Look for the Helpers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers

I was blown away when watching the news reports about the Orlando shooting this morning. In the background of nearly every frame, I saw people carrying or treating the injured clubgoers. In such a dark moment, those people were the light. Friends, families, strangers–it was amazing to see them come together without hesitation.

Thank you to every volunteer, every officer, every man and woman driven by adrenaline to save some else’s life, every bystander who found a way to help. You’re the light in this world.

The link below has a video showing just a few of the helpers. This is what gives me hope.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/12/health/orlando-blood-donors/index.html

Surviving

I am entirely unnerved right now.

The last few weeks have been an interesting rollercoaster. Everything dived when my meds stopped working, but I’ve balanced out. I’m better off than I was before. I was even able to spend a few days alone without losing control of my emotions or my impulses.

Then again, most people might consider a last-minute 4-day trip to Boston a bit of an “impulsive” decision. Hey, it was fun and I survived. I call that highly successful.

I read 20 1/2 books in the month of November. I’ve read 2 more since yesterday. Yes, they have all  been young adult and middle-grade novels, but they are all about overcoming impossible odds and surviving. Since the Paris attacks a couple of weeks ago, surviving has been on my mind.

A government facility in San Bernadino was attacked a few hours ago. State-side, things are slowly escalating. Internationally, things are escalating a bit faster.

It makes me wonder if we are prepared for our overseas conflicts to cross our borders.

 

I Politely Decline Your Definition of “Impossible”

Things are going wrong right now, so very, very wrong. I don’t know how to stop them from continuing, but something has to happen. Everyone seems to be at a loss. Some people seemed to be resigned to accepting the black cloud over our heads. “It is what it is.”

If you’ve read very many of my posts, you know that I don’t believe in that phrase. I’ve even suggested to have people fired for using it. Apparently HR does’t seem to consider that a valid violation of department policy.

(98% of that is a joke. I have not actually suggested this to HR, though I have brought it up in a few management meetings.)

If you want something to get better, you cannot give into defeatism. Today, I sat curled up in a chair in the office, with my emotions written all over my face. My manager told me to stop looking so depressed.

I don’t do politics. I do results. All one has to do is look at the United States government to see that the two rarely go hand-in-hand. How do I do both without sacrificing my soul in the process?

I’ve been told this is an impossible fight. I like those odds.

Who Knows?

I saw an interesting topic on a few blogs recently: Who do you tell about your depression?

Some people recommend being fully honest with every consistent figure in your life, one step short of wearing a name-tag that says, “Hi! My name is Manic Depression.” Others recommend keeping it a secret between you, your psychiatrist, and your pharmacist.

My Name Is Bipolar

Personally, I’m a bit on the name-tag wearing side (not recommended for everyone). I’ve joked often and loudly about being bipolar since starting to identify the symptoms at age 14. The only people who knew the real extent of my depression were family, friends, and teachers who also suffered from some degree of depression.

Nowadays, considerably few people who know, but not because I’m shy about or ashamed of it. It’s actually because I don’t keep a lot of people around. I cycle through friends quickly, gaining and shedding every couple of years. I’m on the shedding end of an extended 4-year cycle, since I don’t have the energy nor the emotion to invest in maintaining their company. (And, in large part, because I’m not leaving the house much while my lost friend is in the same state.)

When people do ask me, either because of something they’ve noticed or because of something I said in passing, I’m honest. I only tell people who notice an issue, which is the only thing that divides me from the name-tag wearing types. I don’t have a Facebook page or a well-marketed Twitter account, but anyone who Googles me will come across this blog.

Outside of the blog, who really knows about me? It’s a short list. My therapist, psychiatrist, and pharmacist. My family–Mom, KaLynne, Taylor. My lost friend and his mom. One intermittent friend from high school. Cutter, who suddenly reappeared in my life after 17 years. Steph, whose wedding I stood up in six months ago. Three people at work who pulled me aside and said, “Okay, what the hell is going on with you?”

The work one is what blows people away. “But what if things go horribly wrong and you get shamed into resigning, or fired?”

Here’s the thing: in a closely observed professional environment like American Airlines, it’s nice to have people in my corner. On the occasions that I’m a hot mess, they find their own ways to help. One finds a way to engage my mind and distract from the bad thoughts. One lets me sit on the floor of her office and bawl. One suggests we go for a walk and get out of the restrictive office environment.

Telling the people at work actually led to positive outcomes for them. Two have on-going issues with loved ones suffering from some sort of major depressive disorder. Those two now talk freely to me about their struggles as the caretaker who doesn’t 100% understand what’s happening in their loved ones’ minds.

