How Do You Survive the Holidays? Help!

It’s not that I don’t love Thanksgiving or Christmas. I mean, who doesn’t love Thanksgiving and Christmas? The whole freaking world loves Thanksgiving and Christmas! Because…otherwise… You’re one of these two characters:

And wouldn’t you rather be these?

By the way, I wanted to include a picture of a guy enjoying some Christmas cheer so that my male readers wouldn’t feel left out. Word of advice: don’t Google “male Christmas model.” It’s nearly-naked dudes wearing Santa hats. Sometimes on their heads, sometimes on their…other place.

So.

I’ll take the grinchy hit here: Holidays stress me out. I’m not even sure that I like them. My favorite time to be thankful is when I’m snuggled up on the couch with my husband and dogs, watching our fireplace, and we’re snowed in so no one can bug us. Or when it’s summer, and we’re driving down a dirt road with nothing but trees for miles. That’s when I think, “Wow, I’m profoundly thankful.”

Thanksgiving is the time when I think, “Ack! I have to cook for HOW many people? And my house is supposed to somehow be magically spotless at the same time? Of course I should be able to do this, because Rachel Ray does it and the Pioneer Woman does it and every other freaking housewife on my social media feed does it. So why am I covered in flour with an underbaked casserole, burnt cookies, and a kitchen full of weird gadgets that I didn’t even know I owned? WHY?”

Then there’s dinner itself, where you mingle with the cousins who you haven’t seen all year, and they ask you awkward questions like “Why don’t you have kids yet?” Because it’s inappropriate to ask that to just anyone, but we’re family, after all, and so it’s probably fine even though we never talk except for at these awkward family events (Hint: it’s not fine).

Then there’s what I call the “résumé relatives,” who ask you what you’ve been up to this year, but it’s in this judgy way where you should have definitely accomplished more than you have (because did you hear how much THEY did this year??). It’s like they want you to send them your updated résumé every year, just so they can scoff and say, “HA! Loser. I knew it.”

And then there’s my grandma, who is honestly awesome but also the strangest grandma ever. She looked me up and down last year and said, “Yes, hm. I suppose you don’t need plastic surgery yet.” YET? WHAT? What am I going to need plastic surgery for?? And why did I barely make the cut?? I was feeling all cute, but then I felt like crawling in a corner and apologizing to everyone who had the unfortunate task of looking at me.

Plus, I mean, in-laws. That’s all there is to say about that, amirite?

So holidays stress me out. I ADMIT IT! I AM A SCROOGE!

Mental illness can make normal holiday stress even more difficult. I’m completely off of my routine, I’m under more anxiety than usual, I have to be all social when I hate being social, etc. The holiday season is not kind to the mentally ill. Lots of people kill themselves during this time, did you know that? “The most wonderful time of the year,” and people are killing themselves at alarming rates. I have no jokes about that one, y’all, because it’s not funny.

So. What do you do to decrease your stress during the holiday season? How do you keep your brain functioning like it should? Let’s comment with tips and all help each other out. Thanks in advance for any advice you may have!

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How I Ended Up at My Brother’s Soccer Game (Pssst…I Don’t Have a Brother).

You probably haven’t met my parents. If you had, you’d be mystified that I’m the crazy one in the family.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from my dad. “I think we’re getting a kid,” he told me.

My parents are empty-nesters. I moved out over a decade ago, and my sister graduated from college this year. It’s probably logical for parents to miss their children or feel a little lonely during this time of life. It is a big transition.

But um…get a puppy. A parakeet. A goldfish. Not a random kid!

I briefly wondered whether he meant a baby goat. After all, baby goats are freaking adorable. My parents live near neighbors, though, so that might be illegal. And they wouldn’t have anywhere to put a goat house. Wait, house? Pen? Barn? Coop? What do you call the place where a goat lives?

Never mind. It doesn’t matter. They weren’t getting a goat.

