I Just Threw Up a Little…

Last week I took a risk.  I saw an advertisement via Twitter for “Adventure!” and I took the bait.  I sent in the requested contact information and even BEGGED to be accepted via a postscript tacked to the end of my very brief email.

I was promised the need for a passport and a machete.  Instead, I got to choose my own adventure.  My adventure does NOT involve the need for a machete – but the machete seems like a MUCH safer option now that I’ve submitted my own risk IN WRITING to the Adventure! staff.

In the few days since I received my acceptance email and invitation to the secret Facebook group I have looked closely at the life I’ve created.  I notice now that while I thought I’ve been dreaming and scheming for the future that really I’ve been marking time.

I haven’t even been marking time as the freaking Drum Major; Large and IN CHARGE.  Nope – I’m Flute #5 buried somewhere in the middle of the block where I can mark my position from both sides and stay safely hidden.  I’ve made a few peeps – but otherwise have worked to stay in-line and invisible.

I have set a goal.  I think this is the first real goal I’ve set for myself in a really long time.  I’ve put myself out there to *strangers*.  And, these nice people who know only that I share their desire for Adventure! share words of encouragement even as my brain is screaming “Stranger Danger!  Stranger Danger!” and begging me to flee into the shadows.

I realize now that fear has paralyzed me for nearly 20 years.

Fear is a Dick.

In the next 24 days I’m going to re-teach myself to dream *through* the fear.  I’ve made a commitment.  Now I need to plan and then follow through with the whole shebang.

I’ve let myself become a person I don’t really like.  I’ve let myself lose hope.  I lost control of my direction.  I’ve let myself become a victim – and I’m NOT okay with that.

I’m done with the shenanigans.  Fear needs to start fearing ME.

ID Box

I believe Americans partially identify themselves by the work they do.  Asking what someone does for a living is usually in the first group of questions you ask someone after being introduced.  It makes sense.  We work hard and are driven to suceed as a culture.

We are the country of Yankee Ingenuity – where if at first you don’t succeed you try again.  And, when THAT doesn’t work, you dig your nails into your goal until you’re finally able to bring it down like a bobcat on a hiker on a suburban trail.*

Graphic?  Why, yes.  Yes it is.

But, while we live in the gracefully shaded land of Instagram and beautifuly photographed blog posts – all while sitting alone in our cubicle at work eating a brown bag lunch – it often becomes apparent that what we want and what we have aren’t exactly in line with each other.

(I realize that both the mediums above can be carefully staged – but Pinterest wouldn’t be the hotbed of activity if we all didn’t want these beautiful creations to be our lives.)

Growing up I had BIG PLANS.

BIG.

I had my eyes on a PhD in physics.  I realize now this was rediculous.  (I am not good at math.  At all.)

Then I moved on to geology.  (This was far more realistic and reasonable.)

Then, I got sent home from college in the midst of a psychotic break.

Oopsie.

(Change. In. Plans.)

Suddenly my career dreams disappeared and I spent all my time an energy focusing on keeping my life together (aka, staying alive and outside the padded white room).

Enter “the Job”.  I needed one – and am thankful for my family for providing the ultimatim that I GET one.

The job I got was administrative in nature and paid the bills.  This was my “hold over” job until “I started my career”, and therefore my life.

The only thing is, I’m still in my hold over job 12+ years later.  And, I have a hard time reconciling that job with the dreams I identified myself with.  Secretary vs. Scientist, kinda different in nature.

I’m lucky that my closest friends are in the science field – so I get to live vicariously through their experiences of reading (and understanding) journal articles, lab notebook grading and answering the same series of questions over and over and over again with each new semester.

I realize now that I don’t want to be a scientist in reality – although I wouldn’t mind playing one on TV.

(What I COULD deal without is the shocked look co-workers give me when I explain the most basic of scientific facts.  Hello people – I’m not a moron.  I have highly educated friends who share their knowledge.  Why is this so suprising?)

My wise-beyond-his-years brother shared something with me via a Facebook post late last night. He told me to focus less on my job and more on my passions.  Then he told me he loved me.

Damn kid made me cry at 4am before I even had my coffee.

Clearly he could see what I’ve stopped looking at: I’m NOT my job.  My job has a fantastic purpose: it allows me to eat, live somewhere I love, pay my bills, support my smartphone addiction, etc.  These are all good things.

But, they are not ME.

It got me to thinking: who am I really?  What would I want to define ME?

