I’ve been busy lately going through a spring cleaning of my office. This includes my armoire, which I refer to as the abyss. I found junk in there that I’ve been hanging on to for decades. The final papers from the sale of my condo when moving in with Mr. Husband 10 years ago, pictures that I forgot I even had.
1 thing I found which intrigued me was a self-portrait drawn 20 years ago when I was suffering from untreated clinical depression. It made me happy to know that I don’t have to suffer with that much now. Except for the times I stop taking antidepressant thinking “I am all better now, I don’t need no stinking meds!” Then I have to re-accept that, oh yeah, I do have a mental disorder.
Another was a quote from a book on writing that I read about 2 years ago. The quote was from the book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Ann Lamont. There are many pearls of wisdom in there for aspiring writers. She recounted her first and favorite rejection letter. The editor returned her manuscript with a note in the margins; “You have made the mistake of thinking that everything that happens to you is interesting.”
Well excuse me, but everything that happens to me is interesting…to me anyway. Where I trip up is finding myself reluctant to post something because I don’t want to bore anyone with trivial ramblings. But I have to keep in mind that it is my blog and I write what is going on in my head on a particular day. No one is holding a gun to the head of anyone who reads it.
Another quote I love is; “What people think of me is none of my business.” How true this is. I’ve wasted many an hour of my life worrying what others think of me. Yeesh, it really does not matter except in some weird scenario where you find yourself under suspicion of murder and are being tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.
I found myself pondering this and realized that the real struggle of acceptance vs. rejection is in what I think of myself. How many times have I rejected my dreams or nightmares? The true key to happiness is to accept myself, not try to force others to accept me. Lamont absolutely nailed it. What other people think of me really is none of my business!
I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes
I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black
Paint it Black – Mick Jagger
I think Mick Jagger knows what it feels like to be depressed. This particular song referred to a funeral. But when you are depressed it feels like you’re living in a funeral. Everybody talks in hushed tones, somber colors, and the cloying smell of too many flowers.
I hate bipolar disease! I hate it, hate it, hate it! It must be really weird to live with someone with this disorder. I can’t imagine what goes on my husband’s mind. From the inside, in my head, it’s constant fear. Even when I think I’m OK. I can be sitting there drinking a cup of coffee minding my own business and get hit by a sudden emotional tidal wave.
The giant hand of God of mental illness reaches down, scoops me up and slams me against the wall…hard. A voice from on high announces “today thou shalt be depressed! I don’t care what your plans are…this is how you shall be today.” And you don’t know how long it’s going to last. It might last for hours or days or weeks or even months. No rhyme or reason to it all.
And then as suddenly as it came it’s gone. Or sometimes it happens slowly like a flower opening. One day I go an entire day without crying. That’s progress. The next day I go a whole day without crying and take a shower and get dressed. The day after that I can add cleaning the kitchen to my repertoire of mundane things I’m capable of doing.
A few days later I might even try to leave the house. That’s always tricky because I have this irrational fear that I’m going to open the front door and Sigmund Freud will be standing there with a clip board staring at me over his glasses. He’ll stare down his nose at me and ask “well little girl, what makes you think you are capable of doing anything at all? You’re sick! Leaving the house and driving a car? Get real, seriously?”
But I do it anyway, I have to. If I give up than the illness wins. I become a house bound mental case, a shut in hiding from the world. I become my own worst nightmare.
This diatribe started out as an email reply to my sister’s previous communique to me and ended up being a blog post. It started out with stuff that’s between me and sister, and ain’t nobody’s business but ours. But it turned into a rant and rants are one of my specialties. My other specialties are strawberry shortcake and long-winded short stories.
I received an email from a friend who expressed concern after reading my blog and went on to say that I sounded depressed and angry. My first thought was “oh, so now you’re going to fricking psychoanalyze me through my blog????” It really blew the lid off the pot and got me going. If one could somehow harness anger as a power source, North Texas would have a free month of electricity thanks to me.
After a long session of stewing and muttering it came to me. He’s right and Hell ya, I’m depressed and angry. So much in fact that I feel stripped naked and standing on a hill-top in all my furious glory with flames shooting out of my head.Actually the depression stems from frustration due to the inability to adequately express as much anger as I have at the moment without committing some act that would get me on the news. Dealing with Hubman’s mother is becoming an ongoing night mare. I feel like I died and went to Mother in Law hell.
I’m also boiling mad at the medical profession. Her doctor informed her that HE preferred to treat teeny-weeny pre-cancerous lumps conservatively and follow-up surgery with a round of radiation therapy. It should be against the law to call anything as violent as blasting someone with Xrays therapy. This means zapping her chest with radiation 5 days a week for 6 weeks. He did not even bother to tell her options and ask her what her preference was. To me it sounds like he’s treating her breast as if it was some kind of recalcitrant growth not attached to her body. And so now he’s gonna just blast the living shit out of it. Back to the stone age or further back if possible. Can’t have any slip ups on HIS statistics, no sireeee.
So again, Hell yes, I’m angry. I’m pissed at the way doctors think they are God just because they took a few years of Human mechanics classes and I’m pissed at the people who go along with this delusion. So yea, in case I haven’t clearly spelled it out I’M ANGRY. A raging, boiling hot lava, old wet hen, white-hot, nuclear explosion, fire first and ask questions later type of angry. PS: I’m also angry at God.
Other than that everything is fine And thank you for listening.
