growinghumans


The Thing About Tulips
February 19, 2017, 1:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s the thing about tulips–

When you first get them, they’re all closed up, two little lips, set firmly in a line across a face. You can’t tell how many there are, even. That is, until you start trimming the stems and arranging them in the vase. What you thought may have been a dozen turns into two dozen and then you have thirty tulips sitting in your vase. It’s hard to arrange them because as you take them out of their wrapping, they arch forward–or I guess backward, depending on where you’re standing. They droop in an elegant way, though. You can’t be too mad about it.

You arrange your thirty bowing tulips, fill the vase up with luke-warm water and stand back and smile. Because that’s the thing with tulips: they make you smile. They are bright colors, they have long stems like the long neck of a lady you can’t help looking at.

(Has anyone seen Under the Tuscan Sun? The English woman who rubs baby ducks on her face and eats all of the gelato? It’s that woman. That’s the woman you can’t stop looking at with the long, arched neck of a tulip.)

You walk away from them, eventually. Maybe you go to bed. But that’s the thing about tulips: when you wake up they will look changed; not in a drastic or dramatic way. But they will be a little more open, a little more upright. Not so open that you can see their centers but enough to tell you that you have done something right–given the right kind of water, arranged them correctly, smiled at them enough. You will gently rearrange them in their new state, making sure the yellow ones –your favorite– are prominently showcased in front of the dark and light pink ballerinas sharing their space.

By the end of the day, the water is all but drained. That’s the thing about tulips: they are very thirsty. They aren’t like your common Walmart bouquet where you can trim those stems as much as you want but those cheap artificially colored daisies are not going to drink that water and they are going to die as soon as they would have if you had not even bothered with water. Tulips appreciate the time, the effort. They pay it back with their beauty that will still make you smile even on the second, third, eighth day.

Soon after, they will open completely and you will see the secret they have been keeping so tightly locked inside of them. The thing with tulips is: they all look different in their centers. Dark pinks have dark purple circles, the light pinks have white, and the yellow still remains a mystery…they have remained shut still. Some people are like that, though. Some are open and want to show you all of them and some still need some time, a bit more water, a bit more smiling.

Some day, a shockingly long time after the other colors had opened, the yellows finally give it up. Isn’t that the thing with tulips? They know their own beauty and some are stubborn about it purely for the dramatics of waiting. But oh, when the yellow ones open it will feel like spring has finally, finally arrived. Their little black circles peer up at you like a darkness we all hide deep inside, shut in tight. But it’s okay, yellow tulips. We get it. It takes time and we are just so happy to be with you.

Eventually though, they will start to droop again and no amount of water can make them perk back up; petals start to fall and you sense the end of a relationship that you didn’t even know you were having with each individual bloom. You will pull out the ones who have only a few sparse petals left, throw them in the garbage bin; put them out of their misery. The bouquet grows smaller and smaller and you should probably just dump the whole thing but you can’t bring yourself to do it. Those yellow ones are still alive. They are still there and they worked so hard to open for you– why would you cut them off before their time?

That’s the thing about tulips: they feel a lot like the inside of your mind.



The Little Urchin Girl
February 9, 2017, 1:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Let me tell you a story, dear reader.

Once upon a time there was a town; a dusty old town that was falling apart. The houses needed new roofs, the inns were lice infested, the library barely held any books.

All of the men of the town, everyday, would meet in the center of the town, by the fountain that had long gone dry.

They would argue for hours. They would blame one another for the dilapidated state of their town. Some days it would get violent, there would be shoving, pushing, punching. Every evening they would drag their bruised egos back to their sad little houses and dream about how they might come up with ideas at tomorrow’s meeting.

One very non-eventful morning, one very ordinary morning, the men were at it again. One was suggesting they just leave the town how it was and move on to find a new place to live. Other’s seemed to tentatively warm to this idea. “Yes”, they said. “Let’s set this place on fire and start all over again.”

It was then, it was in this very insignificant moment, that a small voice tried to cut through the loud buzz of men making plans. “Excuse me,” the small voice said. No one even turned their head. No one even seemed to hear the voice. A second attempt, men being pushed aside until it sounded much louder and in the center of the conglomerate, “EXCUSE ME”, the small voice tried again.