(The third coworker has never struggled with or cared for someone struggling with depression. One day I brought my teddy bear to work. She asked about my depression [I think she thought depression was a myth, or only present in obviously dysfunctional people] and I said, “Over the last three weeks, getting out of bed has been the hardest thing to do.” I must have had a tone when I said it, because she’s been very good to me since then. She’s the one that allows me to lock myself in the office and cry.)

I think the important thing is that I’m very matter-of-fact when I discuss my bipolar disorder with others. Sometimes I’ll explain the effect it’s had on my personal and professional lives. Mostly, I talk about specific instances, like the time I added 56,000 words to my novel in 6 days.

Professionally, I don’t blame my failures on my depression, and I don’t credit my successes to my mania. I do work my ass off as much as possible so that I can have leeway when one or the other strikes in a seriously unproductive manner.

I know that I am lucky to not have suffered serious consequences by letting those people in, but I’m still young. There are a lot more bumps ahead, but hopefully people like me can help rewrite the stereotypes of people with these disorders. I think my generation may have what it takes to help people like me, people like you, find ways to contribute to bettering our society. I own up to my disorder, my responsibilities, and my actions. Balancing them just takes a pinch of creativity and a dash of courage.

Settle For A Slow Down

It’s, uh, Monday, right? So . . . happy belated Father’s Day to my amazing mother, who is by far the best father a girl could ask for, even if she never chased off my boyfriend with a ten-gauge or taught me how to change my oil.

Happy Friday to me, as I work Thursday through Monday, even though my work-week actually started last Monday and will end tomorrow. In the spirit of every country song celebrating Fridays (serious what-the-fuckery in that video, by the way), I honored my Friday with 4 ounces of Kilt Lifter at my favorite bistro of all time, Carly’s in downtown Phoenix. 4 ounces because the lamotrigine/alcohol combination is starting to kick my ass. (I asked for 8 ounces and could only stomach 4. *sadface* A far cry from putting away three bottles just three weeks ago.)

I told one of my coworkers about my mini-epiphany last week, though in a very different way than I stated it on here. I told her how much fun I had in Charlotte, how I was chasing software problems and watching the IT guys work, hoping to learn something new. My coworker got this weird look on her face and said, “You’re in the wrong department.”

“I  know,” I told her. It was weird to admit that out loud to someone other than my family. It felt like I was telling a closely held secret that could make or break my world as I know it.

An hour later, I was in downtown Phoenix and staring at the giant hole where the Scientology building used to be. Five years ago, when my lost friend first moved to Phoenix, It was a four story building with Ron L. Hubbard’s name blazed on the front door. It was the only thing you could see from his apartment window. The only thing we could see from our apartment window last summer.

Now, there’s this giant sculpture looming over the area where the street preachers used to stand on First Fridays, and a hole in the ground. Our favorite coffee shop has changed locations and our favorite restaurant has a new front patio (but is almost completely inaccessible due to construction on the street itself).

I know that grieving a relationship like ours takes a long time. I know that I’m not expected to be okay yet (or for a long time–six years at 23 is basically forever), but I want me to be okay. Today it hurts because walking through Phoenix . . . barely reminded me of him at all.

Everything is changing so fast that our places–our coffee shop, our restaurant, our apartment–don’t look the way they did with him just ten months ago. It was like I saw them for the first time. It means I can go there again, I can make new memories and not feel guilty, but it also means that our history is gone. Today, I experienced a kind of soul-deep sadness that can only be described as peaceful.

I feel insane. I feel out of control. I feel like it’s almost time to move forward, professionally and personally. I want to put the brakes on for awhile, take a little more time, but I know it’s when you try to take control that life takes control away. There’s this feeling in my chest like Phoenix isn’t the only thing changing. My epiphany in Charlotte, the comment from my colleague, the fact that I met a very handsome man and immediately started to internally freak out about breaking up with my lost friend last October, and then watching our past disappear with the dust from a jackhammer . . . nine days is too fast for all of that to happen.

God, it’s only been nine days since I landed in Charlotte. This is crazy. I feel crazy. This can’t be happening. This feeling needs to go away before tomorrow. Tomorrow, I need to be in full control. This feeling needs to be Cinderella’s coach, and it needs to turn into a pumpkin at midnight. (I literally mean midnight.)

This needs to slow down fast. I’m impulsive. I’m impatient. I’ve finally managed to get one of the two under control, but I feel like everything around me is saying this isn’t the time to be patient. This is the time to be impulsive.

What if it doesn’t slow down? What if everything changes tomorrow with the snap of a finger? Among the many things I shouldn’t confess on the internet: I am so scared of what might be coming.

I’d settle for a slow down.