Recipe for a Panic Attack: Recognizing the Signs and Admitting My Role in Sinking Down (A Very Long Post)

I had a full-blown panic attack yesterday. I had been in a slow downward spiral for days and didn’t recognize the signs and symptoms. Some of them are typical; some of them are my own that I’ve identified in myself. There was a progression of “events,”, which culminated in purging my thoughts in yesterday’s post (thoughts which are honest and real and truly how I feel), then being slammed with an acute panic attack shortly thereafter. And I did not see it coming. But I should have.

Yes, there’s a lot of shit going on in my life right now. Some good. Some bad. Some great. Some awful. But it’s not all circumstantial. I am somewhat culpable in what happened with me yesterday.

I am writing about this today for three specific reasons:

  1. I need to hold myself accountable, but also remember to treat myself gently and kindly. And it feels really fucking good to be able to identify and recognize what’s wrong and how I got to this point.
  2. I hope that sharing this helps someone, or someone you know, to recognize the signs, to take the steps necessary to care for your physical and mental health, and to be kind to yourself.
  3. I want to thank you all for your support and love – because let’s face it, it’s a form of familial love when you gather around someone and (virtually) wrap your arms around that someone, and I fucking felt it. And I love you for it. I’ve been more positive lately, and I want to explain what (I think) happened to me yesterday.

Here goes.

Circumstantial “Triggers” (i.e. Personal Shit)

I’m gonna tackle this part bullet point style, because some of it you already know and the rest I’m not prepared to talk (in depth) about yet.

  • I am being bullied at work. My character, my work ethic, everything. Full on assault. My supervisor is aware of it. And he knows that the problem is Queen Bitch. He refuses to do anything about it and, in fact, is about to move me to another area instead of addressing the problem with her. This means I will be away from the other coworkers whom I’ve grown quite close to. And they will still have to deal with her, because the super doesn’t want to set her off by moving her for what would be the fourth or fifth time.
  • I have problems that I can’t afford to deal with right now. Arthritis, connective tissue disease (unspecified), fibromyalgia, periodontitis, chronic headaches and migraines. And that’s not to mention the mental health issues I have, which you already know about. I do not spend frivolously (aside from a book here or there or a smoothie, but it’s not egregious). I am responsible and (mostly) frugal. I’ve worn the same clothes for years, and my car is sixteen years old and in need of repairs. I am not complaining about this. I am thankful that I have clothes. I am thankful that I have personal transportation. I am thankful that I am able to be employed and am. However, I make just enough to keep my bills paid (let’s not talk about student loans) and have just enough cushion to buy a book or smoothie now and then. If I were to lose my job today, I could make it two months. I have enough to do that. That’s both wonderful and terrible at the same time. I am 35 years old. I am educated. I am smart. I am competent and capable. And I am fed up with doing the same job that the two men in my department do, and they both make over ten grand more than I do. (Whew. My bad. I did not intend for this bullet to turn into a rant. Ahem.)
  • I am planning a big move this year, on a shoestring budget. I realize some of you don’t agree with this choice. And I get it. But, as previously mentioned, I am 35 years old. And you know what? I’m sick of living someone else’s life. I’m sick of riding in the backseat. I’m sick of following everyone’s rules, rules, rules. There is no tomorrow. There is today. And I need to finally fucking seize the day. I’ve wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest all my life. I do not want to die before I’ve lived the life I want to live. But it’s a costly choice. (Anything worth having is worth fighting for, yeah?) I will have to keep my stuff in storage indefinitely. But with the help of a good blogger friend, I’ve discovered that you can find tiny little apartments outside of Seattle proper, for just a little more than what I’m currently paying as a mortgage. So now it’s getting there that is a bit tricky on my budget.
  • I am trying to prepare my house to sell and then sell it. It’s in need of repairs, but I’m close. Closer than I was, at least.
  • I’m dealing with a personal issue that has been festering for going on five years now. And it’s all coming to a head. Finally. Finally. But it’s intensely stressful.
  • I’ve begun my job hunt in Seattle, and that’s always stressful. Part of the stress here is that I know what the most responsible and safest bet is, but it’s not what I want. I want to finally do something with writing or copy-editing. If I’m not going out to save the world, at least I can do something I actually enjoy doing. We live at least half our lives at work. And that can ruin half of your life if you fucking hate your job.
  • Emotional Upheaval. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. For now.

That’s enough personal bullshit. Most of it you already know. But now I’m spilling it again for the purpose of putting my current mindset into perspective and how that, coupled with other factors, resulted in a major panic attack.

Musical Indications

Over the last few weeks, my choices in music have gotten progressively darker and angrier. Now. Here’s the thing. I have an “angry” playlist, but I typically only listen to it when I’m already angry. But sometimes…sometimes it’s a major sign that I’m heading down into deep depression. A steady stream of angry music is dangerous for me. It always has been. It almost always starts out as anger with me. I didn’t recognize it. I wasn’t alert to it. I’ve been feeling so good lately that I simply didn’t see it coming.

It started out fairly tame. I listen to a lot of 90s music, and man was 90s rock depressing. But I listen to a lot of it and am usually okay. I get into it. I jam out. I get “in my feels” (I hate that phrase.). And I’m cool. I’m good.

It started out with some Pearl Jam. “Black.” (My favorite for deeply personal reasons which would be fairly obvious if you pay attention to lyrics.) “Daughter.” (Which makes me absolutely livid, again for obvious reasons.) “Alive.” (Which makes me angrily happy that I’ve made it through what I’ve been through. Because Fuck You for stomping me into the ground and trying to keep me there.)

It then progressed to Evanescence and Linkin Park. The angry ones. I listened to them for days and days. Repeatedly. At work. At home.

That progressed to Eminem. Oh I listened to Eminem even longer than the others. I was getting angrier and angrier. More and more Fuck. You. Fuck. You.

Which then led to days of things like Rob Zombie and Godsmack. Especially Godsmack. A Whole Fucking Bunch of Godsmack. Particularly:

Yeah. I listened to those four in particular Over and Over and Over again. Then I listened to them some more. Over and Over and Over. At work. At home. And Over again. (Also watched the vids because Sully Erna.) This obviously had a negative impact on me. As I’ve said, I listen to angry music now and then. But not for lengthy periods of time. I have fully immersed myself in anger and rage over the last few weeks. Bad. Fucking. News. I was fucking asking for it. And I was also seething beneath the surface and didn’t realize it. And this shit. This shit was gasoline on an ember. How did I not see what was happening?

As you know from yesterday, this anger (as it usually does with me) suddenly shifted to darkness. Depression. Hopelessness. Alice in Chains.

And the final nail in the coffin? My own doing of my own undoing?

I Broke the Cardinal Rule of Psychiatric Medicine

Yep. I’m prepared for this confession to tick some people off. I was read the riot act over this confession yesterday and rightfully so.

I know the rules about not stopping your meds. Never ever ever stop your meds and especially not “cold turkey” as it were. I’ve been through this with arthritis meds. There were some that were doing more harm than good and some that I simply couldn’t afford. So I very slowly and carefully weaned myself off of them. Like a smart, conscientious girl would do.

I also know it’s dangerous to stop meds cold turkey. Long-term physical or psychiatric meds that your body comes to rely upon on a chemical level. I’m wise to the fact that doing so could cause any number of physical withdrawal symptoms, suicidal ideation, self-harm, you name it.

And do you know what I did? I semi-stopped one of my meds. Straight up. No weaning. No consulting my doctor. Just stopped.

It wasn’t why you think. It wasn’t one of those situations where the person starts to feel better and then thinks, “I don’t need to take this shit anymore. I feel better.” As though you’ve taken an antibiotic and your infection is gone for good now. That’s not why I did it.

Why I Did ItEvery. Single. Day. Since I started taking this cocktail of psychiatric meds, I’ve been fucking tired. I mean wiped out. No. You don’t understand. That’s not good enough to explain it. When I’m at work, I feel as though at any moment my head is going to slam onto my desk and I’m going to pass right the fuck out. I’ve nodded off in traffic, y’all. That does not happen to me. That could kill me AND you. I’ll be in mid-conversation with the geek squad and totally zone out. I can’t focus on my work. I can’t focus on you. I can’t read. My vision blurs. And all I want to do is sleep. Only I can’t. And even when I do, the feeling never goes away.

So a few days ago, I was picking up a scrip and the pharmacist wanted to ask some questions of me. Since I’d been on the meds for a while, he asked if he could do a little assessment. He asked me how I’d been feeling, whether I thought they were working. I was at the drive-thru so I could barely hear him (yes, a drive-thru pharmacy). At first, I said, “Fine! Everything’s fine.” But I heard myself and shook my head.

I have sleep disturbances. I wake up in the night.

