Adventures in Intimidation

bullI do not enjoy being a shadow of my former self. The people I know now have no idea how I used to be, they just think I’m just a fat schlub with no talent and no makeup and her hair up in a scrubby ponytail. And the people I used to know can’t reconcile what they see now with what they once knew.

And I never realized how much I relied on codeine and vicodin to give me that extra boost I needed especially when my depression prevented me from getting things done. Now that I’m starting to understand things in that light, I realize how completely far I’ve fallen.

My visit with Square-Jawed NP finally happened last Friday. I really hate the new practice he belongs to. The waiting room was populated by truly crazy people — I was the most normal person in the room. Understanding how overbooked he was (he’s on vacation this week so they crammed everyone in last week at the last minute), I brought a book, my Kindle, and had even downloaded a movie to the Kindle, just in case. The melange of crazy people hadn’t prepared as well and were complaining — loudly.

One particularly agitated person in the waiting room was a mid-twenties African American man adorned in gangsta gear with a handful of similarly dressed friends accompanying him. He was a walk-in on perhaps the worst day of the week for such a thing. He complained ad nauseum how “fucking unfair” it was that he had to wait. That if he didn’t get his medication, he was going to go out and shoot some people because these “assholes” didn’t realize how much he needed his meds.

Lucky for me as I sat there, we lost a few people via attrition, those who had been waiting for two hours and refused to stay a minute longer. One woman was angry and approached the receptionist demanding(!!) to know if NP had snuck out the back to go to lunch or if he was actually in with a patient. The amazingly composed receptionist reassured the woman that, yes, NP was in with a patient and had not dared to ‘sneak out’ for lunch. The crazed woman did not believe her and stormed out.

009-18-gifEventually, NP poked his head out from behind the locked door to call in the next patient and (Surprise!) told me I’d be next after that. The Gangsta guy went ape insisting he needed to see NP right away and calling him a “fucking asshole” and on and on. NP — showing enormous restraint — explained calmly that he would fit Gangsta guy in after my appointment, but that he would have to wait patiently since Gangsta was a walk-in.

I sat there for a bit longer as Gangsta guy threatened to call the county mental health people as well as his lawyer. He was infuriated and was letting everyone know exactly how much.

Not long after that, NP poked his head out again to call me in. THEN the Gangsta guy really went totally apeshit. He stood up and became threatening. The receptionist called for someone to calm the man down. NP stood stone-faced and silent while Gangsta laid into him with every insult in the book. I gathered up my stuff as quickly as I could in order to get behind that locked door myself. NP walked me in.

Finally safe behind the locked door, NP apologized saying, “I’m so sorry you had to put up with that.” And he kept apologizing even though I reassured him it wasn’t his fault. After all, it shouldn’t be surprising to find crazy people at a psych office. I just wished they had a separate room for those of us comparatively ‘normal’ patients!

He had to take a comprehensive history again since this is a new location with all new computer systems and software, incompatible with the records from the old place. I was fine with going over it all over again. My appointment was 45 minutes, so however he wanted to spend that time was fine with me (as long as I wasn’t outside with the nutballs).

wellI discussed my continuing depression with him as we went over my medications. He was concerned that I was on too many different meds and that it might appear to be “poor practice”. I reassured him that I didn’t think it was. After all, I’m still depressed, just not as much. And besides, some depressions (dysthymia in particular) are notoriously stubborn to treat. For now, he wants me on one more medication — non-SSRI Wellbutrin — which I had run out of last month waiting to see him again. We’ll revisit the situation in three weeks after we’ve given the Wellbutrin fair time to take effect. (Honestly, I don’t think the Wellbutrin is doing jack, but I’ll keep taking it just the same.)

singThat being over, I told him about my new voice lessons — something that isn’t going particularly well — but apparently has his full support and encouragement. I explained to him how hard it suddenly is, and how frustrating that I can’t do what I used to so easily. It also allowed me to segue into some funny stories from my “heyday” when I was singing several years back. I even confessed to him that my biggest problem with my voice was always intimidation — brave as I was, and as talented as people told me I was — there was always someone who snuck in and scared the crap out of me. My voice would shut down (just as it is now) and be nothing but a timid squeak, thin and screechy, especially on top. And it feeds on itself — the worse I sound, the more intimidated I become which makes my throat shut down more, making the sound worse and on and on. The vicodin (or even just a few milligrams of codeine) often helped me overcome that. It relaxed my throat and allowed my voice to be free. I told him I’m not sure what’s going to happen now that I don’t have that crutch. He reassured me that I’d figure it out. NP is a lot more confident about it than I am — but I’ll keep going at it. Each lesson gets a little better.

