The Ubiquitous 2016 Wrap-Up / Navel-Gazing New Year’s Post

The ‘net runs rampant with posts about how 2016 is the most terrible year ever to be had. No, not the years of the Bubonic Plague outbreaks. Not the years of the Holocaust. Not the years of Genghis Khan’s hordes. It was 2016: the year we lost certain celebrities, the year of yet more unfortunate film adaptations and remakes, and then the year Trump became President Elect of the United States. Tragic? The latter, for sure. The former happens all the time. It’s called life. Sucks, yeah. Any loss of life is tragic for the individual and his families. But come on. The loss of my dear Leonard Cohen and isn’t enough for me to call 2016 the worst year on record.

Fine, I glossed over the Trump bit. That was intentional. I don’t wanna talk politics, but if you wanna know how I feel about him, specifically – I’ll just say – fuck that guy. And not in a fun – I wanna do you all night long kinda way. But with like a mile long, herpes-infested cucumber-up-the-ass kinda way. That opinion has nothing to do with politics, by the way. (Okay, that’s not 100% true.) But it tends to spring forth from a woman when a man tries to grab her by the pussy because he’s a slimy-ass rich celebrity who thinks he can get away with it, because he can. And is my little STD-ridden cucumber fantasy hypocritical? Yes, I’m aware. That is all.

~

So. That’s the Internet’s 2016. My 2016 was far less focused on celebrities, and actually far less focused on Trump that my little rantlet makes it sound. A couple of Very Important People encouraged me about how well I’d done this past year, not to mention all the encouragement I received here from the WordPress fam. But the thing is, the saying, “I’m my own worst critic” is an adage for a reason. Upon reflection, I’m thinking they were right. It was messy (isn’t life supposed to be?), but I did make progress. Sure I want it to happen faster, cleaner…Right. Fucking. Now. But that’s not how shit goes down. In my typical random fashion, here’s some shit that did go down in my 2016.

Divorce – Yep. Let’s get that one out of the way. Surprised? “Regulars” probably are. Thing is, I was separated for somewhere between 4 and 5 years. But he refused divorce, and I didn’t pursue legal channels to enforce it. So I was stuck. In so many ways, I was stuck. 2016 was the year I finally asserted myself, broke the toxic patterns that had ended our marriage and stood up for myself. It took roughly five years, but it’s now official. Now…one never marries intending for things to go down that way. We’d been a couple since I was fifteen. But if things do go sour (and they did), it’s fucking toxic to be held in limbo for so long. With the support and urging of a couple of very strong and important friends, oh and some strong doses of anxiety meds, I finally asserted myself and ended that limbo.

Therapy – I finally caved and tried therapy, after at least twenty years of decrying it as a scam. I’ve tried talk therapy as well as meds, but with all that I had going on concurrently – in addition to limited financial means – I haven’t found the right combination yet. But. I do intend to try this out again. I’m still taking Lexapro, at least until my refills from Louisiana run out (soon), and I have a handful of Xanax left. But I haven’t been able to afford new doctors yet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get that sorted soon. So 2016 was the year I finally really began addressing my mental health.

Masturdating and Social Interaction – Along with my therapy, I also pushed myself to move beyond my boundaries. At least a bit. I took myself out to a couple of movies (Deadpool, yeah! And something with Bill Murray, because Bill Murray!). I took myself to a concert. I took myself to a poetry slam (which I haven’t told y’all about!). I took myself to Happy Hour (more than once). And I even took coworkers up on invitations a few times. I mean, this chick drank IN PUBLIC. She did not dance. She did not karaoke. (How many times does she have to say HARD LIMIT for people to get it?) But how she laughed. Oh how she laughed. 2016 was the year Stephanie hid a little less.

Quitting a Toxic – But Solid – Job & Moving Across Country – For the town I lived in, I had it made at my job. Aside from Queen Bitch, that is. But the direction things were moving in the last month or so would have had me in a new department under a brand new director with a brand new title and brand new salary. Yeah. There was no pressure at all at work. They didn’t beg me to stay or make my decision increasingly harder and more panicky each and every day. No. Not a chance. (I hope your sarcasm detectors are on and working.) Point is: Stephanie took shittons of Xanax in the last month and especially in the last two weeks in Louisiana. I met with a brand new therapist on the proverbial eve of my departure, and after an extended session, he agreed with all of my decisions. Except: he disapproved of the job I intended to accept in Oregon. It would have sapped me of my all and left me wrung out and an even greater emotional danger to myself than I already was. In the end, I agreed with him (though I had a tough time with the decision), but that has me still unemployed at the moment. I have made the move, though, and I’ve been in the Greater Portland Area since September. Newsflash: I Fucking Love Oregon. And, as yet, I have no regrets. 2016 was the year I gambled everything, turned my back on “everything I’ve ever known,” and risked staid stability to chase a dream in spite of everyone breathing down my neck what a fool I was. And I’m damn fucking proud I did.