“Okay. You’re taking the Lexapro at night, aren’t you? Stop it. Take it in the morning.”

Done. The disturbances have mostly stopped.

“Anything else?”

I can’t go to the bathroom.

“Hmm. Nothing should be causing that. Anything else?”

Yeah. No resolution on that TMI issue.

I’m tired all the time.

“How tired?”

It’s difficult for me to be awake talking to you right now. I perpetually feel like I haven’t slept in days and will pass out at any given moment.

“That’s not right. That has to be one of the meds.”

So I start asking him: Clonidine? No, not if you’re taking it at night. Klonopin? Not to the extent you’re describing. And not at the dose you’re on. Lamictal? Not if you’re taking it at night. At this point I’m getting frustrated. He should be telling me instead of me asking one at a time. Vistaril? How are you taking it? Two capsules, three times daily. (His eyes bug out of his head at this.) THAT is the problem. THAT is why you’re feeling this way. Sweet! So I’ll just stop taking it. I’ve never thought that one was helping anyway, because I’m still quite anxious. Do. Not. Stop. Taking it! However, it would be safe to go to one pill in the morning, one at lunch, and two at night. Then talk with your doctor. Okay! Thank you!

I didn’t mention the sexual issues I’m having. Mostly because too shy. But also because I’m not in a physical relationship with anyone but myself at the moment, so it’s not an urgent matter.

So what do I do? Fuck Vistaril. Fuck it. I started skipping both the morning and lunchtime doses altogether, then taking my two at night. I didn’t consider it as being like the others – Lexapro and Lamictal. This went on for days, and I thought nothing of it. I just changed my dosage and thought nothing else of it.

All of these factors combined and merged into one viscous, throbbing mass of creeping doom.

The Result (Payback is a Bitch)

  • I started feeling a general sadness.
  • I started feeling lazier.
  • Anger became a more dominant emotion than usual.
  • I became frustrated.
  • I became restless.
  • My legs started bouncing again.
  • My speech got faster.
  • I started doing more nervous twitching and hand wringing again.
  • I started dwelling on emotional pain: what a bitch my mother is for abandoning me, what a sick fuck my father is for abusing me, what unloving assholes my siblings are for shunning me because I cannot forgive my abusive father, what a self-righteous prick Queen Bitch is, how emotionally cruel my ex could be, how hurtful it was when The Aussie threw me away, how sad I am that I’m not where I want to be right now. I hadn’t dwelt in several weeks. And still. Still I wasn’t alarmed. Still I didn’t see it.
  • And then the Big Bad Scary: Suicidal Ideation reared its ugly head for the first time in quite a while since I began medication therapy. Now. NOW I was scared. But I blamed it on the meds. They’ve suddenly stopped working for some reason, I told myself. It’s NOT the meds helping you afterall, if you feel this way. God, I really wish I would die in my sleep. Yeah. Now I was scared. But I didn’t understand it.

Yesterday I woke up in a strange mood. I felt simultaneously hyper and subdued. Weird, right? That’s totally contradictory, but it’s the only way I know how to describe it. I felt emotionally subdued and as though I really didn’t want to be around anyone or talk to anyone or leave the house or bother with anything at all. But I felt physically hyper. My legs would not stop bouncing. My speech alternated between rapid and sluggish. My heart was racing. I couldn’t sit still. All the while…subdued. I had zero appetite, and my appetite has been low for days. But now, even the thought of food kind of made me strangely mad. And I was listening to Layne Staley sing some of the most depressing music there is, but I was in no state to handle it or appreciate it for its haunting beauty. My mind, my thoughts, turned into severe emotional turmoil. And I needed to get it out. I needed to purge.

Afterward? The Panic Attack that I didn’t realize was already brewing hit me. Hard. Forcefully. Punishingly. Terrifyingly.

The Panic Attack

It had already begun, and I didn’t even know it. I had no awareness of what was happening except that I felt like shit and wanted to go home. This is hard. This has all been hard to get out. But I’m going to keep going, no matter how ashamed I feel – because I know that I Should NOT feel ashamed. And maybe this will help someone to identify their own signs and symptoms, or those of someone they love. And it’s good for me. It reinforces these things for me. So. Here’s what my panic attack looked like.

  1. Heightened frustration.
  2. Serious stomach distress.
  3. Heart racing.
  4. Restless.
  5. Bouncing my legs.
  6. Rocking back and forth in my chair.
  7. Eyes darting to and fro, nervously, anxiously.
  8. Breathing rapidly, suffocatingly.
  9. Hot. Had to shed layers hot, despite it being cold in here.
  10. A strange out of body feeling, as though I was watching this happen but was helpless to stop it. As though I was detached and other from myself.
  11. Mind racing, racing, racing, making less and less sense, getting more and more frantic, growing more and more irrational.
  12. Feeling crazy, insane, like I was seriously going out of my fucking mind.
  13. Feeling like this was never going to end. Ever. And this state would now be permanent.
  14. Gritting my teeth, rocking, rocking, leaning forward and holding my head in my hands.
  15. Squeezing my head.
  16. Shaking. Violently shaking.
  17. Pulling my hair.
  18. Wanting to hit myself. But I was in the room with others. They couldn’t see me, but it’s the only reason I wasn’t screaming in rage.
  19. And finally I had to run to the bathroom to throw up.

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At some point in the midst of all of this, I thought about the Vistaril and had a brief question in my mind. Is that why this is happening?

And no, I don’t think that’s all that was wrong. I know it wasn’t. Because I’d already had that anger and rage building, building, building. But I do believe that I made a mistake in doing what I did with the medication. I do believe it was a factor in what happened to me yesterday. And I do regret not listening to the pharmacist.

When it was over, I felt exhausted and spent. I took my Vistaril (I had it with me). Talked with a WordPress friend about what was going on (actually during the panic attack, too) – and I’m more grateful than you know.

This morning I took my single Vistaril. And now I’m about to take my lunchtime one. And I’m tired. I’m tired as fuck. I could go to sleep on my desk. Right. Fucking. Now. But I’m going to take it. And when I meet Dr. Feelgood for my next appointment, I’m going to request we try something different for anxiety. Because this is not working for me.

Lessons Learned

  • Be more aware of your behaviors and reactions.
  • Pay attention to your patterns and routines. When you break them, reach out. If it’s fixable, fix it. If you haven’t changed anything, fucking reach out. For me, I could have told people here. People who may have recognized that I was spiraling out of emotional control.
  • Do. Not. DO NOT significantly alter your meds without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. And fucking LISTEN to what they tell you. HEED it.
  • Do not settle for meds that make you feel poorly. Be your own advocate and be ballsier. Ask for better meds. Do it. FUCKING DO IT. Your life may literally depend upon it.

In the aftermath, I still feel subdued. I’m still shaky and bouncy. My appetite is good. I just had a full lunch. I don’t think I ate at all yesterday, which isn’t normal for me. I’m tired as fuck. I’m still down.

But it is better than yesterday. By a long shot. Maybe I am sliding down into a depressive state. And if I am, that’s okay. It’s part of who I am. How I am. But I must take better care of myself and pay better attention to my mind, body and spirit.

And never ever forget to breathe.

And please, if you’re suffering, reach out. If you think you have no one to reach out to, reach out to me. We’re all in this thing called life together.

So I thank you. I thank you for being here for me. For encouraging me. For commiserating with me. For telling me to chin up. For telling me to stop fucking listening to that bullshit while I’m in the throes of a depressive cycle. For telling me you get it. For telling me you’ve been there. For simply being here. I thank you.

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An Alice in Chains Kind of Day

Do you ever feel alone?

So. Fucking. Alone.
So. Fucking. Hopeless.

I shouldn’t be listening to Alice in Chains. I shouldn’t have Layne Staley’s beautifully haunting voice in my head this morning, mirroring my mood. Feeding it. Fueling it. Strengthening it. But it’s an Alice in Chains kind of morning.

I was up too late last night. I took my meds too late. So, though I was quite exhausted, I had a hell of a time getting to sleep. Then one of my cats, the Orange One, decided to go dumpster diving at various times throughout the night. You see, I thoughtlessly left the giant sack of cat food accessible to the cats. I had no idea that the Orange One would bypass his food bowl in favor of climbing up onto the bag and eating out of it instead. That loud crackling, crinkling racket coupled with his munching woke me up no fewer than three times in the night. (Yes, I moved that bag first thing this morning.)

All of this led me to oversleep this morning. Of course. Which fucking sucked, because I had to skip my shower. I like to take one every morning. Helps me feel clean (First World water consumer right here) and is equally important to help me feel awake.

So. I’m “hoping” that those factors combined are why I feel so…subdued…today.

The alternative is far more upsetting.

The alternative is that in spite of the meds and positive changes in my life.
I’m beginning the downward spiral back into a depressive state.