I came up with:

Kind.

Giving.

Slightly nutty – but funny.

Crafty (In the artistic sense, not the maniacal genius one.)

I’d been realizing lately that my job does not have to identify me to the world if I don’t want it to.  I’m currently chosing not.  The job is a job.  I don’t have to let the repetitive invoice processing, contract issuing and office politics define me any more.

Those self-imposed bonds can suck it hard.

I’m FREE.

*(If you’re interested: If I’m the bobcat – a Mary Kay pink Cadillac is totally my suburban hiker.)

Fear from the Clinically Insane

As someone who has identified as a mentally ill person for their entire adult life, I can confidently say that I’ve had a lot of experience with the “guess and check” world of head meds.

Months ago I wrote how I was trying to keep my sh*t together through routine.  (Read: actually eating nutritious food, sleeping on a set schedule and getting moderate exercise.)

Today I can say that my grand plan had a pretty good fail.

Luckily there have been not hospital stays that include10-minute “what are you up to?” checks – yet.

(However, there have been grand plans of quitting my job and lots of crying – immediatley followed by lots of frustrated anger – immediately followed by lots of crying.)

So, after visiting with my new Doc/ Drug Pusher last week I picked up a new perscription.

These bottles remain closed, with the receipt, in the bag they came home in.

STILL.

Yes, it’s been a week.  I’m aware.

(If nothing else my cheap gene should be kicking in about now.  These pills cost me 37-freaking-dollars.  I should at least try them so it’s not money wasted.)

I asked my doc all the questions:

#1:  Will these make me fat?

#2:  Are you absolutely sure they’re not going to make me fat?

#3:  You are aware that if they’re going to make me fat I’m not going to take them?

#4:  Do I take them at night or the morning?  Will they make me tired?  How long do they take to start working?  Am I going to get all twitchy?

#5:  Am I allowed to still drink alcohol?

Still – the fear lurks and the idea of actually ingesting one of these little beauties is enough to turn me to stone.

I. Don’t. Wanna.

One of my best friends gave sage advice today: “Suicide is scarier than side effects.”

She’s right – and has spouted such wisdom on other times such as these when the meds and I didn’t want to make contact.

(I believe the last time she said something along the lines of “intervention”.  Now there is definitely less drama involved.  Either that, or I’m further gone than I realize.)

However, I’ve got to be honest.  The memories of exceptional lethargy that would suddenly hit while driving to work on the freeway are freaking me out.  They’re freaking me out more than just a bit.

Or, maybe this is my excuse.  Maybe I’m totally grasping for anything that would justify me NOT taking the drugs and continuing along my hypo-manic/depression tilt-a-whirl.

I’m very busy being a statistic right now – because while I know that I NEED the drugs, I certainly don’t want to take them.  Right now I feel okay.  And, yes, I know that this will change in a drastic manner at a bad time.  I KNOW that at any moment someone is going to interact with me (or not) and I’ll transform from the snarky-kinda-has-it-together-girl into the sobbing-mass-of-jello-who-likes-to-throw-things that I become when the BiPolar Carny turns the ride on again.

A responsible adult would take care of business while the sanity is available.  (Apparently I’m more manic than I realize – because the idea of thwarting responsilbity is strangely enticing.  Bring it on, Beeeatches!!!!!!!)

Tonight has to be the night.  I have a return appointment to the Doc/ Drug Pusher next week and need to make good use of the time I take off of work/ money I spend in co-pays.  I need to have a week of meds under my belt so I can request something new if these aren’t working out.

Let’s get this party started.

Or something.

The Unexpected

Today I visited my general practitioner regarding some (slightly scary) hand pain.  However, what got me wasn’t so much her reaction to my swollen and hot mid-30’s hands – but her instant reaction to the scratch on my inner wrist.

This scratch was given to me by my loveable – but completely ornery – cat.  (He was having a bad day and I got in his way.)  Now, this is a good scratch – it bled, scabbed over, and is now forming a pretty angry looking red scar.  I have accepted it and really don’t think much of it since it doesn’t hurt – and my hands do.

However, it appears that my “colorful” mental health history had put my poor doc on high alert at the sight of a scratch on my inner wrist.  Instant response?  “Oh, What do we have here?!  How did this happen?”

I almost wanted to laugh – what DOES my medical chart look like?  Each time I call my HMO do warning bells go off?

Alert!  Alert!  Highly unstable mentally ill patient calling!  Listen for signs of increased aggitation and instability!

