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!

I’m Emotionally Immature and I’M NOT MATURE ENOUGH TO HANDLE THIS!

He he…okay, yes I am mature enough to handle it. Because recognizing the issue is the first step, right? I mean…RIGHT?

HEY! GIVE ME VALIDATION TO STRENGTHEN MY BUBBLE-THIN SELF ESTEEM!

Oops, there I go again – making jokes to cover up an underlying layer of mental fragility. But who doesn’t like, jokes? HMMMMM?? I’M HILARIOUS. EVEN IF ONLY I THINK SO.

Hold up. Is speaking in excessive capital letters a sign of emotional immaturity? Let me check.

*switches tabs a second*

I guess that would fall under “over-exuberance.” Fine. No more capital letters. I’m getting rid of them all. Sayonara, over-exuberance.

(side note: spell-check wants to change “sayonara” to “savonarola.” wtf is “savonarola”?)

on wednesday night, i totally embarrassed myself in front of my pastor. that’s a long story that ends with, “and then i quickly said goodnight and excused myself to the other room to curl up in a chair and wonder why i can’t ever act like a normal human adult.” then, when i talked to my husband, i said, “seriously. why do i act like i’m twelve? i think i’m emotionally stunted or something.”

and do you know what he said? DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID? (oops, sorry. the capitals leaked out)

he said, “eh, maybe. but that’s okay. it’s a common symptom of bipolar disorder.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(is excessive punctuation over-exuberant?)

so then I said, “what?!” all freaking out. not offended, really, but just mad that i really might be emotionally stunted, and it might be due to my obnoxious brain. like, my occasional childishness isn’t a quirky piece of my personality – it’s a flaw due to my dysfunctional body. i don’t want a flaw! i want a quirk!

so i immediately got online and googled this to see if he’s right. not that he’s usually wrong…he’s got a doctorate, he’s taken abnormal psych classes, and he (clearly) knows more about my disorder than i do. sure enough – there it was. emotional immaturity can be a symptom of bp.

things started clicking into place like when you arrange random scrabble tiles and they start to form words. maybe my emotional maturity is why i’m such a good middle school teacher…because i’m as mature as my students. perhaps this explains my consistent low self-esteem and need for near-constant validation from people, accomplishments, etc. does this explain my low resiliency and inability to handle change effectively? is this why i can’t handle scary movies – because people under seventeen shouldn’t watch rated r movies and i’m not emotionally that old yet?

here’s a super embarrassing secret: i really like stuffed animals. one time i told my psychiatrist, “hey, when i’m about to have a panic attack, sometimes i can hold a stuffed animal really tight and literally feel calmer and comforted by it. but then i feel like i’m about three years old because i was comforted by a stuffed animal…is that weird? should i be concerned by that?”

my ever-practical psych answered with, “if you have a way to calm yourself down, do it. if you’ve found a strategy that works, don’t question it – be thankful that you have it.” which is true, i guess. i’d rather get drunk or something, but that’s not advisable for people on my meds…or people with bp…or really, people in general. so i’ve got a stuffed panda instead of jack daniels.

judge away, friends. judge away. just don’t tell me about it, because clearly i’m not emotionally mature enough to handle criticism.

blog

can i have my capital letters back if i promise not to be over-exuberant anymore? the lack of proper capitalization is hurting my eyes.

You’re cool with it? Okay. Thanks.

Anyway, my husband seemed super unconcerned by this. He said, “I love you just the way you are. I love that you get excited about things. I love how much fun you are, and your challenges don’t bother me.”

To which I responded, “But if I’m secretly twelve, it’s like you’re having sex with a twelve-year-old. That’s messed up.”

He put his hand to his forehead. “Oh my word, Haze. You’re not secretly twelve. You just might have more emotional challenges than some other people, and that’s totally fine.”

Totally. Fine.

HA!

Not fine. But then I looked up ways to increase my emotional maturity – how to age myself like a fine wine – and it looks kind of impossible and/or boring. For example, lose my over exuberance? Like I have to hand over all of my capital letters and my birthday tiara? NO THANK YOU.

On the other hand, it would probably be in my best interests in increase my self-esteem and be able to handle change better. But that seems like something I’d have to go to therapy for, and I’ve been trying to stay out of therapy. I haven’t gone in over a year. I’d really rather pretend I don’t have these problems.

Wait. Hold on. *switches tabs again*

Shoot. “Unwillingness to face reality” is another symptom.

Arrrrrghhh!

Okay fine. I might be a little emotionally immature. And I might have a little bit of bipolar disorder. There. I faced reality. I’m growing up now. I faced reality, and it’s ugly. U-G-L-Y it ain’t got no alibi!

No wait, now I’m going backwards.

*facepalm*

This is My Brain on Drugs (and Other Useless Things)

My mom is cleaning out her basement, so she’s giving me all kinds of crap I don’t want. Today she gave me the following “gifts:”

  • A reeeeeally ugly square lamp. It’s a clear square with a brass rod through the middle of it, and its shade might have been white in a former lifetime. Now that I think of it, it’s so ugly that it probably goes great with the ugly chair from this post. Then again, how much ugliness can one room handle? I think this would put us over the top from “quirky” to “tasteless”…if we haven’t already migrated into “tasteless.” Tough to tell sometimes.
  • A teddy bear that says “I ❤ Jesus” on the foot (there’s actually a heart, not the symbols for less than three, but I’m not technologically intelligent enough to put that in a post). I read the tag on the bear’s ear, and it was a prayer for salvation. I told my husband, “How many people have read this out loud and then been like, ‘Crap! Did I just accidentally get saved?!'” Ha ha. Sneaky bear.
  • A glass dog. Um…..whyyyy do I need a glass dog? It’s kind of big, too. Probably as big as my open hand. Is it a paperweight? While I’m working, it can stare at me with its creepy clear eyes. Is it a….doorstop? A talisman of some sort? It sounds like a curse…THE CURSE OF THE GLASS DOG. I’d read that. Sounds like a Nancy Drew.

And….

  • Old MRI scans from 2008

Now this one was kind of cool. 2008 is when my brain tumor was first discovered, and these were the scans that discovered it. The scans are big and bulky. I held them up to a window and said, “Hey Andy! Check this out! Look how creepy my eyeballs look!”

For the record, the glass dog’s eyeballs are still creepier.

After these scans were taken, I started on a long trail of drugs and doctors and medical nonsense. 2008 was the last time I was not on any medications. I was getting a little sad about this, but then Andy said, “We have your current scans, and now we have your first scans. You’re one of the very few people who can actually hold up pictures and say, ‘This is my brain, and this is my brain on drugs.” Ha! It’s like the old D.A.R.E. ads, except the pictures aren’t much different from each other and I have to be on drugs, not off them. Life gets weird sometimes.

Anyway, Jesus bear and the glass dog are still looking for placements in my house. I hope the ugly lamp isn’t getting too bonded with the ugly chair. I sense a garage sale in their future…don’t tell my mom.