It’s been a while since the slow creeping venomous vine of depression bound me in its grip. Where it cuts and burns and squeezes and binds. Until it enters every orifice and spreads within you like a slow, painful death.

It has hold of you now. You hack and hack and hack away at the vines, but they’re stronger than you are right now. Because the venom of the vine seeps into your body, into your bloodstream, into your very consciousness, into your soul. And the venom?

Lies. Cruelty. Darkness. Hopelessness. Suicide. Worthlessness. Fatigue. Loss. Pain. Malaise. Apathy. Despair. Anger. Hatred. Loathing.

The venom is insidious. But you’re in no state to fight it.

Depression is what we call it.

We want to fight it. We want to break through. We want to break free. But it’s not always so simple, is it? Sometimes it’s simply time. To be depressed.

I hate being a Depressive Person.
I hate having Major Depressive Disorder, Clinical Depression, Bipolar II, PTSD, GAD.
What. The. Fuck. Ever.
Whatever it is. Whatever the labels.
I hate it. I don’t wish to feel this way. I do not choose to feel this way. I do not enjoy it.

But in a strange way, I can at least be thankful.

Thankful?
Thankful.

Because it’s only for the darkness that I’m able to see the light.
If all of my life is spent in sunshine,
Do I recognize it as sunshine?
Can I appreciate it if I don’t know that darkness exists? What it looks like? What it feels like?

If all of my life is spent in darkness,
Can I appreciate the sunshine?
If I don’t know that the sunshine exists,
What gives me hope? What reason have I to persevere? To keep hacking away at those vines?

Perhaps I need the depression.
Perhaps it tempers me.
Perhaps it reminds me what is real.
Even as it tells me lies about myself.

~

Sometimes it’s the very things I hope for. The very things I cling to. That shift my sunshine into the darkest of nights. Perhaps I want too much. Need to much. Ask too much. Expect too much. Perhaps I am my own undoing.

~

I want to live a life apart.
I want to escape civilization.
I want to damn expectations.

I don’t give a fuck about elections.
I don’t give a fuck about money.
I don’t give a fuck about fearmongering.

I have zero fucks for celebrity.
I have no interest in things.
I am sick to death of working for the man.

I don’t wish to spend my life rotting in front of television.
I have no desire to tour the den of lies that is Washington, D.C.
I have a big, fat fuck you to societal rules and norms.

Fuck your McMansions.
Fuck your things.
Fuck your self-righteousness.

Fuck your racism.
Fuck your xenophobia.
Fuck your nationalism.

Fuck your ownership.
Fuck your entitlement.
Fuck your judgment.

~

John Muir is My Hero

I want a companion.
I want to explore the wild.
I want to take the road less traveled by.

I want to learn.
I want to question.
I want to observe and absorb.

I want to immerse myself in different cultures.
I want to meet and embrace the other.
I want to see life through your eyes.

I want to hear your perspective.
I want to feel your soul.
I want to reach into you and bathe in your essence.

I want to get lost on purpose.
I want to relish the adventure of finding my way again.
I want to discover the untamed beauties off the beaten path.

I want to make love on a blanket of grass under a sea of stars.
I want to run naked through a meadow of wildflowers.
I want to cleanse myself in unpolluted waters.

I want to giggle for no reason.
I want to belly laugh until it hurts to breathe.
I want to spend hours simply making faces at each other.

I want to have deep, tangential conversations until three A.M.
I want to make a pillow fort and sit in our underwear and tell ghost stories.
I want you to see me and let me see you.

I want to smoke a joint and tell stories in the middle of a rainforest.
I want to wash my face in snow melt and move on.
I want to walk the cobblestones of an ancient city, then get fucked in a dirty old stairwell.

I want to be loved unconditionally.
I want to be allowed to love unconditionally.
I want my quirks to be appreciated.

I want you to see my tears as beautiful.
I want you to let me kiss yours.
I want to live inside your soul.

I want to live.
I want to love.
I want to be free.

~

The problem is: I don’t think this is too much to ask.
I think: This is the reality that people have been brainwashed to not see.
I want: That which is truly real and meaningful.

And when I don’t have it.
When I can’t have it.
When I am denied it.

I sink.
Down.
Down.
Down.

Into the depths…
Of my mind.
Of my desires.
Of my aching lack.

Want me.
Need me.
Love me.

Adventure with me.
Learn with me.
Challenge me.

Show me something I’ve never seen before.
Let me show you things you’ve never seen.
Let us carve our own reality.

I’m waiting.
I’m wanting.
I’m ready.

~

Is this too much to ask?
I think not.

And you know something?
I feel better already.

Buncha Bullshit: The One Where Stephanie Rants About The Logistics of Making a Major Life Change (AKA:Whiny Girl Rants about First World Problems)

Moving across the country on a low budget is a royal pain in the ass. And the logistics of such are putting a mild damper on my excitement. It’s more epic frustration than woe is me bullshit.

I’m about as frustrated as a crackwhore without any crack or whorish shenanigans.
I’m about as frustrated as a woman in the throes of heightened sexual tension without a partner to take it out on.
I’m about as frustrated as a politician without a Lewinsky.
I’m about as frustrated as the CIA without a brothel.
I’m about as frustrated as. As. Uhm. As someone who is frustrated.

(I just reread this and realized most of the the frustration examples are sexual in nature. Don’t read into that, please. Or do. Either way, I’m gonna stop talking now. (Except I’m not. But it won’t be about sex anymore. Why would I talk about sex? This is a motherfucking clean blog, damnit. (Fuckin’ hell, I have sex on the brain. I’m human after all. Sexbrain is NOT HELPING, SO MOTHERFUCKING STOP IT, BRAIN. (I really should delete this ridiculous parenthetical that’s only making things worse. But I’m not going to. Because this is me. Hi. My name is Stephanie, and I have sexbrain. Hi Stephanie. Welcome, Stephanie. Keep coming back – it works if you work it!))))

Frustration-Eats-Pencil2
This Poor Little Fucker. That’s me. Seriously, that’s exactly what I look like. I had my portrait done. For seriouses.

It’s all a buncha bullshit. And there’s a whole lotta bullshit that has to be figured out and sorted.

Buncha Bullshit that has to be Figured Out and Sorted

Emotional Bullshit – Let’s get this bullshit outta the way first. My family sucks. Seriously, they can all go eat a giant bag of dicks. I don’t know where my mother is. She may or may not be in town. I’ve seen both her and my sort of grandfather at local grocery stores before. They both ignored me. Pretended I wasn’t even there. It’s no wonder grocery stores are currently my strongest triggers for acute anxiety. But the mother…is unreliable and an untreated bipolar. And she’s probably not even in the state anymore. Who knows. My siblings and my aunt (who was always my second-favorite family member – at least on that side of the family) won’t speak to me anymore, because I won’t “get over” the physical, emotional, psychological, sexual abuse and go to my so-called father’s side now as he lays dying.

some_deep_emotional-89202

So yeah. Fuck them. I’m not even gonna tell them I’m leaving. For all they know, I’ve been dead for years. Fuck. Them. Fuck. Them. Fuck. Them. And for all the Fuck Thems I type, there are a hundred more tears. Motherfuckers. Fuck Them for making me feel this way. Fuck them for throwing me out with yesterday’s garbage. Fuck Them. I don’t even love them anymore. Do I? Fuckin’ hell, I’ve gotten scary good at compartmentalization. Don’t get me wrong. I know I can’t run away from the damage they’ve done to me over the course of my life. (This is not about running away. This is about moving on to a place I’ve always wanted to be but allowed people to tell me no.) And though I can’t get them outta my head, I can get outta this town of pain and tangible memories.

Whew. There. That’s dealt with. Let’s move on to financial bullshit.

Financial Bullshit – I know I haven’t spoken about my (failed) marriage, and I don’t intend to go into details now. At this point, it’s not something I wish to speak of here. I bring it up now just to make a single point: I was unemployed when we separated. But I was the one left saddled with the entire mortgage and anything else that goes into the typical running of a household. Since he took half of the savings account, it didn’t take long for me to go through every cent as I looked for a job in a shitty economy and shitty area for good employment opportunities. By the time I landed something decent, aside from little temp jobs, I had about 200 bucks to my name. And I seriously thought I was going to go default on the mortgage. I didn’t. In fact, I’ve never missed a single payment. But what that means for me now? I don’t have savings. I have some cash stashed in a box where all of my tutoring cash goes. But it’s “nothing to write home about,” as the saying goes. I’m fine. I pay all of my bills (except the student loan one which I simply can’t pay at this point). And they’re paid on time. I don’t do without food, water, shelter, books, etc. So I work full-time for an enormous corporation, and I’m broke. But only when it comes to anything outside of the basics.