Yea, you heard me, “I fought the Meds and the Meds won.” Well Phooey, I say. Damn and drat and hogwash and and and… I give up. Those of us who do suffer from mental illness need to remind ourselves that it is not a fig newton of our hallucination.
I did the very thing to myself that others do about depression and other mental disorders. I feel fine! I don’t need no stinkin drugs! Well duh, I feel fine because I am one of the lucky ones that found a good combination of head meds. A combo where the benefits far outweighed the side effects. Mr. Husband was on board with this, one thousand percent. He never said any crap like; just snap out of it, you’re just not facing reality, blah blah blah, rutabaga, rutabaga.
So what did I do because I felt all fine and dandy? I decided to cut back on the meds. That’s the cruel joke, you feel good so you think you are “normal” now and don’t need meds. Now granted I did this with my Physiokeeatrist’s supervision. She did not suggest it. I did and she said “well if you want to try cutting back on drug X, try it for a month and then check back and we’ll reassess your situation.” Thinking back on it, I don’t recall that she jumped out of her chair to do the happy dance.
So I cut out drug X and for about a week I was on cloud 9. Tra La La, I feel happy, down to only 1 head pill. If I felt any withdrawal side effects they were minor and traveling, drinking, partying, etc. masked them well enough.
About a week ago the demon came roaring back. He started as this little black smoke puff of annoyance and then it grew into a raging Dante’s inferno of anger, lethargy, fidgets, anxiety, can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t think, can’t not think, but too tired to do anything. Then it escalated to weird aches and pains I had forgotten about, migraines, and a general but undefined desire to blow up the house. (Just kidding Mr. Hubman, about the house part, but you know what I mean) Brushing my teeth was the big accomplishment of the day. Taking a shower was going into the bonus round.
Then last night I was laying in the recliner thinking; maybe if I’m still enough, I’ll just sink down into the cushions and merge with it, and no one will ever know I was even here, ever. The earth will keep on turning without my assistance. Ding, ding, ding, – danger danger Will Robinson.
That’s when I said, “to hell with this! Who am I trying to kid? Myself, that’s who.” Or rather, that little devil that sits on my shoulder and whispers thing like “you don’t need these meds, wouldn’t you like to be able to brag about being 57 and not taking any meds at all.” Now that’s just plain silly, I do need meds for diabetes and now I’m trying to tell myself that I shouldn’t even be taking that?
So I headed to my magic pill box and took the pill that I “didn’t need.” Well turns out I do need it. I didn’t like that version of me without it. An hour later I felt some semblance of normal. As in happy in general, relaxed, wanting to do stuff. Then I got sleepy at a “normal” hour (for me) and went to bed. I’ll be damned that I did actually sleep, all night.
This morning I woke up happy, before Mr. Husband even. I got dressed…in clothes and brushed my hair. The birds are singing. They were before but it annoyed me. I made coffee! Now I’m drinking the coffee and it tastes good! I stuffed a sock in the mouth of the little nag who says crap like “coffee isn’t good for you.” To hell it’s not! I like it dammit. And I intend to continue drinking it. Bury me with a coffee cup in my hand. But not anytime soon I hope.
So life is good again. The moral of this tale is that if you suffer from mental illness, you have to stop fighting with it. It’s not a battle you can win. It’s a true test of having to trust others to be on your side and there for you. If your spouse, significant other, friends are telling you that there has been an overnight sea change because you went back on your meds. If you notice that people around you are walking flat footed instead of tip toeing around. Well……maybe you need the damn things. Just think of them as one of your food groups and get on with your life.
What a difference 10 little milligrams makes. The clouds have parted, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the cat is meowing. I’m back to writing again. Got 14,000 words in on the NaNoWriMo frontier.
Last week I deteriorated into a spineless, humorless, irritable, irrational, brainless blob of quivering ectoplasm. It would have been easy to get a job as an extra in a horror movie portraying the green slime dripping down the wall. That’s how I felt, anyway. If I was going to portray slime I would insist on being hot pink slime, if in my right mind.
Unless you’ve fallen down that dark cold depression rabbit hole it’s difficult to imagine. The only thing I did know last week was that I did NOT want to do anything, go anywhere, eat anything, go to bed, get out of bed, watch TV, take a bath or see what color the sky was. Zero, zip, nada. Everything was shades of gray. Going outside was scary because I might hear the wind blow and that would make me sad. We are just dust in the wind right? I felt already ground to dust. The kind that would not giggle if tickled by a feather duster.
Then after a talk with my beloved head shrinker, we decided to up my meds by a measly 10 mgs. Yee haa! I’m me again. I recognize that woman in the mirror. I’m back to my old self. Laughing, singing, dancing, designing silly hats in my mind, writing about anything and everything that suits my fancy. Mr. Husband and I went to dinner and a movie last night. I’ll have you know I put on makeup, my new boots with the punky silver buckles, and even a bra! How cool is that?
The movie we went to see was “The Immortals.” It was the bloodiest, high tech, computer enhanced, festival of gore and guts, with absolutely no point what-so-ever, that I have ever seen in my entire life. Proves that old point of “just because you can – doesn’t mean you should”… make the film, pay money to go see it, try to figure it out. I thought it was going to be about Greek gods. Well it was, but that was just a backdrop for the non stop carnage. I have now seen a man cleaved in half from side to side, top to bottom, decapitated, dismembered, or detongued. I looked through the 2 halves of a split body to see another man run through with a trident in slow motion. And that was the light stuff. Not for the faint at heart. I don’t recommend it.