Light ’em up

Smoke ’em if you got ’em! Happy 420.

Got in one good pacing session. The weather’s been hot, and my bro has been hanging around a bit more to avoid the sun so I haven’t had many opportunities to get up and talk out everything pouring thru my head. Have one storyline roughed in, another half there with ideas and questions: very productive for one pacing session (granted, it lasted about 2 hours).

Ratta-tat-tat-brrrr-ratta-tat-tat. My brother had to come out from his room four times yesterday to comment on my tapping feet. Just…kept doing it. All afternoon. Please remember to tell your psychiatrist about this when you see him next. Yeah. He’ll probably say it’s depression. That’s what everyone says about everything I say: it’s depression. Depression. Fast feet? Depression. Sweating hands? Depression. Poor sleep? Depression. Repetitive thoughts? Depression. I’m beginning to wonder why I bother mentioning anything. They’ve pegged me, and until they see obvious shit in front of their own eyes they won’t change their minds.

Must. let. go. I’m obsessing over the production. Bless my bro’s heart, he recognized that yesterday and did his best to talk me down. He let me go thru my concerns, talk about the sound layering, the recordings needed, and my worry over time and overloading him. He replied (confidently; damn! I wish I could do that) that he could get all the sound done in one week if push came to shove. And he reminded me that I’ve passed the baton. He’s the sound director, and the director is the director. Let go. If they say they can do it within the time frame they’re setting, they can do it. That’s tough. Had a lot of people let me down. Drop things at the last minute, then look at me like ‘well, if you want it done, do it yourself’. The only thing I know for sure that works is immersing myself in a new story – which is why I took off all restrictions on myself and paced things out. I thought I’d want to be clear headed and focused on the production, but I find my laser beam concentration too much. I’ve got to distract myself.

Still cooking things up in my brain, so my body’s been allowed to be the slug. Sit. Go thru the motions of playing solitaire. Unfocused eyes on the tv. Uncomprehending hearing. My bro is indulging me. Encouraging me, even. He sees the obsession and the manic traits even if the doc doesn’t.

My phone rang about 10 minutes before my pizza was delivered. I knew before looking at it that it was S. She’s the only one who calls me. Bless her, she was trying to multi-task a bit; she called me while she was on the train. Unfortunately, the noise made for a difficult phone call. I hung in there, responding between bites on my pizza. I know that’s an instance I should probably say ‘could you call me back in half an hour? my pizza just came’, but I can’t. I have so few friends and people in my life, and I know how busy they all are. I’m grateful for whenever S’s calls come, whether it’s 10 minutes before my pizza or just after I’ve turned the light out in my room and I’m ready to sleep. Plus, I know it’s my schedule that’s weird and off. Sometimes I’m sleeping at 6 in the evening. Sometimes I eat dinner at 3 in the afternoon. So I do my best to accommodate those phone calls because…well…I don’t get many. And I know I’m the oddball.

Anyway, she’s fine. Busy. Happy at her internship. I’m so thrilled for her! A bit jealous, too. Or envious. Wishing I could be in her shoes – trained in what she loves, just heading out and beginning. If she doesn’t succumb to hating herself, she can go far. I find it interesting to hear her. We’ve talked deeply enough that I know a few of her issues, and she mine. We connect on several levels; our problems aren’t dissimilar. It is almost as if I’m talking to a younger version of myself. She’s half on the track and half lost. She knows she struggles with depression and self hate, but she thinks repeating those tried and true memes will get her thru her shit. Had a good laugh (internally) when she told me: It’s all in your head. Yes. Depression is all in your head. But she seems to want me to be able to talk things out and get to an ‘end’ (or perhaps she’s hoping to see that so it gives her hope that her own issues will, eventually, come to an ‘end’). I have not the heart to tell her there is no end to it. And I do not have the courage to let her see the hag in me: that older, wiser woman with keen perception. I allow her to tell me her youthful wisdom, full of hope and rainbows. I do not point out the deeper issues I see lurking behind her words or actions. To me, they are obvious. She is on the right track; she’s told me about the competitiveness between herself and her older sister. That was my first step, too. I recognize the overeating, the family issues behind the nice facade (no diss on her family; I’ve met her parents and they’re both very pleasant to strangers but it’s obvious to me she’s not getting what she needs from them).

Well. You’re the wordsmith. What would you have listened to when you were her age? You can’t tread her journey for her. You can’t put her feet down on the right path. She’s got to do that. The only thing you can do is try to illuminate her mind. Connect with her. Let her know she’s not alone.

Light ’em up.

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I’m not stopping

Life just has to keep giving me evidence of the two opposites I orbit ’round. Up and down, high and low…it gets mimicked in my life so often I’m getting sick of it.

Language class. Definitely a mixed bag. Thirty minutes before I had to leave, I remembered the underlying cause of my reluctance to go: the stone wall of diss I’ve encountered during our class break. I have sat at small tables with people, nodding, trying to get into the chit-chat. But it always seems to devolve into the other students reverting to Farsi, or some other language, and/or totally ignoring me. I sit there, either trying to listen to just zoning out, while they talk back and forth faster and faster, not even making eye contact with me. This has become the norm, and I don’t like it. I’ve gone out for fresh air, headed to the bathroom to diddle around so I didn’t feel so awkward, gone back up to the class early, and sat reading or working on Dutch. One or two women seem to head this up: they’ll see me somewhere, come and join the table, then take over the conversation and monopolize it. Right. I get it; you don’t like me. I don’t think much of you, either. I’m just trying to use my language skills here, and when you don’t give me any opportunity to form a sentence, well…fuck you.