This time it worked. The men stopped talking and looked around at one another to see  who had made such a racket. Then, their eyes cast down to where a very small girl was standing. There was nothing remarkable about her. Her cheeks were rosy, her hands were dirty, and her dress was torn and a size too small. Silence fell over the group for a few moments. No one introduced themselves, no one asked her to introduce herself.

Seeing that pleasantries were not going to be a luxury for her, this small girl cleared her throat and said in an unwavering voice, “But won’t you eventually ruin the new town the same way you ruined this one?”

Silence. Dead silence.

The men looked at one another. Obviously this thought had not crossed anyone’s mind.

But, surely such a revelation couldn’t come from a small, dirty girl and not one of the prestigious and respected men of the mob.

They all, silently, decided to pretend they hadn’t heard her. Conversation picked back up, perhaps a bit louder to make a point to the little urchin left standing in the dust kicked up from the shuffling feet.

Setting her jaw very square and very strongly, she climbed up onto the top of the fountain, gripping on to the vines that sprang from it now, instead of clean water. She carefully balanced herself, and enjoyed the view for a moment.

These men, this clump of clods, looked like a group of pigeons or hens, wandering around aimlessly, pecking here and there, and making an awful racket of it.

Clearing her throat again, she thought for a moment what to say; she knew they had to be important words. Loud and powerful words that she would have to dig from deep down inside of her. Words from a girl who, even at such a young age, had grown tired of depending on this group of pigeons, this mob of men.

“You can fix it!”, she cried.

One or two of the men looked up at her, pausing a moment and then turning back to their conversations.

“I SAID YOU CAN FIX IT.”, she tried again, so loud that she almost lost her balance.

One of the more rotund men shot a look at her, brow furrowed. “Silence, girl.” The emphasis was on the word “girl” but all she heard was the command for silence.

She crouched down for a moment on her perch and baffled at the concept. How can anyone be silent? How can anyone even command that of a person? That’s like telling someone to stop breathing, stop scratching an itch, stop thinking and wishing and planning. She was enraged, inspired, indignant and proud all at the same time.

She jumped down from that fountain, back onto the ground in the midst of the men. She tried again and again to get their attention. She yelled, shrieked, jumped up and down. “SILENCE” was the only acknowledgement she got, over and over and over again.

Nevertheless, she persisted. She placed two fingers between her lips and let loose a shrill of a whistle.

The men, alarmed, stopped and looked at her again.  Before they had a chance to turn back, to ignore or dismiss her and bellow “SILENCE”, she tried again.

“You can fix this. This is your town. You just need leaders. You need to assign jobs. You need to make men responsible for work and then allow them pride when they do a job well done.”, she said, maybe a bit too quickly–afraid to be silenced yet again. She breathed a sigh of relief when she was done speaking.

The men –suddenly the group didn’t seem so large, so ominous–blinked at her, jaws on the dusty ground. Then, quietly from the back of the group, a pigeon uttered, “It could work”.

How could this be?  They didn’t know how this small little thing…a child, a girl…could have saved their town within minutes.

One of the men stepped forward, taking off his hat and kneeling down before her so they were eye to eye, spoke loudly, for all to hear, “What is your name, child?”

The girl’s lips parted into a smile, showing teeth that were missing, but promised to appear some day. A perfect smile. A future.

“My name is Elizabeth,” she said proudly, looking around at all of the men who had ignored and dismissed her.

“And I will not be silenced.”

 



Love lifts us up where we belong
February 7, 2017, 1:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It can happen at any time, when you least expect it. You will be folding laundry, watching Netflix alone in your bed, trying to get it together enough to find something to feed your kid for dinner, not even thinking about feeding yourself.

For me tonight, it happened in the steps it took from the bottom of our stairs to the refrigerator. Tiny Human was curled up on the couch, folded but neglected laundry all around her, giving her some sort of security that her own mother refuses to engage in. I asked her what she wanted for dinner–the fridge full of ready to go meals that her father had prepared all weekend in anticipation of his wife feeding their six year old daughter cereal for dinner. She picked one of her lunchables. I wasn’t sure if this was allowed. I wasn’t sure if they were just for lunches. I decided I didn’t care and let her do it anyway.

