Numb

Orlando, Dallas, Nice, Istanbul. . . . I feel like I haven’t stopped crying for weeks.

I got a letter in the mail today. My 46-year-old psychiatrist died of an unexpected medical emergency.

I feel like there aren’t even words anymore.

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I Am Okay

After a fabulous day of breakfasting and coffee-ing and working and First Friday-ing, I had a momentary crisis. That’s the beauty of my mental state: once I acknowledge that all things are good and I am okay, all of the bad thoughts decide to rush in and send me spinning.

Ugh.

What to do, what to do? My brother and I found this amazing place to meditate a couple of years ago, and it’s become my safe-haven. I drive into the parking lot and immediately breathe better. It’s nuts how this place calms my anxiety.

Tonight I pulled into the parking lot, locked everything in the car, and immediately headed for a quiet space. After a few minutes of falling apart, I started a mantra, and at 11:00 on the nose, everything in me quieted and I was okay to go home.

I am okay.
I am alive
I am hurt
I am scared
I am human
It is okay to be hurt
It is okay to be scared
And because I am both of these
I am human,
I am alive,
and I am okay.

Back Again, old friend?

It’s funny. The only time I feel like writing via digital means is when everything is going wrong. When things are right, my hand aches for a paper and pen. This is a new phenomenon, about two months old.

You’ve probably figured by now that things aren’t going well.

I find refuge in books before I seek the same in writing. I’ve read six books in the last week, all on my Kindle. More digital intrusion.

The books were two trilogies, both by Cassandra Clare. The last book I read was Clockwork Princess and it drained me. The novel is beautiful, but I cry through about 50%. Every other page either rips my heart out or makes me laugh. The last few chapters are mostly the former.

The pharmacist switched brands on my meds. The new ones aren’t as effective as the last batch. I feel like I’ve gone back about three months–three months of not having particularly damaging mood swings. I even had about three weeks without anxiety gripping me at inconvenient hours.

Instead, I’m back to crying in the car when a song hits me too hard. I’m not talking songs like, “Allissa Lies,” which should make every red-blooded English speaker bawl. I’m talking any and every song about break-ups or falling in love. Yup. I’m that girl. I hate that girl. She annoys me.

On the bright side, I’ll be listening to NPR and reading Wired magazine with unnatural dedication.

My headache is doing awful things to my stomach. Ideally I’ll be back to hand writing my thoughts soon.

They’ll Use It Against You

I sometimes forget that there’s a stigma associated with depression and anxiety and bipolar disorder. I’m open about it, and I’m not ashamed. A few weeks ago, I had a pretty bad anxiety attack when I was teaching. During their lunch break, I went to my office, turned out the lights, crawled under my desk, and pulled my chair in so no one could see me if they walked in. I sat like that for 20 or 30 minutes. I admitted it later to my colleague, and was informed that I shouldn’t tell anyone. It could be used against me.

This kind of stuff requires an open forum. I have no doubt that a considerable number of people in my life are on anti-depressants, or drink wine to fall asleep and a sleeping pill to stay there. I have no doubt, but that isn’t something one brings up in casual conversation. It’s impolite. People might look at you like you’re crazy. It’s something you don’t say on a first date, or in a job interview. No one will look at my resume and say, “You’ve done pretty well considering your mental state.”

I wonder what would happen if I put “Bipolar” on the skills part of my resume. Interviews have always been nerve-wracking, yet fun, for me. I wonder how people would look at me, how the interview questions would change. Or, if I brought it up in the strengths and weaknesses portion: “Well, one of my strengths is my anxiety attacks–I normally channel that energy into something hyper-productive, like doing a month’s worth of stats.” “One of my weaknesses is my depression. I tend to come into work dressed in a hoodie and jeans, hiding a teddy bear in my backpack. I’ll still work–I’ll find something to do–but it will be somewhat obvious that I could barely get out of bed and cried on the drive into the office.”

If you can’t tell, today’s been one of those days. I’m grateful that it’s my day off and I was able to spend it curled up in my bed. The past few weeks have been great–stressful, but in a normal, “My-Job-Is-Seriously-Insane” way. Plus, I’m writing a short story that’s taking way more time than I thought it would.

But then there’s today. There will always be days like today, and that’s okay. I am learning how to handle the bad thoughts and the anxiety, even if it means I have to pull off to the side of the road while I’m driving to wait for it to level out. Even if it means going to an old place of comfort, or wearing an old sweater, or enjoying some serious retail therapy (my winter wardrobe is going to be classy and work-appropriate).

I don’t want to hide these flaws from people. This is part of who I am. I understand that some of it is good and some of it is bad. I understand that some of it isn’t “normal,” but “normal” stopped being my goal years ago.

Now, I’m just working on the bold and fearless part. We’ll see what happens.

1 Year!

WordPress just alerted me that I’ve been rambling for a year now. I never anticipated that I would be able to stick with the blogging thing–my last blog flamed out after about 40 posts and 6 less-than-enthusiastic followers.

I’m not going to muse about what life was like a year ago. If you’d like to know, you’re welcome to go back and read my first few posts. The very first one was a bit, er, strong. What can I say? I have a lot of opinions.

I don’t know what the trajectory of this blog is going to be. God knows I did not intend it to become the primary outlet for my downswing into severe depression. I’m about as optimistic as optimistic gets most days, and I’m passionate about 800 different things (to be completely honest, at last count the list of my passions sat around 60 unique items).

Here’s what I hope for the next year:

  1. Joy
    I want to find happiness that is so complete that even in the hard times, there is a deeper peace in my heart that says things will be okay.
  2. Inspiration (sometimes known as “the hard times”)
    This past year, I received a lot of inspiration, and now my beloved characters have taken on distinct personalities: Patrick, the older, wiser character is my deep-thought, often depressed side; Miss Devona, the young, anxious character is my spontaneous, whirlwind-loving side. A lot of experience went into these personalities.
  3. Success
    A contract with an agent. That’s my definition of success this year. That is my one request of the Universe. Next year, I’ll ask for the book to finally be in perfect form. The year after, I will ask for a publishing contract. This year, I just want to achieve step number one.

I appreciate everyone who is sticking with me through the random blog topics, who have supported me through my bad days and my overly bright days. Last year, I did not imagine 100 followers and cheerleaders, much less 161. You all are an inspiration to me, and I hope to keep you entertained for a long time.

Much love, all.