Untitled? I’m pretty sure there was a title here once

I haven’t posted lately. Usually, when I don’t post it’s because I’m not in the mood or because I’m busy. This time, though, is because I’ve been doing nothing the past couple of days. I have been feeling great, and I’ve been relaxing.

First, a sneak peak into my life the past couple of days…

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These are good times. Happy times. And times like these are sometimes more anxiety producing than times when I’m down in the dumps.  See, with depression like mine (and many others) good days in the winter are yearned for. And when a stretch of good days occurs, we assume it’s a fluke. But, I’ve felt good..really good…the past week. I’ve gone through scenarios of the possible cause…

Could it be that its Thanksgiving break?  Sure that makes me relax, but I genuinely enjoy my job now and love where I work and who I work with.  Maybe it’s because I just saw my mom and step dad this past weekend, but they’re gone home and my good mood has continued. It could be my recent medication increase of my antidepressant. Its been a month and a half later and I’m now taking it in the morning (which means I’ll sleep better and not so restless).  So maybe it’s that I’m sleeping better now.   Or maybe it that after a very good conversation with my therapist, then Laura and Taylor, I have decided to stop thinking so much in the future – this was spurred by me getting to a very sad part in a book I’m currently reading and then projecting the grief from the character in the book into my own life…which meant I sat around obsessing about what I would do if I lost anyone in my life…mom, dad, doug, laura, tay, cindy, my dog, Mitchell, my grandparents, my family, my friends, my kids. Let me tell you, IT.  IS.  EXHAUSTING.

I’ve learned something:

“Depression Lies.”

It’s tattoed on the arm of my favorite author, Jennifer Lawson (thebloggess.com). It reminds me of this moment I’m in right now where I am euphoric, happy, ecstatic about life… my days have been great, my stress has been low. Then the lie sneaks in and says “hey guess what? you’re probably actually manic. this isn’t a good thing you’re feeling. This is just proof that you actually ARE bipolar and this is an upswing and because you’re nuts they’ll take this bit of euphoria away from you too with another medication to add to the mix.”

When all I really want this to be is what it feels to be happy and bright and alive and ME.

Laura gave me a bit of advice last night: “you are allowed to feel happy and all the other good feelings, allowed to be present and enjoy.”

Dammit, I deserve this.

Why I Think I Need Flood Insurance

I woke up this morning and felt like I had a cheetah was beating in my chest. A very fast, angry cheetah. My eyes popped open and I looked at my still sleeping Tay next to me.  I, without any luck, tried to determine the time based on how much light was peaking through the windows of my cave like room. I was sure it was early, not time to get up, but early. I felt my pulse… 80bpm. That’s normal enough. I shakily got up and walked to the bathroom and then realized it was 5am. I couldn’t fall back asleep.

It made me think about the time I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night because a nightmare became reality in the form of rain water rushing in my back door. I’m talking I walked as fast as I could sleepily into the kitchen because I heard Laura yelling about water. I stepped down onto the back landing area into ankle deep muddy water rushing in my back door.  My first thought was I have to be dreaming because the door is closed and water can’t invade my home space without my permissiong, dammit. AND THE DOOR IS CLOSED. NOT POSSIBLE.   

Laura yelling at me for towels totally woke me up and I realized we were flooding..I mean the basement was flooding…but I was pretty sure with the time I’d spend cleaning it all up would totally mean I was also drowning in a sense.

The muddy water kept coming, soaking towels, comforters, clean clothes, dirty clothes, anything that would suck up water. The rain fell outside, relentlessly, mocking our efforts to save our home. Tay and I rushed outside and began sweeping at the rain with brooms, doing the whole fist at the air, cursing the heavens for dropping the ocean on our head.

Finally, one of us grabbed a board and barracaded the outside of the door and ran back inside. We finally felt like the water slowed to a solid trickle and decided to go back to bed and deal with it the next day. 

This is only a SMALL part of the damage…

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$3000 later, we have a retaining wall as well as a french drain along the house to help protect us from any more midnight thirty noah’s ark bullshit.

Metro, #ICan’tEven

I want to apologize for my last post.  Not for what I wrote, but how I wrote it.  I paid little attention to grammar and punctuation because I was having a rush of feelings moment and needed to get it out before I decided to keep it all in.  Thank you for the kind words and reading through all the errors to see the point.  I appreciate it.

***Back to original programming***

I totally have a tattoo on the back of my arm that states “#ICan’t…EVEN.”  This is a ridiculous tattoo, I know, but I don’t regret it at all.  It’s helpful when my students say things that are so space-cadet-ish because I can just point at the back of my arm and not have to say anything else.

The metro happened to be the last person that not only got the #ICan’t…EVEN” tattoo, but also some choice words.  Let me preface this with the fact that last Saturday night I called the  bank and reported that someone had used my debit card and my account needed to be frozen.  I was really surprised the bank didn’t catch it because they normally do. The next day, I went through all of my emails and transactions and found that NO ONE had stolen my card number, I FORGOT that I bought something.  No surprise there – I forget things constantly.  I make lists to remember my lists.