Dispensary – Fucking right. I visited a dispensary for the first time. I’m in Oregon, dudes. What did you expect? So yeah, I got a J and a lollipot. I still have half the j left. (I may have a piss test in my near future. Yeah. Even in Oregon.) And I’m totally having the lolli if I land the job. Or at least part of the lolli, in celebration. Hm. Or maybe the other half of the j. Oh yeah! Pretty sure I’m gonna smoke it up with someone over Skype. I’ll toke over here. He’ll toke over there. It’ll be neato. Except I’ll have to find somewhere to do it, because of my “roommates.” Yeah. Remind me to tell you about them. I’m in a…weird situation. But one I’m grateful for. It’s just…fucking weird and uncomfortable sometimes. A lot of times. Anyway. Yeah. Old Stephanie never would have been brave enough to just stroll into one of those places, even though I’d have smoked whatever my friends brought out of there. I don’t see why people still think it’s such a big fucking deal. I’ve been smoking pot since…11 or so and I turned out. I still wouldn’t have gone in there. 2016 Stephanie? Dispensary-bound!

~

There’s probably more shit. I mean, it was a whole fucking year. But I need to get my shit ready for tomorrow. I don’t have a real job yet, but I do have a little side gig in the afternoons. Tutoring some kids on algebra and science. It’s not much, but at least it’s something for now.

I don’t do resolutions, so I ain’t making promises about writing. But when I come back, I’ll maybe tell ya about Oregon stuff. Oh! Oh! And I’ll leave you with a lovely piccy taken right here in Oregon, this very day.

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Accidental Penis: A Counter Stain

Much Ado About Everything (AKA Damned if You Do(n’t))

I…

…don’t know what to write.

I have yet to read a book this year. I keep trying, but nothing holds my focus or interest. I keep trying to read blogs. Articles. Even the rare thought-provoking Facebook post. I can’t. Fucking. Do it. Same with writing. I can’t think of anything to write about. Part of me wants to write. (The part of me that’s here writing this.) The other part of me couldn’t care less. (The part of me that cannot come up with anything to talk about right now.) It’s maddening. On slow days at work – I shit you not – so many times I’m just staring at the monitor or wall. Just fucking staring. I want to read. I want to write. It’s like I can’t.

Is it the medication?

Maybe.

Possibly.

Probably.

Speaking of (psychiatric) drugs, I’m only on Lexapro and Seroquel now. I’ve been through three anti-psychotics so far…Geodon and two others I’ve already forgotten. All three fucked me up in a major way. I’m not having major negative (discernible) side-effects from Seroquel, but…but I feel even more numb than I did before I was on it. I smile and laugh and crack the occasional snarky remark. But, for the most part, it doesn’t reach beyond the surface.

pills
At one point, I was on at least 12 scrips at once (that I can recall) and felt worse than I ever have. Against doctors’ orders, I’m down to five plus an OTC antacid. And I still think I can do without Seroquel.
I am still taking the sleepytime drug (Clonidine), but I’ve ceased the anti-anxiety drugs (Vistaril and Klonopin). First, I was just too fucking tired and sleepy all the time. I’m already tired all the time – I certainly didn’t need drugs that exacerbate that. Second, and most importantly, at least one of them was causing panic attacks. I’m the girl that has maybe three or four full-blown panic attacks a year. Maybe. The rest of them are milder anxiety attacks. Like can’t get out of the car to go into the grocery store. While I was taking the anti-anxiety drugs (at 50 mg Vistaril 3x daily and 1 mg Klonopin 3x daily), I began having them daily. Daily. Sometimes more than once per day. If I was at work, I had to scurry off to the bathroom to hide in a stall until it passed. If I was at home, I exercised less control but would eventually tuck myself in the closet. The closeness and darkness helped soothe and calm me down.

I knew something was fucked. And it had to be the drugs, because nothing else had changed. Granted, I’m going through some life changes right now – and they aren’t minor. But I’ve been easing my way into those for several months now. There was no brand new catalyst aside from the steady increase in anti-anxiety drugs and doses.

