Self-Indulgent Drivel

naked on the internet

Category: wallowing

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.]

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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?

So many stories of where I’ve been

I am a writer. My experiences, almost when I’m experiencing them, become narratives. My life is a series of stories.

But I’m realizing that a lot of the stories I tell are needlessly tragic or dramatic, that every lost love either was the purest love or the greatest heartbreak or most damaging betrayal. I’ve been spinning and repeating these narratives about how I’ve never been seen, loved truly, or deeply desired and wanted for who I really am.

Part of healing will involve being more honest and less inclined to cast myself as the tragic heroine in all these stores of love gone wrong.

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.

too proud to mention to you

My fever burns me deeper than I’ve ever shown to you

Today I saw my therapist, the one who isn’t affiliated with the hospital where I’ve been spending my days. I love my therapist. She’s amazing. And of course we had a lot of ground to cover this week. And a lot of things got stirred up.

I’m feeling angry. I don’t know how appropriate it is to try to talk to the people who I’m most angry at, because I don’t know how much good it would do. The people who seem to think I’m overstating my need for immediate help are the ones I do my best to be honest with, so it stings particularly to have these people telling me, essentially, to walk it off.

And I could yell. I want to yell. Or I could keep quiet, and let these relationships decay on their own. I still haven’t made up my mind.

It’s about heroin addiction, but it resonates…

I can’t be myself
I can’t be myself
And I don’t want to talk
I’m taking the cure
So I can be quiet whenever I want
So leave me alone
You ought to be proud that I’m getting good marks

IN OTHER NEWS, new tattoo idea. This was worked up from a Google image in MS Paint. It’s not the final draft. And it’ll be awhile before I can get it done, but…heart tattooThe words are Latin, and they mean “I think, therefore I suffer” and “while I breathe, I hope.”

The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had

I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take…

I went to karaoke tonight, for the first time in what might be months. I went to this silly hipster place because they have songs that no one else does, and I wanted to sing Madness. Which I did. So I was at this karaoke joint for about three and a half hours, by myself. Drinking (non-alcoholic) Ginger Beer, which is goddamned excellent.

Last weekend I felt like I was melting, becoming myself again. Now I feel numb. I fuckin’ rocked the three songs I did tonight, and I spoke to strangers, but I realized that I didn’t want to be around or talk to anyone I know. I don’t trust anyone. They might let me down. Most of them have. Caring is too painful. A switch has flipped and I just can’t bother to give a shit.

Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. I’ve certainly been sleeping a lot, and when I’m awake, I hardly talk to anyone. I’ve been reading the Harry Potter series. I’m partly into book six, and I think I only started on them last Saturday.

People kept saying I seemed manic. Now, when no one is looking, my affect is flat. When I talk to people, what I say is strange. I put on a happy face, but it aches. I can’t do it for long. I’d rather be alone.

I can’t afford to hope anymore. It’s all I can do to go through the motions. Christmas is in three days. I don’t have plans. I have nowhere to go. I’ll probably sleep all day so I don’t have to think about it.

I go through the motions. I eat because I have to, I sleep more than I have to, I have realistic dreams where something makes me angry or sad, and I wake up still angry and sad.

I had a dream a few months ago that I was dying, and someone from my past came to say goodbye. And I felt such peace, and I woke up sad. Because I’m not going to float away on a cloud of morphine and forgiveness. I have to keep on keepin’ on. So I do. And soon I’ll melt again, and feel things again. Maybe right now I should be grateful just not to be in terrible pain.

But I know from experience, numbness is worse.

Borderline

I don’t like it when people try to get me to have what they call “perspective,” but I am a firm believer in context. I’m not interested in being beaten about the head with stories that are supposed to remind me that there are people so much worse off than I am. I know about the Holocaust, and all the other mass-killings that society doesn’t deem worthy of capital-letter infamy. I know about serial killers, abused children, the poor. I know, I know, I know.

But context is a different thing. As my friend J says, your own worst day is your worst day, period. And he’s a one-armed, eye-patched survivor or a horrific car accident, so I think his words have some worth. Nando Parrado, survivor of the Andes Flight Disaster says that everyone has their own Andes. It’s all about the context of your life and how much you can bear. We learn that we can survive horrible things because we survive horrible things. But some people die from horrible things, and some people simply never get better.