As I was pouring her milk, she came up behind me and wrapped her impossibly long arms around me, at the very top of my rib cage. I turned around and leaned into the hug, barely having to bend down to return the embrace. Her grip tightened around my shoulders and I felt her legs bend and prepare to leap. I braced myself for the launch and caught her in my arms as she wrapped her impossibly long legs around my waist. I stumbled back for a moment but soon we were standing in the middle of the kitchen; wrapped around one another. She was heavy; I wondered how heavy she was now (we don’t own a scale). Her legs kept slipping from my waist down to my knees.  I felt the rest of her slipping, too, but I held my grip firm.

She still smelled the same way she did when they handed her to me for the first time in my hospital room. I remember being baffled by the smell; she smelled like me. I have no idea how I knew this because no one really knows how they smell, but in that moment with my newborn in my arms and in that moment with my 6 year old in my arms, she smelled like me, a biological reminder that I am, in fact, her mother.

When I still lift her up in this manner with people around–family, friends, people in Target–there are always remarks about how she is getting too big for me to lift like that. No, I always say. I will lift her up and hold her to me until her feet no longer leave the floor when I try to lift her. I don’t care how heavy she gets, or how weak I become. I will always pick up my child because, one day, I will put her down and never pick her back up ever again.

The magic broke and she slid down my body like an avalanche. Standing straight up against me, her head has reached my chest already. There’s only a short few feet left before we are eye to eye, with puberty no where in sight. My amazon girl.

She brings her dinner to the table and I stand there, willing myself to sit with her, talk about her day, go through some of those flash cards her father has made for her. It all feels so foreign to me. It all seems forced at this point still.

I remember when I brought her home, I would put her in the swing and sit across from her, curled up on the couch and just watch her. I had no idea with to do with her. I felt nothing. I knew she was a baby–my baby–and that she must be cared for, which I managed, but the bond between her and I was and always has been a strange thing.

She calms me. She will crawl into the bed–I am always in this damn bed–and she will curl up against my stomach like how I carried her for one millions months. She holds my hand if I cry. If I lock myself in the bathroom, when I finally emerge, there is usually a picture or a card on the floor waiting for me with a happy face and whatever sight words she could string together to make a sentence that day.

I talk a big talk.

I tell people that it’s okay to open up to your children about your mental disorder. I tell people that children have a right to know what is wrong with their parents, they have a right to know about the different sorts of emotions out there and that sometimes you get so many in your head that you simply can’t take it and you have to ask for help.

It looks brilliant on paper.

I used to, maybe even until last year, see my relationship with my Tiny Human as symbiotic. I would take care of her and she would take care of me and it would go on and on and never change. But there’s a rift. I am ashamed to ask for my 6 year old daughters help with problems that I should be able to handle myself. She walks around in sad moods for days and refuses to tell me what the matter is. I sit in this bed, clawing at myself for possibly already messing up this perfect little person who was brought into such an uncertain and hesitant world. She has to be the happy in my life. And she usually is, but those days where I cannot reach her, all I think about is that I SHOULD BE ABLE TO REACH HER….and then I think wow maybe people think that about me…that I should be reachable. I have been. I went a long stretch of being reachable and able to talk about what I had gone through for that year and a half nightmare of a time. But when I get into this bed, with the curtain drawn and pillows hiding me from reality, there’s nothing even left here to reach.

Sometimes Tiny Human is sent in, as some sort of bomb specialist. Cut the red wire, Tiny Human. Not the green. She always cuts the red and is able to extract me safely away from the crime scene.

 

But how is that suppose to feel? How can I possibly feel like a good  mother at the end of these days? I sit at the top of my stairs and watch her watch her evening TV shows. I should go down and sit next to her, but I am afraid that the chasm would still feel equally large and I could not bear that right at that moment. That moment, this moment, all the moments. I need to get a hold of myself. Calling myself a bad mother solves nothing because guess what, at the end of the day I AM STILL HER MOTHER. Good or bad, doesn’t make a difference. If I don’t do anything and just watch her evolve at a distance, like a museum exhibit, those are years I will never get back. But I will still be her mother.

(Try harder, people will say. Go for walks with her. Do puzzles. Do a craft. These are the same people that think going for a walk, doing puzzles, or doing a craft will cure my depression. Easily dismissed.)