There is one exception to this behavior: the only man in class. He often seeks me out for conversation, at least before class when we’re the only two students in the cafe. Every time he’s done this (and yesterday was no exception), he ends up asking me out for coffee on the weekend. Every time he’s asked, I’ve said no politely, saying I’m too busy. And then…then one of the women walks in and joins us, and he drops it like he never even asked. I suspect that he’s looking for a little something on the side (he’s mentioned a wife and family in our lesson) AND that the other women are somewhat aware of his intentions. It explains his hot/cold potato behavior. Sad. Once again, I am given an example of men’s behavior that I just find repellent. Does the Universe want me to become a lesbian? Sure as hell feels that way. Why do men only talk to me if they want to get into my pants? Why are women so fucking catty to me when I’ve done nothing – nothing!! – to deserve it?

The answer is obvious, if I just ignore that fifty foot wall of self hate I’ve built up: I am drop dead gorgeous. …Feels good just to say that for once. I do not mean physical beauty; there are many women more beautiful than I am. But there’s a combination in me that’s hard to pin down: something between my intelligence and my sense of humor, that kid or big dog that comes out in me wanting to play…people find that attractive. Combine it with looks that aren’t hideous, maybe even a bit attractive on their own, and boom! You got me. I have always believed it is my soul people are attracted to, not really my body. Men…they react to the body. Anyone sexual reacts to the physical. I don’t truly believe for one second that’s what’s behind all this. And the physical reaction…I find it tiring. Good Goddess, can’t we get beyond your penis? So many can’t. Then they find they’ll never get what they want from me, so they leave because they have no idea how to be friends without being sexual. I’m am tired of that. I just blow them off before they even start.

*sigh* Still. I am uncomfortable with the reaction from the women. They’re pleasant enough in class, in front of the teachers. But on break, it’s a whole other ball of wax.

More separation. Our teachers talked to us a bit about another, higher level language class. They thought some of us might be ready for it, and they invited us to check out a class or two this spring to see if we liked it. The man popped up and said he thought he could go to the lesson. The teachers were quick to point out his problems with the simple prepositions and sentences we’re working on. You’ll be lost. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go. Then their eyes focused on me. You could do well in that lesson, but it’s up to you. Go to a few and see what you think. It’s your choice. A few other students were talked to, their progress discussed. No other student was told so boldly that yes, they were ready to move up if they wanted.

And if I have to choose between my fellow students or my teachers, I’ll choose my teachers every time. Hands down. One had done some spring cleaning, and came to the lesson with four hard cover children’s books for me. Three Roald Dahl even the big library downtown doesn’t have, and one JK Rowling I’ve not read. I am thrilled. Even when I have to puzzle over an idiom’s meaning, I’m thrilled to be able to read and understand at the level I’m at. Ha! to everyone who ever said to me that Dutch was a clunky, unexpressive language. It is rich and full and beautiful. You don’t read well, do you?

Give me more, please.

So. Super high on my teachers. Super low on my fellow students. It’s so like school during my childhood I feel like I’m on a continual, low level LSD flash-back.

And, like school during my childhood, I’m ignoring what I can from my fellow students and holding onto my hunger for learning. They can sit on their asses if that’s what they want. They can do the minimum if that’s what they want. They can even resent me for it, for whatever they perceive in me that trips their trigger.

I’m not stopping.

I need some help today

My computer screams the Golden Question at me. I made a meme for my desktop: bright green and yellow. Can’t miss it. Not sure how long I’ll keep it up, but for now it’s a good reminder. Always asking that question behind my browser, or the files I keep out on my desktop.

Got to the gym. Disappointed to find the CD I bought (and loaded into my iPod) was 20% rockin’ and 80% downtempo. I was hoping for the reverse. I have no need for downtempo music right now. I want tribal beats, and throbbing bass. I want my feet to move, I want to get up out of my chair and go, not sit there and sob, thinking about my past mistakes. Still. It’s new, and I enjoy the EQ of the band. Decided I am too flabby and gone to hit the cross trainer; went to the exercise bikes instead. Just get moving, woman! You’ll pick back up that enthusiasm for the gym if you can just break out of this inertia.

Practiced saying no. I’d told my bro about the Twin Peaks revival on sale, and he calculated and found enough money to purchase it. Yesterday morning he came out with a pre-paid credit card, slapped it down on the table, and proceeded to tell me there was enough cash on it to get the DVDs so I could just head downtown and buy it if I wanted. Although I was pleased and excited, it wasn’t what I was planning on. Suddenly, my day tipped: I felt my head scramble to rearrange all those ‘taking care of myself’ things in order to run downtown. I sighed, and thought. My brother said: You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. I can stop and pick it up. I thought some more, then tried something different: While I’m excited about getting the DVDs, and I want them, I don’t really like unexpected things to pop up in my schedule. I find it unsettling. That still wasn’t clear enough. Do you want me to just pick them up? Deep breath. Yes. Yes, I do.

That was difficult for me. My brother does a lot of the running around for the house: grocery shopping, errands, etc. There are many days I don’t step outside the door. When something like that comes up on a day I know he’s got other plans, I feel like I should go and do whatever he’s suggesting. But I stuck to my guns. Me, me, me. I needed the gym like I sometimes need a shower. I felt it right down to the most inner part of me. Good on me for that!