We also talked about my potential return to school, recently approved and now up to me. We discussed old movies and a recent art exhibit at a local museum (which is my assignment — to attend the exhibit and report back in three weeks).

As we finished up, NP apologized again for the behavior of Gangsta guy, and again I told him not to worry, but wished him luck as NP still had to deal with him. “Maybe if I get lucky he’ll have given up and gone home,” he chuckled. I agreed and wished him luck again. NP escorted me to the outgoing receptionist and proceeded to head to the other door. I looked across the glass and didn’t see Gangsta guy or his cronies. Perhaps NP figuratively (and perhaps literally) dodged a bullet, I thought.

gangsWhen I left, it turned out that Gangsta Guy and his friends were out on the street corner having a smoke. I had to pass by them to get to the parking lot, and as I walked by, one of them commented, “Well you sure look happy!” I didn’t realize I was smiling. Then another remarked, “So that’s what he was doing in there. Getting a nooner!” I was mortified — for me and NP — and, I admit, slightly flattered. I guess I look pretty good when I clean up, do my hair, and wear makeup. But yes, I was mostly mortified. And I was worried what Gangsta guy would do or say when he found out that he lost his place in line. Or when he got in to see NP. Good lord. Crazy people. Of course I thought of a lot of snappy comebacks after the fact, but was too flummoxed at the time to come up with anything. Probably for the best. I’m sure that some smartass remark probably wouldn’t have gone well for me.

Since then, I’ve done a lot of thinking about things — life in general. In my voice lessons, the most difficult thing for me at the moment is hitting the top notes without screeching or worse yet — cracking. My voice actually cracks! It CRACKS! What??? Something is desperately wrong. Why can’t I do it? Something is basically wrong. Do I really need vicodin or codeine in order to sing? Was that my secret — or can I sing without it somehow? And if so, HOW? It’s unbelievably frustrating to try to do something you used to do so easily and fail, discovering you’re now encumbered by some mysterious problem you can’t identify.

It comes down to intimidation. My life is full of it now. I can’t speak my mind because I’m dependent on so many people and I’ll lose their support if I get mad. If I told Mrs. H, for instance, to go to hell when she gets pushy or asks too many personal questions, I’d be tossed out on my ear and fired, leaving me broke and without that precious vehicle she lets me borrow on occasion. If I told Auntie and Uncle Crazypants to quit being so freakin’ weird or told Auntie to quit being so damned self-pitying, same thing. Tossed out with no one to rely on.

At work, I’ve learned to swallow my pride and eat a lot of crap. I don’t speak my mind or stand up for things I believe. Someone contradicts me and I just fold and shrug my shoulders. “What difference does it make?” I think — but I never used to be like that. Sad, really. So few situations give me the freedom to speak my mind or feel brave and confident that I think I’ve completely lost touch with that feeling. I feel insecure and scared most of the time. I depend on routine to keep me sane. Any interruption of that routine, and I feel like a shitball.

I’m becoming exhausted from this constant low-level depression. I just want to kick-start my brain, reactivate it, force it to get motivated to do SOMETHING instead of sitting around trying not to run out of the room screaming. I admit, the idea of popping a vicodin, for just one afternoon, is sorely tempting. Instead, I exist from day to day waiting for my brain to do something constructive. NP thinks I’m making such amazing progress, but I told him I wish I could feel that for myself.

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“I don’t think ethical people deal with intimidation as a method to achieve success. Undermining someone’s self-esteem isn’t a method to achieve success.” — Dominique Moceanu

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Posted in + recovery, addiction, bipolar, depression, loperamide abuse, opera, random crap, sobrietyland, therapy, weirdness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Therapist Barbie and the Long Wait to See the Nazi (aka Bring a Book)

barb4Last Thursday, I finally had my intake appointment and first encounter with Therapist Barbie. I’m happy to report she appears to be quite astute, amazingly. Of course time will tell, but I was surprised by her ability to have solid insight through what little I shared with her during the initial visit which mostly consisted of questions/answers.