57608060
Let’s see what the news is today. Oh yes, still broke as fuck. Off to work I go, like a good little mindless citizen!

However, this does throw a big wrench into the logistics of moving across country. Do y’all know how much it would cost to hire a moving company to move one set of bedroom furniture, about twenty boxes of books, some dishes and a couple of chests? The lowest quote I’ve gotten thus far was about $3,500. Their competitors said $4,500. U-Haul would be about $1,700, but then there is mileage and fuel costs to consider on top of that. So. What it looks like I’ll have to do is drive myself up there with my cats and whatever I can fit in the car. Leave the rest in storage. And sleep on an air mattress in the tiniest, cheapest apartment I can find to start out in.

This also means that I can’t afford to let people at work know about this until the very last minute. Because I can’t afford to quit my job while I tidy up the house for the market and dig in deep on a job search in Seattle. It also means I can’t just move up there and find a job that way, because I’d have greater odds of landing something good if I were actually there. But I can’t do that.

Then there’s the question of where I’ll live in the interim.

Housing Bullshit – As the regular Peopleaneous know, I’m in the (lengthy) process of preparing my house to put on the market. This involves the ex, as his name is still on the deed. And the house is filled with a lot of his stuff. (Including the guns that I couldn’t get rid of, because they weren’t mine…and I did not want to deal with the explosion that would ensue if I’d gotten rid of them.) So. He’s been over a lot on weekends and evenings. Going through his stuff. Culling stuff. Fixing stuff (very very slowly) and occasionally sabotaging my efforts by doing shit like parking in the middle of the yard after days of heavy rain and rutting the fucker up. That will do wonders for the curb appeal. Fucking wonderful. Anyway. ANYFUCKINGWAY. This isn’t about him. And I said I didn’t wanna talk about him. And I don’t. So. The point is, this is lengthy.

And I have an issue that I don’t know how to resolve.

Issue the First: Selling the house is going to be difficult. First, the market it is in has done nothing but go down down down since I/we bought the place. Second, he never maintained things. And I wasn’t allowed to, in the sense that… No. No. I’m just gonna leave that there. I’m not going to make this about him. He used to be great, and then he lost his way. And then we both changed. I’m gonna leave it at that. Point is, the house wasn’t kept up. Things are broken. Things are damaged. Things have been neglected. Then the other day, the fucking city tore down a tree. Fucking ass sucking dickwhistles. And in the few years I’ve been there by myself, I was mostly so mired down in a bottomless pit of the darkest depression I’ve known. Too far down to even think it was worth getting out of bed to take care of the house. I was in total fuck you, fuck me, fuck the world, fuck the universe, fuck the house, fuck the job, fuck it all mode.

Issue the Second: What if the house sells before I land a job in Seattle? Does that mean I have to sign a 6-month contract on some apartment in town? That would make me lose a lot of money if I found a job just after moving. Plus, who the fuck wants to move twice?

Issue the Third: What if I land a job before the house sells? How do I finagle that? I can’t afford to rent property in Seattle while simultaneously paying a mortgage. Seriously, it’s not like I’m CEO material. I won’t be making that kinda money. So how does that work?

Which leads me to jobby bullshit.

Jobby Bullshit – Should I even be looking for jobs at this point? Is it premature? It’s premature, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be foolish not to? Maybe someone out there thinks I’m worth waiting for. It’s possible, right? Or maybe I could land a job and let them know that when the house sells, I’ll need to fly back down for paperwork and shit. But that brings me back to the issue of rent plus mortgage. No can do, buckaroo. The good news is that I’ve secured three solid references. Two of you read this blog on occasion. Be good to me, fellas! Pretty please.

Oh, yes. More Jobby Bullshit. Another issue I’m having is that I’d like to pursue something that I may actually enjoy. Something with writing or editing would be fucking epic. I can even write without using “fuck” all the time. Promise. The problem is, my deagent-orange-wasting-time-250x127grees are not in English or Journalism or any of those other “required” degrees for writing jobs. The problem is none of my work experience is writing related, aside from some freelance gigs on the side. The problem is, I don’t have writing samples to submit. And I sure as fuck don’t want any potential employers finding this spot: a. because of all the fucking that goes on around here and 2. because then I’d never be able to rant or vent about work!

But I don’t want to do the kind of thing I’m doing right now. And I also don’t want to do the whole Executive Assistant/Administrative thing. I’ve done it. I’m damn fucking good at it. But it’s no fun. It’s draining. It’s meaningless to me. And it makes me feel the time, my life, tick tick ticking away.

 ~

So I don’t know what to do. More specifically, I don’t know how to approach all of this. I’m sure there are other issues that I had in mind before I began this post. But I’ve been interrupted countless times because work. And also because my mind is in a dirty, dirty place right now. So it’s hard to focus. Anyway, this fucker is nearly 2,000 words already. Probably about 1,900 more than it really needs to be! But my name is not Concisephanie for a reason!

I would like to ask something of my dear Peopleaneous.

If there are any of you out there who have done this before and have a clearer vision on the logistics of something like this, please hit me up. I’d love some advice.

If there are any of you out there who have made major career switches without the official qualifications to do so, I’d love some tips there as well.

And if any of you are in Seattle and hiring, pick me! MEMEMEMEMEME!

In the meantime, I’m going to keep trudging forward. This is my year. I’m taking charge of my life. And I’m still holding on to Rollins’ words.

Rollins

 GO!

(Please forgive any egregious errors. I don’t feel like re-reading this right now. Ha! Some copy-editor!)

Today’s Tunes: Brought to You by a Chillin’ Stephanie

It’s always a positive sign that I’m feeling better and more mentally stable when I start digging into music again. When I’m at the depths of my depression, I can’t even reach for music – my soul’s food. Given all the music I’ve been listening to and the string of music-related posts, I have yet another sign that I’m steadily on the upswing. Thanks to a myriad of factors, no doubt. My wonderful Peopleaneous, a few in particular who have seen the darkest sides of me and helped me through, another particular one who thrills me to no end, and the medications I’ve been put on have no doubt played a significant role as well. Never again will anyone hear me say psychiatric medication is bullshit.

I feel compelled to share what my soul is filled with this morning. Soothing me and tugging at me and pushing me and pulling me with its raw passion and purity. This, my friends, is art. It’s all instrumental, but you can hear Keith getting into it. Crying out at times, because he is music.

Keith Jarrett’s Changeless Album (4 songs in total)

Dancing

Endless

Lifeline

I can’t fucking find “Lifeline”. Ripped off!

Ecstasy

Ahhhhhh yes. Enjoy, my friends. Enjoy.

A Public Censure from a High School Outcast

I am in the process of preparing my house to put on the market. This is finally the year that I put myself first, no matter how difficult that is for me – because it is completely out of character. And this is going to involve some major changes and upheaval. I always put others first, even (usually) to my own detriment, almost without exception. I have been this way my entire life.

This change wasn’t some lameass resolution for me. I don’t do resolutions, at least not in the way most do. Life changes and extensive shifts in perspective don’t suddenly and miraculously happen simply because the clock ticked over to a new year. Time as we know it is a man made construct anyway, but I’m seriously digressing here.

The point of bringing this up was to mention I’m working on getting my house ready to sell. And this means days and weeks of meticulous sifting through thirty-five years of accumulated stuff. Some of that stuff is meaningful; some of that stuff is being donated; some of that stuff is being sold; some of that stuff is outright garbage and has been hauled straight to the bin and to the side of the road where people pick it up (you know what they say – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure), but some of that stuff is meaningful to me in some way or other and cannot simply be tossed out. Like the box of letters from my paternal mamaw. She was my penpal for a good two decades. Or my diplomas and commendations. Or my report cards and IEPs from elementary school, and the notes from teachers and little awards I received. Or the stacks of photos and photo albums. There have been lots of laughs, lots of tears, some raging and ripping up photos of that man who ruined my childhood and so much of my life and my outlook and behaviors, some quiet reminiscing, some shock; you get the idea.

One thing I came across was surprising to me. I didn’t even know I had it. A simple piece of paper brought on a flood of memories. Unpleasant ones at that. I was in 11th grade, I think, which puts me somewhere between 16 and 17. I was depressed and miserable and hated high school with all that I had. Not long after this period, I experienced some of the best years of my life until the bottom fell out of that, too. But for now, I was fucking miserable. I experienced suicidal ideation. I never cut myself, but I’ve always had this problem with picking and digging and tearing at my skin. So I’d wear long sleeves almost exclusively, in order to hide my arms.