He said they were getting a foreign exchange student from Spain, and he was moving in with them in about a week. They had just thought of it, and wasn’t it a great idea?

That is so like my parents. I can just picture it: they’re sitting on their cream-colored wraparound couch watching America’s Got Talent, and this happens:

Dad: I miss our girls. Remember when they used to put on talent shows for us?

Mom: Awww. Yeah, that was fun. Maybe we should have another baby.

Dad: Um, we’re over sixty.

Mom: Let’s adopt one!

Dad: Too expensive.

Mom: Let’s get one of those free ones that you just keep for a while. It’s an exchange something.

Dad: Like a rent-a-kid?

Mom: Yeah!

Dad: Is it free?

Mom: I think so. *quickly Googles a couple things* Look! A free kid!

Dad: Okay. Order on Prime so we don’t have to pay shipping.

In my head, that’s how it happened. In real life, maybe not. Anyway, they randomly decided to “get a kid” (*ahem* host a high school foreign exchange student), and my dad has been all pumped about finally having a boy and isn’t it great that now I have a brother?

My dad can’t even pronounce the poor kid’s name. His name is Jaime (HI-may), but my dad calls him Hiney. Yes, like butt. I told him he was saying it wrong, so now I think he may have graduated to Himey. It’s still not great.

When I met Jaime, I immediately said, “If my parents are crazy, sorry. It’s not my fault.” Except I said it in Spanish, because finally the years of high school and college Spanish have come in handy. He was very excited that I spoke Spanish, because he had some things he wanted me to translate. Question 1: who would be picking him up from school tomorrow? (The next day was his first day of school)

My parents looked at each other and shrugged. “Tell him we haven’t thought that far ahead,” my dad said.

WHO APPROVED MY PARENTS AS EXCHANGE STUDENT HOSTS?!

I gave Jaime my number and told him to call any time. I’m nervous my parents are going to send him to live with us. They go to Florida for six weeks every winter, and uh…home boy is gonna have to go to school. They claim they’re going to “figure out” somewhere for him to go while they’re gone, but they keep joking that he’s going to come live with us. After all, we always take care of their pets while they’re gone, right? To which I laugh nervously like, “Ha ha ha…NO.” He’s nice and all, but…his high school is twenty minutes away, and I don’t want to drive back and forth to practices and stuff. I don’t even own a minivan! I’m too young for this!

Speaking of practices, when they took Jaime to enroll for classes, he saw the soccer team practicing. He got all excited because he loves futbol, and he didn’t know that it was going to be soccer season in the fall. Unfortunately, he missed tryouts due to, you know, living in Spain. My dad asked the coach if Himey could try out. The coach reluctantly agreed to let him practice with the other guys to see if he was any good. Since Jaime didn’t know he was going to be trying out, he was in jeans and didn’t have cleats or anything.

Turns out HE’S REALLY GOOD. So they let him on the team. Yay Jaime!

That’s how I ended up at a high school soccer game this week. Because my dad called and was all, “You have to drive down for Himey’s soccer game. After all, he’s your brother.”

What I wanted to say was, “Dude. He’s not my brother; he’s your weird midlife crisis experiment who will probably end up living with me in December. In which case he’ll be my son. And my brother. And the whole thing is too bizarre, so you have got to stop watching so much TV. It gives you strange ideas.”

What I said instead was, “Okay, see you soon.” It seemed less complicated.

Go Jaime!

Jaime

Stay tuned to find out if he moves in with us.

Anyone want a free kid?

What Did You Do in the Last Hour?

I don’t want to be all, “Oh hi! Me again! I’m sure you’re all wondering why I haven’t been posting in months!” Because let’s be real – none of you were wondering. BUT I was talking to my husband yesterday, and I talked about how it makes me jumpy when people in the mental illness blogging community stop posting. Because…what happened to them? I like to think they suddenly won the lottery and moved to an island in the Caribbean where they’re so busy swinging in hammocks and reading books that they’re no longer bothered with blogging about the trivialities of life.