Watched the first four occurrences of the new Twin Peaks. One can hardly say ‘episodes’, can one? Episodes is an American term reserved for things like Dharma and Greg: simple set-up, repetitive plots, one basic set. David Lynch is an occurrence. It happens. You watch, because you can’t not watch. Lynch has a rare gift, in my opinion. He mixes the surreal with enough easy to understand reality based action to give you a sense that you kind of know what’s going on, but you’re left puzzling over many elements, wondering what symbolism the imagery held (because when Lynch wants you to see symbolism, he makes it bloody obvious that it’s symbolism, even if you don’t get the meaning behind it). Hm. I am not yet at the point where I could write some of the scenes I witnessed last night. Though there’s one thing I would have done differently, if I was Lynch. I would have had Cooper smash that white marble statue he keeps seeing in the red room. Cooper in the red room is very much a visitor, led by others, reacting. After 25 years, I’d think he’d try something different: take action, not just react. But, that’s me. My characters take action, even if that action isn’t the best choice for the moment. Cooper is very passive. I guess that tells me something about Lynch. …I don’t know what to think of the new series yet. I’m geeking out on everyone who’s in it. Thrilled that Lynch and Frost wanted to pick up the thread of the story again. Dyin’ to get further into the story. Happy to be watching such open ended imagery right now; it shuts my head up like nothing else. Huh. What the fuck -? 

…My question for myself today (and a little test I set up for myself) is: Can I ask for help? I left all the housework undone. The place needs a full top to bottom scrub, and it’s a big job. My brother is not scheduled to head off, so he should be here. Now…I want him to get off his ass and hoover the place. I’ll do dusting, and sink and toilet duty. I’d really like to clean my own room, and that’s the only way possible I’ll have enough energy to do it all: with help. Fu-u-uck. Will he just see it if I complain loudly enough? Hm… Maybe. Maybe not. And that’s not the point of the test. The point of the test is to speak up. Say it. You said ‘no’ yesterday, now say ‘please help me’. You can do it.

I’m prompting a very reluctant toddler in my brain. She is pouting and silent. Asking for help is bad. Weak. Something to be avoided. …You know who else did that, right? You know who you’re sounding like more and more, don’t you? And you said a long time ago that you don’t want to be anything like her. You see her flaws more than ever now. Learn from them. Don’t go down the same path.

I guess parents do teach their kids something, even if it’s just the stubborn refusal to end up like their elders.

I need some help today.

Screw the rules

Did you take your pills?

That’s one, I thought. Yes, I replied, two, two, twoExcellent verbal skills, no? Well, I was a little hyper, which is why the question was asked in the first place. But, Lordy Loo! We are at that point. The first go-to question will now be did you take your pills? *sigh*

It wasn’t so much that I felt hyper, I just did things yesterday. It didn’t start that way. I left off from my blog, still pondering my long ‘to do’ list, wondering where to start. Laid out my tasks to my bro, who asked me what was on my mind (a rarity). He got me to laugh at myself by pointing out how far ahead of everything I already am. I relaxed enough to ask myself the Golden Question: what would you do if you really cared about yourself? The answer was obvious.

First up: pick up my meds at the chemist. I had enough to get to Monday, but I didn’t want to add stress on a future day (that’s not caring about myself), so that was the biggie. Second: give myself that CD. No more delayed positive reinforcement. I need it when I need it. Third: get to the library, turn in my old book and find a new one. Before I left, I began my laundry – much needed, as I was down to ankle or heavy, wool ski socks.

I dressed in fresh clothes. Brushed my hair and teeth. Fussed a bit over how I looked, and headed out.

The chemist was far less busy than I thought. I took my number and waited. In walked a couple. The woman was there for something, her boyfriend (obviously, no husband quite hangs on a woman like a boyfriend) just stopping in with her. They paused at the machine, nudging each other the way lovers do, taking three times as long as needed. Then – the man looked at me over his girlfriend’s shoulder. Thought nothing of that first glance until it was followed by a second, and then a third. Took a while to dawn on me: he was checking me out. I judged him to be 10 years my junior at least. My thoughts were harsh and judgmental. That’s men for you, I thought to myself. They can be with any woman and they’ll still look and wonder about every other woman they come across. Then I checked to my left. A younger, 20 something darker skinned woman sat there four seats away, complete with four inch high spike heels. Was he looking at her, not me? I checked and judged the angles of our seats versus his stance. Nope. He didn’t see her at that angle, and his eyes met mine. Then I thought: Racist. There’s a much prettier woman sitting just to my left, and the only reason I can see that you won’t look at her is that she’s darker skinned.

It wasn’t until I was walking out that I considered the idea that maybe he just found me attractive enough to look at.

On the metro, downtown. It’s been a while since I’ve been downtown, in the heart of the shopping district. Things have changed. Shops are gone, closed down, replaced by shiny new markets called ‘market’ with all black interiors designed to show off their low, aluminum shelved products at their very best. The first record shop I stopped at was a victim of the Dutch online shopping obsession; it was gone, no sign of it ever having been there. Okay. I knew another record shop a few blocks away. Walked down, found it, searched – what a mess! There are NO OCD people working at that store, let me tell you! But everything was used, and old. Not what I wanted. I sighed, and headed off to the library – walking, for exercise and fresh air. On a whim, thinking it was the slimmest chance possible, I stopped at Media Markt and looked. Took a while, but I found it for 8 euro. Meandered thru the aisles, looking at all the goodies I couldn’t afford (DVD and book shops are the only two places I guarantee I’ll take my time and window shop). Saw the latest Twin Peaks revival for sale; excited about that, but didn’t have the money to pop for it. My purchase paid for, I headed to the library. Up the roltrap (escalator) to the one shelf I know in the entire six floor complex: the Roald Dahl shelf. Chose a shorter book, knowing I’ve been having trouble with concentration and reading lately. Got home at 3.

My brother was cooking, so the the moment I opened the door my nose was hit with a mass of delicious smells: hot sauce, onions and peppers, garlic. He was making his famous enchiladas. Sadly, he kept forgetting needed items. I just got back from the store myself. I forgot I needed tomatoes! And later: Um…I forgot sour creme. I’ll go and get some, if you could just start the rice… My game was closed before he could finish his sentence, and I was up and chopping onions before he left. Dinner was delicious. I finished first, and rinsed my plate off. Hm. The food was still in the pans. Without thinking too much, or dithering, or asking, I just quietly put everything away in containers, rinsed all the dishes, and put them to the side. My brother was watching tv. Later, when he rinsed his own plate off, he looked around in wonder. The food…it’s already put away? Yes, I replied, without snark or any hidden desire to be told what a good girl I am. And later, I sprang out of my chair and checked for hot water – good, we had some. Tackled the dishes.