Anyways, my account got unfrozen (thanks bank people) but my card was deactivated and they had already sent me a new one (which has not reached me yet).  I was fairly sure that I had money on my metro card (around $30), and I had transferred money from one account to another account with a working card.  I get in line to leave the parking lot of the Greenbelt Metro and swipe my card.  Denied.  I swipe another card. Denied. I pull up a bit further and swipe my metro card. Insufficient funds. I look next to me and of course the woman to my left can’t get hers to work either.  There are around 15 cars behind me. No kidding.

I push the help button. The Wizard of WMATA comes over the screen, or at least half of his face does – from around his note up to the top of his head.  I explain my problems and he tells me I have to back out and go put money on my card.  I explain that there is money on my card but its not working. He says I need to come back to the station and get it checked out.  I explain that I know I have money on all of my cards and that this kiosk and the one next to it are not working.  He tells me to back up.  And TURNS. OFF. THE. SCREEN.  I’m mortified.  I push the button again. The Wizard comes back. Now, I can see more of his face. He immediately tells me I need to go back to the station.  I explain that the 15 cars behind me are now yelling, honking, and angry and that I am on the verge of crying so could he just open the little gate and let me out. I even offered my address so he could send me a personalized bill for $5.10.  He hangs up on me. So, I put on my back up lights and the honking continues.  Finally someone moves so I can get out.

I go park in an empty spot.  I call Tay and explain the situation.  She checks the bank accounts and tells me to move some money from her account to mine to see if that makes it work (we thought maybe there is an amount that HAS to be on the card for it to work).  I shuffle things around. I pull back in line.  Swipe one card – Denied.  Swipe metro card – Insufficient.  I push the button again and there’s that magical Wizard of WMATA.  HIS WHOLE FACE THIS TIME. How fortunate am I?! I? I explain that I have money on both my metro card and in my bank account and again that the kiosks are broken as there is another woman next to me screaming into the speaker box.  He tells me to read the card numbers to him on my metro card. I do and he tells me that I have $2.10.  I laugh and said “what about the other $23 on my card?” He tells me those are for benefits on the rail and bus routes – NOT parking.”

At this point, I’m almost in tears.  I’m trying to put money on my card through the website and it’s not working – warning me that someone is trying to hack me.  My bank account shows money is available.  I ask him to please just let me out, because the line behind me is super long.  He tells me a simple no, and stares in the screen at me.  I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it had expletives in it and I guess the woman behind me heard because she came up and swiped her metro card and said some things to the man on the screen and told me to head on home.

To you, ma’am – you made my evening so much better than it was heading.  To the metro….the back of my arm salutes you because honestly, I can’t even.

***After this was written….***

I drove into the parking lot at the metro station this morning, unhindered by any of those gate arms that drop in front of your car.  Know why? BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE COULDN’T EVEN EITHER AND THEY BROKE THE ARMS! HAHAHA I WIN.

The Secrets We Keep.

A little over three years ago, at this time of the morning, I was rushing into work after receiving multiple vague messages from my two close friends/supervisors. They both kept asking when I’d be there… To come straight to the medical dept. This didn’t strike me as odd, other than the amount of times they asked when I’d be in. Hanging with them in the mornings was normalcy.

So, when I walked into the hall and both of them stared at me, I knew something was off. I went towards Malone for our morning hug, when she stopped me at arm’s length and looked at me and said, “its Adam.”

Adam wasn’t just my coworker… Adam was one of the most genuinely caring people I was fortunate to know. We shared music, stories, laughter… I was used to him frequenting my kitchen table to smoke hookah and rehash anything that came to our mind from our days working at the jail. Adam was my friend.

And in this moment, my friend was gone. I looked at their faces knowing that this was the last moment of oblivion I would enjoy.
“Is he okay? Did he have a wreck?”
All I heard was… “passed away.”

I was on the floor, back against the wall, crouched down waiting for the next blow.
“How?”

I stared back at them waiting for a response.  Nothing came.  Crys leaned down next to me and I remember hearing “he struggled with depression. No one really knew how badly.”

Wait wait wait, my brain screamed. My blue eyed smiling friend?  My avid runner?  My friend who always asked genuinely “how are you?” after we did our ritual overview of how we yet again managed to dress alike in jeans, tennis shoes of like coloring, and polos. In the winter, we even wore a similar jacket.

Not him. Not this. No way. He always smiled. Couldn’t be. I found myself running through every encounter. All the perfect smiles. All the infectious laughter.

Adam had a secret. A secret only few knew. He battled depression until he couldn’t fight it anymore. Its so hard to believe that someone so devoted to others, someone who smoke with the mentally ill daily and gave them reasons to keep going is no longer here. He was always all smiles when I saw him. I never knew the demons he battled.