But as anyone in this blogging community knows…that’s not usually what happens. Best case scenario, the blogger’s life got busy. Worst case scenario…well. No one likes to think of that, but we all worry about it.

So – here I am, just in case anyone wondered. I’m not in the Caribbean, but I’m also not a worst case scenario. I’m still over here navigating life on this side of normal – how have y’all been?

Here’s a nugget from my life for you:

Thursday night, I went to a new book study group. I love books, and I marginally like people. So a book group should be fun, right?

For our icebreaker, the woman leading it asked us to detail what happened in the hour of our lives that immediately preceded book study. I think it was a way to show, “Hey, we’re all busy, frantic women. No need to keep up pretense and pretend that we have it all together.” But I couldn’t tell the full truth. I just couldn’t. Because do you want to know what happened in the hour preceding that question? Check it out:

An hour before she asked that question, I was failing at therapy. Oh, you didn’t know you could fail at therapy? Me neither. And YET I DID.

I was sitting in therapy, about to leave, and my therapist said that we should make an appointment to meet again before our next scheduled one. She said it seemed like I could “benefit from some extra support.” Which, okay, I admit that she was right and that an extra meeting isn’t technically failing therapy. But it felt like, “What?! I’m not capable of doing life without you until our next appointment?? AHHHH! How messed up am I?”

This is obviously a me issue, and I probably need therapy to get over the fact that I have declared I failed at therapy (how very metacognitive of me. Someone somewhere give me a gold star, please).

So I reluctantly agreed to remedial therapy, and then it was time to go. Plot twist: my mom works at the same clinic where I go for therapy, but she doesn’t know I go there. My mom gets all jumpy if she knows I’m seeing a therapist or if I’m not completely 100% stable-to-the-point-of-emotionless. I’m still not positive she believes in mental illness as a real thing…in the past she’s told me to pray my way out of it. SO. I didn’t want to run into my mom. My therapist knows this (and even books my appointments under a pseudonym like I’m a spy or something). She peeked into the hall to make sure my mom wasn’t there…but my mom was in the office. Crap. She was doing paperwork, so it could be any length of time until she was finished.

My therapist offered to sneak me out of the back door. She said I could sneak around to the parking lot through the woods and tell anyone who asked that I was looking for deer. L.O.L. But I took the offer. I tiptoe-sprinted through the back hallway like I was trying to escape the KGB, and I got to the woods undetected. Once I got to the parking lot, I breathed a sigh of relief.

PSYCH! NO RELIEF! Just then, my mom walked out the front door. EEEEEP!

I did the only logical thing to do in the situation. It was time to come clean and be honest with my mom like a mature adult, right?

HA. No. Definitely not. She wasn’t looking in my direction, so I dove into my car like an action movie star and hid under my steering wheel. I didn’t really fit, so I was also sort of curled around my gear shift. I was not breaking the line of sight through the window, though, so that’s all that really mattered.

I heard her car leave the lot, and then I waited a couple of minutes before peeking out. Just in case she was waiting out there to be like, “HA! I CAUGHT YOU BEING CRAZY!”

(Wow…I’m suddenly understanding why I need more therapy – lol!)

Luckily, the coast was clear. I turned on my car and high-tailed it out of there before she could realize she forgot something and decide to come back.

I drove straight to book study, where that lady asked me to detail the last hour of my life. And when a lot of women said things like, “I just got done making a homemade batch of applesauce!” or “I found a great sale on avocados at Aldi!” I decided they weren’t quite ready for my full dose of crazy. I went with, “I had a medical appointment that almost made me late” rather than, “I failed at therapy and then had to escape through the woods to evade my mother, where I then got a neck cramp from hiding under a steering wheel while I waited to see if she was going to bust me.”

Come to think of it, I should have said that. Because how many times do I have something so bizarre to say about the last hour of my life?

Missed you all, blogging peeps. Hope you’re doing awesome.