I had changed schools that year, which is what seriously ramped up my depression and self-loathing. Those last two years of high school did a lot of damage to me, but the others did as well. Before I changed schools, I never had what you would call friends. There was simply a group of outcasts who would gather together during lunch. Some of them hung out together after school, but mostly we just clung to each other on the sidelines of life. It was our own little depressed group of grunge kids on this life raft we created to weather the storm of cheerleaders and jocks and geniuses and rich kids and bullies. It raged around us, splashing us with its venom and vitriol. The bullying had gotten so bad that I perfected this death to you glare and assumed anyone and I do mean anyone who looked at me meant me harm. I struggle with that still. And so we gathered together in this little corner at lunch. Playing hacky sack. Sneaking to the bathroom to smoke a roach. Talking about The Doors and Pink Floyd and Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Wearing the tie-dye Grateful Dead shirt I bought at a yard sale. Long sleeved of course. And that silly “Elvis is Dead. Deal with it.” t-shirt I wore all the fucking time. Mostly because it was black. And I was in a black wearing, flannel over-shirt phase. Close friends and confidantes we were not. But we needed each other. Or at least, I needed them.

1990s-grunge-wear
This is what we were like. Only there were far more dudes than chicks. Most of the chicks were banished for bringing drama to the group.

So when I changed schools, I lost that. I no longer had a shield or raft to cling to against the raging tide of bullies. Especially the preps. They were the worst. Those were the ones that made my life hell all through high school. And now I had no protection. I had no wall of outcasts surrounding me to buffer me from the storm of bullying and back-stabbing. Which leads to the piece of paper I found last night.

I had an AP English class, which I would have loved (because English. Yay. My favorite subject for years.). Except there were about a dozen cheerleaders in that one class. They chose it on purpose because the teacher was the mother of one of them. I had no idea, or I would have scheduled a different class or requested a change. Such as it was, I was stuck in a very special hell of torment and glares and snickers and cruel jokes at my expense. Me, the poor girl in hand-me-downs, thrift store clothes, high-water pants and shoes held together with duct tape I’d taken a black Sharpie to on the black parts and White-Out on the white parts so the tape wouldn’t stand out so much.

At some point during the year, we had an assignment. We were instructed to write an original poem and then select one from our textbook that went along with the same theme. Then we had to buy white t-shirts and somehow paint our original poem on the front and the textbook poem on the back, then wear them to school on the day they were due and recite our poems from memory. This terrified me. I didn’t learn how to be able to do public speaking until college in my twenties. I can do it now, but I was terrified back then. Like vomiting over it a couple of times leading up to it the week it was due.

I couldn’t persuade my father to buy a new white t-shirt for me. “I don’t have the money for some fucking school poem bullshit. Use one of my old undershirts.” No, of course he didn’t have the money. He’d spent it on the twice weekly sacks of pot and pain meds from his 19 year old dealer. The shirt he gave me had the inevitable pinhole burns in it and huge deeply yellowed pit stains. I stole change off of his dresser to buy this glittery green puff paint to get the poems on the shirt. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. But I knew I would be humiliated, and I was. But this time, it was mostly in my head.

It was time. The teacher called my name. My stomach flipped and then flopped, and I felt dizzy and off-balance as I left my back-corner desk and walked to the front of the classroom. Voice shaking, I began:

Nobody

You think that you are better than me
From your clothes, to your style and your hair
You think that you are better than me
But I have ceased to care

You smile and pretend that you are my friend
But I am not here for your pity
You smile and pretend that you are my friend
But I will have nothing to do with your sympathy

In your eyes, I am nobody because I don’t measure up to your standards
But I am not the one who tries to be something I am not
So before you judge me again, take a look at yourself
And face the reality that you are no better than me

And as time marches on
And your shine is all gone
For all of your glitter, you have nothing to show
Now you are nobody, and I am somebody

And you will never be better than me

To their credit, after the snickering subsided, the room got dead quiet. Not even the usual whispers and note-passing that happens during things like this. And the looks on their faces were a mixture of confusion, disgust, surprise, shame. This quiet, wallflower, grungy, nerdy weakling was speaking words of condemnation. To them. This was directed at them, and they knew it.

And then I read the poem I had selected from the textbook, and their shame and confusion turned to shock and fear. I could see it in their eyes, because I had finally worked up the nerve to make eye contact. And so I began:

Richard Cory
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich-yes, richer than a king-
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

I somehow got through to some of them. But not in a way that made them nicer to me, more in a way to make them lean away, look away and leave me completely and utterly alone. Which was a relief and respite from the bullying, at least in that class. I think they were afraid of me. Nervous. Fine. Yes. Great. This I can use. And so my death to you glares increased. I rarely spoke, but I could shoot daggers. And I did. And I relished them shifting in their seats and looking away. I felt guilty for a lot of this later, in some ways still do. But at the time, I finally felt relief and used my anger as my new wall of protection, my new life raft.

I read the paper. I re-folded it and sat there in this reverent silence. Then I opened it and read it again, finally re-folding it and tucking it away among the things I’ve decided to keep. At least for now. As a reminder of what I was, and what I’m working so hard to leave behind. The anger, the fear, the skittishness, the guilt, the distrust, the anxiety, the self-loathing, etc.

Here’s to my year of change. It will happen slowly and then all at once. And I can’t fucking wait.

The One Where I Feel Like Crap on a Cracker and Don’t Know What to Write so I Ramble about Sad-Sack Shit

I wanna write something here. I really do. I have a real craving to sit down and blog. But nothing is coming to me. Nothing. I’m also having trouble reading, focusing on words and keeping them in memory long enough to properly process what I’ve read. And that’s upsetting, because I deeply value what I’ve found here: the solace and camaraderie of this community are pretty fucking epic. I can only hope that this shithouse feeling will pass.

sad sack
Look at the little sack. Just fucking sitting there. Being sad. What a sad sack.

In the meantime, I’m gonna update you on mental health mumbo jumbo. (Dudes, I’m totally gonna belittle it and use words like “crazy.” Trust me when I say I know how deeply important it is to monitor and treat mental health issues. But I tend toward self-deprecation. Hell everything-deprecation. So yeah.) (I’m also in a kind of grrrr mood. Should I have led with that? I should have led with that.) (Wait, I kinda did with the title, huh?) (I mean, that whole “sad-sack” thing was kind of a dead giveaway.) (Please disregard these parentheticals.) (Someone come here and make me stop it.)

I grow weary of talking about depressing shit (I mean, depression is pretty fucking depressing, don’t ya think?) (And who wants to talk about that shit all the time? I sure as fuck don’t.). But right now, it’s what I’ve got: a big fat steaming pile of depressing shit. So I’m gonna update you and maybe (hopefully) get some of this worked outta my system. Where to begin, though? I guess there’s only one place to begin.

She’s the One They Call Dr. Feelgood

I followed through on the psychiatry appointment on December 21. And then she made me see her again on December 28. And now I have to see her again this Saturday, January 9.

The first appointment went a little something like this:

I show up fifteen minutes early, because that’s how I do.

Dr. Feelgood shows up forty-five minutes later (a half hour late to her own fucking practice hours).

Meanwhile, I suffer and ponder murder and pyromania, my rage significantly exacerbated by the concert-volume country music pumping through the speakers. “It has to be that loud sugar. How else’s people gon’ not hear each other’s sessions? This here’s a small office,” explained Rodeo Rhonda, chain-smoking, Wrangler-clad secretary extraordinaire. (It was clear whose turn it was to select the radio station that afternoon.)

I shared the waiting room with a fellow crazy person, who made me wonder what the fuck I was doing there. That crazy motherfucker changed seats at least once every five minutes, all the while yammering on ninety to nothin’ about how this bitch better not dare take him off his drugs. “I will turn that bitch’s desk over! I will throw a fit until she agrees that I know more about panic disorder than she does! She won’t take away my disability!” (This was his first session (with Dr. Feelgood), too, by the way. I don’t know much about panic disorder, but I’m pretty sure the dude was at least verging on panic – except he was super smiley and laughy. He was also pretty fucking nosy – he kept sticking his head to the wall and shushing me while he eavesdropped on Rodeo Rhonda and her conversations with the other patients trickling in. Also. He diagnosed me as Bipolar 1, since I was nervous and couldn’t stop bouncing my leg and fidgeting. He declared me manic and told me what drugs to ask for. (Don’t worry. I didn’t lend that any credence.))

After two other patients had been called into see Dr. Feelgood before either of us, Panicky Pete had a moment of clarity. “Hey! What time was your appointment for?!” “Mine was supposed to be 4:00,” I returned. He started laughing and (literally) smacked himself in the forehead. “Lemme guess, yours was for 4:00 as well?” Yep. Turns out, not only were both of us scheduled for 4:00, but so were the two people who ended up being seen ahead of us. They were established patients – and they get seen first, no matter who shows up first or what your appointment time was. Nice, right?