So, people who half jokingly say that I am too small to lift my quickly growing not so Tiny Human, I am going to pick her up, an hold her to me and and rock back and forth with her chubby little cheek up against mine until my arms are sore. This I can do. This is what comes natural.

Mothers– perhaps mothers like me who feel like they belong on the island of misfit parents, pick yourself up from that floor. Give your kid the damn lunchable because it’s better than cereal. Slowly get closer and closer to your child before you find yourself next to them on the couch without the help of Klonipin.

And pick that child up.

Rock your baby. Rock your baby and know that all over the world women are doing the same thing. You know why? Because you cannot fail at it. In that moment where you are holding them as close as you can get without them getting back into your womb, you are not a bad mother.



Voicemails I Leave my Psychiastrist
January 30, 2017, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sunday, January 29, 2017 3:54 pm EST

 
“Hi, this is Carrie London. My phone number is 919-***-****. I had an appointment last week. I honestly can’t remember when it even was…but anyway, I missed it. I’m really sorry about missing it with no reason. I’ve been in bed a lot…not sure if it’s depression…not sure…anyway. But yeah ok I missed that appointment and I know I have to pay whatever that thing is called when people don’t show up, again I’m so sorry, and so I need a new appointment. Uh, reschedule. Yes. Sorry, again. Really sorry. ………OH MY BIRTHDAY IS 10/11/84 I forgot you needed that. Ok. Sorry. Bye.”

 

Receptionist called me back this morning to reschedule.

“Now, I can’t reschedule you until you pay the cancellation fee.”

“Ok. Yes. So sorry for that. Again…”

“The fee is $70.”

“I’m sorry what?”

“The cancellation fee is $70.”

“Do you need to get it now?”

“Yes. I am ready for your card number.”

“Um…mmmm…my husband has the credit card right now so I’m gonna need to call you back….um…”

“That’s fine. Call whenever you can.”

“Okaythanksbye.”

 

 

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.



The Curious Death of Joey the Cat
November 17, 2016, 7:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of my cats –Joey–died last week.

I want to talk about it.


 

Last year Joey suffered from a stroke; a pretty bad one. He went to jump up onto our bed and missed and fell onto the floor, with no use of his legs whatsoever. He couldn’t get to the food bowl, he couldn’t get to the litter box, he couldn’t get anywhere.

We packed him with soft blankets and pillows in any room we were in at the time and waited for his inevitable death. 4 days later, he was up and walking around. He was a little off balance,  a little scattered, but 100% not dead.

He maintained this sort of mentality for maybe 9 months, then this year–a few months ago–he started having terrible seizures. They started off as just happening in the middle of the night and at first we didn’t even realize they were seizures. We would hear him yowling downstairs and turn on the light and he would be sitting in a puddle of pee. When we finally witnessed him seizing–spinning around, stumbling, moving into the corners of rooms and then yowling uncontrollably after–we thought, again, that death was fast approaching. Our Tiny Human, who we had already prepped for pet death during the stroke, was shockingly level headed through the whole thing. She would sit with him, pet and love on him, and told us it would be okay for him to go because then he wouldn’t feel so sick.

Again, this cat didn’t die. One day he just stopped having seizures. Like it never happened.

When I was growing up, we had a cat named Smokey who had graves disease and hated basically everything except for my mom and dad. He died when I was a teenager and I remember my parents being so prepared for the moment. My dad moved him into the kitchen when he could no longer walk, and placed him on some blankets and towels and my sister and I sat beside him and watched with morbid curiosity what death looked like. We stroked his still soft and shiny fur up until the end. As his little cat heart stopped and he was fading from us, he stretched out his entire body–like he was leaping towards something. We all gasped watching him move in such a strong manner when moments before he couldn’t even move his tail. When he was as stretched as he could go, he took his last breath. He died in his house, warm and safe, with his family next to him.

Last week, we noticed Joey was missing from the house. Cats are a weird pet to have in which you can never really pin point the last time you saw them. Mia was the first to notice that night, when feeding the animals, Joey did not come down to eat–and he was not one to miss a meal. I also thought this was weird and we searched all over the house. Closets, under beds, in the garage, by the hot water heater, the crawl space. We shoot the food bag which made my other cat go mildly crazy, but there was no sight of Joey.