It’s Not a Relapse – I’m Leveling Up

Bad news.

I mean, good news?

Well, NEWS.

I’m going back to therapy.

I haven’t been in over a year, and I was irrationally proud of that. Like, “Look at me! I’ve been successfully handling life all by myself for a YEAR! Look, Ma! No hands!” (As I then hide in the corner and hork down a handful of pharmaceuticals).

I’ve been struggling lately, so I decided to go back. I was initially frustrated with the decision and told Andy that it feels like a relapse. “I’ve been off therapy for a year,” I said. “It seems a shame to break my record.” Like therapy is some illicit drug that I went to rehab for and am now one-year clean.

“You’re not relapsing,” Andy said. “You’re leveling up.”

Say what?

He went on to explain that when I first went to therapy, I was extremely suicidal and was literally trying to survive. This time around, when I’m not suicidal, I can work on Level 2 therapy problems, which focus on how to deal with life now that I’m committed to living it.

Look at me! I’m at Level 2! That sounds way better than “relapse.”

Super Mario Brothers is the only video game I’ve ever played, but I think level 2 is the one underground with the blue turtles, right? Yep – this one:

level1-smb1d

I get fireballs, y’all. Who’s gonna hate on Level 2?? I’m a brick-smashing, coin collecting badass.

So I contacted my dealer (oops, I mean therapist) and asked if she would see me again. She said yes. Phewf! So at least I’m not going to have to start over with someone new.

Bring it on, Level 2!

George Washington and Baby Steps

If you’re reading this right now, you’re alive.

Well, unless literate ghosts are real. What if someone really famous is reading this over my shoulder right now, like George Washington or Tupac?! I hope it’s George. He knows a lot about revolutions. We need a revolution in the way society treats mental health. We’re headed there, we’re baby-stepping, but it’s time for that baby to learn how to run.

As I was saying, if you’re reading this then you’re (probably) alive. For some people, that’s the biggest accomplishment they’ll make today. Staying alive is a lot harder for some people than it is for others. For those of you staying alive today, I salute you (no offense, George).

I recently had a talk about mental illness with my sister (she’s a junior in college majoring in neuroscience). She mentioned that every time she gets to choose a research project, she tries to do something dealing with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, she said, cutting edge research in mental illness is overwhelmingly on anxiety and depression, and diseases such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia get put on the back burner.

She’s thinking about going to grad school to do research on less common mental illnesses. She also wants to help break stigma when it comes to those. “Everyone wants to break stigma for anxiety and depression,” she said, “because it’s so common now. But you’re bipolar? Well, you’re not just crazy. You’re super crazy. People are still going to be freaked out about you.”

Ah, the things she says. Thanks a lot, baby sister.

Behind the somewhat offensive explanation, she has a point. It’s great that people want to break stigmas for mental illness so that more people will go get the help they need, but how often to we hear testimonies normalizing schizophrenia? Multiple personality disorder? Bipolar disorder? They feel few and far between compared to the ocean of people posting to social media about “This is what it’s like to live with my anxiety disorder.”

It’s true that our diseases are rarer (more rare? rarer?), but I want to be invited to the party! I want my illness to be seen as acceptable too! I want people to research wtf is going on in my brain so that they can fix it!

I’m not sure how to make that happen.

I don’t want people to make jokes about bipolar disorder. I don’t want people to be freaked out by me when they learn I have it. I want to feel like I’m okay as a person even though I have this illness (because if you’re under the delusion that all illnesses are socially acceptable, you’re wrong). We need a revolution (George! Are you reading?! Go haunt some people about this).

I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen in the normalization of certain mental health issues, but we still have a long way to go. You, reader, are in this blog community because you need support and/or because you’re supporting the rest of us. Thanks for that – it’s one step in the right direction.

If You Send Me One of These Cards, I Will Punch You

I got diagnosed with bipolar disorder almost a year ago, and I can’t believe I haven’t received one single card consoling me about this.

