Self-Indulgent Drivel

naked on the internet

Category: reaching out

It’s been a while…

I don’t write much these days.

I wrote a song a few months ago called “Imposter Syndrome.” Apparently it’s good. But other than that, I haven’t been writing.

I think part of it is that I’ve been busy with work (I’m working now!) and part of it is that I’m content enough and what I usually write about is angst. There hasn’t been a lot of angst.

But if I’m going to consider myself a writer, I have to write.

So I’ve got this temp gig working for a state agency as a receptionist. It was supposed to last for about two months, but I’ve been there for almost five. Maybe they’ll keep me, maybe they won’t, but it’s been a good experience. Having a job, having routine, is really good for me. Even when it’s a grind, it’s better than sitting at home hating myself. Now I can be at work hating myself. Ha ha.

It’s brought out a lot of insecurity, though, this job. Brought it to the surface, more like. Which is what “Imposter Syndrome” is about, that feeling that I’m a fraud and I don’t belong.

Amanda Palmer touches on that feeling a lot in her book The Art of Asking. You should really read it, I just finished it about 20 minutes ago, and it’s excellent.

Anyway. I’m going to try to write more (I always say that) and see what form my writing takes when I’m not ranting about the one that got away or some other agony from my oh-so-tortured life.

Thanks for reading 🙂

You won’t mind the wrinkles, ‘cuz you’ll know how they got there

I turned 35 two days ago. I was pretty freaked-out by that number, but I’m feeling okay about it now. I still feel about 16, deep down. I’m trying to treat this birthday like a New Year, in that I’m making resolutions and trying to just… make my life better. You know?

It’s been months and months of sitting on my ass, feeling decrepit and sorry for myself, and I’m sick of it. I’m not back to 100% and there are things I can’t reasonably do, but there are a lot of things I can do and should at least try.

So I’m visiting doctors to try to get better, and taking my pills to try to stay sane, and I still feel like crap and kind of like dying, but there’s hope here as well, and that’s keeping me going.

When I turned 30, I freaked the hell out. I’m glad I’m not doing that now. Getting older is so weird. I don’t feel different, except in the ways that I do. Older, wiser maybe, a lot more exhausted. Today I’m swinging between panic and excitement.

So this post is just checking in, I guess. Hello, Internet. I’m still here.

[Title is from In Love But Not at Peace by Dar Williams.]

Get Down With The Sickness

“Don’t borrow trouble” is something my mom says to me when I’m worrying about something I have no control over. It means that it’s silly to stress out about things before you know what you’re up against. I think it’s a pretty good idea, but it doesn’t always work.

At the beginning of summer this year, I started having weird symptoms. Some of them could be dismissed as symptoms of known or suspected illnesses, but all of them together seemed like something I should pay attention to.

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Strange visual disturbances (flashes of light)
  • Minor aphasia (words coming out jumbled or incorrect)
  • Minor ataxia (lack of coordination, especially in my right hand)
  • Confusion
  • Inattention/lack of focus
  • Short-term memory loss

This was in addition to the joint pain, headaches, stomach issues, and other assorted FUN! things I always have going on. The above symptoms were either new or worsened.

The extra-alarming thing about all these symptoms is that I’d experienced them back in early 2012. At the time I blamed them on the car accident I’d had in November of 2011, and my neurologist diagnosed me with Post-Concussion Syndrome.

PCS doesn’t reappear 3.5 years later. I have had no recent head trauma. So it’s gotta be something else, and it’s not a coincidence.

I’m still having that FUN! assortment of symptoms, but with some new, exciting ones too!

  • Shaky legs
  • Worsening lack of coordination in both hands
  • Dizziness
  • I’m spacey pretty much all the time
  • Petichiae (clusters of burst blood vessels under the skin)

Those who know me might think I’m something of a hypochondriac, but this isn’t true. I just happen to often be hyperaware of any weird things going on in my body because I have so much annoying shit wrong with me already. I might unnecessarily jump to conclusions, but I don’t diagnose myself off WebMD. I talk to real doctors, I research things, and I don’t “borrow trouble.”

…but I’ve had my suspicions on this one. And it’s because of The West Wing. Yes, the TV show that ran from 1999-2007. It’s a really great show, you should watch it.

Martin Sheen plays an idealized president. It’s unrealistic and wonderful. Anyway, fairly early into the show (maybe the beginning of season two?) we find out that President Bartlet has a chronic, incurable disease. It causes a bunch of crises and good TV drama. Yay.