That’s when I heard the question.

It didn’t bite at me, though I suspect it will in future. Or…it could. I had far too much of ‘are you on your period?’ shit when I was younger.

Meanwhile, I be da woman wit’ da bomb plan: keep asking myself the Golden Question.

Screw the rules.

High Noon

3:15. Some people feel noon is the day’s midpoint. I disagree. Midpoint sits at 3:15 (afternoon or early morning, doesn’t matter; it’s always midpoint of the day or night). I think it’s because of all those years of waking up precisely at 3:15 a.m. What was it? 10 years? More? As a kid, I was convinced it was because 3:15 a.m. would be my time of death. I still could be right.

Today’s 3:15 is p.m., which rarely gives me the kind of problem that its a.m. partner does. However, this 3:15 revolves around my appointment with Dr. T. I would prefer to see him in the morning. I prefer to do most everything in the mornings; my head is clearer and I’m far less tired. But I’ll deal. The day promises to be warm and pleasant, so I plan on taking my time and walking over there. I’d like to shower before I go, but alas! That decision lies on whether or not the building has hot water more than my mood.

Culled thru my own writing, made notes. Sleep issues, sweaty hands, upset tummy, performances, ups and downs. I’m clear, and won’t make the mistake of saying everything’s okay just because I slept decently last night or the majority of my immediate stressors are done with for now. I do that. How are you? I answer in the moment: Fine. Okay. Well. The better question would be: How have you been since I last saw you? That would prompt the correct response in me. But if I nitpick over such things, I’m told I’m being too literal. I’ve learned, through time, to just jump ahead and interpret what people say to me rather than listen to their actual words. But then that gets me into trouble, too. I didn’t mean that or You’re twisting my meaning is said, and once again I am wrong. Why am I the problem here? Aren’t I responding correctly, and it’s all you poor communicators who are lacking in this situation?

Geez Louise!

My bro had band practice last night, so I was left alone for the evening. Ran DVDs on the tv and watched YouTube vids at the same time. Had to; doing only one of those two things wasn’t enough to keep me settled. Both at the same time kept me occupied. Slowed myself down enough to go and read for an hour before sleep.

Mild headaches lately, but it’s Spring. Allergy season. I’m not shocked nor surprised. And my head’s been stuffed up.

I’ve given up on trying to control my food habits. I used to be very regimented: oatmeal every day, right after or with my coffee. Felt pretty self-righteous about that, knowing the health benefits. Now…I haven’t had oatmeal for months. Can’t stand the stuff. Even thinking about it makes my stomach clench. And I find I do not want breakfast food for breakfast. My body craves savory food first thing. I’ve taken to eating rice and Greek tomato sauce with feta and olives. It’s so much better on my stomach! Everything about it is better for me right now. It isn’t ’til around 8 p.m. that I crave breakfast cereal. Then I have a big bowl, watching tv, crunching away and drinking up the excess milk. Cannot get my dad out of my head, who noted this food behavior in me as a young woman (I did it throughout my 20s, flipping around breakfast and dinner meals). He, of course, complained about it. I’m just going with it, and the father in my head be damned. It is my control, my freedom, my body – and this is what it wants. My body knows what it needs; the first time I came down with shingles, I craved licorice – a natural healer.

…Not sure if the last few weeks have been a good test ground for this medication. I’ve had lots of excitement. Been wound up over the good things that have happened. On the other hand, it’s the good things that get me into trouble. I’m used to being dumped on. I’m used to hating myself. I’m used to all that negativity. I know how to handle it. Be nice to me, give me a compliment, and watch me fritz out. It’s my weakness, and it’s what I need to work on. So maybe, all in all, it’s not a bad thing. Here it is, and this is small! I’ll be in up mode all year long with the production. Yep. This is it, Dr. T. And I’m doing everything I can to keep a lid on it. Sleep problems. Sweaty hands. Headaches. Strung out feelings. Weird dreams. Anger. Circular, repetitive thoughts. Grandiose ideas. It’s all there, under wraps. I learned long ago to not talk about these things. I was cut to the carpet every time I did: you’re being overly dramatic, everyone feels like that, just stop thinking about it, you’re lying, you’re crazy, you have no idea what you’re talking about, you think you’re so special but you’re not! Now, that’s a list I should translate and give to Dr. T. Title it Things my Family Told Me.

*sigh* So much of what I’d like to say I can’t. My Dutch isn’t there, and I can only look up so much ahead of time.

I’m apprehensive about today. Nervous. Nervous about being misunderstood. Nervous about misunderstanding. Fuck. Not helping.

Fine. Walk in there with a page of translated material from Google. Hand it to him. Tell him my brain isn’t working well, and Dutch is difficult for me right now. Give him the physical notes. Make it as easy on myself to communicate what I feel I must.

For the world, it will just be ‘afternoon’.

For me: high noon.

Dr. T and me

My brother was worried. Half an hour before my appointment and I was what he calls ‘ballistic’. Unlike other instances, I didn’t leave super early because the health center I was headed to was so close to the house.

Walked in to the place, looked around, read a reassuring sign near the entrance that said if you have an appointment just take a seat in the waiting room. There was a mother and kid waiting, too, and the kid was playing with a block set. When the towering block the kid made fell over I jumped three inches and flinched (side note: the mother noticed and asked the kid to play more quietly; bless her). I was worried I’d misread the Dutch, that I went to the wrong address. As 10:00 (my appointment time) came and went, my anxiety ramped up. But I held still, and waited. Told myself I’d checked on this dozens of times and there was nothing that would indicate I had to go to a special location, and doctors are always late.