We then went to search outside. It was dark and cold out at this point. Oscar, the other cat, is the one who likes to escape outside and hide under our porch from the other cats, pretending he is a wild animal in his natural habitat. Joey very rarely would venture out of the house. He knew where the food was. He wasn’t a moron. When he did sneak out, he would be pawing at the door about 12 minutes later, having had his fill of nature.

None of us could recall him getting out that day, which was concerning but nothing that we panicked over. I stood in the middle of my culdesac, shaking the food bag as Tiny Human and my husband patrolled the back yard, shaking a bowl of food.

As I mentioned in another blog, a skeptical and possibly magical cat appeared at the sounds…but no Joey.

It got very cold that night and dread started to sink in.

I started asking my neighbors the next day if they had seen him. Our elderly neighbor, who feeds all of the cats in the neighborhood had also not seem him but said he would keep an eye out. Everyone says that. Everyone says they will keep an eye out do whatever they can to help.

My neighbor wasn’t lying about it. The next day, in the afternoon as I was leaving to go pick up Tiny Human from school, he stopped me in my driveway. “I was asking some of the people who live behind us if they had seen your cat. The woman who lives directly behind me said that she had seen him on her porch a few days ago,” he started telling me, giving me hope. “I started looking around the wooded area between our houses. There is a storm drain tunnel back there…I found a dark grey cat in there…” he started to drift off for a moment, searching for the words to tell his neighbor that he had found her dead cat. “I don’t know if he’s your Joey, he certainly looks like him. He wasn’t alive…I have him over here, covered up. I’ll lift it up so you can see his face, but I won’t show you the rest of his body.”

I followed him up his driveway, feeling numb. A grey cat. There are plenty of grey cats. I was sure this wasn’t going to be our cat. As promised, he lifted up the black garbage bag covering the body. The face was Joey. Tiny black nose, impossibly small, sharp teeth, yellow eyes. It was like getting kicked in the stomach and I immediately burst into tears, kneeling down next to him. “Can I see the rest of him to make sure? He had a pouch under his tummy…” My neighbor cut me off there. “I won’t let you see the rest of him. It will upset you more. There is a pouch, I can tell you that.” I nodded and remained down next to him, sobbing for a few more seconds. His name came  pouring out of my mouth, begging an explanation. “Why were you out here? Why did you die alone? Did you leave knowing that we loved you?”

My neighbor, single and no kids,  grew kindly awkward and kept saying ,”I’m so sorry.” I eventually stood up and got myself together. I thanked him and gave him a hug, which was even more kindly awkward in it’s blatant surprise of affection. “Do you want me to bury him? I have two cats already buried back there. He can rest with them, if you want.” I said yes that would be lovely.

I went and got my Tiny Human from school and of course the first question out of her mouth was “Did you find Joey yet?” I tried to lay it off, with my voice slightly quivering, “We will talk about that when we get home.”

When we pulled into the driveway, my neighbor was digging the hole for Joey on the side of his house. Well. I guess we are doing this now.

I turned around and took Tiny Human’s hand. “We did find Joey,” I squeezed her hand, perhaps more for my benefit than her’s. “He was not alive anymore.”

She looked back at me with her wide brown eyes, unflinching for now.

“Not alive?” She asked quietly.

Shit.

“No, he was hiding in a tunnel and had died, love.”

She nodded and started blinking quickly. She was trying not to cry. This-of course-made me burst into tears, which then moved her tears along, as well. We sat in my car, hands clutched and crying for a few minutes.

“Can I see him?” she asked.

Shit.

“Let’s go ask if we can see him one last time,” I answered, praying that she wouldn’t need much therapy after this.

We walked over to where he was digging the little grave. The body was already in there, the first layer of dirt outlining his body. I told my neighbor that my Tiny Human wanted to say goodbye to Joey. He nodded but didn’t seem to know what to do for a moment. Then, he knelt down and brushed away some of the dirt. Not a lot–not enough to show his face or really anything, but he brushed off enough to see the dark grey fur of our cat. Tiny Human teared up again and nodded. “Goodbye, Joey. I’ll go tell Oscar that you are gone. I’ll give him a hug.”