It planted an idea in my head.

But I try not to borrow trouble.

I’m trying to get disability. I went and got evaluated by a doctor last week as part of that (long, arduous) process, and when I told him my symptoms, he asked…

“Have you ever been screened for multiple sclerosis?”

Nope.

But that’s what I’ve been thinking too.

I have an appointment with a neurologist in two weeks. I am not panicking, or not much. I am trying not to borrow trouble. But I’ve done a LOT of reading, and… damn. It sure sounds like MS. There are plenty of other things it could be. But none of them fit quite like MS does.

It could also be a brain tumor! I wouldn’t prefer a brain tumor.

It could not, however, be “nothing,” as someone recently suggested. This is not “nothing.” Trust me.  Something is wrong, and I have a feeling it’s going to change my life in ways I can’t yet predict.

I don’t know what’s wrong yet. I am trying not to panic. But every night I find myself researching MS, learning how it’s diagnosed and treated, wondering how it’ll affect my life, whether it’ll be mostly annoying or totally devastating. It manifests differently for everyone, it seems. Some are inconvenienced. Some are crippled.

I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep.

They’ll do blood tests, and probably an MRI, and probably a spinal tap. Those are to rule things out more than anything else, because there’s no definitive test for MS in a living patient. They can find indicators, but they can’t prove it. It’s just an educated guess. Which will probably involve a spinal tap. I am not looking forward to the spinal tap.

I’m not really looking for advice right now. Since I don’t know what I’m up against, I don’t know how to fight it yet. But I think I’m going to buy a day planner to keep track of my health, mood, level of activity, food intake, and other related things.

I also don’t really want to be told to keep my chin up. This is scary and I’m being as brave as I know how to be.

I’ll keep ya’ll posted as I find out more.

Love,

Kate

 

Mmm mmm mmm mmm

Hey there, internet. It’s been awhile.

About eight months ago, I started hanging out with Travis. Travis is awesome. In mid-July I went over to his place after a party and sort of never left. It is a good thing and we’re happy and I’m sure I’ll tell you all more about him soon.

I am not dead, in case you were wondering.

I had this idea in my head of writing some big thought-piece about feelings and blame and letting things go, but I am hung over and in pain (I threw out my back!) so I think I’ll just not do that right now.

Hiya!

In the midst of all my crimes, I feel lost

(or have I lost enough?)

Went out to my local karaoke bar on Friday night. Someone I used to date (long, long ago) was there, and I ran into two other people I’d trysted with previously.

It’s a small town, for such a big city.

My tendency to rush headlong into things means I have a lot of “exes” in the greater Portland area, throughout California, and all over the world. I get around, or did once. Both geographically and in the bedroom.

Only a few of these people were ever in a position to break my heart, but several of them hurt me. Most of them? I rush headlong, I get hurt. It’s sort of my thing.

Carrie Fisher once said “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Princess Leia is wise.

I don’t know how to feel truly alive if I’m not wrapped up in someone. Whether I’m chasing after someone or trying to keep them around, other people have always been my favorite way to get high. Maybe the reason I never got addicted to anything more intoxicating than cigarettes is that there’s no drug that can get me as high or as low as infatuation can.

I have discarded people, rather coldly, because they didn’t match up to my idealized picture of them. Some people I didn’t cut off soon enough, hoping they’d change. Others, I walked away from and tried not to look back. But I look back, harshly or longingly. Wallowing is also sort of my thing.

Lately I’m having all these revelations and realizations and re-realizations, and it’s exhausting. What do I do with all this hard-won knowledge? I can try to apologize to the people I’ve hurt, forgive the ones who’ve hurt me, and do better in the future. But my life is sort of a mess, and I’m lonely.

I picked up two women from the grocery store tonight and drove them to a party at their friends’ house. Only when we arrived did I realize that I kind of knew the people there, fellow cabbies, and I was invited to stay. I hung out for three hours in the middle of my shift, practicing being social. But I’m really nervous around people, knowing how I can be. I say strange things. Tonight I was mostly quiet because I know that I have a tendency to act crazy just so I won’t be invisible. I think too much. That is definitely my thing.