At 10:05 Dr. T entered the waiting room and just said ‘Is someone waiting for Dr. T?’ No calling of my name aloud, for which I was thankful. I was led to the back of the building, far away from the prying eyes of the people sitting in the waiting room. Did the standard ‘I don’t speak Dutch well, but I’ll try’ sentence. Handed him the letter from my GP, took a deep breath, and it began…

For not having been able to prepare anything ahead of time because I felt so sick every time I tried, I did well. Kept calm, listened closely. I knew, kind of, what he’d say. He’d talk about his treatment options, how this wasn’t a quick fix, how we needed to work as a team – and on all of that, I was correct. I told him about the last few months culminating in the tooth extraction. I told him about the headaches, the sleep problems, the food problems, the crying, the suicidal thoughts, and the need to write before I could speak. Then I told him about the mania. The obsession. At one point I got so wound up I stood up from the chair and paced around, mimicking things. He asked about my family’s history with mental health. It’s all undiagnosed, I told him, then said ADHD and depression. Oh! I interrupted myself, I also have a cousin who, when he was 15, grabbed a gun and took his family hostage, but I don’t know what you’d call that (my causal replay of this scene later for my bro sent him into spasms of laughter due to my half innocent/half devilish delivery).

Dr. T took a lot of notes. What I see now is depression. The possibility of bipolar… he scanned through the letter from my GP …no one has monitored this long term, and that’s what I need to do. What you’re describing is called bipolar phase II with hypomanic episodes. We need to approach this slowly. Right now, you’re depressed. You know that and I can see that. So let’s treat the depression first. We’ll get together regularly and monitor you. If you start to become hypomanic, we’ll deal with that at that time, okay?

I nodded. He put me back on Lexapro (or Escitalopram, as they call it here), my old favorite from my time in Ireland. Part of me felt hungry for it, if you can feel hungry for a drug. We made an appointment to see each other in two weeks, and I left with my prescription in hand. Stopped at the pharmacy on the way home and got the script filled. Popped into the store and picked up something to eat.

The pills are smaller than I remember, but then, different manufacturer. And I’m not complaining; I have too many horse pills I need to take already. Did not want to wait, so now noon is my pill time.

The day wore away. I spent most of it under a blanket watching tv. My stomach was still upset, I felt cold and shivery, and things just weren’t right with my body. Dinner came, still no appetite. My brother chided me: you’ve got to eat. Yeah, I know. I ate mechanically, not really wanting it. Worried about how I was going to feel later on when my system started pouring chemicals into my stomach and bowels to digest.

It was around 7 p.m. when I started to feel it. It began as a slight tickle just below my solar plexus, like I had a nymph inside me trying to cheer me up. My brother made a joke, and out it came – a laugh so long and hard I had to stop it midway because I really couldn’t catch my breath. And I kept laughing like that, deep and long, throughout the night. It’s the drug kicking in, I said. I know docs would poo-poo that. Tell me it takes at least 24 hours to feel it. Yeah, yeah. I know my body. It was the drug. I sat there, enjoying the tv but mostly enjoying the feeling of my body relaxing. I could tell my stomach and bowels were settling and unwinding. I could feel the weight on my chest begin to lift. I even found I had more of an appetite, and had a bowl of cereal.

This morning: nine hours of good sleep. No bedcovers thrown off, no pillows scrunched up or on the floor. Just nine good hours and a gentle coming to. No tears, no anger, just slowly waking up. My bowels are almost back to normal, so says my toilet bowl (can’t tell you how good THAT feels). I’ve a slight headache, but I’m pulling back on caffeine right now, so that’s not unexpected. I can do things today. Really get something done because I don’t feel so damned sick.

That’s good. I feel like I was listened to. I was heard (really heard, not someone saying “I hear you” which just irritates the fuck out of me). I feel like he saw me, saw I was suffering, and like any good doctor should, set about doing his best to alleviate my suffering. He’ll monitor me; I’m safe in doing this. And hey! I’ll finally be able to find out of this massive influx of energy is normal or not. Had to tell him I don’t know if I know what normal feels like.

But we’ll figure it out. The two of us: Dr. T and me.

No one can tell I’m crying when I walk in the rain

It’s 5 a.m. and no huge surprise that I can’t sleep.

In less than 5 hours I’m meeting someone who will probably be a part of my medical team for many years to come. The only way I’ve been able to look at it is that it’s like my RA. It’s incurable, I’ll never be able to stop treating it, never be able to stop seeing doctors about it, and I’ll just have to live with it and all the new complications it brings.

Keep thinking about people. The Dutch just don’t lose it like Americans, so it’s been a while since I’ve been treated to a public display that makes me think ‘wow, they let you loose from that straitjacket a little early’, but I see it all the time on tv. How do they let these people walk around? Why hasn’t it been universally recognized that they’ve got some real issues going and it would better to just deal with them? But, no. The absurd is commonplace now. This unhinged behavior has now come under the mantle of ‘free speech’ and allows everything from outright hate, bigotry and chauvinism to total narcissism. We feed the id, stuffing it with everything possible in order to avoid thinking about how fucking miserable we all are and how shitty life really is. I realize the only difference between them and me is that I recognize I’m miserable, but then, I’ve been asking for a lobotomy in one manner or another since I was 10.

Maybe that’s all mental un-health is. Recognizing how miserable you are. It sure doesn’t hang off of actual behavior unless you go on some killing spree. It sure doesn’t go off social ‘norms’ because they’re always changing and the people who don’t adhere to them aren’t just carted away. There’s no mentally healthy person on this planet to point to as an example. Even the doctor I’m going to see this morning has his issues and problems. He probably sees a shrink on his own; usually, that’s part of the job. Gods, please don’t let him be a closet chauvinist! I just can’t deal with that right now.

