dys·thy·mi·a: /disˈTHīmēə/ noun: (Psychiatry) Persistent mild depression.
When I was little, I loved Winnie the Pooh. Eeyore was my favorite character; I even had a stuffed Eeyore. Perhaps that was a portent of things to come.
I was diagnosed a couple of years ago as Dysthymic with Major Depressive Episodes, and it seemed pretty correct if you asked me. Now that the Square-Jawed NP believes I’m bipolar, these shrinks have forgotten about how insidious dysthymia is. Like water on a hillside, it seeps into all the nooks and crevices, weakens the landscape, and if not attended to, it can eventually cause a landslide.
After a couple of weeks of feeling somewhat contented, my mood has dipped again — noticeably — and my anxiety level has increased. Around tax time, I became so completely off my nut, I filed an extension rather than complete my short tax form. Yeah, the short one. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it without feeling overcome with jitters. It feels very familiar. Jeez, no wonder I used to pop Vicodin so much!
I discussed the situation previously with my other shrink, The Marshmallow, and he suggested I talk to NP about it — perhaps the meds need adjustment or some such thing. I didn’t think NP would change the meds, and I was right.
NP feels the medication is working fine — the problem is me. He says I’m not as committed as I “need” to be within the AA program. He quizzed me on the steps and expressed stunned disappointment that I couldn’t recite them verbatim. NP also hates the fact that I can’t come to terms with a benevolent and caring Higher Power and thinks my deflection, sarcasm, and mockery of the system is proof positive that I’m still as sick as I was before.
My visit to the NP yesterday proved to do nothing but further annoy and irritate me and raise my anxiety level even higher. As a shrink, he sure makes a great Nazi. He asked how I was, and I replied fine… well, except for being mildly depressed, agitated, and generally low energy. [The NP appointment wasn't all bad, really. We talked at some length (believe it or not) about, of all things, espresso. He has a big expensive messy machine that makes espresso at 16 bars of pressure requiring lots of cleanup; I have a medium-size expensive clean machine that makes espresso with 17 bars of pressure requiring no cleanup. I clearly win, though he thinks he wins. Ugh! Pfft.]
Satisfied that I’d accomplished my previous homework task (following up with the NY state re-education program; my appointment is in a couple of weeks), he went on to query me about my sobriety and recovery efforts — which he tells me now, he believes are the cure for my dysthymia and anxiety.
He gave me three new homework assignments which unnerve me even to discuss here (I really hate being pulled out of my comfort zone).
1. I have to choose a ‘temporary’ sponsor and work the first three steps with her. LC is no longer acting as my pseudo-sponsor, so NP says I need a new one (she didn’t work out all that well anyway). He says the requirements are that it must be a woman and she must have 5 years of clean time. “Impossible,” I informed him, “Only one or two women have one or two years of clean time, and of those, I would only consider one — maybe — the rest of the crew are newbies and most are crazy-bananas-nutso weirdos.” NP scrunched up his nose and told me I was being mean — I should be grateful that I’m not as crazy as the nutbags I’m surrounded by, not pick on them. I told him “It’s not mean if it’s true.” He glared at me and shook his head.
So now I have to pick that one lady who’s not completely nutso as my temporary sponsor until I can get a real one because my meanness is a sign that I really need AA. Uh, okaaaay. This primary request is causing me deep and abiding anxiety. I just don’t want to be obliged to this extent. I don’t want to open up to ANY more people! But maybe the NP is right… so I’m considering it and may ask her this weekend.
“… And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation, some fact of my life, unacceptable to me; and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.”
I take issue with the idea of “nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” Sorry, but this is raw, unadulterated bah-low-knee. If you ask me, God does not have a plan. If there’s a plan, then there is no free will — and no matter what I do, it’s all in God’s plan and I can’t change anything anyway, so why try? If I sit here and decide to pop a Vicodin, that’s God’s plan. If I decide to quit my job and live on the street, it’s God’s plan. Or if I’d rather type on my blog about what’s zipping around my bizzy brain, that’s God’s plan too, and I have no say in the matter. What a bunch of crap. But the rest of it…. that I can work with and build on. But the NP says that’s just proof that my self-destructive nature getting in the way of my recovery. So I’ll read it every day like he asked, but I won’t like it.
See? My attitude is the problem.
3. I have a sticky that he gave me to keep on the bathroom mirror that says “Keep my head where my feet are.” (And since I wear crocs all the time these days, the view is spectacular… ugh). This phrase is supposed to help me remember to live a day at a time, whatever the flip that means. I told NP that I need to plan ahead, staying in the moment exacerbates my tendency to procrastinate, but he says that means I don’t understand. Since I truly don’t get it, I am reading the sticky. I think this too is baloney, but maybe if I keep looking at it, the meaning will eventually dawn on me.