She was pretty quick with them, and then spent a good half hour with a drug rep. I was pretty fucking wound up by this point. And none too keen on the woman in whose hands I was about to place my mental health. (I will add here, about Panicky Pete, that I’m thankful for him. I would not have waited an hour and a half had he not kept me occupied and chatted-up. My anxiety was fierce enough to propel me right out the front door, that is until he started talking to me.)

After a solid hour and a half wait, it was my turn.

I didn’t get to say a lot – well, that’s not exactly true. Uhm. I didn’t get to do much free-talking. She had her forms and checklists, and she asked lots of questions. In my replies to her, I was essentially able to share everything I’d hoped to be able to share with a counselor (except the self-harm – I just reread that post, and that’s the one thing I see that didn’t get mention).

I had to fight her a lot harder than the counselor, to keep from being hospitalized. But I prevailed. And she finished a forty-five minute session with diagnoses. And drugs. I’m not sure how I feel about any of it.

The Diagnoses: Bipolar II, Major Depressive Disorder, Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

The Drugs: Lamictal, Lexapro, Lithium, Vistaril and Clonidine. Oh and over-the-counter Vitamin D3 5000 IU.

Yeah. That’s a fuckton of drugs, yo. A fuckton. And, as I said, I’m not sure how I feel about any of it. But to keep my ass from being admitted to a psych ward, I had to agree to take the drugs.

I took the drugs.

anxiety

The second appointment went a little something like this:

Dr. Feelgood asked whether I was feeling better. I informed her that I was not. And that I was actually even more tired than before, and still depressed and crying and magnetized to my bed.

Dr. Feelgood says, “hmmmm.”

I informed her as well that I was having major sleep disturbances, same as I had when I was on Cymbalta. I wake up all throughout the night, sometimes hourly, sometimes with difficulty falling back asleep.

Dr. Feelgood says, “hmmmm” and ups the Clonidine and writes new prescriptions for two more weeks of the drugs.

No mentions are made of hospitalization this time, and she says she can wait two weeks to see me this time, instead of one. But y’all, I can’t fucking afford to keep this up. Not only the cost of Dr. Feelgood’s appointments, but also the fucking lab work that she says I’ll have to regularly submit to for monitoring Lithium levels.

The third appointment is this Saturday. In the meantime, I still feel like shit. In some ways, I feel a lot fucking worse.

Drugged-Up Stephanie Feels Drugged-Up (Surprise Surfuckingprise.)

drugged up pikachu

Bitchplaint #1 (I couldn’t decide between bitching and complaining. Hence bitchplaint.) Anyway, Bitchplaint #1: Lithium. I didn’t wanna take Lithium. I still don’t wanna take Lithium. I don’t think I need Lithium. I’ve never. EVER. Had full-blown mania. Seriously. NEVER. And I told her that. Now I realize that Lithium can be used to treat more than Bipolar I, but I still don’t think I need it.

Bitchplaint #2: My hand is shaking. A lot. Like, I dropped a glass of water in the kitchenette at work yesterday, because my hand jerked.

Bitchplaint #3: I haven’t had a full night of sleep since December 21. And I’m sick to death of waking up multiple times a night.

Bitchplaint #4: I’m fucking tired. And not just tired from lack of sleep, but lethargic. I could pass out at my desk. Right. Now. And in the rare moments when I feel well-rested (snort…that’s funny), I just feel this general lethargy and malaise. Kinda goes hand in hand with giving even less of a fuck about anything now than before I was drugged.

Bitchplaint #5: I’m dazed and confused (sing it!), and sometimes dizzy. Y’all would not believe how long this is taking me to write.

Bitchplaint #6: I finafuckingly got the edema from arthritis under control. And guess the fuck what – I’m swelling like a motherfucker from something I’m taking. And who knows what, since she threw five drugs at me at once!

Bitchplaint #7: I know you’re supposed to give these things time. But fucking fuck fuck! It’s been like three weeks now. And I still feel like hot buttered shit. Worse, in a lot of ways. When do I get to start feeling better? Or, hell, at least back where I was!

Bitchplaint #8: This probably goes back in with #4. But fuck it, we’re here now. I’m committed to #8. Hi #8. This one is that I’ve cracked maybe half a dozen real smiles or laughter since December 21. Some things have amused me, intellectually. Like, “Hey, this is hilarious. I love this kinda shit.” “P.S. Why the fuck aren’t you laughing? Laugh! LAUGH!” Nope. Not happening. And that is perhaps the most unbearable one of all.

Between now and Saturday morning, I’ll come up with some eloquent way of expressing my concerns to Dr. Feelgood. Crossing my fingers she listens.

~

To top it all off, last Thursday (as in: seven days ago, AKA NYE) I was hit with one of the more severe migraines I’ve had in a while. I’ve had daily (not kidding) headaches since I was little. Sometimes they turn into migraines. My father said, “a head like that’s supposed to hurt.” My mother filled me with Tylenol and, when that stopped working, Excedrin Extra-Strength. Daily. Multiple times a day. Fast-forward to now, and I still live like that. Managing headaches. Trying my best not to take BC powders (which I graduated to a few years ago), because I know they’re bad for me. Then ending up in tears at work, so I buckle and take one.

Well, last Thursday I was waylaid with the migraine from hell. And I spent the next four days in bed. The rest of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. I took nothing for my head in all that time. I just lay in the dark, crying and thinking decapitation would be an improvement. I had to call in to work on Monday, which I simply do not do. Since it hadn’t abated at all, I went to my doctor. He had his nurse administer two shots (one of which nearly made me faint, for realsies), then prescribed some pills. I don’t even really know what they are, just that they don’t work. Which, I suppose, is all that matters.

So, here I am seven days later, with a headache from hell. It still hasn’t gone away, though it has (somewhat) lessened in severity.

This shit is not improving my mood.

~

So Dr. Feelgood better not give me any lip on Saturday! Because I’ll! I’ll! Crumble.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell y’all about the MRI. But only if you behave. Which remains to be seen.

~

This post brought to you by:

Lithium. Say it with me, boys and girls. Lithium! Hooray!

And thecheekyhousewife, who prompted me to dig into my draft and get this bitch done. Because it’s been like a week since I posted! Y’all go check her out. Anyone with a tagline that reads, “Bend Over And Grab Your Ankles, 2016. You’re About To Get Spanked.” is a worthy read indeed!

C is for Cookie, but M is for Mottos. Which is what this post is about. Not cookies. Now I want cookies. Thanks Obama.

I’ve tried on lots of mottos over the years. A few that come to mind are:

  1. Just Do It. Tomorrow.
  2. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Scoop that shit up and put it in your coworker’s coffee. (I’ve never actually done that. See Motto #1.)
  3. Convince the world that fur is deadly to cats and dogs, so they will shave their pets. Burst onto the market with faux fur coats to keep pets warm. You’ll be a hero. And rich. (Again, see Motto #1.)

Frankly, the only one of those three to ever gain any traction was the first one. As evidenced by my lack of success with the second and third options. There have been others, but I don’t want to give away all of my lame brilliant ideas.

My current life motto is something that’s sort of been playing on loop in my head for the last few months. You ready for it? This one is for seriouses.

I’ll be dead soon.

That’s right. My current Life Motto is: I’ll be dead soon. It’s not nearly as morbid as it sounds (only it kind of is, but only kind of). Let me show you how it works:

Stephanie is trying to lose weight.
Stephanie receives a coupon for $5 off her favorite pizza.
Stephanie exclaims, “I’ll be dead soon, anyway!,” and orders.

Stephanie is trying to save money.
Stephanie receives a coupon for Mod Cloth.
Stephanie exclaims, “I’ll be dead soon, anyway!,” and orders.

Stephanie is trying to save money.
Stephanie receives a coupon to a book store.
Stephanie exclaims, “I’ll be dead soon, anyway!,” and her TBR pile grows.

Stephanie has a raging headache.
Stephanie is suddenly in the mood for hip hop.
Stephanie exclaims, “I’ll be dead soon, anyway!,” and cranks up the jams as loud as they’ll go.

Do you see the problem? Stephanie needs to stop receiving motherfucking coupons, that’s what. No? What the fuck do you mean I’m abusing my own motto? Oh, shit. You mean, this?

Stephanie is being bullied at work.
Stephanie thinks to herself, “I’ll be dead soon…should probably make a change.”
Stephanie is afraid of change and remains in a soul-sucking job that makes her physically ill from stress because she’s a fucking pussy. (I really hate that word when it’s used like that. But whatever. That’s what came out, so it stays.)

Stephanie has doctors who have failed proper diagnoses and treatment of serious problems.
Stephanie thinks to herself, “I’ll be dead soon…this is no way to live.”
Stephanie is afraid of change and feels strange obligations even to doctors, so she stays and allows her health to diminish.

