Sunday, May 2, 2010

On endings and beginnings

For some reason I can't really explain, I stumbled across this blog after more than a year of inattention. It was kind of weird re-reading it all with that kind of distance, that far removed; it was kind of like reading the novelization of a movie I'd watched about a dozen times. The memories--and all of the feelings--came flooding back. I remembered feeling resentful of my parents, I remembered that tumultuous love(ish) affair with Hot Mess, I remembered the worry and panic over my mental health and my future sanity--and I remembered them vividly. But rather than going there again and sinking back into that emotional minefield, I just kind of felt sorry for her, for this woman I knew so well who was going through so much pain. I wanted to tell her that I knew exactly what she was going through, that I'd been there myself and that it was miserable but I came out fine.

And I did. My neglect of Crazazy Chronicles isn't because anything horrible has happened--or, for that matter, because anything wonderful has happened--but because normal is happening. I can't say normal has happened, because I've come to understand that normal is a process, not an event. But some things in my life are settling to the point of being normal, and some things are spectacularly and wonderfully abnormal. And some things suck, frankly, but suck is frequently just another part of normal. And whether or not my normal would in any way resemble some "normal" person's normal, I don't know (I seriously doubt it), but it's working for me.

My normal:

New Guy is still in the picture, although I suppose at this point he's been around long enough to just be The Guy. He and I recently celebrated the second anniversary of that first date that I was so entertained to revisit upon re-reading this tonight. We're currently living in glorious sin and preparing to buy a house together at the end of the month. And we have a dog. In a spectacularly unexpected turn, The Guy accepts me exactly as I am, in a way I thought only existed in trite movies. It's strange how I was able to learn to accept myself because of that. It helps that he's his own personal brand of whacko, which I also love and accept. And my concerns that he would never try to break up the quiet of a room by whacking me with a pillow were completely unfounded. I've never been so happy with another person in my life. I think it's because I've also never been so happy with myself in my life. Chicken, egg.

Unfortunately, my job has been on a downward suck spiral since last I wrote, but I'm facing things with a stiff upper lip and maintaining a side project that is both inspiring and rewarding and will, I hope, eventually become sufficiently lucrative that I can blow my current popstand of employment. My relationship with my family has regained its warmth, although there's that little bit of closeness that was lost in the initial chaos of my diagnosis. A lot of it comes down to trust, I think, and trust once lost can be hard to regain. But there's a lot of love, and that goes a long way. The future there is bright.

And I know you're wondering about Hot Mess. He remains hot and ever-less messy. He's all the way across the country, not playing poker but working and going to college. He's got an apartment in a kicky, not-yet-trendy part of town and a ridiculously smart girlfriend (initial news of which gave me just the tiniest stab of jealousy, but honestly, I'm happy for him). We still write occasionally, but not that much. Certainly nothing compared to our epic text messages of yore. But that's to be expected--we were each others' support during some really hard times, and we helped each other grow, and now we're grown and supporting ourselves. Does that sound sappy? Yes, upon re-reading, it definitely does. Whatever. It stays.

Clinically? Things are good. Dr. F. and I remain close, and he's got me on 300 mg of lamotrigine daily. And it seems to be working, and as intended--I still have ups and downs, but the ups aren't that kind of up and the downs aren't that kind of down. Eating is healthier, shopping is slightly less (but not a whole lot; I can always make an excuse for more shoes), sex is precisely where it should be, self-harm is more or less done. Sleeping could be better (as evidenced by the 2:00 timestamp on this post), but I like to think my late nights are due more to productivity than to restlessness. Mostly.

None of this is to indicate that everything is perpetual smooth sailing in my life. Nothing ever is. Sometimes my job descends from "sucky" into "brutally sucky," sometimes The Guy and I argue, sometimes I cry for what seems to me to be no reason. Sometimes I get irrationally pissy. And there are times that I do wonder if everything is working, if all of the effort and time and chemicals I've put in my body are just going to catastrophically fail me at some point and I'm going to be left back where I started, but with an added hopelessness of having gotten so close to success and failing. Yeah, it's not great.

But most of the time, it's good. Not great, good. Normal is what I've been aiming for all this time, so getting good most of the time is an unbelievable gift. And knowing what I've come from--and what I could easily go back to--makes me value that good all the more.