He knew my secrets. He knew I struggled with panic attacks, he knew I had taken medicine over the years off and on to combat seasonal depression.  He knew all these things. He never told me his… I could be mad at him all I want for leaving us too soon, but I’m not.  I’m sad for him that he didn’t feel he could burden anyone with his struggles. Most of all I’m sad because I miss him. I miss his smile. His bright blue eyes. His good taste in music. His stories of his gorgeous dog.  His dreams of going to medical school.

I only wish he had been here the day his acceptance letter to medical school came in the mail. I wish I could just tell him once that it can get better.

And so, that saying rings true on some evenings when I come home and I’m still full of energy coupled with a positive outlook. Those are the good days, where I smile just because I can…Where the leaves changing color in my serene back yard can bring tears to my eyes because its just that beautiful. Those days, I think of Adam and my other friends I’ve lost from mental illness and I look at the sky and remind the world around me that it gets better.

The other days, my secrets come out. I’m learning that these speaking my secrets doesn’t make me weak, being able to talk about what I struggle with actually helps because those around me can remind me that it gets better. I’m not writing this for attention, I’m writing this because I hope someone somewhere will read it and realize that they aren’t alone. I know I’m not.

I was first diagnosed with depression around 19. I remember having issues prior to this, I remember being a child and my granny and aunt would worry about me at age 11, because I would become overly emotional over small things. I have always been a worrier. I would worry and cry when the beautiful old house my parents renovated would have an plumbing problem. It would send me into hysterics.  It still does…ask L & T about the time the toilet exploded into the basement.

I digress… I remember from a young age having issues with feeling sad, with being anxious, with having night terrors that would trigger my parents waking me in the middle of the night. On nights when the nightmares woke me first, I would find myself so rattled that I would pull my blankets and pillow into my parents’ room and curl up on the floor at the end of my bed or next to my mom’s side. For some reason, I thought that sleeping there meant I was safe from anymore nightmares. Luckily, I usually was. I think I surprised my parents every day when they woke to find me asleep there. Nonetheless, they never judged me for it, they loved me without fault.

As I grew older, I faced changes within me that I despised. Around the age of 12, I knew for a fact that I wasn’t societally normal in my sexual orientation.  Living in a small town in Kentucky meant this would remain a secret. As I got older, I dealt with the occasional rumors people spread about my sexuality. I handled them in stride, even the time my younger cousin and I got in an argument and her last retort was “I stick up for you, everyone talks about how GAY you are, but I stick up for you.”  That was my senior year. Up until then I dealt with my identity crisis alone, I didn’t want to share much for fear of being ostracized in my community.  This lead to a battle inside of me… I constantly questioned my worth, my sanity, I mean I had only heard bad things about being gay.

At the age of 22, I came out to my parents.  They both surprised me immensely with their unwavering support and love. I was gay, and that was okay…with them. However, I stopped attending church with my father due to a new minister telling me that my assistance with the youth group was no longer needed due to my controversial lifestyle choices. Choices.

I didn’t decide to be gay (although I’d totally choose this lifestyle regardless… I’m totally proud of it now) I didn’t decide to be depressed. I didn’t decide to have panic attacks. I didn’t decide to constantly worry. I didn’t ask for this. But its me and I’m not keeping it a secret. I have come a long way since writing angry poetry in middle school. I see a therapist weekly to discuss coping mechanisms and to process feelings. I see a psychiatrist every couple of weeks or so to discuss medication adjustments and to “get my brain shrunk.” I try to spend time outside when I can.

Most of all, I try to remember that it gets better.

Awkward Interactions

Etiquette. I have none.  I start text messages with what I want or need, not a hello or a good morning.
For example:
Me: Couch, do you have those results on JB?
Couch: good morning to you too, CT.
Me: I’m sorry, good morning, Couch! Soooo..do you have those results?

I just don’t think of these things like a normal person does. I don’t want to take up any ones time therefore its easiest if I just get to the point, right?

I also hate answering the phone…as in…I normally don’t. Whenever I see the phone ring, I stare at it and wonder “couldn’t this person have just texted me…” or “this is probably something bad, hence the phone call instead of text or email,” so I just don’t answer.
Well, I won’t answer unless you’re someone I really love. Just know that my answering the phone is a great sacrifice on your account.

Even on my birthday I really despise answering the phone… I mean seriously, how many times does one have to feign happiness about being older and getting sung at?  Its uncomfortable. Then again, if I got no phone calls, I’d probably throw a three year old temper tantrum about the lack of attention on my birthday.

Conversations in person normally begin with me talking at someone about something unrelated only to get around to what I need or want…and I don’t usually say good morning either.  I don’t include niceties because I’m afraid if I wait too long to get to my point, I’ll forget everything I wanted to say in the first place.  It happens. I promise.

I’m not alone in this awkwardness am I? Doesn’t look like it from all the cell phones I see in the crowds around me.