Oh wait, yes I can, because greeting cards about mental illness are SUPER WEIRD.

I should have known this was a thing.  I really, really should have known.  Card companies make cards for everything!  I could probably find a “Congratulations to Your Twin Girls on Third Grade Graduation” if I wanted to.  But mental illness??  There’s a line somewhere, and this is over it. It would be like having a “Sympathy – Humorous” section in a card store.  It doesn’t belong.

Here’s the link (please don’t buy these) and a few of the best (worst?) ones. http://hopestreetcards.com.au/collections/all

hope-street-cards-mental-health-card-depression-these-things-solo_1024x1024hope-street-cards-mental-health-card-bipolar-mood-change-front_1024x1024hope-street-cards-mental-health-card-general-sick-brain_1024x1024hope-street-cards-mental-health-card-depression-existing-solo_1024x1024

If I got a mental illness card, I would probably open it and then look really confused.  I would look around to see if someone was secretly filming me (I frequently do this during “Is this really happening?” moments).  Then I would read the card and think, “Thanks a lot, you.  I was having a really good day.  Now I had to be reminded of my crazy, and also I have to absorb your sympathy at my plight.  I don’t want sympathy; I want to be treated like a normal human.”  Here are people who are allowed to treat me like a crazy person:

  1. My psychiatrist
  2. My husband, only when I’m being literally delusional.  And it will still make me mad.

You’re not on that list?  Then don’t buy me these freaky cards!  Even if you’re on that list, I don’t want the freaky cards!  I mean, WHY WERE THESE EVEN INVENTED?!

What’s next?  Hallmark might capitalize on it!  First they invented Valentine’s Day…then Sweetest Day…next we’ll have “Crazy Person Day.”  You can celebrate by watching Psycho and sending greeting cards to your favorite nutters.  Maybe on Crazy Person Day, you can have your copay waived for inpatient psychiatric treatments!  Can I request that this holiday also include candy like Halloween does?  Now there’s a good holiday, but what a shame that people aren’t allowed to celebrate as non-reproductive adults.  I may or may not have considered having a child to capitalize on trick-or-treating once again.  If we can just tack that on to our new Crazy Person holiday, then I can skip the inconvenience of labor.  I might even be okay with the people who made these strange cards.  Until then…I know I’m not normal.  If I’m not going to get candy out of the deal, please treat me like you’d treat anyone else.  If you’re a nice person, though, maybe you’d just give everyone candy.  My favorite is Sour Patch Kids.

It’s Hard to Kill Ghosts

Have you ever had a regret or memory that followed you around like a ghost?  If you’re over the age of ten, the answer is probably yes.  Everyone has those “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  When I was eleven, it was the fact that I left my favorite teddy bear on an airplane.  Man, I MISSED that teddy bear.  I tried calling the airport’s lost and found a couple of times, but who cares about putting a teddy bear in lost and found?  No one, that’s who.  It probably ended up in a trash bin somewhere.

Aw man, now I miss that bear again.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten older, my “if onlys” have gotten a lot more serious than a missing teddy bear.  This past year, I’ve been haunted by the events of last summer (you can read a more detailed version of these events here).  Specifically, the guy from Tokyo seems to keep popping up in my life.  There are already enough regrets from that situation weighing on me.  If emotions could be quantified in weight, I promise you that guilt and regret would both be heavy.  Very heavy.  It’s kind of like someone dropped a boulder on your chest and you were like, “Holy Crap!  This thing is going to kill me!  No, wait, it’s not going to kill me, but OWWWWWWWWWW SOMEONE GET IT OFF!!  OW OW OW OW OW!”  Yep, that’s basically what it’s like.