The Square-Jawed NP is absolutely convinced that increasing medication (or changing it) won’t make as much of a difference as working “The Program” will. Since I realize that science says Dysthymia is one of the hardest sub-types of depression to correct without a lot of intense therapy (and even then it often won’t respond), I can’t deny the opportunity. I owe it to myself to at least try — even if it’s on my own terms.
So why do I think I’m sad, if not because of ignoring “the program”? After all, the weather has improved. There’s sun, the grass is greening up, the shrubs are budding out, and even spring flowers are making their initial appearances.
Life just sucks and it will keep on sucking. I do need a better outlook, but I’m not sure where it’s gonna come from. Those medications are no miracle drugs, that’s for damned sure.
I have to lose weight, but without electricity to keep food cold, or a stove to cook anything, its nearly impossible. At this rate, it won’t be long before I’m 300 lbs and I am NOT happy about that. I feel helpless against my own body. Yeah, there’s a reason to feel sensational, huh?.
Aaaannnnd… Winter was one of my biggest gripes, right? Well, I’m looking toward summer’s arrival. Sort of. Spring, while unpredictable, is lovely. But summer always seems to arrive one day when it’s 20 degrees in the morning and 90 in the afternoon, then it never leaves. That’s what sucks.
The long, hot days and nights of 90-100 degrees with no air conditioning and not even a decent fan to cool me. Sweating and feeling dirty from the dust all the time. Any makeup I wear will melt off. My hair will frizz. I’ll walk everywhere in the oppressive heat, and spend sleepless nights sticking to my sheets. It was miserable last year, it’ll be miserable this year. No realistic chance — even with social services’ help — that it’ll be corrected anytime soon. Like the taxes, my heart races and my skin feels on fire every time I go to fill out the paperwork. Avoidance. That’s my problem here.
Gripe, gripe, gripe. Moan, moan, moan.
My according to my stickie, I need to keep my head where my feet are. Not worry about summer’s heat now because it’ll come soon enough. Yet I awake in the night in a mini-anxiety attack from feeling so hopeless. Huh. Maybe hopelessness is my problem.
And with regard to the NY state program for job help and re-education, I doubt anything will come of that. Truly, I do. I think they’ll help me get a job, but won’t do jack to help me go back to school. I’m too highly functioning now and why give money to someone like me? I have a job, and I’ll have kept it for three years this July. It may be a suck-job at a thrift store, but it’s MY suck-job and I’m good at not getting fired. So I have no history of being unemployable. I’m just sad and avoidant, that’s all. But, I’ll go through the process and see where it leads. Prejudging the situation again I guess — another problem.
Much as I enjoy writing on this blog, there are days when I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s like not wearing makeup, wearing the same clothes over and over, not doing my hair in anything but a scrubby ponytail, not cleaning my apartment. I’m filled with self-neglect — just like I was feeling leading up to my fall into Vicodinville years ago. It started then because I stopped caring. Could it start again now for the same reason?
Recently, I’ve found myself daydreaming about having a Vicodin to soothe my frayed nerves. Not that I have any money to acquire the pills, and I change the thought process quickly not wishing to indulge such an unhealthy idea. But the thought still snuck in a few times today. I feel so anxious about the stupid sponsor thing… I just want to give up on the whole mess rather than be told what to do. Or worse yet, fail at it.
It reminds me of when I took gymnastics as a kid. I loved floor exercise, enjoyed the vault, and was thrilled by spinning on the uneven bars, but the balance beam scared the shit out of me. I was never sure why, but I couldn’t even walk across it let alone do a cartwheel or tumble across. All I could think of was, “I’m gonna fall! I’m gonna fall! I’m gonna fall!” Suddenly finding myself terrified of heights, I would make myself fall off in lieu of accidentally doing it and breaking my neck. No surprise that ultimately I failed the class — the first time I ever that I’d failed at anything — and it was all due to my fear of possibly falling. I made myself fall before it happened outside of my control.
I don’t know if that’s normal, crazy, or just part of the overall negative attitude that dysthymia induces.
Not a healthy attitude.
So I agreed to do what the NP suggested, but not without serious reservations and thinking I never wanted to see him again for fear of what he’ll make me do next. But the thought of starting down that road toward Vicodinville again scares me even more.
So I’ll do it even if I have to do it with a bad attitude.
“Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Will the landslide bring you down?”
― Stevie Nicks