Right. So…imagine him in his underwear. Or sitting on the toilet. No one can be intimidating with their pants around their ankles. He’s just a person, with his own problems and issues. He’s been trained to communicate well, but he’s just a person, and people fuck up. Try to remember that. Today is no big deal. A meet ‘n greet. He’s got to get to know you, and you’ve got to get to know him. Don’t unload like a dump truck the moment the door closes. You acknowledge this is going to be long term, so act accordingly.

It’s okay to be cautious.

Another headache, or the same one that never really went away. Don’t know nor care. Just an observation. Same with my continued gut problem, tho that, I’m happy to say, is getting better.

Came to this morning, tossed and turned. Found my bed a mess: covers half off, pillows scrunched up or on the floor. I am aware my nights have been very hectic. Sleep is where I seem to confront my big stuff, and that’s the real problem. I’m not getting proper rest, I’m hurting myself, and I don’t seem to be working thru it. Didn’t help that as I lay there, tears came to my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. First. thing. in. the morning. That happens so often to me… I hate it. I know I must get up; continuing to lay there just makes things worse. But then I’m up in the middle of the night, which does nothing to help me feel rested.

…Felt bolstered to get a positive comment on a FB post about my upcoming performance. It came from the producer of a film I worked on, which doubles its weight in my mind. Wow. Yeah. I’ve done films. Plural. Keep that in mind. The comment was to my acting, which strokes my ego just so fine today. Yes, thank you. Thank you for the acknowledgement. I feel I don’t get enough of that in my life, so THANK YOU! for telling me you think I act well. Don’t feel quite comfortable saying ‘I’m a good actress’. Not this morning. But I’m comfortable enough acknowledging someone else’s opinion of my work. It’s a bit of yeah, not everybody thinks I’m shit feeling.

*sigh* I’m all over the place, aren’t I? I’m not even addressing the crying this morning other than noting it. What can I say? That it’s just become a fact of life for me? It’s not an every day occurrence, but it happens often enough that I’m not surprised by it. Maybe that’s what happens when you ignore it, tho. Your body ups the anti to get your attention.

Which is where I currently find myself.

Good Goddess, someone read this and learn from my mistakes because it sure as hell seems like I didn’t!

…Once in a while I ponder the idea that I’m leaving my own legacy behind. As an adherent to the idea of reincarnation, I like to imagine that someday I’ll stumble across my own words, my own work, and find myself again. I’ve run across things that make me hum. Totally, head to toe, vibrate with a deep…a deep what? Longing? Love? Something between the two? It resonates with me, and makes me feel like I’ve found a long-missed piece of a jigsaw puzzle I’m putting together. That’s the best way I can put it.

…I’m not real good at accepting help. I know that. People…tend to confuse me. I often do better if I’m just left alone to suss it out by myself. I do need to learn how to ask for help, tho. Especially when I need it. And I need it now. Not begrudging help, doled out with marks on a chalkboard adding up how much I owe in return. Not weak help, like a slimy fish handed to you that’s still alive and immediately slips out of your fingers. I need help like I’ve rarely received it before, and I need to let myself be helped.

….It’s raining. Well. There’s one good thing.

No one can tell I’m crying when I walk in the rain.

Lay it out

I didn’t ask. I laid it all out. I’ve been wanting new music for years now, and I searched online… The new CD is still expensive, but I can pick up their first for only ten euro, and I like some of the songs on that album, so I’m gonna get that. On a whim, I added: And if I happen to smell something good as I walk around, I give myself permission to buy something for a couple of euro and eat it, too. My brother: ‘Hell yeah! Here! Take this extra money for food. Go and have some fun.’

Yeah. There it was, me laying out every reason, every line of thought and justification for going out and spending money on myself, and my bro totally onboard, totally supportive, totally knowing how difficult something like that is for me.

I prepped. Ventured out. Walked among people. Looked at things. Sadly, I didn’t find what I wanted and, being Sunday, I wasn’t sure the shops downtown would be open, so I called it and came home. I picked up a meal snack and a cake snack downstairs to console myself.

So, things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. Kind of the opposite; everywhere I went I ran into crowds of people and long lines. Kept my cool – if you don’t count rolling my eyes at the delays. For me, that’s a win. No muttering darkly from my far spot in the queue, no face of thunder as I clomped around. Nope. Casual walk, relaxed face. Just the eye roll – which was justified at the supermarket when I popped into the shortest line in the store to purchase my two items and ended up waiting 5 minutes while a guy two people ahead of me argued some charge on his receipt with the cashier. I just stood there, knowing that Murphy’s Law would kick in if I dared to move to another queue. That’s just a fact of life for me; sometimes, the Universe makes sure I get delayed somehow and no matter what I do, I’ll be delayed. I’ve found in the long run it’s just best to accept it and go with it. Supermarket queues are the pièce de résistance of such a fact. …I believe I could, conceivably, be caught in supermarket queues for the rest of eternity if I tried hopping between them.

Dreamt the other day of blood in my mouth. Just…spitting out a lot of blood. It was gross. Experienced the second bloody nose of my life yesterday. Again, just a lot of blood and again, it was gross. Not thrilled about the dream nor the bloody nose. Not thrilled they had to fall on the heels of each other: dream of red blood, experience red blood. Kind of like a double whammy.