Here’s my issue – I’m trying hard enough to get over that situation without him continually appearing in my life.  It was eleven months ago when I told him to stop contacting me and said (politely as possible?) that I never wanted to speak to him again.  It was ten months ago when my husband (almost as politely as possible?) said some permutation of “Dude, for real, leave my wife alone.”  Yet, even now, I’m still hearing from the guy.  He’s texted me a couple of times even though his number is blocked in my phone (AT&T – WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU??)  Just last week I got a Facebook message from him, and we’re not friends on Facebook.  I didn’t even know you could do that!  I don’t respond to any of these points of contact, so I don’t know why he’s still contacting me.

Issues of guilt and regret are compounded whenever I hear from this guy, which really is a bit ridiculous because I’m not contacting him.  When I saw his name pop up in my Facebook messages, I actually thought I was going to throw up.  I wanted to scream, “WHY ARE YOU HERE IN MY PHONE, AND WHY WON’T YOU JUST GO AWAY?!”  But of course I can’t say that to him, because I’m not speaking to him.  Shouldn’t my perpetual silence be sort of loud?  What else am I supposed to do here?

Basically, the specters of last summer still haunt me.  When I finally think I’ve moved on, that I’m ready to let go and get that boulder off my chest, it seems that somehow this guy knows that is the perfect time to try to show up in my life again.  Then I’m suddenly angry and sad and nostalgic all at the same time, and emotions and memories whiz around my head like lottery balls in that crazy mixer.  No wonder it makes me dizzy and nauseous.  It brings all of the ghosts back into my mind when I finally thought I was rid of them.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be haunted forever.  Forever is a long time, y’all.  I don’t know if I can handle that.

I need some comfort.  Excuse me while I go get my favorite teddy bear.

OH WAIT, I LEFT HIM ON A PLANE SIXTEEN YEARS AGO.

Bummer.

My Nalgene is Where I Hide My Crazy

Tomorrow I’m leaving for a camping trip in the Adirondack Mountains with a bunch of fellow teachers that I have never met (it’s kind of a long story…the teachers are not the important part).  The important part of this story is that none of them will know about all the drugs I take because I found a super-ninja-pill-disguiser that will allow me to masquerade as a normal, healthy adult.  CHECK IT OUT!

Look.  This is a normal, run-of-the-mill Nalgene water bottle, right?  It shows I’m a little hard core and like to stay hydrated.  That’s it.  Nothing to see here – move along people.

IMAG5468

You’re probably sitting there at your computer thinking, “Wow, what a boring water bottle.  Who writes about water bottles?  I’m clicking on a different post.”  But wait!  Watch this witchery!  Out of nowhere, BAM – there’s a false cap!  It has four pill compartments hiding in what looks like an otherwise normal lid.

IMAG5470

*thunderous applause, gasps, and how-did-she-do-thats*

It’s like they hired Houdini to work for Nalgene, and he made my pills disappear.  I’m so happy.

Now I’ll have my pills with me wherever I go.  This means no missing doses, no worrying about having a panic attack while I’m in the woods (or anywhere!), and no trying to hide away from people while fumbling with incriminating orange bottles.  There will be no more awkward questions!  If someone sees my false top (which, HA, would be ridiculous because it’s VIRTUALLY INVISIBLE), I can just say, “Oh, I keep vitamins and stuff in there.”  I’ll put one vitamin in so that it’s not a lie.  They don’t need to know that “and stuff” means “the cocktail of drugs that keeps my head from exploding all over this frickin forest.”

It’s like I’m crazy, but I’m secretly crazy.  I’m very excited about this water bottle.  It’s so amazing that I feel I should make a speech in honor of this marvelous invention.  I know!   Let’s toast to it.  Are you holding a beverage?  Find a beverage.  Please hold it up to your screen in a toasting fashion.  I’m holding up my water bottle to you, dear reader.  Let’s toast to secrets being kept for as long as we want them kept secrets, and to places (like the mountains) that make life infinitely more worth living.

*long drink*

Waiting. Get Me Out of Here.

I’m sitting in my endocrinologist’s office, and I just lied to the nurse.  I don’t know exactly why, but I know that doctors’ offices make me all jumpy and nervous.  Then I do stupid things like lie, when that really defeats the purpose of going to the doctor in the first place.