So comparing my worst day to your worst day doesn’t really amount to much. And frankly, it’s bullshit to try to put someone else’s pain on some arbitrary scale and say, all right, you get to suffer this much and you get to grieve this much and then you’d better get over yourself and move on because, frankly, we’re tired of all this boo-hooing and don’t you know that so many people have it so much worse?

In September, I spent five days in a mental health center because I was having suicidal thoughts. While I was there, I was diagnosed with something called Borderline Personality Disorder. I didn’t find out about the diagnosis for over a month and a half because no one mentioned it, and some people thought I already knew. I was shocked when I was told that I’d graduated to the ranks of the truly mentally ill (depression is so common as to be passe, after all,) and especially because everything I knew about BPD was gleaned from an outdated book on mental illnesses that I read in my high school library back in 1995. Apparently, in the 18 years since I first heard about this disorder, the prognosis has become much less bleak. But all I knew when I got my diagnosis was that people with this condition were considered untreatable. It felt like a life sentence– I will never be sane, I will never feel whole, I will never be loved or be able to love anyone else in a healthy way.

So as soon as I got home, I did some research to try to figure out how I was going to navigate my life with this terrible illness, and that’s when I learned that psychiatry has taken a few leaps since 1980, when this disorder was first brought into the public eye, and even since the 1990s when BPD really was kind of a horrible thing to be labeled with. There’s treatment, now, and people do improve. There’s a lot of work to be done, but there are many reasons to believe that I’ll feel better soon.

And GEE WHIZ, does this diagnosis fit. According to the internetz, these are the nine hallmarks of this disorder, and if you’ve got five or more, chances are good that you’ve got BPD*.

[*Of course, it’s possible to have one or several (or all) of these symptoms and not have Borderline Personality Disorder. Everyone can identify with some features of mental illness, to some degree, some of the time. These are human issues, and most are common enough. It’s when these symptoms disrupt your  attempts to live a healthy, successful life that they’re considered pathological.]

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  • Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  • Emotional instability due to significant reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms

All my impulsive decisions, my wanderlust, my inability to let anyone get too close while paradoxically craving acceptance and unconditional love, my intense emotions that no one understands because everyone else is cold and unfeeling and detached — all of that suddenly makes sense. I’m not shiny and special, I’m mentally ill!

Well, my shrink says it’s possible to be both. That my intensity is both a gift and a curse, and that my job now is to figure out how to still be emotional and vibrant and intense, but not get torn to shreds by my own transient emotions.

Being crazy is hard work, ya’ll.

The past year has been excruciating. In fact, the past three and a half years have been such a mish-mash of BEST EVER (!!!) and HOLY FUCK PLEASE STOP that it’s hard to know what to expect. I keep losing important people, not to death or distance, but because we’ve failed to meet each other’s expectations. That’s the most diplomatic way I can put it. It keeps happening. To quote noted existential poet Jewel:

Guess I’ve mistaken you for somebody else
Somebody who gave a damn, somebody more like myself

Word.

I have to move again around the end of the year because of one of those dissolving friendships. Just as I had to move in May because of a dissolving friendship. And while my friendships dissolve, so do I. I don’t understand why people keep leaving me. And it’s not all in my head, but maybe I have been unconsciously choosing the very sort of people who can’t give me what I want or need. Maybe the detachment I admire in them actually indicates a basic incompatibility in the way we relate to others. I don’t know.

But I’m proud of myself for having done so much of the work already. Even before I knew I had BPD, I’ve been a counselor to myself as part of my quest to not be a miserably destructive human being. And so I’ve been asking myself for a long time if I’m the one who’s the asshole. I’ve been good at not emailing people after midnight because usually those emails are insane. I try not to blame people, or think in black-and-white terms, and I try to forgive when I can. I certainly haven’t figured everything out, and I am far from perfect, and I still have a long way to go, but I started the work a long time ago even before I learned what I was working on.

And as much as I can, I’m trying to take these incremental steps to improve my life. I’m seeking stable housing, supportive systems, ways to lead a successful and healthy life. It’s difficult, and I’m exhausted, but I’m getting things done. I have hope. I can hold my head high as I walk away from (metaphorically) yet another burning building that I once called home.

The Aliens, by Charles Bukowski

you may not believe it
but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction or
distress.
they dress well, eat
well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
life.
they have moments of
grief
but all in all
they are undisturbed 
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy
death, usually in their
sleep.
you may not believe 
it 
but such people do
exist. 
but I am not one of
them.
oh no, I am not one
of them,
I am not even near
to being
one of 
them 
but they are
there 
and I am 
here.