My head is beginning to gnaw on my upcoming psych appointment. This Thursday. Doing what I can to calm and distract myself. Allowing myself to think, if that’s what it seems I need to do. Trying to keep all my imaginings in Dutch, but that’s difficult because I just don’t have a full vocabulary in Dutch. It’s about half and half right now. I think I’d like it if my doc knew enough English that I could speak half and half. Some words in English are best avoided. I can state things much more calmly in Dutch than in English. But…like I said, I don’t have a full vocab yet, so I must resort to English for some ideas. A part of me has decided to treat this like a homework assignment, and write everything out in Dutch. My ‘why are you here’ answer, which is bound to come up. My short and edited version of what I think my main problems are. How people keep telling me I’m different, immature, child-like. The anger. The frustration. The fritzes. Most importantly, tho, I want ground rules. Been thinking about those a lot. What I need to feel safe and okay.

First up: I swear. I cuss. I use expletives. While I am perfectly capable of curbing my ‘sailor’s mouth’ in company, I do find the need to burst out with bad language now and then; it’s warranted in certain situations and while discussing certain subjects. Know it and deal with it. Second: I really don’t want to discuss my sexuality. I don’t adhere to the idea that sex is the pinnacle of existence. When I drank, I had a lot of sex. When I stopped drinking, I stopped being so sexually active. Without the influence of alcohol, I meet someone I’m sexually attracted to maybe once every ten years. And I don’t want to pursue a sexual relationship for a myriad of reasons. I’m okay with those choices. I need my doctor to be okay with them, too. Third: I need to know I’ll be believed. To that effect, I need my doc to understand I’ll be telling him my truths. Truth is a tricky thing; I’ve said it before. And I know in my bones other people would have versions of their truth if they were here to chime in on these topics. What’s important is my truth, the way I saw it, the decisions I made about the world and myself. Not the lesson that was trying to be imparted, not the intentions of the other people involved. I’m aware of those other facets of existence, but none of that negates my truth. Fourth: no access to my blog. I’ll print things up, I’ll ping him PDFs, but he does not (ever!) get this address. It’s my secret, my safety blanket, that teddy bear I hold at night to feel warm and secure. No one’s ruining that for me. Fifth: He must know I’m a chronic people pleaser, which is the main reason I feel talk therapy will never work for me. I will always give the answers I think my therapist wants to hear. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to sit across from a person and get the hint that they want me to say something along the lines of this or that because I’ll do it whether or not I consciously want to.

This is the time to say those things I’ve always been afraid of saying. This is the time to take that risk.

A different ‘him’ today, but just as valid: tell him.

Lay it out.

Tell him

Somedays I’m in danger of allowing this blog to become a thing in my mind. Almost didn’t post because I said to myself ‘well, you didn’t do much; maybe you should take a break ’til you give your readers something to read’.

*ahem* This is for you and no one else. You do not advertise, you do not give out this address, you do not link, you do not push, you don’t do any of those things. This is for you. If people happen to read it, that’s their business. Stop worrying about how other people feel and take care of yourself. That’s why you started this. That’s why you’re out here almost every day. Not for them. For you. Only you.

Right.

So…was irritated yesterday beyond belief for a few hours after my bro came home. I’d spent five hours mega-cleaning the house and exhausted myself. I was so tired I didn’t have the energy to take the now full garbage bag downstairs to the trash. Instead, I took a hot shower and washed the day’s work and dust off me. My brother noticed the bag in the hall when he came home and said he’d take it down “since you’re so tired from whatever it is you did”. Whatever it is you did?!? Wait. I had to clean the hoover bag out twice from all the dust I picked up. There used to be a stack of DVDs by the tv over 30cm high that is now gone and all the DVDs are put away. There used to be scraps of paper, things left everywhere – it’s all tidied up now. And he says ‘whatever it is you did’ to me?

Goddess!! Sometimes my brother can be such a man. Such a guy. Such a dude. Such a how do you even manage to stay upright on two feet type of person. I swear he needs glasses ’cause he just doesn’t seem to ever see the layer of dust or crap around the place!

I let it irritate me for most of the evening. Just…wasn’t quite there in spirit, you know? My bro laughed at the tv programs; I sat there largely unsmiling. Realized it was a perfect little example of what goes on with me: something is said or done that hurts or irritates me, I say nothing, I end up not enjoying my time because I can’t stop thinking about why I’m hurt or irritated. So I took a look at that.

My first reaction was: say nothing. Let’s see how long it takes him to say something about the DVDs. My brain wagered me that it would be at least two weeks; my spirit upped the anti by claiming it would take him at least a month. While my brain and my spirit argued, I paid attention. I had two sides of me squabbling, raising my blood pressure and anger with everything they said, and I simply stepped in and quietly asked, ‘What is it you want?’

That stopped everything. The rolling comments that were winding me up, the anger, the back and forth arguing that got me nowhere.

I admitted to myself I wanted acknowledgement for my hard work. I’d done a great job and wanted someone to notice. Since my bro’s the only person who’s here to notice, the job falls to him – whether or not that’s fair. So that same calm and quiet voice in me then asked ‘And if you let it go and wait for him to notice, are you going to get what you want?’ Those arguing voices of brain and spirit sounded like reticent schoolchildren: ‘No-o-o-o….’

The answer became clear. I had to point it out to him. I feel like I shouldn’t need to do that. I feel like anyone who’d see the before and after would have enough perception to notice a lot of hard work had been put in on cleaning. But I also had to acknowledge that, love my brother as I may, he’s a product of poor upbringing as well as I. Some of his communication habits are very destructive. I can’t expect him to be perfect all the time. But he has this bad habit of throwing blame. Some of it is simply the words he chooses to use; quite often if I have him break it down, his meaning isn’t as mean as I’m taking it to be. Still…knowing I am someone who takes too much blame onto herself, this verbal habit of never acknowledging one’s own responsibility in a situation is trying. I feel blamed, whether or not he means to do it. And I’ve got to fight against that feeling every damned minute. I’ve yet to teach him better communication skills. …Well, I say that, but truth is I probably have. We communicate better now than we did thirty years ago. Still! There’s plenty of work to be done.