I hope that someone out there can take a little bit of hope away from the fact that I've found good--that after a good two decades of helplessness and anxiety, I'm finally able to take some control of my body. That I'm learning to live life rather than just survive it. It's something that, during those deeply crappy times, I never thought possible, and now I know better. I can't even say what, specifically, I did to get here--I can't remember the steps, and I know I can't take credit for most of it. But I'm here. It turns out you can get here from there after all. God will that I'm allowed to stay here, and God will that everyone who is where I was will be allowed to join me.

It feels like I should have some kind of dramatic or touching or inspirational signoff here, something worthy of closing out a (very brief) era. Not really my style, I guess.

- Ann

Monday, July 7, 2008

How do I know

It's been a tough day. I've been irritable and fidgety and crazy productive, although not for anything work-related. It's not as bad as it's been in the past, but it's worse than it usually is. I have this fear that it's a potent of something worse, that it's going to get really bad before it gets better.

It might explain why I'm so irritated with New Guy. Last night, when I hung out with Big Brother and the girl, he was (I thought) acting like an utter asshole. But then, I thought that the girl was acting kind of like an asshole, too, and Big Brother says they were both just fine. So maybe it's me. Maybe it's entirely my perception, which could mean that I'm just really pissy and irritable.

Now how do I handle it with New Guy? Do I just flat-out tell him, "I think I may have a hypomanic episode coming on, but I'm not sure, so if I turn into a crabby bitch, please don't hold it against me"? Yeah, that wouldn't freak anybody out. At the same time, though, if I do turn into a crabby bitch, I don't want him to think it's about him.

Unless it is about him. And how do I know? That is, oddly enough, one of the worst things about the crazazy: I can't trust my own perceptions. I can never really know if I'm actually feeling what I'm feeling or if it's just my jacked-up brain chemistry telling me something different.

I've got an appointment with Dr. R. on Thursday, thank God. I missed my last one because I was so pissed off after my meeting with Boss of Eternal Evil that I forgot it entirely. It's probably best that I'm going this week instead, though. With the way I feel now and the way I may well feel by the end of the week, I'll definitely, definitely need his input.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Crazazy little thing called love

This is awful. It makes me sound like such a princess. But I'm still having to get used to being treated well by New Guy. It's still a bit of an adjustment. And that's so stupid! It's stupid to say, "Wow, this guy is awesome, and he's sweet to me, and he genuinely likes me, and he lets me know it, and this makes me uncomfortable." But there you have it.

I guess it's just because it's something I've never encountered in my life. Ever. Ever. No man in my life has ever behaved that way. The Commodore was a narcissist. Hot Mess was emotionally distant. Big Brother is incapable of making a move or expressing his feelings. Dad is incapable of offering the most basic approbation without prompting--if even then. So with New Guy being so open about his feelings so early on, my natural inclination is to think, "Well, damn, what's wrong with this guy?"

That's how skewed my perception has gotten: I can't appreciate a normal, healthy guy for what he is. Which isn't to say New Guy doesn't have his faults; he does. They just aren't neuroses. And that's kind of refreshing, if unfamiliar.

Now that I think about it, I think that may be the rub. In the past, I think I've sought out other crazies in the misguided hope that, through the miracle of neurotic empathy, they might understand and accept me the way other people generally don't. But what usually happens is that we two crazies just bounce our neuroses off each other until we're both crazier than before and the whole thing collapses catastrophically.

New Guy isn't neurotic, but he seems to understand and accept me anyway. He doesn't want me to change to suit him. He doesn't want me to heal hi. He doesn't want me to stroke his ego or substitute for a lack of self-esteem or fill a hole in his life. He just wants me to be myself, doin' my thing, wherever he is, and maybe let him grope my boobs on occasion, and maybe let him do the things for me that he enjoys doing. That's all he asks of me, and it feels really, really good.

And really fucking weird.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Daddy's girl

Sometimes it takes a visit home to really drive home the full extent of my daddy issues. I'd been doing well in a more theoretical respect with my efforts not to seek his approval or let his emotional distance get to me, but put me in immediate contact with him, and all bets are off.

It's just so frustrating. I got stupid and tried to bond with him by helping him out with an unpleasant chore, and instead I got the unequivocal message that I don't know anything about anything. I'm just a girl and a writer and I can't possibly help with anything math- or engineering-related that might require a man brain.

Then Mom tried to stand up for me, which I wish she wouldn't do. I mean, I appreciate it, and I know she does it because she loves me and hurts when I hurt, but it never makes anything better and it only gets him mad at her, too, and then he's withdrawn and pouts and everybody's unhappy.