All that to say, I’ve ceased those – though the psychiatrist doesn’t know. When I tried to share my observations, she insisted I was better off with the meds than without – to the point where she brought up hospitalization again, as though holding that over my head if I didn’t take the pills. So I lie and tell her I’m still on everything except the ones where I have pictorial evidence of bad side-effects (like the big, burny rashes). I even asked her at one point if she wanted pics of vomit. (While I am a smartass, I don’t often use it with willfully mean intent. But she was basically accusing me of lying to her and being treatment resistant – hence my offer.) So now I really am lying to her, and I fucking hate it. It pains me so to admit it, because I hate lying. I hate liars. I used to say liars and thieves, but really they’re the same thing. A lie is theft of truth. So to tell a lie is to become both a liar and a thief. Next time I see her, I’m going to tell her. Just flat out tell her, and by then I will be able to tell her that I’ve been off of them long enough to know for damn sure they were doing more harm than good. Hell, they were doing no good and only harm.

But what about publife?

Once I took myself off of the anti-anxieties, I was strangely able to appreciate my anxiety. I’d gone weeks with severe daily panic attacks. So now that things had calmed back down to being too nervous to go into the grocery store, rather than pulling my hair and rage-screaming, I was less concerned.

So much so that I was finally able to push myself far outside my comfort zone and go to a pub – not once, but three times. And one of them was alone! I even took myself to the movies and to a concert – solo!

But here’s the thing…the Saturday and Sunday immediately subsequent to two of those pubnights?

In bed. Crying. Sleeping. Contemplating. Crying. Sleeping.

You get the idea.

It’s important to me that I share this here, because for anyone else going through what I’m going through, I don’t want to give the impression that this depressed introvert was “healed” after a few nights of bravery. I wasn’t. I’m not. Though I am proud of myself for pushing outside my comfort zone and even doing something I’d never done before, I also realize that wellness is an ongoing process. That goes for mental and physical health and wellness.

Last time, I only talked about the good shit. But it’s important to show the other side. What happened after the Happy Hour High.

The extreme highs of forced extroversion (that was honestly quite fun and liberating – errr aside from pubnight #3 which was an epic fucking disaster), followed by quiet solitude…well, let’s say that combination resulted in major emotional backlash for me. So. On this journey of mental wellness, I have to eventually discover a way to at least minimize the extroversion hangover caused by going from being ON to being alone and exhausted.

I haven’t been back out since the failed third Happy Hellish Hour, and I’ve had a negative urge to. Until Friday. I could have done Happy Hour after work. But..I kinda didn’t wanna. Because while I now know that I can do it, I also found it far more fun when I was with people than when I went alone. Frankly, it’s depressing. It was awesome in a lot of ways, and I was so fucking proud of myself. But. It’s also me. Sitting alone. At a bar. Alone. On a Friday night. Out. In public. Did I mention alone? Yeah. So while I kinda wanted to go, I didn’t. 

Then again, maybe that’s the drugs, too. Fucked if I know. What I do know is that my slowass pace doesn’t mean I’ve stopped progressing.

I’m trending upward. That’s right. Slowly but surely, I’m trending upward. Speaking of which…

Inching along the Oregonton Trail

OregonTrail

I continue to make progress (albeit slow) toward getting myself up to Oregon or Washington.

The yard is landscaped just along the front of the house. Azaleas, some fast growing lantanas, and some gorgeous annuals in window boxes. The house looks adorable. Fucking adorable. It went from ghetto to adorable in a flash. It’s amazing the effect flowers have on a house’s appeal.

As far as the house goes, there are still some hurdles before it can be put on the market. The driveway has to be re-graveled. The laundry room floor has to be painted (the previous owner painted it, and it looks ridiculous). The kitchen floor needs some tiles replaced. Other than that, it’s down to scrubbing and little things like window blinds and light bulbs here and there.

Strongly considering figuring out how to do it For Sale by Owner. It’s the legal shit that concerns me, not the showing. My boss is flexible, so I could show it on evenings, weekends and the occasional midday during the week. I’ve learned that hiring a realtor will take all of the little equity I’ve got in the house. I can’t afford to lose that, so I have to find another way. Enter FSBO.

I’ll do my research and give it a go. 

On the job front, I’ve stopped applying for now. I’ve had several interviews, but I have a solid lead thanks to a VIP at work. When he found out about my plans, he asked for my resume and sent it to another VIP in Vancouver, Washington. He tells me it’s solid and to bide my time while I sell my house. So I’m gonna let that simmer for a while and pour all my focus into the sale. 

~

This post took three days to write. That’s how bad my “block” is. I know this is an abrupt conclusion, but I don’t really know what else to say.

Until next time, y’all are the best. I’m not neglecting you on purpose.  This “block” is maddening! Hope everyone is well and happy!

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!