April 19, 2012

Flavors of Crazy

There might be an entire Baskin Robbins worth of afflictions; 31 or more ways to be nuts, but I only suffer from two.  And even then, it's not really suffering, it's more putting up with, waiting for it to fade, and hoping life and the friends that were in it are still there a few weeks later. 

In my middle 20s, I got two diagnoses to call my very own; Major Depression, and General Anxiety Disorder.  Much of my college years and early 20s were lost to these two partners in misery, as I went through 5 separate counselors before I was diagnosed.  I was so good at hiding my crazy, even the pros didn't see it.  I had to participate in a drug study before a no-nonsense psychiatrist who just needed data could legitimately call me nuts.  He didn't need to know me, or what my life was all about.  He just needed to fill out his checklist to see if I qualified.  It was good for me, good for him, and good for my brethren.  I helped bring Lexapro to the market. 

Do I mourn all the time I've lost?  All the people I could have met and friendships I could have made and sustained?  You bet I do.  However, without those years, I wouldn't be the woman I am today.  It's not my intention to paint a picture of longing for a do-over, or to mourn lost time and opportunity.  It's more that I find myself in the middle of another episode, and I wanted all of my friends and family to know why I've seemed to crawl into a foxhole and only been reachable electronically recently.

It's habit for me to clam up and tell nobody about what's going on, except for maybe a select few.   Even then, they might know I'm down, but not that I'm actually clinical.  I've been told in the last few years that this isn't healthy, and it's ok to let people know when you're in trouble, or ask for help.  *sigh*  Wow, that's hard for me.  So, here we go.

I know an episode is starting when a few things happen.  First, I'm less interested in going out or being away from home.  I tend to sleep for hours more than I need to.  Maybe I'm more tired, maybe it's a way to not have to deal with some of the crap going on in my head.  Second, I tend to get nauseous easily.  When it's really bad, I will actually have dry heaves.   Lastly, I know I'm sick when I start feeling regret for events and actions from the past, over which I have absolutely no ability to change. 

I lose my shine, that energy around me.  I feel like someone set the dimmer switch to 27% and walked away.  I know it's missing, because I can remember being myself, but just can't muster the enthusiasm I used to.  I can manage short bursts, but that's about it.  I'm prone to laying on the couch or in bed, watching something with glazed eyes, and ignoring the phone if it rings.

What's really strange is that I seem to have two voices in my head.  One of them runs on emotion, and gives in to the current state of things.  The other is logical, rational, and about as close to a cheerleader as I can get in spite of things.  It tells me that this is all chemical.  There's no logical reason to be down.  I should get off my ass and take my zoloft, suck it up, and just do it.  Whatever *it* is.  The emotional voice is more like the family dog; it feels, reacts on emotions, and then is guilty about it later.  Much like Spot, the family dog, hides under the bed when he's done something wrong, that emotional voice hides behind the apartment door, in the dark, hoping the world will still be there when things are better.

I tend to be more fatalistic, more listless.  My universe shrinks from anywhere my feet or my car can take me, to a small stretch of road between home, work, and anywhere I can't weasel my way out of going.  

As such, errands go undone until they can't possibly wait any longer.  Friendships come to a screeching, grinding halt.  Time progresses because it HAS to, not because I'm enjoying life.  I'm pretty sure this confuses the hell out of people when it happens too.  Mostly because I'm SO hyper-communicative, I'm sure that when I just fall off the face of the planet, it's hard to know what that means.  Especially when I don't actually say why.  I just let it happen, and pretend like nobody noticed, or that people decided to keep living life and passed me by.  It's as if in my immediate bubble, time slows down, the silence is louder, and I can't find satisfaction in anything.    Believe me, from someone who derives fulfillment out of getting things done, that's frustrating.

What's my purpose for writing this?  Mostly, it's atonement for the people who might feel snubbed.  Or, it might be an olive branch in advance, asking people to understand my behavior probably isn't personal, and that just because I vanish doesn't mean it's you or anything you've done.  It's me doing my best reluctant hermit impression.  I'm the Howard Hughes of the ghetto, except without the fear of germs.  Give me a bit of time, a text or two, or drag my ass out and about with you.  (No really.  Once I get out of the house, I'm usually pretty glad I did.  It's the doing, not the being that's the problem.)  I'll get over my funk shortly and be back in the world before you know it.  All I ask is that you run in place a little bit while my fat ass catches up.

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