Life’s Like A Jump Rope: Blue October

Yesterday was my day off and I was on Twitter (as usual), when I saw Blue October tweet that they were having a free show at the Barnes and Noble out in Moneyville. As you know, Lamesville isn’t known for its music draw and the chance to see one of my all time favorite bands in my town for free was not to be missed. So once the traffic died down I put on my Yee-haw Kitty Shirt and started the drive.

It did not go smoothly.

First, I missed my exit. Then my GPS refused to reroute it. Then the map server fell off the face of the earth and I found myself circling a fancy-pants area of town called The Rim. After giggling like a 12 year old boy, I stopped a gentleman in the Bass Pro Shop parking lot and asked him where the hell the B&N was. He gave me some circuitous directions and I finally found my way to the “venue” with only about 10 minutes to spare.

Then there was a line. The upper deck where they were having the show was filled to capacity and they weren’t letting us up. I decided I would have to content myself with just hearing the concert. Then the kind manager let the rest of us up and I squeezed myself in with a bunch of other people, all of whom were taller than me. By some amazing stroke of luck, two people moved a certain way and I was able to see Justin from between their heads.

blueoctober

The set was awesome. I finally got to hear songs from their newest album and the story behind Bleed Out made me get teary. Then he had everyone in the store sing Into The Ocean and I really got teary.

Then I found out they were signing CDs. I immediately ran down to the music department, bought a CD and got my group number (I) for the signing line. My plan was to get some Starbucks, grab a manga, and just chill ’til my group was called. Unfortunately when I got back upstairs I discovered I was in hell. I couldn’t get to the manga. It was behind where they were signing. So I made a new friend. Her name was Alex and she was like 20 years old but we bonded over nail colors and Blue October “oldies.”

When I got up to the signing table, I got the VERY LAST poster of the night. They were all “you’re the winner!”  I was all “What did I win?” What was the answer? “The very last poster!” Which they then signed for me.

swayposter

The signing was great and everything, but the real moment of the night (probably the week or possibly the month) for me came when I got to stand in front of Justin and thank him. Thank him for all the times I felt alone in my mania or depression and his words saved me. Thank him for letting me know through his songs that he had been where I was and was still going as best he could. Thank him for giving me the chance to sing along and know that someone, somewhere knew how I felt.

My voice shaking, I told him thank you. I told him I went through some really heavy stuff last year and that his music helped me through and let me know that someone else had the same issues and was keeping going. Justin shook my hand and told me he was glad to be there for me, then he said the one thing that matters to someone like me and to people with mental illness all over the world.

“You’re never alone,” he said.

How I didn’t start crying right then and there is beyond me. I gripped his hand and thanked him again, then moved along so everyone else could have their chance to thank him. I’m crying right now, though. But they’re happy tears this time.

At this time last year, I was still hiding in my house. I was hearing voices and wondering why I was even alive. I was scared all the time. I never would have been able to put on clothes, get in a car and drive myself to see a show, even if it meant meeting one of my heroes. I never would have been able to see a tweet, toss on a pair of shoes and head to Moneyville. Every day, I’m still amazed at how much I’ve been able to do since then. And through all of it, Blue October has been there to tell me that “Life’s like a jump rope.”

Thank you, Justin. More than I can ever say.

And I Was Doing So Well, Too.

Like I said, the psychiatric meteorologist changed my meds again.

It all started when we went to Wal-Mart for a couple of things. I was interested in just being out of the house, which I haven’t done enough since we came back from Ft. Worth, so I was excited to be there. Sad, I know. We were going to take a trip to the mummy exhibit at the museum later that night and I was looking forward to that too. Then as we were walking toward the counter, I thought I saw her.

One of the bitches that ruined my life, one of the people who sent me into this never-ending spiral of anxiety, depression and fear of leaving my eel-hole. She was there at Wal-Mart buying whatever people buy there and she saw me and I was terrified. Literally paralyzed with fear. All I could think of was how badly I wanted to leave and how going to the register was going to make me have a panic attack. I asked Mister E for the keys to the car and went outside, only to have a meltdown when he came back with the groceries.