 

That night was emotional, to say the least. Watching a 6 year old come to terms with death in that sort of horrifying way made my heart feel like it was full of pebbles; little cairns stacked inside of my rib cage.

We sat on the couch and ate some popcorn as a family, which was Joey’s favorite treat, and tried to come to terms with the lack of closure we were given with our well loved pet. I kept lamenting on how he was cold and wet and alone when he died. I couldn’t rationalize that. He never went outside. He certainly never got lost. I couldn’t make sense of it. Pets, loved ones, anyone, should never die alone. They should pass peacefully holding someones hand and hearing reassuring voices.

My Tiny Human, the old soul that she is, slowly spoke up. “Mommy, you know how you tell me you need privacy when you are in the bathtub?” Yes. I sure do. “Well,” she continued, “maybe Joey just needed privacy.”

 

Maybe Joey just needed privacy.

I knew it was a thing. My mother had warned me to look out for such a thing. She told me that when cats die, they will go into hiding. They will get into little places with no intent of getting out. Certainly at the time we thought this mostly was contained to an in the house death, nothing with the grandeur of leaving your property and getting just far enough away from us so it was impossible to find, at first.

I realized it. It all clicked. He knew he was going to die. He somehow got out of the house–a planned escape–and found the best place he could to give up his precious life.

The idea horrified me. How could anyone want to die alone? But, then I started thinking about my own mentality when I am in the deepest depths of depression; how I feel when the madness of suicide is nipping at my heels.

I isolate myself.

I don’t answer calls.

I shy away from any sort of physical affection.

Maybe, deep down, we are all like cats. When faced with life’s hard–and perhaps final–challenges and decisions, we would all decide to hunker down and not be a bother to anyone else. No pomp. No circumstance. Just the sound of your own heart slowing down and then whatever it is that happens as soon as it stops.

Maybe, though,  it’s not that we don’t want to be alone–it’s that other people cannot conceive leaving US alone. I know that day when I saw Joey’s limp body in the driveway, all I could wail on about was not being there for him in his last moments.

Not being alone has less to do with what the person wants themselves and more to do with how everyone else around us copes.

It is those people who insist on you not being alone, those people who will drag you from your bed kicking and screaming, who will text you every hour on the house, who will email you loving inquiries, those are the people who are really doing the hard work. Laying still and fading alone is easy. Convincing me to not do that is hard.

Life is hard.

Depression is hard.

Admitting you need help is hard.

But once you get past all of that, being alone suddenly becomes hard. Feeling hopeless and beyond help becomes hard. Giving up feels hard.

Life is hard. Love is easy.

Thank you for the lesson, Joey.

 



What It’s Actually Like to Have Treatment Resistant Depression
November 14, 2016, 12:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I read an article this weekend. It was titled “What It’s Like to Have Treatment Resistant Depression”.  I’m not going to lie, these days I scroll by 80% of the posts that have anything to do with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and anything in between. Most of them are posts that are more or less titled “What you need to know about a person with…” or “What you didn’t know about…” or “How to love a person with…”

It’s silly to think that someone could put something so personal like how someone might love me despite–or in spite of?–of my mental disorders. Of course none of it has ever applied to me, which is fine. Maybe it’s applied to someone out there–but there isn’t just one way to love someone, regardless of their emotional issues.

BUT I DIGRESS.

I am not here to simply rant about the state of internet coverage of things close to my heart.

I am here to talk about that post I mentioned all the way up there. Anyway, like I said, I usually pass on most things, but this caught my eye. I am mostly drug resistant and it’s not something I have seen spoken about in any sort of length to give me information or hope or a high five.

So, I clicked the link

 

and immediately regretted it. It was half a page of a girl saying she had tried 9 medications in a row and nothing worked and that she decided to stop medications and that deciding if you want or need to be on medication is right for you is a big choice.

That’s it. Those were the shining words of hope for people out there who feel like a prescription drug dumpster. I was irritated.

I am irritated.

 

So, allow me to tell you what it has been like for ME to deal with having treatment resistant depression.