So I pointed. I spoke up. Oh! he said. Where’d the DVDs go? I pointed out that I’d inserted them into our collection in the appropriate sections: action, comedy, horror, kids. Then: And what about the DVDs you took out to make room for the new ones? Am I gonna have to look for something I want to watch now? No, I told him. I only removed the DVDs we’d both watched and both agreed were sub-par films and maybe we should give them to a charity shop. Once his concerns were addressed, I received the acknowledgement I wanted and went to bed feeling better. But his reaction to this bears scrutiny; his first thought was to ‘what did you do wrong’ rather than ‘good on you’. This is…typical. Sadly. I’ve learned to hear beyond his words because we’ve had innumerable arguments over poor communication in the past. I know, tho, that part of me cringes every time it happens. I’d do better with a different approach from him.

Nonetheless.

Good on you, girl! Double good on you! You worked hard and asked for what you wanted. You weren’t even bitchy about it.

Now, go and do something nice for yourself today. This is me, your superior, giving you an order. Do it. Find that CD you want. See if you can buy it.

And don’t ask your brother if you can do this. Tell him.

Free

Out of jail. That’s how my head feels: I’m out of jail. Finally.

This delightful feeling of lightness comes from another notch in my understanding of Dutch. They said reading would help. I didn’t believe them as I slogged through text after text, never enjoying it, always feeling like it was homework because there were just too many words I didn’t know. Yesterday I reaped the benefits of my hard work. Every word from my instructors was crystal clear. I heard the ‘-ie-‘ used for ‘hij’ after a verb that ended in T. I heard ‘raad’ (guess) and knew what the meaning was. I heard ‘ingewikkeld’ (complicated) and caught on right away. I heard ‘om’ and ‘toe’ and ‘maar’ and ‘al’ – those pesky words that flash by in a blink with native speakers. I was so excited I just sat there vibrating with joy and excitement. I didn’t just follow the gist of the conversation, I got every word.

My teachers took my suggestions to heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We spent the day going over prepositions. Not just over or under, which are the baby prepositions you learn with A,B,C, but those larger prepositions that can get split in a sentence. I was not the only one excited by the lesson; everyone seemed to respond that way. We were more jovial, more verbal, there were more questions, more examples, and when we broke for coffee midway we ended up sitting around a table together and continuing to discuss prepositions, our lives, and the language. We were all so into it, as a matter of fact, that everyone – students and teachers alike – stayed an extra 15 minutes to finish up some reading.

I didn’t want the lesson to end. I didn’t want to take a break. I just wanted to keep hearing the language so clearly. Keep reading, keep learning. I don’t ever remember feeling so fired up, tho I imagine I once felt this way about English.

*sigh* Real satisfied joy. Boy, that’s a great feeling!

Today’s my appointment with Dr D, my GP, about the pain killers. Almost forgot about it with everything else. It’s small potatoes now, and I wonder why I ever thought it was a big deal. Go in, have my say, head out. No big whoop.

Yesterday was the first day I truly felt back to full health. No hunger pains or problems from almost starving myself. No headaches or jaw aches, no toilet problems or sleep problems. I had energy, I was alert, and I felt good physically and mentally. Happy I’ll be able to say all that to my doc. Worry was becoming a constant companion to me. Who’d a thunk my biggest problem was food? Not me, certainly. I have an almost non-stop litany of ‘you’re so fat’ going in my head. So I skip meals, cut back on what I eat, and never feel like I’m really doing enough. But I’m not 15, or 25. My body can’t do this any more, as evidenced by the migraines and other accompanying pain I experienced. And I shouldn’t feel like I need to ask it to do this.

It’s time to tackle my body issues. Among other things.

…Well, at least I’ll be doing it on a full stomach, for Pete’s sake…

Sent out some emails expecting them to be answered quickly. Naturally, they aren’t. One was to the director asking about meeting this week to go over the script. Hope my messages didn’t fall into a black hole. Again. There are black holes in cyber-space, and there are servers and areas where emails typically go missing. I’ve had it happen to me before. Best to give it a few days. Every time I follow up fast, thinking my message has gone missing, all I end up doing is annoying the other person because yes, they actually did get my first message and they’re just not as fast on response as I want them to be.

Can’t…slow…down…

Thinking I might head to the gym after my doc’s visit. I feel good enough to go and get a walk in. Yippee! That’s real progress. Trying to not dwell on how long I’ve been off my routine, or how long it will take me to get back to where I was physically. The goal is simply to get some movement. I still want to break 5km in 30 minutes, but I’m not ready to even get back on the cross trainer quite yet. I’ve been real good on taking care of myself, being gentle with myself. Getting on the cross trainer at this venture…oh, that’s asking me to push too hard and hurt myself. Nope. Won’t even give myself the opportunity.

I’ve very aware how close I am to tipping into full blown mania again. I’m too excited and excitable, too easily wound up, too easily thrown off from my normal sleeping and eating patterns. Nine days before my first psychiatrist appointment, and I hardly expect to be given a prescription after my first visit, so the number one rule is (as it’s been for quite some time now): take care of myself. Don’t judge what that looks like, just do what it takes. I cannot afford another three months down because of TMJ. I do not want more pain. I do not want to take more pain pills. And I have firm commitments coming up, goals to achieve. I need to be in good health to do all these things.

Prisons come in all shapes and sizes. My prison… I was going to say it was ‘all in my head’, which technically it is, but I don’t want to feel discounted by my own words. My prison was is was (which is the correct verb?) very real. A prison of anxiety and fear, self doubt and self hate. I walled myself off years ago to protect myself, never fully realizing how much I would cut myself off in the process.

Those walls are coming down. The language barrier is coming down.

And I’m free.