I feel a great imperative to be a better person than I was. I’m trying to figure out how. Addicts make amends and stop using their substance of choice. But how do you give up being mentally ill? I don’t know how to put down that particular bottle. And how do you ease your addiction to other humans without becoming a recluse?

from an email…

Alcoholics make amends when they try to get better. I am not an alcoholic, but I am trying to get better. I wanted to make things right, if I could. Or at least get this weight off my chest, which is maybe selfish.

they don’t know my head is a mess

all of these lines across my face…

A couple times in the last week-or-so, a person has said said “I’ve been reading your blog, and it sounds like you’re doing a lot better.”

Well. No.

The last six months of my life have all been after. After that point in September when I realized that it seemed like a perfectly rational thing to just kill myself. So I called my mother, and I got some help, and… nothing really changed. Things got worse, for awhile. Am I better than I was when things were worse? Certainly I feel better, most of the time, than I did at the end of December when I walked  into the emergency room and told them I was thinking of killing myself, and could use some immediate assistance. I feel better than I did in early January, going back to that same hospital every day to sit in a room of strangers and try to just make it until 3:30 when I could go home and sleep or cry or whatever far away from hostile eyes.

But I haven’t really come around to the point where it doesn’t seem like a perfectly rational idea to kill myself if things don’t get drastically better soon. I said at the beginning of the year that if 2014 is as terrible as 2013 was, I don’t see the point in continuing.

It feels like a waste of resources. I am exhausted all the time. I am sick all the time, actually physically ill. The other night I vomited out the door of my cab between fares and still kept trying to work for another two hours. I know that sometimes we have to soldier on through bad days, but I have had so many bad days and so few very good ones that, in my darker moments, there just doesn’t seem to be any point. Other people have to take care of me because I can’t take care of myself. I’m awful to be around sometimes. I want it to stop.

What changed in September was that, for the first time, my suicidal thoughts weren’t out of sheer desperation. I certainly felt desperate and frantic, but there was this cool, calculated core of the thought underneath when it just made sense to give up. Not to make the pain stop, but to stop wasting time and energy trying to make this life work.

When my brother’s wife decided to shut me out last March, after we’d been best friends for almost three years, something broke in me. The way things disintegrated with my roommate D only reinforced my feelings of being unlovable and broken. I can’t hold a job. I have no energy. All my optimism comes in short-lived spurts, and that’s when I usually post to this blog. That’s the face I show. I try to insulate the people I care about from the worst of what I’m feeling.

I will whine and bitch about a stubbed toe, but I’ll bleed to death alone in the dark without making a peep, to be melodramatic about it. I hide my pain behind smaller pain. People assume that if I were really hurt, I’d say something, because when has Kate ever held back from expressing herself?

All the damned time. That’s when.

I am not in active crisis right now, at this moment. But things aren’t looking great. I have an amazing, funny, strong, understanding, incredibly patient partner. I have a new car and an awesome kid in my life. It’s spring, and we’re in the midst of a stretch of absolutely gorgeous days.

But it isn’t enough. None of it is enough. I feel like I’m decaying, corroding, stagnating.

I had a panic attack on the way to the grocery store today, and Jeremy had to bring me home. I am terrified of driving and constantly feel like I’m going to get into an accident, which is backed up by the fact that I got a ticket last week for making a dangerous left turn into oncoming traffic, and I was almost hit by a car.  But I scream at Jeremy whenever he makes a “mistake” when he drives and constantly criticize him. So I’m terrified of being a passenger, too.

On Saturday, Jeremy and I drove out into Mt. Hood National Forest and put 190 miles on the Civic in one afternoon. It was a great day. I only screamed at him a few times for not observing proper following distance or for making lane-changes that I thought were “indecisive.” When we weren’t around other cars, I was fine. I was in two serious car accidents in less than two years, remember. And lately, more than makes sense, I’m in constant fear of getting into another which, consequently, makes me a worse driver. I hate being in cars, much of the time, and I am a cab driver.

And if someone treated me the way I treat my boyfriend, I would have left them a long time ago. I dragged him into my therapy session the other day (since he drove me there) and my shrink said that it’s not my job to tell him how to react to my outbursts. This may be true, but I still find myself horrified by them. I don’t want to be that sort of person. And I don’t know how to stop, except by stopping to be any sort of living person at all.

I need to have a good summer. I will spend it in nature as much as possible. I will try to sing more, in all seasons, because it makes me happy. And keep holding on, as hard and as long as I can.

caught in the riptide

I was searching for the truth…

I’ve been unmedicated since mid-January. Off the Effexor, which could have gotten me killed. Off the Lithium because it made be feel flat, like I hadn’t used color-safe bleach and all the colors had faded. So it’s just me. Unmedicated.