As some of you know, I found Therapist Barbie as a result of switching practices in order to follow the Square-Jawed NP, my medication management Nazi who left the old practice.

The new office is stark and uninviting. Located inside a sizable, intimidating business building, the psych office appears to be the poor orphan step-child of the large conglomerate it’s owned by.

rastaOutside, a half-blind Rastafarian homeless man sat leaning against a telephone pole playing an unplugged electric guitar, and acting as welcoming committee, greeted me with a wide, toothless grin and a hearty “Hello!”

Entering through two sets of glass doors, I was then greeted by the stark waiting room, painted plain white and accessorized by cheap chairs, fluorescent lighting, some year-old magazines, informational trifolds about schizophrenia, ADHD, and other mental disorders, and no TV or radio for entertainment. That’s what you get when you have Medicaid, I guess.

The receptionist sitting behind thick glass was at least friendly and gave me all the paperwork I needed to fill out. After that, I had to walk around through the hallway to the next receptionist who took more information and more paperwork.

Once all that was done, I sat in the waiting room again in anticipation of my appointment with Therapist Barbie who would complete the initial intake appointment — basically making sure I’m just crazy enough to qualify for their assistance.

treatQuite a bit different from the psychiatrists’ offices you see in the movies and on television. I’ve been watching the old HBO series “In Treatment”, and their setup couldn’t be any further from TV therapist Paul’s cozy office and couch.

While sitting in the waiting room, I had a few moments to observe some of the other clients as they came and went. One woman who came in was belligerent about not getting an appointment when she wanted. They seemed to know her and go through this with her with some frequency. Another was a father and his teenage daughter, who walked in to see the Square-Jawed NP — former patients of his at the old practice — misinformed that walk-ins were accepted, and were turned away. I felt bad for them because they said they’d just found out about NP switching practices and appeared to be desperate to see him. Popular guy, huh?

Expecting a long wait, I settled into the only corner with an electrical outlet adjacent to the chair and pulled out my Kindle to surf and read. But it wasn’t even a few minutes before Therapist Barbie called my name. I was escorted down a long hall of offices and entered hers. It was a small office, tastefully decorated with a large painting, some inspirational posters, lots of books, and two or three large square chairs opposite her desk.

She proceeded to ask me numerous background questions beginning with “what brings you here today?” Other questions were regarding family history, friendships, relationships, work history, substance abuse, etc. Barbie’s sharp and insightful responses to my answers indicated to me that she wasn’t as dumb as her beauty belied, and she’s well worth my giving her an even chance. I think she may prove interesting. We both agreed that given my increasing depression levels, I needed to get in to see NP for medication management adjustments as soon as possible.

I was also warned about long waits. “How was the scheduling at the previous practice where you used to see NP?” Barbie asked. “Did you have to wait long?”

“No,” I replied, “Sometimes ten or fifteen minutes, but never long.”

“Well,” she laughed a little, “here it’s quite a bit different than that. Bring a book because our waits are usually quite a bit longer than that.”

Uh, wonderful.

The appointment lasted between 45 minutes and an hour, and when I left, I was told to come back and see her in three weeks, and was instructed to see NP as soon as an appointment was available.

Apparently, the main problem in making an appointment is that everyone is going on vacation thanks to the end of the summer season — including NP. Plus, the practice has lost its two other medication management people, and NP’s the only one available for ALL their patients. This complicates matters. The scheduling receptionist appeared to be frustrated by the problem of fitting me in before NP went on vacation. She ended up triple-booking my appointment (after telling me the ones before mine were already double-booked). “That’s the best I can do for you. Bring a book,” she advised.

Again with the bring-a-book thing.

nazihappy

I’m going to make you wait four hours to see me, and see if you’ll actually do it! How dumb are YOU?