This room is so….white.  Why do medical offices have to be aggressively white?  I understand that they’re supposed to look sterile, but they end up looking stark and scary.  I’m in an albino room.  It’s not natural.  There’s a slightly peach model of a swollen thyroid on the counter, but I’m trying not to look at it.  It’s disgusting.

I’m here to get a checkup on my brain tumor, and you would think that after nine years of various endocrinologists, this process would be old hat.  Nope.  Always scary.  It doesn’t help when the receptionists are extremely mean, the other patients look just as scared as I am, and the only friendly person around is the lady on the waiting room TV smiling while she talks about genital yeast infections.

If I ever ruled the world, I would make the word “genital” an expletive.  It’s so clinical and just…ew, but the lady on the TV was awfully cherry about it.  Why can’t they show something nice and calming on a waiting room TV?  Or stand-up comedy? THAT’S a great idea.  Let people laugh so they won’t cry.  Instead, we have to watch creepy health shows.  Or we can read totally obscure magazines like Osteoporosis and You.

I lied to the nurse when she asked if I’ve been feeling down or depressed at all in the past two weeks.  I immediately said no, which was dumb because just yesterday I told Andy that I was scared I might be falling into depression again.  It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but maybe it’s not depression.  It was probably just a couple of lethargic and down weeks, and I’m sure I’ll perk up any day now!  I’m sure that’s it. Plus, whenever anyone asks how I’m doing, I automatically say fine.  Either it’s true or it’s probably about to be true.  I don’t like the weird and scared looks I get if I admit that I’m not doing well.  Plus, depression is a psychiatric issue, not an endocrine one, right?  I mean, RIGHT?

Fine.  I should have told the truth.  I’ll tell the doctor if he ever actually decides to come in here.  The nurse also asked if I have ever smoked, and I immediately said no to that one too.  That’s because she obviously meant “smoked as a habit, and not for less than a week while you were in Korea being stupid.” Korea’s like Vegas, and what happens there stays there.  Something like that.

The doctor is still not here, so I will take this opportunity to tell you about the meanie receptionists.  The first receptionist totally ignored me when I got here.  I stood there in front of her window awkwardly for a minute until she finally snapped, “Can I HELP you?” in a way that meant that was the last thing on earth that she wanted to do.  I said I was here to see Dr. H.  She rolled her eyes and said, “then you need to check in with the endocrine center.” I think it took all of her willpower not to add “duh” at the end of that.  I looked up at the glass window that clearly said “Endocrine Center.”  There was another lady sitting to the right of that sign, but there was no partition between the lady I was talking to and the lady I apparently needed to talk to.  They could have shaken hands.  I’m sure they’ve borrowed pencils from other.  Yet CLEARLY I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN to talk to the lady on the right instead of the left.  Oops.

I finally talked to the correct lady, and she was wearing a pin that said “Miracles happen!” I’m pretty sure she meant that to be encouraging, but I found it annoying.  For those of us on my side of the counter, no miracles have happened.  We’re there because we still have our tumors, our diabetes, our whatevers, and the trite encouragement from a piece of plastic felt less than genuine.

I have to go to the bathroom.  What if you have to go to the bathroom while in a doctor’s office?  I’d better hold it.  I don’t want them to think I left.  The nurse outside my door is calling patients and saying things such as, “Hi, is this Jane Smith?  Hi, I’m calling to give you the new dosage of ______ drug that you’re taking.  Take two tablets once a day with meals, okay?  Okay.”

I can clearly hear all of this from my room.  I could type you a list of a bunch of local residents and the drugs they’re on.  Isn’t this some sort of HIPAA issue?  It seems like it to me, but hey – I’m no doctor.  I’m the invisible patient with a brain tumor.  Don’t mind me.