The one thing I still have is gapapentin, which gets rid of my headaches, and makes me feel giddy and slightly high. You can’t overdose on it, and I don’t take it very often. But I took it tonight.

I’m up at 4:30 in the morning, and I have a good and rational reason for it: I’m a night cabbie. My shifts last 12 hours and sometimes don’t end until sunrise. There’s a consolation in that, driving home and seeing the sun come up behind Mt. Hood. I didn’t work tonight, but I feel like if I have to be nocturnal, I might as well get used to it. I am once again a vampire.

I’ve been losing weight, which is fine because I got up to about 210 lbs. last fall, and wanted to cut hunks of fat off myself. I’m lucky; I inherited my mother’s genes, so even at this rather extreme weight, I’m proportional. I haven’t weighed myself lately, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I were under 190 now. I haven’t been exercising or paying a great deal of attention to diet, it’s just that more and more foods seem to make me sick. Sushi doesn’t, so I eat a lot of that when I can afford it. Drinking a lot of smoothies. I’m hungry all the time, but my stomach cramps and I feel nauseous when I eat the wrong things. Sometimes I vomit. I soldier on.

The job is going well. I’m better at it than I expected. I’m still learning how to be a cabbie, but I’ve always been a good conversationalist, and my customers seem to like that. It’s a very free job, I go where I want or where the fares take me, and I can have a break whenever. I’ve mostly stopped smoking again (betcha didn’t even know I’d started,) so I puff on my e-cig constantly. I can do that in my cab so I take fewer breaks. I make a lot of money when I try. People seem to like me.

But the depression is still here, tearing holes in my heart. The mania manifests in restlessness, sleeplessness. One would think that driving all night would be good for someone with my temperament, and maybe it is or will be, but I so wanted to be the sort of person who slept at night and woke up in the morning. It seemed healthier, you know? Like what a real grownup would do.

The pieces are in place for me to have a good life. I have a good job, for now, which I’m good at most of the time. I have a sweet and amazingly patient partner who thinks I’m amazing and is pretty damned cool himself. I am making money and my situation is improving. I have plans, goals, hopes, dreams.

But I feel so lost. I am going through the motions. I don’t know how I feel about anything. I don’t know whether I like my job or hate it. I don’t know whether I want to be in a relationship at all. I was thinking the other day, wondering if I’m just with Jeremy because it’s better than being alone. Then I asked myself, how many of my relationships have actually been better than being alone? And then I laughed and realized that I think too much.

My mom is visiting next week. I haven’t seen her in a year and a half. That boggles my mind. Mom has been amazing and supportive through all the mental-health bullshit I’ve been through, unwavering, present, understanding. We are very close these days.

I guess I’ve sort of closed myself off. And I need to open back up if I want to get better. I just don’t really know what “better” looks like, yet, or how to get there. Drugs? Therapy? Buddhism? I think a lot about death, but passively. Wondering if I really am doomed to keep living like this, wondering if the merciful thing to do for myself would be just to end it. But then practicality steps in: it would be very cold jumping off the Fremont Bridge, and I can’t kill myself in Jeremy’s bathtub, the poor boy has been through enough.

So I live, I go to work and to therapy, I talk to my mother, I write blog posts. I try to take care of myself and get out of this fog. I am going through the motions, and I am basically fine.

oh you bloody motherfucking asshole

I am not a great decorator. After Mike The Asshole told me my taste was tacky, I stopped putting things up on my walls for awhile. After we broke up, I of course plastered my walls with weird postcards and the like. But I’ve moved seven times in 3.5 years, and I seldom put anything up because it’s exhausting and I’m just gonna probably move in six months anyway.

So my current bedroom has  only one thing on the walls.

It’s a letter my dad sent me years ago, when I was desperately poor and felt, well, lame. Because I needed help again and I felt like a 28-year-old shouldn’t be asking her daddy for money every month. I should have had my life together, and I didn’t. He sent a check, and included this note, and everywhere I’ve lived in the past five years, this has been on my wall.

I am, whatever our problems, and whether I want to be or not, Daddy’s Girl. I have always wanted to impress him. I tell people, “my father is brilliant, I am merely very,very bright.” My father has something like 13 patents. My father had a part on the space shuttle, although I’m not sure what. My daddy does things with lasers and tank armor and makes assloads of money and lives in a house with a glorious view of the Pacific. My father is generous and charitable and at times astonishingly kind.