I was diagnosed 2? 3? years ago with bipolar disorder after living under the impression that I had manic depression. The diagnose came as an extreme relief because all through college I had tried different anti-depressants and nothing seemed to work at all. I was hyped. Pumped. Let’s do this thing. Shut up and take my money and hand me some pills.

The first round of medication prescribed for me didn’t work. I went in to see my new psychiatrist about 4 times between two months to make sure I wasn’t making it up. I felt no better, no worse, nothing. Ok. Let’s taper down off of this and start a new one! It’s just a matter of finding the right fit!

The second medication made me break out in a rash. Ok. Let’s taper down off of this and start a new one! It’s just a matter of finding the right fit!

Imagine this, off and on, for 2 or 3 years–a number I probably have a hard time remembering because of all of the medication I have been on.

If you look up the basic list of anti-psychotics or anti-convulsents–you will see my life story. The list of meds in my chart needs its own page. We would start my sessions with “Ok, what haven’t I given you yet? How about this sublingual tablet? It’s flavored!”

I was on THAT medication the last time we went to Disney. Not only did it not work, I was at a level of depression where I was having to actively remind myself to be happy. If you suffer from depression you know what this is. You find yourself surrounded by something that should most definitely make you happy, but you feel nothing. You smile. You force yourself to smile the entire time hoping that you will trick your brain and sometimes this even works.

But, so, I was at Disney like this, taking these dissolving tablets that were supposed to taste like black cherry but tasted more like probably what those rainbow puddles of car fluids you see in parking lots taste like. I’m just guessing here. It was mostly terrible.

I went off medication. Twice .And I cannot even begin to imagine what deluded thoughts I was having before the second time because the first time was a horrible idea. I pretended that I wanted to be more organic with my emotions. That I was losing touch with myself. That I felt like a robotic pill taking machine. Maybe at the time, these were all true, but then I went over the cliff. If you ever decide to go off of medication all together like this to “detox” or whatever, you will go over the cliff. You may be able to bounce back, I don’t know.

I didn’t bounce back. I went over and landed splat on the pavement and stayed there until I peeled my sorry ass up and skulked back to the psychiatrist.

We started all over again. This time, we tried combining medications. Sometimes a second one to counter a side effect, sometimes a second one to take just for fun to see what would happen. This mostly kept me afloat and for some of the combinations, it helped for a little bit–maybe 2 months. Then, I would buckle again and my mind pushed out any help whatsoever. Again, I threw a hissy fit. I can’t do this! It’s affecting my short term memory! (it was) I’m having a hard time concentrating! (I was) I’m losing track of my thoughts or having a hard time thinking of specific words! (I was)

So, I went off again. Actually, exactly a year ago today I went off my medication for the second time. And began one of the most difficult years of my life. I went over the edge much faster, hit the pavement much harder.

I remember literally feeling like I was face down in the mud–like in those military training courses ,crawling under barbed wire–and that a boot was firmly pressed between my shoulder blades. I wrote about it as often as I could but for a little bit I grew silent online. I gave up hope for a little bit. I thought about killing myself in a serious manner for the first time in my life.

I–at the mandate of my loved ones–went back to my psychiatrist at some point in the midst…probably pretty early on. She threw me on one of the strongest and most commonly known medication for this sort of thing as a sort of hail Mary. Let’s just keep you alive for a little bit, ok? We will deal with the side effects once you stabilize. It took a while to stop wanting to kill myself. I had people around me, not many, but some who I could report to when I was afraid. I felt afraid a lot. I knew I was having these thoughts and that they were absolutely not me. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t get any better for a while there. She kept upping my dosage  and with it came a whole new slew of issues.

When you are drug resistant, the normal recommended dose rarely applies to you. The milligrams you pump into your body are high and disturbing for some people who don’t understand. Even then, sometimes it still won’t work. Sometimes your brain is just that big of an asshole.

I don’t know how long it took me to at least get my head above water. I eventually did. I woke up one day and my heart felt a little lighter; or rather, it felt something. It wouldn’t be a consistent feeling, at first. I would have two good days and then be low for the rest of the week. But, it was something.

Eventually, I was able to come off the MILLIONS OF MILLIGRAMS I was taking of this ridiculous medication. Withdrawing from a medication that just minimally was able to do its job for you seems like a cruel joke but ISN’T THIS ALL JUST ONE CRUEL JOKE?