Not gonna lie, it was pretty bad. The worst part for me was when he asked me the most important question: “did you really see her, or do you just think you saw her?” I didn’t know how to answer and it scared me even more. I had been feeling better and thought I could look into getting a part-time job but thanks to this lovely little episode those hopes have been dashed right away.

When I saw the doctor two days later, he listened to my concerns and asked the same question my husband asked. When I said I didn’t know the answer, he asked me if I thought I needed to be on more medication. I said that I didn’t want to be on more medication but that yeah, I agreed I probably should be. So he doubled my dose and said to let him know if the psychoses got worse. It has the added benefit of helping with my anxiety, so there’s that. The only problem is the side effects. Risperdal is an anti-psychotic, which means it makes me quite sleepy.

I hate being in this side effects limbo, where I’m knocked on my ass every day for two or three hours after taking the meds and where I sleep so deeply that Mister E wakes me up when he gets home, only for me to fall back asleep. I feel so lazy but there’s nothing much I can do about it.

On the plus side, the meteorologist is a listener (he also supports NPR) and he said that if my symptoms don’t go away we can always take me off the meds and try something else. Well, off these meds, anyway.

I’m beginning to wonder if a geographic cure might not be in order.

A Kind of Therapy

I have a small dose of happiness today. Mister E and I have decided that once I get into therapy and start getting better, a good idea for me would be to do something out of the house. That involves finding a safe place where I won’t be surrounded by triggers, and where I’ll be able to focus on getting better through helping others.

Our first thought (actually his) was something with animals, but because of everything that’s happened I’m afraid that it would be one big trigger. I’d also be put in a position where there would be the constant possibility of seeing the people who started this horrible chain of events and that can’t happen if I’m ever going to improve. Instead, I want to volunteer at Morgan’s Wonderland.

Photo from Morgan’s Wonderland

Morgan’s Wonderland is one of the bright spots in the town where I live. Its mission is “to establish a special place where smiles and laughter make wonderful memories with family members, caregivers and friends. To build a place where the common element of play creates an atmosphere of inclusion for those with and without disabilities, encouraging and allowing everyone to gain a greater understanding of one another.”

I’ve wanted to volunteer there since I moved here, but because of work I’d never been able to. Now, I can. As an added bonus, the people who did this to me are so self-centered and cruel to those who are different that the idea of such a wonderful park would never even occur to them. It’s not just a safe place for those who come to the park, it’s a safe place for someone who wants to volunteer. Mister E is even willing to take me out there and back.

Provided they’re willing to accept someone with a mental illness to volunteer, I’d really like to help there. I know there’s a possibility they wouldn’t want me because I’m crazy, but I’m prepared for that. It’s worth trying. I think that by helping others, I can get a little better myself. We’re looking at October for me to try.

It’s tiny and it’s in the future, but it’s something to look forward to.

What’s your happy for today? Share it over at Band Back Together!

Psychiatric Meteorologist

That’s what I’m calling my shrink from now on. When I went to see him yesterday he listened to my symptoms, wrote down some things, then said “since you were in a depressive episode for the last month or so, I’m predicting that you’re going to be looking at a manic upswing soon.” Like I should be worried about a low-pressure front or something. I don’t like that much. Drops in the barometric pressure give me migraines.

Sorry. I think this is what they call “deadpan.”

Anyway, I went to the psychiatrist yesterday. He said some things that made me have thoughts for most of the day yesterday. Deep thoughts. Relieved thoughts. Sort of. I’m still trying to work through some of them, so if you’re looking for me to be terribly amusing or snarky today, back away slowly from the computer and come back tomorrow so I can tell you about Persona 4 Arena.

::deep breath::

I now have an official triple diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder I, panic disorder and agoraphobia. Oh yeah, I wasn’t content with being a functioning bipolar member of society. I thought I’d have myself a messy little breakdown with a tidy little psychotic episode on the side, then I’d wrap a scarf around my head, put on my black glasses and retreat gracefully into my home saying “I vant to be alone.”