Does “CRAZY LADY!” come up on a scrolling ribbon at the top of the screen every time my name shows up?

I guess this can be a good thing in times of crisis.  However, today I found it quite entertaining.

As far as my painful, swollen hands are concerned – the jury is still out.  It’s either “occupational” due to my heavy keyboard duties or something else entirely.  They took blood and scheduled some consults.  Good times.

Boarding the Train to Crazytown!

My profuse apologies to everyone who read the partial post that went up last week.  Due to a power surge I lost 80% of the post – but it looked like it was all there when I published.  Ooopsie.  Please bear with me while I figure out this whole technology thing.  The following post isn’t exactly what I had originally written – but it gets the point across.  Thanks!

I’m bipolar.

For the past five years I’ve worked to keep this (some would say “juicy”) tidbit about myself on the down low.  I’ve never really been ashamed about it, but my openness about my mental health “status” caused some problems when I had an issue at work.  (That is yet another post.)  So, in order to combat that happening again I’ve just kept my “secret” to myself.

I’ve been on regular medication management for about 15 years.  About 13 months ago year I was sooo happy to be given the okay by my mental health professional to be without meds.  Yippee!!!!  I went into this little medication vacation with the full understanding that it would likely end in the not too distant future.

I’ve had a normal year with normal life highs and lows.  Things have been manageable.  I’ve stayed off the drugs and enjoyed not having to take a pill when I wake up in the morning and another (or more) before my head hit the pillow.  My mornings are easier now that I’m not pulling myself out of a drug-induced haze.  My digestive system is regular.  Hooray!  I’m no longer eating, eating, eating, eating and watching my pants get shorter as my butt gets bigger and then repeating the process again 10 minutes later since I’m STARVING.  Not dealing with medication side-effects has been fantabulous.

However, over the past few weeks I’ve noticed my mental instability steadily climbing.  Mania anyone?  Anyone?

When some people are manic they get to “party all the time”.  I just get angry.  VERY angry.  Cannot put together a sentence, stand there sputtering, throwing things angry.  I’m sure if I wasn’t ready to rip something apart I’d find it quite funny.  (Seriously, there are reasons they don’t give us crazy folks guns people!  It’s a very good thing.)

Over the last few working days things have started to spiral in a downward direction.  Last Thursday I was in tears by 9:30am in a locked office yelling expletives in frustration at two saintly co-workers who just let me go to town.  They were brave enough to have the door shut behind them – making their escape just THAT much more difficult if I really did lose it completely.  Keep in mind – this was after I had twisted my glasses into a mangled mess of wire and plastic.  The day had just begun and I was already dangerously close to the edge.  After carefully trying to bend my glasses into a useable shape again I worked to complete my workday while dreaming of going home to lay on my couch in the fetal position while watching mindless television.

I got home – and was still unsatisfied.  After trying to explain my craziness/unhappiness my partners and I went from “Hi Honey” to “Merry F*cking CHRISTMAS!” and cabinet kicking in about 10 seconds.  Whoa.  Seems I arrived at Crazytown when I wasn’t paying attention.

So, it has become clear to me that my medication vacation may be nearing it’s finale.  While my goal it to try and stay off the meds all together, I’d like to catch my current batch of crazy before they’re forcing the meds on me in a nicely padded room while I’m on a mandatory 72 hour hold.  (Oh, 5150 – how I haven’t really missed you ALL that much.)

My plan for the next three weeks is this: Routine, Routine, Routine.

1 – Eat three meals a day.  (Right now I’m eating three meals about every four days.  Not the best plan – although it is doing wonders for my waistline.)

2 – Get 7-8 hours of sleep every day.  Not more – not less.  Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day.

3 – Exercise a little each day.  (If I would just take my breaks at work and make a loop of the parking lot that will probably be enough.)

4 – Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

I’ve found in the past that having a good routine where I take care of my basic needs will combat some of the crazy I’ve got brewing.  However, I fully recognize that if things aren’t more stable (aka, less yelling at inantimate objects and breaking necessary objects) within three weeks, I’ll be back in the shrink’s office getting a bottle of meds to add to my bedside table.  (I’ve had threats of a “She needs here medication” intervention in the past and would like to not have a repeat performance.)  While I’m not looking forward to the morning haze, bloating and fat pants that come with medication – I do realize that they’re worth the end result.

I’ll always be a Crazytown native – I just prefer to keep my visits to a minimum.