I withdrew. I started the combination I am still currently on. I did hard things and got myself out of the damn mud.

When you are bipolar–or at least my version of bipolar–you have big upswings and downswings. Medications work to make that central line stronger, easier to stay at. Being resistant made this stabilization hard, but I kept at it.

My center feels stronger these days, but I still have the occasional downswing. The upswings are harder to come by, I imagine it’s like a heart working harder to bring that blood back up from your toes into the center of your body. It happens. I get happy. I get excited. There are things in my life that make it easy almost to feel at peace and more than content. But it is still hard work. I can constantly feel my brain trying to form a wall between me and the help of the medication I am on.

I know I am still resistant and that I will never be able to find the perfect medication for me. I have learned to be patient, strong, open minded and willing to cope in different ways.

So, if you are struggling with finding the right medication for you–for anything you’re suffering from–know a few things that post failed to mention:

It sucks.

It is okay to admit that it sucks.

It is frustrating and you will have to work harder than everyone else to feel okay.

Do not back down. I whole-heartily endorse NOT GOING OFF OF ALL YOUR MEDICATIONS.

If you are feeling out of control or disgusted with your body–like I have in the past–listen to your doctor. Mine tried to convince me to at least stay one a low dose of something to keep me buoyant. I was too proud to take her up on that offer. TAKE YOUR DOCTOR UP ON THAT OFFER. You may think you will learn more about yourself off of medication but I promise you it is nothing you ever want to know.

You can live like this. I have come to realize I can live a life where I am using a slew of defenses to keep myself safe. Complicated people require complicated treatment.

 

Being drug resistant does not make your disorder a puzzle or a game. You cannot be solved; cannot win. There are no exact pieces to make you whole. Once you face that and accept what you will have to do, you will feel more like a piece of clay thrown onto a spinning wheel. You mold, you bend, you arch–sometimes you cave in and have to start all over again–but that wheel always keeps spinning you can always keep evolving–surviving–being.



Making Waves
November 11, 2016, 2:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I started writing a novel back in August. At first, I outlined it on a wall using post-it notes and index cards. It is meant to be historical fiction so keeping my timeline correct along with every other little detail possible seemed insurmountable without a visual aid.

Some of my friends knew I was working on “big project”, some new it was a book, most had no idea  I was even doing something like this. For weeks (months? it’s blending) I refused to tell anyone what it was about. They would ask for hints or titles or character names and I would not budge. –Not because I wanted it to be this grand, dramatic secret; but, because I was truly unsure whether or not it was a stupid idea.

You know that feeling? When you have a ground breathtakingly amazing idea and you realize that no one has ever done anything like it before…and for a little while you question, “Why”?

Why has no one covered this specific topic? It seems like a wonderful story waiting to happen. I searched to the darkest corners of the internet *just in case* I was missing something super obvious, but I found nothing.

I remember when I finally told the first person about the book. I had meant to just give a general overview–I explained the main character, the origin of the story, the basic plot line. They immediately got excited about it. “Now, wait.” I started. “I need you to be perfectly honest with me. Is this a dumb idea? Would people read this?” No and yes were the answers along with my original confusion on why this book hadn’t already been written. I felt validated and that I could finally immerse myself in this story.

I feel like life is a lot like this process. People have ideas that are great and obvious and doable in their minds, but for some reason when we are the only person with that idea, we balk a little. We second guess ourselves. Our initial response isn’t that we clearly must be smarter than everyone else but that the idea is not worth having. No one (well, maybe Hamilton) has ever pronounced themselves a visionary, a revolutionist.

If everyone felt this way, nothing would ever happen.

We wouldn’t have revolted against the British. We wouldn’t have started the underground railroad. We wouldn’t have landed on the moon. We wouldn’t have voted for the first female presidential candidate.

If you have a singular idea, do not be afraid of that. Protect it; rare ideas are dangerous and wonderful and make the largest cut through your life. Often it will be those ideas that define you for the rest of your life. Your courage and determination will inspire others to join in on that idea with you. It will become a movement, an experiment, a ripple.

We have to remind ourselves that it is worth being that first stone, skipping across the still water, leaving waves in our wake.