My long-awaited appointment with NP is 11:15 tomorrow morning, except since all appointments are double- and triple-booked, I calculated that I’ll be there around 4 hours before getting in to see him. FOUR HOURS. Dudes, I don’t wait four hours for ANYBODY. I wouldn’t wait that long to see the Pope let alone some Nazi who’s gonna harass me about attending stupid AA meetings. Fun as he is, four hours is a long friggin’ time to wait. I’m hoping this kind of ridiculously long wait is more the exception than the rule. If it isn’t, I may have to go back to Milquetoast Guy at the old practice instead.

The one thing I have on my side is patience. If I can position myself in the one corner of the waiting room that has an electrical outlet, I can watch movies on my Kindle while I wait or at least “bring a book” on it.

So why go through all this? Well, for one thing, I’m not a quitter. I’ve been waiting a long time for this, and I’m not giving up just as I’m in the final stretch. It’s rather like playing a video game where you have to kill off all the “little bads” to get to the final round and the “big bad” and win the game.

I intend to win and hopefully when these vacations periods are over, the office will settle into a shorter wait time and seeing NP won’t be so difficult.

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 It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.–  Julius Caesar

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Posted in + recovery, AA, addiction, bipolar, depression, sobrietyland, therapy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the Loss of Robin Williams and the Depressive Mind

ew-robinI have always loved watching Robin Williams. Who could look away when he was on screen or on stage? That magical manic energy he had was boundless. He always reminded me of my brother who not only looked like Robin, but could command a room with his energetic humor and off-the-cuff riffs on various topics.

I followed William’s career with keen interest for 35 years — from the unimpressive (“Mork and Mindy”, “Popeye”) to the extraordinary (“Dead Poet’s Society”, “Good Will Hunting”), Williams’ gifts shone through and grew in depth and breadth like no other.

He was many things to many people. A gifted and talented actor and comedian, a generous soul, a husband and father, a colleague and friend. But, in the quiet of the aloneness, there was something else. Something telling him nothing is worthwhile, the world would be a better place without him, a deep blackness drowning out all outside voices. Fear imbues everything. It overwhelms and cuts off hope.

Like everyone else, I was crushed when I heard Robin Williams died. I was broken-hearted for his family and understand the loss we all feel without him. I watched the endless coverage on TV, every time Robin’s photo came up, I thought of my brother, Robin’s doppelganger, who shares my own tendencies for depression (but in a much less dramatic way).

Everyone seems to want a definitive reason why Robin Williams killed himself. It makes more sense that way, I suppose. Why did such a brilliant man, highly successful, with a family and (presumably) lots of money become so desperate as to wrap a rope around his neck and strangle himself slowly until he died?

Speculation continues regarding Williams’ financial state, his health, the decline in the quality of roles he accepted, his disappointing TV series that was cancelled after one season, and questions as to whether or not Williams was bipolar and the role that may have played. Today, CNN announced his wife said Robin was suffering from early stages of Parkinson’s disease. But at the end of the day, none of these factors were what killed him.

Depression did.

We need to stop looking for reason where there is no reason. Depression is not logical. It’s a disease. It can’t be rationalized because it has no rules. It can’t be cured by “cheering up” or smiling or just looking on the bright side. It won’t be reversed by sitting in a sunbeam, watching a funny movie, or doing yoga.

I hate it when well-meaning people cheerfully reprimand, “Smile! It can’t be all that bad!” Dude, maybe it can.

Whether bipolar depression or unipolar, it’s a moot point. Depression quashed the boundless energy of Robin Williams altogether too soon.

But suicide does not have to be an end-point. And it shouldn’t have been for Robin either.

Depression can be helped by talk therapy and medication, and in most cases, these therapies works well. In some people (like me) medications can require long-term fine tuning — in some people, medications can also poop out and lose their effectiveness over time. So you try another. Staying in touch with doctors and therapists is mandatory. It requires ongoing, lifetime maintenance.

People can cope with depression. They can fight it. Talking about problems, trying to shake up that brain into remembering that life is worth living does tend to help bring a person back from the brink. Others fight in unhealthy ways, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. Still others excel at whatever they do as as means of running from those alone times when the torturous hopeless thoughts return.

Robin Williams seemed to find his hope in laughter, disappearing into characters, mimickry, and absurdity. Seeing the world as a ridiculous place where weird shit happens all the time is where I find my laughter too, so I understand. I also see the same characteristics in my brother. He’s fine, by the way. I checked.