Or maybe that’s not how it happened at all. Unfortunately, people seem to be of the opinion that it’s exactly how things happened. I’m not sick, I’m lazy. Never mind that I can’t drive anymore, or that I rarely leave the house and when I do it’s clinging desperately to Mister E. Please disregard that talking on the phone to a strange person gives me panic attacks so severe I have to take several pills to calm down. And let’s not mention the fact that I can’t make my body do what I want. I should suck it up, get over it, pull myself up by my bootstraps, and cowboy up because mental illness isn’t really a thing.

I already knew I was agoraphobic. How could I not with all of those things in mind? I even wrote about it on Band Back Together. But there’s something about seeing a diagnosis written on a form that makes it feel real. Like a steel door slamming shut behind me. I’m suddenly trapped by it the same way I’m trapped in my house and in my head. The worst thing is that I know I’m trapped. It would be so much easier if I didn’t.

Movies lie. In movies, the person who is agoraphobic is just a person who has given up and all they need is the love and friendship of the perfect person (often a Manic Pixie Dream Girl or her male analogue) to help them see that life is worth living and they trip along out into the sunshine of a brand new world. In reality, it’s going to take a lot of therapy to get me anywhere near back to normal, which means I’m going to have to find a one-on-one therapist I can trust. That in and of itself is going to be a task.

I think the thing that’s really on my mind is how I’m never going to get better. Shrink wrote on the form yesterday that “the disability is permanent.” Meaning that even if I’m able to function again, I’m always going to be screwed up. There’s never going to be a time I’m not bipolar or have panic disorder, and unlike some lucky people I probably won’t be able to have a normal life.

I’m officially “disabled” now by my mental illness and as much as I would like to let the psychosis take over and crush this horrible self-awareness, I can’t. And it sucks.

Harry Potter and the Nervous Breakdowns

It’s amazing how certain things can send you back to a particular moment in time. There are songs I still can’t listen to without thinking about things that happened in high school, and that was a long-ass time ago.

Five years ago I was working in Wisconsin as a receptionist. It wasn’t the best job, but it wasn’t the worst and it was the only thing I could find there. The only problem was that the office manager was constantly on a power trip, and was absolutely convinced that the only person who could do the job properly was her so she never let us out of her sight. This meant that half the time her work wasn’t getting done, which of course, was our fault. Still, this isn’t an unusual thing in the workplace and I figured I’d just have to put up with it like everyone else. After all, I’d already been there a year and a half.

I don’t remember how it happened, just that it happened. One minute I was doing my job, the next I was being carried out by a couple of my friends while I screamed and sobbed. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was smack dab in the middle of my first nervous breakdown and diagnosed as bipolar. I was drugged up and depressed about this and it was on that weekend that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released.

Special K thought I should stay home and miss the midnight release party but I told him that I didn’t care what happened, I was going to pick up my book. I’d been to every midnight release sinceGoblet of Fire and I wasn’t about to miss it because of something as silly as debilitating panic attacks. Besides, we weren’t bailing on the yearly trip up North so I thought it was only fair that I get to go to the party.

I spent the rest of the weekend reading Deathly Hallows. I didn’t feel like moving or interacting with people and our friends were understanding. They left me alone until I was ready to talk, which meant I basically stayed on the couch with my book and read constantly.

When I finished it, I was at a loss. After I finished Half-Blood Prince I spent almost a week crying over a certain death that I know shouldn’t even be a spoiler issue anymore but I’m still not going to mention because it’s poor manners. Suffice it to say that it was like losing a member of my family and I was extremely upset. I didn’t have quite the same reaction to the end of Deathly Hallows but it still brought up some serious emotions. I felt hollow. Empty. I’d been reading the books for almost a decade and I needed to process the end of the book and the knowledge that I was never going to read a new Harry Potter book. I went outside and I stared at the stars.

It’s been five years since that happened, almost to the day. Five years since the diagnosis and five years since I first knew I would one day be put in the position I’m in now. It all came back to me when I started re-reading Deathly Hallows yesterday and I was blindsided by the emotions and memories.

I’ve been forcefully reminded that I’m no better now than I was five years ago and it scares the hell out of me.