and in fact is dating someone who used to play with my band (Grand Symphonic Winds) which is pretty cool.
Maybe I stopped to see my friend and had tea. Honestly I don't remember. I did get some clothes... OH NOW I REMEMBER! I did stop off to see my friend. Briefly (I think it was a drive-by sweatering)
Then I had another friend over for tea. And I showed her some stuff on the computer. And we talked and ate peanut-butter cookies and drank tea. It was quite nice.
Later in the day I felt terrible and went to bed at some ridiculously early hour.
Friday the daughter had a production at her preschool. It was much fun. And little else happened this day.
Both days I remembered to take my meds, but I hadn't yet refilled my pill minder. (Don't know why. I have plenty of pills left and i really like the pill minder. Who knows.)
I felt a bit adrift already knowing that I don't go back to teaching until January 10. I feel like I need the schedule. Something that gives a shape to my weeks. Something besides, "Holy crap this place is a sty, I should spend every moment of break cleaning and decluttering." because that never works and it REALLY sucks.
Grateful Crap: awesome preschool.
took meds every day
time with friends
not overdoing Christmas preparations (although I am afraid I might be underdoing them)
The daughter's birthday. We did fun things, but didn't really celebrate other than birthday cake and a gift from visiting aunt. Still sticking to my post-Christmas birthday celebration for the girl.
Family met at giant indoor waterpark. Which I did not partake of because I didn't feel all that well, and it was not a convenient time of the month. Blah. I was super glad that the kids had a chance to play and see their cousin and their aunts, uncles and grandma. And they did have a blast.
I was a giant, blobby, stick-in-the-mud. For a while I sat in the pool area and chatted with folks, but it was so loud and I had to shout. I started losing my voice, couldn't really hear what other people were saying... and the overall din was starting to drive me mad. Not literally, but it was a close thing.
Spouse pointed out that I should regularly carry my musician's earplugs with me. They cancel out loud noises, but allow me to hear quieter ones. Like people talking. So I don't become deaf from sitting next to the bass drum. But I can still hear to match pitches with the rest of the section and I can understand what the director says.
This seems like a good plan.
I forced the Spouse to keep me company because I didn't want to be the only one not swimming. He was not as inclined to be inappropriately antisocial, so he spent his time as a go-between. I worked on my beading in the lobby of the hotel. He would periodically check in on the children and their relatives in the pool area.
I feel like I used to be better at groups of people. At least a little bit. But maybe not. Maybe I just got less good at hiding. Or maybe I decided that I would rather accept the social stigma of withdrawing than the personal cost of remaining.
Makes me a little nervous for all the time around people that will be happening soon. And more. And then again.
And here is the thing: I like these people. I am not stealing myself to spend time with horrible relatives that I cannot stand. I am worried about spending time with people I genuinely enjoy. Once upon a time, Spouse was the one who had more trouble with the whole people thing. Now it's my turn.
"When did you turn 4?"
4yo: When I was asleep.
spent time with family (although not well)
at chocolate cake. that has to count as a good thing.
I did not tap yesterday. I was still mostly in the mood to bag up every loose item in the house and throw it away.
Cat fur. Dust rhinos.
Sand, thread, yarn.
fabric, pins, yarn.
Pillows, pictures, paper scraps.
Glass beads, stone beads, seed beads, wire.
Throw-rugs, dead bugs,
Candy wrappers, missing socks.
Forks, knives, plates, spoons.
Dirty laundry, clean clothes.
Shampoo bottles, tissues,
Broken shells, polished rocks.
Tables, chairs, couches, beds,
But INSTEAD, I read a lot, took a bath, tried to nap, did some dishes and finally finished my beaded bracelet.
Which I guess I am pretty excited about. It is a cuff. Wide enough to cover the stupid scar on my stupid wrist. And then I will not be tempted to even it out or absentmindedly scratch at the skin.
When I am awesome, top-of-the-world, brilliant, clever, creative, connected, on-fire and a unique force in the universe... I find all kinds of proof that I am right. See, I made this awesome thing. Or look how cleverly I responded to that parenting SNAFU. Just think of all the innovative ideas I have brought to my job. And some of the coolest most brilliant people I know are friends of mine. Proof that I Totally Rock.
So it follows that when I am dragging, bottom-of-the-barrel, dirt-dull, clay-faced, boring boring boring, and a troublesome third wheel to every grouping imaginable... I think of all the things I have done poorly to left unfinished. Think of the countless things I have totally effed up. Imagine how I have settled for the job I have instead of going out and doing Some Big Thing. And what the hell am I doing with all my time that I haven't picked up the phone and called my cool, brilliant friends?
This morning was one of those mornings. I am fairly certain that I don't actually suck, but the clues that I seek out to determine whether or not I suck tend not to favor me. All the flaws are magnified. Imaginary slights become real. Sad just tugs at the edges of my mind and just settles in for the duration.
Also, it is gray and rainy and the snow is gone. And there is no sunlight. All Day Long. Which probably doesn't do much to perk me up.
Is this a bipolar thing or a regular person thing. It's a me thing, so it probably doesn't matter. This dipping down for no reason. Just like the rising up for no reason. The mood stabilizers do not fix my mood permanently in one place. I need some wiggle room.
But how exactly does that work? From my brief residency at Google University I have determined that lamotrigine changes the excitability of the neurons through the modulation of "various ion channels."
I guess "supranormal neuronal activities" are often associated with bipolar disorder.
Lamotrigine also inhibits the release of glutamate (as does lithium) which I guess is a really important neuro-transmitter.
But how does it know which neuronal activity to supress? What if it supresses the wrong ones? What if I really need the neuronal activity that the lamotrigine has decided to quash?
So I kind of get how this would limit the manic sort of behavior and the flying from one thing to the next and the fluffy memory and whatnot... but mood?
Okay. That's enough.
Quaker, teacher, parent,