Which is why this is so hard for me.

He doesn’t goddamned get it, at all.

Martha says it better than I can:

You say my time here has been some sort of joke
That I’ve been messing around
Some sort of incubating period
For when I really come around

I’m cracking up
And you have no idea
No idea how it feels to be on your own
In your own home
with the fucking phone
And the mother of gloom
In your bedroom
Standing over your head
With her hand in your head
With her hand in your head

I will not pretend
I will not put on a smile
I will not say I’m all right for you
When all I wanted was to be good
To do everything in truth
To do everything in truth

I don’t know if that conveys it to you, but it’s playing in my head on a constant loop these days.

I talked to my dad about 10 days ago. It was about an hour after my weekly therapy appointment (and two days before I cracked up and went to the hospital.) And he gave me his usual dad advice that what I probably needed was some stability, that I should get a job, that the happiest and most stable I’ve ever been was when I was working, and that my first priority should be getting back into school.

Let’s address these points, shall we?

  • I probably need some stability.
    • Well fucking DUH
  • I should get a job
    • I totally agree! That’s why I’m working on becoming a cabbie! Also, if you haven’t noticed, I’m losing my mind like right now this very moment and perhaps a desk job isn’t going to magically fix things.
  • The happiest and most stable I’ve ever been was when I was working
    • Y’know, I’d noticed that too! And I looked for work for months, but I’ve been sort of bedridden with this whole “I want to die I want to die I want to die” thing I’ve been indulging in lately, so it’s made it hard to keep keepin’ on. I applied for everything I could until I could no longer work anyway because the depression and anxiety were close to killing me.
  • You should go back to school (even though I’m unwilling to adequately support you while you do it.)
    • I dropped out of school when I was 28 because of what I now know was a raging case of bipolar disorder. I could not sit still in a classroom. I spent my days at home hating everything and my nights at bars with pretty boys because they were the only thing that reliably made me even temporarily less horrid. You won’t help me pay for it, and I’m ineligible for more loans.

And I have some points of my own!

  • If I went back to school now, the same goddamned thing would happen. I would crash and burn. I know it. This is not a guess, this is the truth.
  • The last job I had, I had to quit after five hours because I got a panic attack so bad that it gave me diarrhea.
  • My top priority right now is to get healthy.
  • My top priority right now should be to get healthy.
  • I cannot do anything useful until I am healthy.

I have lost 15 lbs in the past MONTH. That’s terrifying (although I did have it to spare.)  When I try to eat normal food, I shit or vomit. I’m basically on a liquid diet most days, and that’s more expensive than you’d think. I’m going through withdrawal from Effexor, which means that I burst into tears sometimes and my head constantly feels like it’s receiving electric shocks. All I can think about all day is going to bed, but when bedtime rolls around, I’m wired and don’t get to sleep until 2am when I meant to be in bed at 9pm and have to be awake at 8am. I have not once been on time to the hospital where I spent 20-30 hours a week trying to get better. Getting better is exhausting. Lots of anger, lots of crying.

This is hell. This is hell. This is hell.

Honestly, I’m feeling hopeful and better and therapy is working and I think lithium might fix some of this so I go to my stupid groups and I take my stupid pills and I deal with the BZZZZZZZZZZT  in my brain and I get by on not-enough sleep and I try my hardest not to buy that cute vintage jacket or fuck that cute boy because I don’t want my mania to rule my life.

And I unreservedly say FUCK YOU to anyone who has never been through this but thinks they know what’s best for me.

This is HELL. And I am fighting, and I am BRAVE, and I am STRONG and I am going to fucking BEAT THIS even if you don’t believe in me. Even if you think I’m not trying hard enough. All I do is try. I fight and fight and fight and this is hell hell hell.

nothing gets in or away

I’ve been trying to get out and meet people. It’s been hard. I met two new people today, and both meetings were interesting and went well, but both left me feeling vulnerable and, to varying degrees, rejected. It’s like I’m too tender to handle the possibility that people  won’t immediately take to me, but at the same time, I desperately need people  in my life.

So it goes.

I’d rather be dreaming than talking, there’s nothing to hear or to say
With ears covered, mouth closed, the world is opposed
And nothing gets in or away