Stephanie dreams of moving to the Pacific Northwest.
Stephanie thinks to herself, “I’ll be dead soon…I should pursue my dreams while I can.”
Stephanie is afraid of change and stays put, pining away for greener grass.

So I really am abusing my own motto. I started saying it to myself precisely for the more serious things I need to address. But it slowly shifted to being used for less serious things (that also end up damaging me when I give in), and I continue to give in to my fears and worries. I continue to stagnate and wallow in my miseries and what-ifs.

I need to work on these things. I seriously do. Maybe once I’ve worked a bit on my mental health, I’ll be stronger, more confident and better equipped to tackle things like my hopes and dreams. Hey, you know what? That’s something I have actually worked toward!

Stephanie suffers from severe depression, for years.
Stephanie thinks to herself, “I’ll be dead soon…why am I content to hate myself and my life forfuckingever?”
Stephanie finally makes appointments with mental health professionals. And has actually kept them so far. And will continue to do so.

FUCK YEAH!

In the meantime, perhaps a Motto Upgrade is in order. You know how people say things like, “I’ll work on it when I have time?” I’ll let Henry Rollins wrap this up for us.

Rollins

~

Today’s post brought to you by:

The Letter M (for Mottos and Motherfuckers and Mastur…nevermind) and

The Number 99 (ask Jay Z why, since his life is so hard) oh, and also by

Josh, since he told me to get off my ass and write something for fucks sake (I know that sounds like something I would say, but those were his exact words. Get him!) (Also, that’s not quite true.) (Get him, anyway.).

Playlist Party: Help Build an Upbeat Playlist

‘Sup Peopleaneous?

Brief Update on Diane, The Wackadoodle Counselor

I know some of you are curious as to how my second session with Diane went. Let’s say it went poorly, and I will not be back to see her. For now, let me leave you with this tidbit: There were a few moments in the new “feelings” journal that had words like: hyper, smiley, playful, mischievous. She latched on to “playful” with a vengeance. And, knowing very little about me, said that any time I ever felt hyper and especially playful that it was at least as negative as my hopeless moments. She said any time I demonstrate playfulness that I’m doing either one of two things: manipulating people into laughing so that they would give me positive reinforcement that I didn’t get as a child or trying to cheer someone up like I always did with my mother.

It is a mistake to see playfulness as positive. You need to work on that at least as much as your depression.

I found it highly irresponsible of her to tell me that all of my brighter moments were at least as negative as moments when I’m wishing I hadn’t woken up that day. How much of a fucking moron does one have to be to say that to a woman with known suicidal ideation? Good thing I mostly heard it for what it was: the ravings of an absolute fucking moron.

Oh, oh, oh! I almost forgot this one!

You revealed a lot in few words. Next time, I expect to hear about how your childhood led you down the path of becoming a sexual deviant.

I nearly laughed in her smirking, self-satisfied face. I refrained. With great difficulty. I wanted to march to her bookshelf, grab the nearest bullshit textbook she was spewing this nonsense from, and chuck it in her face. Again, I refrained. With only slightly less difficulty.

In the effort of full disclosure, those aren’t exact quotes. But I did record that bitch this time, so I can go back and listen if I wanna. Right now, I don’t want to hear any more out of that woman’s mouth. Suffice it to say those words are at least very close to exact quotes.

My mood ever since has been dark…empty and numb when I’m lucky. It’s not all her. Work is a son of a bitch right now. More specifically, Queen Bitch must have something sharp and rusty stuck up her asshole. It’s the only thing that can explain her psychotic behavior these last two weeks. (And yes, I do know the definition of a psychotic.)

So. As a giant fuck you to both of those bitches, I’d like to intentionally change my mood for tonight (and hopefully the entire weekend).

~ PLAYLIST PARTY ~

I’ve had the idea to ask y’all to help me work on my playlists for some time. But Chevvy8 crystallized this for me in a conversation we had about those times you need some good ole music therapy. I believe Chevvy called those the times when you “just gotta shake it!” So that’s what I want to do now!

I’ll start us off with several of the songs I keep on hand to kickstart some fast-paced, upbeat funtimes. Not all of mine are exactly dancey songs, but those fit in extra-well on an upbeat playlist!

Please, please please join in and drop your upbeat tunes in the comments! Let’s party, Peopleaneous!

First up, Chevvy starts us out with a little OutKast. Can’t really go wrong with OutKast!

My #1 stand-by for times just like this: Hump de Bump!

She Wants to Move (Yes, yes she does.)

A little Swedish House Mafia never hurt anybody.

And now I gotta cut loose.

Usher Baby

Here’s to shit getting a little Out of Control.

Because it’s been a bitch of a week.

Uptown Funk (me up)

Bounce Baby! (Bonus points for being local.)

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (I really do!)

Let’s start a Quiet Riot.

And last but certainly not least: Feel Right, y’all.

~

Alright, Peopleaneous! YOUR TURN!

The Shrinkening Commences

I did it. I went through with the therapy session on Thursday. Reckon it’s past time to update you. But you should know, going in, this is going to be a bitch of a post. Avoid it if you need to.

Have some Portishead for your listening pleasure. This is what I’m listening to while I force myself to get this out.

~

Pre-Game Panic Attack

The appointment was for 1:00 PM on Thursday, so I was at work all morning leading up to it. You’d think that would be a nice distraction, but it wasn’t. Queen Bitch has impeccable timing and went on her worst rampage yet this past week. (I’ll save work for a separate post to try to keep this semi-coherent.) So I don’t know how much of my pre-appointment nausea and vomiting was from therapy anticipation and fear and how much of it was the extreme stress Queen Bitch had me under.

By the time I got myself to the counseling center, I was a bundle of nerves. I smiled at the receptionist and filled out my paperwork. Thankfully, I was alone in the waiting room. I had so much pent up anxiety, I felt I could literally bounce off of the walls…and not in a fun way. Imagine severe chest pain, heart racing, rapid breathing, roiling stomach, my leg bouncing up and down ninety to nothin’, mouth chewing on a hoodie cord, eyes scanning the room for every minute detail, hands twisting and squeezing each other. That was me, pre-therapy Thursday. It took everything I had to stop myself from bolting.

Off to an Anticlimactic Start

The counselor finally fetched me from the waiting room at around 1:05. (Yeah. That pissed me off.) Let’s call her Diane. Tall, blonde, forty-something Diane. At least she’s older than me, I thought. They nearly placed me with someone who graduated this past May. I cringed. Maybe it seems superficial, but it’s far less about age and more about experience.

Anyway. Friendly enough, on the surface. She smiled and shook my hand, led me to her office. While the waiting room makes the building look new(ish), Diane’s office was poorly appointed. Seriously, her chairs and couch had tears in the upholstery. I kind of approved, because I don’t want to be therapized by someone with a mahogany desk and all leather furniture. She said I could sit anywhere – I just took the chair facing her desk. I asked permission to place my wallet and keys on her desk, then shoved my fists in my hoodie pockets and willed myself to not bounce my leg and look around the room like a crazy person.

I began relaxing a bit at this point, because Diane spent the first few minutes filling out paperwork. A differently formatted document with the exact same information I’d already filled out at reception. Full name? Address? Social Security Number? Bust size? (Kidding, she didn’t ask for my social.) (Got you again. Look, it’s a good sign that I’m at least trying to joke, right?) Then she went over their policies and her personal qualifications. Twenty years as a counselor with this same group. Good sign, right?

I’ve been doing this for a long time, okay? And I’ve worked with every age group, but I no longer work with children. I did for many years, but I had to give that up. I work with people like you now. And don’t worry. You’re perfectly normal. You’re definitely not crazy, right? You’re not crazy. You’re just sad. You’re here because you’re sad.

I hope it doesn’t offend you when I use words like “normal” and “crazy”…

And just like fucking that, she’d formed her opinion and diagnosis of me. I walk through the motherfucking door, am able to show up and shake her hand and be calm and civil. And I’m just sad. Nothing more, nothing less. So glad this process was so fucking easy.

Then she grabs her little legal pad and starts in with her own standard list of questions, the answers to which she notes on her pad:

Have you received counseling or psychiatric treatment before? No.

Do you work? Yes, full-time.
What do you do? I sit at a computer all day.
Oh, do you like it? Yes, it’s so much fun.

*chuckles* Relationship status?
Well, it’s like this…
Children? No.

Parents? Married/divorced? Living? Location?
Uhm. Uh. Well. Uhm. See. Well. *breathes* They divorced when I was little. They’re both still alive, last I heard. Uhm. Uhm. I think. Maybe. I think. Maybe. My mom is maybe in town again. My father lives in _____.
I see. And what sort of relationship do you have with them? I don’t. *fidgets*

Siblings? One brother and one sister.