So here I am, an hour and a half after my scheduled appointment time, chilling out in an albino room with a plastic inflamed thyroid and feeling bad about lying to the nurse.  I really have to go to the bathroom.  I’ve spent hours more pointless ways than this…probably.  I’m struggling to think of one at the moment, but I’m sure it’s happened.

Doctor’s here.  Gotta go.

Terrible Questions

“Are you PMSing?” is a terrible question.  You have no shot at getting a good answer.  Here are the two potential outcomes:

  1. She is PMSing, in which case you should put your hands up in surrender and BACK. AWAY. SLOWLY.  You just poked a very angry and irrational bear.  There’s no telling what’s going to happen next.
  2. She is not PMSing, in which case she’s going to be annoyed that her totally rational, legitimate issue with you is being trivialized into a case of hormones.  Now you just made whatever she was angry about even worse.  Congratulations to you.

Most people learn pretty quickly not to ask this.  It’s simply a very stupid question.  Even cave men were probably like, “Shhh…I think my wife might be – you know – but I’m not asking her.  Let’s all go hunt some woolly mammoths.”  They ended up hunting a lot because they were always guessing about their wives’ hormones. This is why woolly mammoths are now extinct.

In the past few months, I’ve discovered a new and equally infuriating question:

“Have you taken your pills today?”

My husband inevitably asks this when I’m doing something weird.  The other day he asked it because I decided to read a book on the roof of our house.  I admit that, to a normal person, that’s probably kind of weird.  BUT what my husband didn’t know is that my dad and I used to have tea parties on the roof when I was a kid (true story), and I always climbed in weird places to read.  I read in trees, I read on the roof, I read everywhere.  It was a beautiful day, we have a safe roof, and I decided to go chill out on it.  Instead of thinking, “Huh, Hazel sure is a strange duck,” he immediately thought, “wow, she’s crazy again.  She probably isn’t taking her pills.”  I own that I’m weird.  I’m fine with that.  Weird and crazy are not the same, and I don’t like it when people get them confused.

Of course I don’t WANT to take my pills.  I don’t know anyone who’s ever been excited to take pills.  I do take them, though.  I’ve said multiple times, “I don’t know if I really need these…I think I’m doing much better…but I guess it doesn’t hurt to take them.  If it’s not hurting anything, I guess I’ll just do it.”

Here’s my issue: the truth of the matter is that it does hurt to take them.  It hurts because I lose a sense of identity when I’m forced into a box labeled “bipolar.”  It’s like a watermark.  You know what a watermark is, right?  It’s the faded picture in the background of a letter that appears on all of a workplace’s stationery?  Here’s an example:

watermark

It’s like no matter what type of text is written on the pages of my life, it’s all colored by this new watermark.  I am successful at something?  Well, it must be because of the creativity and exceptional memory that comes with having a dysfunctional brain.  I fail?  Well, I’m mentally ill, so the fact that I’m alive should be enough for me.  No one would expect much from me anyway.  Everything in my life can be explained by, “Well, she has bipolar disorder, you see…”  I don’t want that watermark to color everything.  I want my bad decisions to be bad because I did something stupid.  I want my good decisions to be good because I did something right.  I feel like my entire life is explained away by chemical imbalances that are beyond my control.  I am seen as a puppet.

Sometimes I’m cranky because a person is being an idiot, not because I didn’t take my pills.  Sometimes I’m sad because life is hard, not because I didn’t take my pills.  Sometimes I’m happy because I’m having fun, not because I didn’t take my pills.  Sometimes I don’t got to bed on time because I’m not tired, not because I didn’t take my pills.  Sometimes I’m weird because I have a funky personality, not because I didn’t take my pills.

So yes, it does hurt to take my pills.  It hurts even more when someone tries to distill my behavior (positive or negative) down to the presence or absence of drugs.

Maybe this post is kind of cranky.  Well, for your information, I did take my pills.

Although I suppose I could be PMSing…  You’ll never know, because everyone knows not to ask that.  🙂