Depression can ebb and flow, as well — important to remember when a person is at their lowest, most hopeless.

Clinical depression is considered a disease because it effects everyone from rich to poor, thin people and fat, sick and well, young and old. It does not discriminate by color, race, religion, or sexual preference.

Even movie stars who seem to have it all.

Robin is tragically gone, but he didn’t have to die — it wasn’t inevitable, fate, or any other foolishly romantic idea. He died horribly. The body does not give up to death easily. It kicks and screams, trying to compensate and stop the assault on its being. It’s excruciatingly painful. It’s not fast, easy, quiet, or noble. Once death comes, presuming it does, someone gets to find the body. Has to clean up the mess. Has to live for the rest of their lives wondering if maybe they could have done something to prevent it and didn’t.

It’s not worth it. Take it from someone who’s been on the brink a few times in her life. Ultimately, I chose not to. Once with the help of the Suicide Hotline. Yes, really. Me. They talked me down from the literal brink a couple of years ago after I survived my loperamide overdose and was left with a gaping black pit of depression the bleakness of which I’ve never truly known before or since. They talked to me for over an hour, helping me work through my problems (read: excuses to kill myself) and giving me a plan — for hope. Just a crumb, but it was enough.

I share this number in the hope that it can save a life as it did mine. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

We mourn the loss of Robin Williams’ talent and decency and wish it had ended better, perhaps with the wise laughter of old age.

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“What’s true in our minds is true, whether some people know it or not.”
— Robin Williams as Chris in “What Dreams May Come” (A terrific movie — go out and rent it!)

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Posted in + recovery, AA, addiction, bipolar, Celebrities, depression, Humor, sobrietyland, theater, therapy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mad Margaret Answers Your Most Popular Search Terms

googcart

It’s always interesting to see how people get here. Most search terms are hidden, but others do crop up. Given my specialized loperamide subject matter, most of my search terms are related to loperamide abuse, but there are the occasional outliers. Search terms are presented here verbatim (spelling errors included).

1. dosage of imodium for opiate withdrawal
Maximum daily dosage of Imodium (loperamide HCL) is 16mg (8 pills) per day. Don’t take more than that or you will risk your heart and your health.

2. how much imodium do i take for soboxone withdrawl
If you’re detoxing from suboxone, consult your doctor. They are qualified to put you on a safe dosage reduction schedule. Don’t use imodium beyond the normal daily dosage. Besides, it likely won’t work anyway as it will attempt to compete with the suboxone for the receptors and could precipitate your withdrawal rather than ameliorate it.

3. loperamide addiction/imodium addiction
I know all about this. See other posts on my site (listed below). Loperamide addiction sucks and it often starts with using the drug for withdrawal from other opioids. That’s why I cannot, in good conscience recommend using loperamide for anything beyond the maximum recommended daily dose. It’s simply not safe.

4, loperamide withdrawal timeline
Withdrawal from loperamide lasts an excruciatingly long time, the worst of it between 6-8 weeks. Longer term Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) can go for weeks or months beyond that. More information in the links below.

5. loperamide and quinine
Now, don’t go mixing things trying to get loperamide to cross the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) — naughty, naughty! Using quinidine can cause cardiac arrhythmias faster than just using loperamide alone through pharmacological synergism. Don’t be a bonehead — don’t do it.

6. lopermide abuse
Whether an addict is using it alone, in combination with other drugs, or as a method to ameliorate withdrawal, loperamide abuse is a real thing. People are using the drug in high and mega-doses and combining it with other drugs to try to achieve a better high. See links below for more science on loperamide abuse.

7. clonidine withdrawal does kratom help
No. If you need to reduce your clonidine, talk to your doctor and reduce it safely. The biggest danger is rebound hypertension — high enough blood pressure and you could get a stroke. Kratom won’t do beans for that.

8. loperamide high
Loperamide abuse won’t give you any kind of traditional high, so don’t expect it. It’s often described as a “dirty” high. Myself, I felt chatty on mega-doses of the drug, but no warm fuzzy feeling per se. I also almost died from cardiac arrest thanks to my loperamide use, so don’t be stupid — don’t do it. See evidence below.