The saddest thing is, this is exactly the way his mother always treated him: disregarding him, demeaning him, making him feel stupid and worthless. And he recognizes this. He just can't help passing it down to his kids.

It just tears me up. I want so badly to have a close, friendly relationship with him, but I have to walk on eggshells all the time. The most innocuous comment will set him off, and then he acts like I'm responsible for his hateful behavior. "I wouldn't have snapped at you if you hadn't been so glib." Glib? I wasn't being glib; I was being perfectly sincere. I know better than to be glib or dry or, God forbid, ironic when Dad's around. It's like smoking at a gas station.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jumping ship

Okay, I do realize that you're never, ever, ever meant to ditch a medication without first discussing it with your doctor, and I totally understand why, but I just could not keep taking the Lexapro. Two weeks in, and the side effects were debilitating. I couldn't function, so I ditched it. And I'm so glad I did. I'm not nearly so tired anymore, I'm not groggy at work, I've regained both the energy and the inclination to exercise. I'm still not sure why Dr. R. put me on it in the first place, but I'm going to have to break it to him that it didn't work out.

Things are also going better with New Guy. I'm starting to realize that the behaviors that have made me so uncomfortable in the past are simply the behaviors of a guy who sincerely likes me. They're unfamiliar because he's a mature adult who isn't afraid to make his feelings clearly known. And now that I realize that, it's kind of nice. It's nice not to have to wonder how he feels about me. Dating a grownup--what a concept.

And what a pity that, between Hot Mess and so many exes and even my own dad, a mature adult who actually likes me and actually tells me so is such a novelty. I never even realized that I deserved such good treatment until I was already getting it and it was already freaking me out. I guess I'm just going to have to get used to being treated right by a man in my life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We got the beat

Okay, the side effects have gotten a little bit better. I'm not dizzy or woozy or nauseated anymore, but I'm just plain beat most of the time. I actually got seven hours of sleep last night, albeit on the couch, and I'm just beat like a rug.

What's more, I'm completely unmotivated. Getting up in the morning, going to work, going back to work after lunch, all of it takes effort--almost more effort that I've got in me. That could be the Lexapro, or it could just be that I'm getting really tired of my job. I'm tired of never really knowing who I'm working for or who's in charge or what's expected of me, and I'm tired of getting my work shat upon by clients--and a certain boss--who don't know enough to know.

On the plus side, things seem to be looking up with Dr. R. Now that he's had  couple of sessions to get to know me and better understand my situation, I think he's ready to actually sit down and start therapizing me. And, more importantly, he seems wiling to work with what has already been successful for past therapists instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Which is not to say that I'm not open to new techniques. If I thought electroshock would get my head straight, I'd wire up myself.

The other thing that's going better is New Guy. It's not perfect, but it's moving in a good direction, for a couple of reasons. One is that I've finally decided to put Hot Mess behind me. Not entirely, because I still do value his friendship. But there came a point when I said to myself, "I'm sitting here pining over an unemployed, unmotivated, emotionally distant guy two time zones away. Why is that?" And I gave myself permission to let it go.

I also talked to Big Brother, which always helps. I mentioned that New Guy keeps pushing forward, and I don't feel ready, so I pull back, and he just pushes forward. And Big Brother said, "Well, stop doing that." And I said, "Well, okay." And once I gave myself permission to like him, I... found that I like him.

It's still not perfect. He's still moving a lot faster than I feel comfortable moving, and he seems to be putting a lot more trust in me than I honestly feel I deserve. And I'm more comfortable with those things when I've been drinking than when I haven't, which is never a good sign (and which I'm not supposed to be doing anyway). But it's baby steps, it's all baby steps, and at least I'm not afraid of where I'm going anymore.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sufing safari

Side effects fucking suck.

I'm so sick of surfing side effects. I think that's why I was so resistant to Dr. R.'s plan to put me on an antidepressant. Of course I'm wary of polypharmacology; I just don't want to put more chemicals in my body than I have to. But I'm so tired of surfing side effects.

My trip with my family wasn't ruined by the side effects, but it was affected. I was sleepy, easily tired, occasionally woozy and shaky. I'm also cranky and unmotivated of late, although that's just as likely to be work-related as anything else.

I know I'm whining here, but I think it's so unfair that I can't live life like everyone else, more-or-less chemical free. Every time I down a big handful of pills in the morning, it reminds me that I'm 17 milligrams and the grace of God away from the full-on crazazy.

At what point do I get to feel normal?