Do you want me to give you more details? I’m not sure how detailed you want my responses.

She then went into this long spiel explaining the two different ways of approaching counseling: starting from the past and working forward or starting in the present and working backward. She said that people usually had a preference, but she doesn’t. She just looked at me, and I just looked back.

All this time, Diane has been looking down at her phone. Look at me, ask a question, look at phone, note my response on the pad, look at phone, look at me, ask a question, look at phone, note my response….forget what she asked me and ask me again. Yeah.

I finally broke the awkward pause with something like:

Well, I’m not in any danger. I mean, if you want me to start by talking about my childhood, I’ll do that. If you’d rather hear about what’s going on right now, I can do that, too. I don’t know what I need or what’s best, really.

On Unprofessionalism and Suicidal Ideation

It was at this point, this crossroads of sorts, where she finally asked me what had led me to be there that day. She had her checklist and wanted to go by rote, and I wanted to know what we were doing and why. So she asked me. What led you here?

I’ve been depressed for years. And while I managed it best I could for a long time, it’s spiraled out of control over the last couple of years. And now…and now…my thoughts have gotten so dark that they scare me.

depressed-person

“Tell me what you mean by ‘dark thoughts.'”

Suicide. I think about suicide every day. And. But. Well. You see, it’s not so much that I want to kill myself. It’s that I don’t wish to be alive anymore. I don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t seem to make it stop.

“I’d call that danger.”

I’m sorry?

“You just told me that you aren’t in any danger. And now you’re telling me you think about suicide every day. Ongoing suicidal ideation is serious danger. Do you really think about it every day? Do you have a plan?

Well, I mean I think stuff. Bad stuff. You know. But I don’t have a plan. Like a specific plan. You know, written down. I don’t have a plan. No. And I would never do it. I would never act on it.

“Then tell me what you think about. Specifically. Tell me exactly what goes through your mind in your so-called dark thoughts. What do your suicidal thoughts look like?”

Well. I mean. Okay. Okay. There’s a gun. In the closet. And. Well. I think about the gun. And I think about…you know… (I’m crying now, talking softly. twisting my hands so much they’re throbbing in pain.)…I think about how it would affect other people. And I don’t want to make it hard on someone who finds me and has to clean up after me. So….so I wouldn’t do it in the house. I’d go outside. To the backyard. And…and I’d do it there. So I wouldn’t make a mess of the house or damage it or make it hard to sell after I’m dead. You know? That’s not really a plan is it? I guess that’s a plan.

But I wouldn’t do it. I’d miss or something and end up disfigured and living in a convalescent home.

She wrote “gun” and “plan” and something else on her pad. “You have a gun in the house?”

Yes.

“What else do you think? Are there other ideas?”

Well. This one. This one’s really bad, and I don’t…I don’t think I should tell you. It’s horrible. (tears are streaming down my face) But. Well. I imagine. You know. I imagine getting in my car. Getting onto the interstate late at night. Driving dangerously fast. Turning my headlights off. Closing my eyes.

But I would never do it. I swear I would never do that, because it would hurt someone else. It just pops into my mind completely unbidden.

“What else? Is there more?”

My arthritis medicine. I get it in three-month quantities. I’ve thought about taking them. All of them. At once. But I know that’s useless. I would just end up with my stomach pumped.

“Stephanie, your name is Stephanie right? Those are plans. Specific plans. And you are in serious danger.”

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, she interrupted me. She had been looking at her cell phone off and on the whole time, and at some point – while having me detail my thoughts on suicide – she interrupted me. Told me to hang on, and then texted her son.

I told her again that these are things I think about, but I’m not choosing to think about it. And I fight so hard not to entertain those thoughts or allow them to linger. But they rise up, unbidden, and I can’t always will them into silence.

On Reasons to Live and Hospitalization

“Everyone has to have a reason to live,” Diane pronounces. “You’ve demonstrated you’re strong and have a will to live. You made the appointment. You drove yourself here today. You kept the appointment. All of this was done of your own free will. Tell me what you live for. Tell me the positive things that you cling to in order to keep going and keep those thoughts at bay.”

I looked at her, my cheeks tear-stained and my eyes clouded, and I said…

I got nothin’

I don’t have family. I don’t have friends. I hate my job. I don’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. I feel sad when I wake that I made it through another night. I got nothin, Diane.

Well. I recently started blogging. And the people I’ve met there, online, are amazing and have offered so much support.

And. And. (crying and practically whispering) I have this…this vague hope that just won’t die. This vague hope that maybe, just maybe there’s a brighter future for me. A happy ending.

She scribbles “internet” on her little Stephanie page and says, “I’m talking about real life here.”

Church? No.
Social club? Like a book club? No.
Bars? No.
Professional memberships? No.
Work friends? No.
Family contact or support? No.
Really? Nothing? Nothing.

She spent the rest of the time between trying to convince me to be hospitalized (she lacks the authority to have me admitted without my consent) and defining “thoughts,” “feelings” and “behaviors” to me. Like I’m a fucking child and don’t know the fucking difference.

Again she told me I’m only sad, and there’s nothing deeply wrong with me. “You’re not crazy; don’t worry.” I tried to tell her there’s a lot more to it. I told her that sometimes I have wild mood swings and get very hyperactive, sometimes happy hyperactive and sometimes angry hyperactive. She said, “Oh, everyone does that. You’re not one of the crazies or you wouldn’t be here today.”

She really wanted me to consent to hospitalization. She said she’d take me in her car, right then and there. She said that no matter how hard people fight their thoughts, that if they’re persistent and ongoing for as long as mine have been, eventually everyone follows through.

Thoughts. Feelings. Behavior. “It is unavoidable. Eventually those thoughts and feelings result in acting out in a behavior. You can’t escape it. It’s ingrained. It is inevitable.”

But I stood my ground. In order to keep her from calling a psychiatrist and having them admit me against my will, I had to agree to some things:

  1. Get rid of the gun. Or lock it up and give someone else the key.
  2. Email her Thursday night telling her I had done so.
  3. Show up for an appointment next Wednesday at noon.
  4. Get a notebook and log my feelings. Like a motherfucking four year old. I can tell her my feelings. I know my feelings. I know my thoughts. And I know my behaviors. Stupid fucking shit.

As yet, I haven’t done any of those things. Though I have made a note in my phone, which I open occasionally and add a time and feeling to.

On Medication

She also told me that medication is unnecessary. That too many people are medicated, and it usually gives you brain damage. “You don’t need medication, because you aren’t crazy. Crazy people have brain damage. That’s what it is! It’s brain damage! But you don’t need it, because you’re normal.”

But. “Seeing as you’re suicidal, medication may not be a bad idea to get your moods regulated. Then during talk therapy, I’ll teach you TFB through CBT and you’ll get right off that crazy person medicine.”

I told her I have an appointment with a psychiatrist on December 21. She was shocked, saying it takes months to get in with one. But my insurance company found one for me. Apparently she’s only going to diagnose and medicate, though. So I don’t know how I feel about it. I’ll at least keep the appointment, though.

Final Thoughts

Diane is crap. She laser focused on one thing and refused to hear anything else about me. And her plan is bullshit and so was her motherfucking brain diagram she scribbled to show me that I’m behaving like an animal on instinct rather than a rational human being. But I know I need help, and if being accountable to that nonsense-spewing unprofessional moron helps me even a small  amount? Then it’s worth it. For now.

I just rambled a buncha shit, y’all, and probably forgot most of it. But I just couldn’t muster up the strength to write sooner. To those of you whom I’ve worried, please accept my sincerest apologies. I’ve had an absolute week from hell, and I’ve pretty much been in bed since I got off of work yesterday. I’ll do my best to catch up on emails and things soon. I miss reading y’all, too!

I’ll be back on the upswing soon, you’ll see. (I believe that. I have to.) Maybe a music party tomorrow or somethin’, hey?

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful messages and support. As always, you’re the bestest.

 

 

Sharing the Lovejuice

Yo. Peoplleaneous. Also known as The Bestest People Ever.

You know how you’ve been lifting me up lately? Soothing my spirit and making me laugh?

I have this bloggy buddy, see. Her name is Sandra, and she’s pretty down in the dumps. She might not like for me to do this. (Sandra, say the word and I’ll take this post down!) I know a lot of us are struggling. I know. But I’m worried and feel particularly compelled to reach out on her behalf.

Being the badass awesome peoplleaneous that y’all are…could you do me a solid and mosey on over to Sandra’s place and share some of that lovejuice y’all have been giving me? (Hehehe that sounded sooooo nasty, didn’t it? I did it on purpose. You like that? Shut up, perv! Focus!)

As an added bonus: for those of you who aren’t already following her, she has a kickass blog. Show her some love, would ya?

homeslice