9. lope overdose
Contrary to some reports, loperamide overdose can be a very dangerous thing. Too much loperamide can interrupt the heart’s rhythm and kill you. If someone has overdosed on loperamide (maximum daily dose is 16mg or 8 pills) and they’re feeling dizzy, are nauseous and/or vomiting, or if they faint or become unconscious, call 911 and seek medical help immediately.

10. ugly granny
Yeah, old folks can be pretty damn gross, can’t they? All those uppity wrinkles and tufts of white hair? Jeez, I like totally know. Just remember, you’ll get there too someday if you’re lucky, so enjoy the ride to ugly grannyville!

SOME RELATED LINKS:

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“What we find changes who we become.”― Peter Morville

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Posted in + recovery, AA, addiction, loperamide abuse, sobrietyland, weirdness | Leave a comment

And… we’re back!

grad

I’m always happy to report good news when it happens.

  • I was approved to pursue my Physician Assistant degree with funding from the state. From here, I have to do some research on which schools I want to attend, fill out some paperwork, and get my gear in order. Probably too late for Fall semester, but Spring semester is not out of the question. I’m a little worried about the workload, but maybe — just maybe — it’ll all work out. My siblings are over the moon for me — they’re hoping I go to an Ivy League school, but the state ain’t paying that much!
  • My cord came in for my Mac! YAY! It shipped from China and (surprise!) only took one and a half weeks — which is impressive when you consider they told me it might not be until September before it arrived.

My mood has stabilized into a low-level depression. I still am not sleeping great, and occasionally feel quite agitated. So I went to see the replacement for the Square-Jawed NP at the old office out of sheer desperation. I needed refills and, since I have no idea when I’ll see NP again, I figured it was best to see someone. Any bozo in a storm, right?

NOT-SJNP was a mild-mannered older man, appearing to be in his 50’s, relatively nondescript, and as dull as oatmeal. He did not appear to be incompetent however, and prescribed a new med to try to control my agita as well as refilling the other meds. But the guy was soooo milquetoast! I tried cracking a couple of jokes, and he chuckled a little, but he was all about the meds and not conversation. All business. About 10 minutes of medication discussion, and I was outta there.

Nobody bugging me about going to AA meetings, forcing me to apply for colleges, bitching out state workers on my behalf, asking me about old movies, or giving me an epic side-eye when I whine.

It made me really appreciate NP’s style more than I did before. Dammit, I miss that Nazi.

barbNext week, I have my intake appointment at NP’s new office with a young girl we’ll call Therapist Barbie. Interestingly enough, even though I haven’t met her, I know all about her thanks to the immature 25-year old therapist’s online presence.

Keep in mind, Square-jawed NP has virtually NO online presence — no Facebook, Twitter, or even an old MySpace page to clue me in on his real life. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I attribute this to his maturity and seriousness about his job.

As far as I’m concerned, if therapists don’t like discussing personal information, they shouldn’t put it out there for everyone to see — and NP agrees.

But Barbie may be too young and naive to realize that all that open, personal information could be, at best distracting, and at worst, dangerous. She has it all laid out there for anyone to do a very quick Google search and discover her whole personal life. I’m not a psycho myself, but what’s to say she won’t eventually treat someone who is totally crazy-insane nutballs? Especially considering how pretty she is, that’s a recipe for trouble if you ask me.

Example. Before I even meet her, I know what schools Barbie went to, when she graduated, that she started this particular job just 8 months ago, I know what all her previous jobs were (she was once a waitress), that she’s getting married, she’s really really really looking forward to her bachelorette party, she loves dogs, puppies, kittens, small fuzzy things, butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows. She appears to be excruciatingly optimistic, very young, and quite eager to please. She’s also very physically fit and runs in marathons. And she loves shoes.

And that’s just a cursory search!

I know much less about Square-jawed NP, and most of what I do know is due to the fact that he occasionally slips and reveals the odd personal tidbit.

I can’t get in to see NP until Barbie gives the okay — which, I suspect, won’t be difficult for me to finagle. It’s likely just a matter of what timeframe I can get in to see him.

In other news, I’m down 22 pounds so far, I’m still awaiting my voice lessons starting week-after-next, and Little Red Dog has finally shed about 99% of his winter coat (it’s about time!!)

So until next time, gentle reader….

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Every year, many, many stupid people graduate from college. And if they can do it, so can you. — John Green

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Posted in + recovery, AA, bipolar, depression, education, opera, therapy, weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Cock Crows in a Minor Key

Gonna git me summa dat gubmit cheese

It’s my crappy party, and I’ll cry if I want to.

*NOTE: I am still without my laptop, but have found time on my work computer to zip out a quick blog post.*

When I woke up yesterday morning, I was in a serious funk. I found myself on a crying jag; I simply woke up that way after a night of tossing and turning and dreaming of torturous nonsense. That seems to be the pattern of my depression; I just wake up that way one day. Sometimes it’s not so bad, and other times, I start crying in the midst of an ennui pity party.

I remember times even as a small child, when I would cry for virtually no reason. I had depression even then. As a teen, I was suicidally depressed due in no small part to the massive influx of hormones that every teenager experiences. My parents didn’t notice really. They thought I was just being an asshole.

Sometimes, I think that’s how I feel about it. I should buck up and deal like a grownup. The Viibryd keeps the worst of it at bay, but I definitely need something else. Nothing will change in the short term, so I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I depend on inscrutable routine to keep me sane.

On Sundays, I spend the day at Mrs. H’s — I watch CBS Sunday Morning religiously, then, having a day’s access to the little blue crapmobile that Mrs. H lets me borrow, I’m free to run errands, go to my AA meeting, and basically be a regular grownup tooling around in a car for a few hours. I’m remarkably possessive about having relaxing Sundays (it’s my only real day off), so waking up with a crying jag was not the best start.

That morning it was raining. Not hard, really, just a light sprinkle — enough to use the umbrella, but not enough to get drenched. The prediction was for more rain during the afternoon, and since we had spent several days under this sit-and-spin storm front, everyone is becoming quite sick of the weather.

Around 8 or 8:30 am, I begin my walk to Mrs. H’s house. Often I’ll listen to music on the way, but my Kindle has been burning them midnight oil because my laptop is out of commission for the next couple of weeks, so I didn’t want to kill the battery. This meant the 6-block walk was just me deep in my self-flagellating thoughts.

About mid-way through the walk, I heard a cock crow. Now, keep in mind, I live in the city where keeping farm animals is not allowed by city ordinance. Hearing a rooster crow or chickens clucking is a very unusual occurrence indeed.

Not but a few houses away, the rooster crowed his morning announcement, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!!” — not in the traditional major tonal pattern, but in a precisely mournful minor key — an E-F-A-F-E pattern. Each time he crowed, the same precise tone was repeated.

This made me laugh — hard. Even the rooster had awakened feeling sorrowful on that crappy morning.

Later that day, I visited with my EvilSis who is in town for a few short weeks. I left feeling horrible about myself, like usual. If I were my friend, I would tell myself, “I don’t like how you are after you visit with her.” Me either.

In that blue mood, it began to pour outside. Buckets of rain fell from the sky and Mrs. H decided to drop me off at home early to supposedly avoid the worst of the rain.

So I watched TV shows on my Kindle.

I’ve been watching the HBO series “In Treatment” which just arrived for free on Amazon Prime. While I’m really enjoying it — there’s a certain comfort in watching screwed up people (even if it is fiction) talking to a therapist, then seeing the therapist himself screwed up in his own way — it’s also hitting some hot buttons for me that are bringing up bad memories, feelings of failure, and wishing that “if only” I could have a smart, Hollywood-scripted therapist like the ones on the show, maybe I’d be making some progress in my depression. I don’t see the new therapist for another week (plus), and still can’t get in to see the Square-jawed NP until some unknown time after that.

I have also continued singing, practicing with some Italian art songs and some old jazz favorites, like usual. I’m stretching the sound, trying to ease the tension in my throat, and focus on the bel canto legato smoothness of sound. I’m still pretty clunky, but it’s coming along.

My old teacher used to tell me to free my voice. Don’t try to over control it (something I do with great frequency). Just allow the sound to happen. It’s a hard lesson for someone who’s a control freak and who’s become very insecure about her voice. I have to relearn trust. That’s a big leap for me these days.

So until this passes, or until my meds get re-adjusted, I, myself, sing in that mournful minor key awaiting the day I can return to major.

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For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness. — Reba McEntire

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