Friday, January 21, 2011

Amusement ride

You've always suspected that your moods are a bit more erratic than most people’s. You've often joked about being bipolar, since there’s a history of it in the family, but lately you're actually afraid that it could be true. As opposed to having a few bad days a month or being elated over something that is at least partially deserving of excitement, your mood swings have started to occur throughout the day...every day. It’s like sitting on a roller coaster, blindfolded, never knowing if you’re about to be thrown for a loop or go plummeting down a steep hill. It’s terrifying and yet there’s still an edge of excitement, a twisted expectation of the thrill you know you’re going to get sooner or later.

At a low point during the day you often catch yourself thinking, “In a few minutes, in an hour, after lunch...something is going to change.” And it isn’t a pep talk, it’s simply a fact. It could be something as simple as a coworker walking by and saying “I like your hair today” that pulls you out of the nosedive toward the ground and rockets you back up. The worst thing isn’t traveling the track from high to low and back again, it’s waiting on the highs like a junkie for a fix.

You're terrible at taking medication; you've admitted it before. Taking a pill every day is just something you've never been able to do. There are anti-depressants, birth control, and antibiotics lined up in your cabinet...none of them empty. Part of the reason they’re still there is that you're an extremely forgetful person, and the other part, for some of them anyway, is defiance and fear. “I don’t need you", you think. "I’m afraid you’ll change the things about me that I like. I’m afraid you’ll take away my highs.”

So what do you do when you’re afraid and defiant, confused and wondering why the hell you can’t get off this goddamned emotional roller coaster?

You look up a phone number, take a deep breath and force your hand to stop shaking so you can dial. When a woman answers and asks you to hold, leaving you listening to crap elevator music, you force yourself not to hang up.

“I need to make an appointment”, you say when she comes back on the line. You give her your name and your phone number.

“What’s the reason for the appointment”, she asks mechanically.

You were hoping they wouldn’t ask that question. She wants a one or two word answer; she’s a receptionist not a therapist.

“ am I supposed to answer that”, you say, clearing your throat because it feels like you’ve swallowed something thick and distasteful. You give a half laugh, as if to apologize for being vague.

“I’m sorry”, she says without feeling. “Depression, family issues, work problems, marital problems. I need to write something down for the therapist to go on, to be sure that this is where you need to be and choose who you’d fit with best.”

You’re amused by her answer. A receptionist gets to choose where you belong and who you belong with, based on a few random words. You briefly consider telling her marital issues. “My husband has sex with farm animals”, you could say. But you refrain.

“Oh. I guess you can put down depression or family issues.”

It’s true, and it’s not. But there wasn’t an option for “possibly bipolar paired with a salad of irrational fear that happy pills with take away your awesomeness, a side of your dad is a douche bag, and just a dab of you fall for men that can’t love you”. You definitely would have chosen that one.

“Alright, I’m going to match you with...” She names a therapist and gives you a few details about her, tells you where to find the online forms to bring to the appointment, and schedules you for this coming Monday at 1pm.

“Have a blessed day”, she says.

You hate it when people say that.

After you hang up the phone, you feel good. It’s done; you’ve finally made the appointment you’ve been saying you were going to make for the better part of a year.

You go to the website she named. There’s a picture of your therapist – she’s wearing pearls and a matronly looking dress. Her hair is cut into a fluffy bob, but her face reminds you of Diane Lane. You wonder what you’re going to wear – something that says “I may be crazy, but I’m extremely chic”.

You don’t know what’s coming up in the next hour, you can’t tell if it’s a sharp curve, a double loop, or a straight away. But there’s just the tiniest bit of light showing around the edge of your blindfold. And it isn’t a slippery high or low, it’s tangible. It’s progress, something you can focus on.

And maybe, just maybe, this matronly Diane Lane will help you get off of this goddamn roller coaster completely. Because you’re pretty sure that when your blindfold shifted, you caught a glimpse of a corndog stand.


Robbie Grey said...

The second part, done in second person, was especially powerful and interesting.

Luck with your appointment.

Clare Dunn said...

I agree with Robbie (up there ^).
And I liked the first part, too.

No criticism, no shock, no horror.

xoxoxo, cd

Sharon Longworth said...

Really well written- life is scary and messy and hard to pin down sometimes - and you captured all that so well.
I'm glad you've taken the step that you wanted to - hope it turns out well. x

Miss Rosie said...

I know exactly how you feel... EXACTLY. I've felt like there is some sort of bipolar issue going on with me for the last several years. I went to a therapist AND a head shrink on to find that I have severe depression and self esteem issues. I did start taking a little pill every day, I feel better... I don't feel like it changed me. I just don't have the urge to bitch slap people and laugh at them as much. Good luck with your appointment.

christy said...

This is amazingly well written, and so honest. I'm very jealous of your ability to lay your life out for us like this (I'm glad though too-i love this blog!)

I hope that everything goes well; appointments like that are awful.

dys·func·tion said...

I am very proud of you for sharing this.
I know that putting it all out there is scary, and you deserve a pat on the back for this blog.

Eloquent writing (which it is) aside, my experience lends me to tell you that going in/making the appointment is a lot scarier than the possible diagnosis.

I was just relieved to know.

Bipolar. Good. Now I know what is going on.

Best of luck in the future, from someone else who is stuck in an amusement park.

Danger Boy said...

Thank you for sharing. I hope you find exactly what you need with Diane Lane. Too many people don't take that step.

Roxanne and Lorraine said...

You really have a gift for turning small events, little snippets of emotion into stories, well thought out and extemely well written.

I hate "have a blessed day" too. All of those lines really have no meaning. As a former call center worker, I can tell you that 90% of the time when I said, "have a nice day" I was really thinking "get the fuck off my phone and never call again please."

Anyways, I hope things go well and Diane Lane has some answers for you. And now I want a corndog. :)


Agentblue24 said...

Great post. I agree with everyone else, well thought out too.

I appreciate the part about picking up the phone and making the call. I've been tossing around the same idea myself.

Elisabeth said...

Congratulations to you on being a STRONG woman and getting help! My family also struggles with similar problems and the BEST thing you can do is LOVE yourself enough to get yourself HELP. Way to go!!!

Jane said...

A brilliant post - I do love your writing.
I made that phone call and she was exactly the right therapist for me. Twenty five years later and I have never regretted it. I don't know where I would have been without the understanding, acceptance and help I received.
Well done for making the appointment.

Sara said...

Ah, yes. I know the roller coaster ride VERY well. Since we're both on it, can we at least sit next to each other?

You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... said...

at least you didn't have to get a colonoscopy...?

(good luck with the appt)

The Vegetable Assassin said...

All the best with matronly Diane Lane, dude. I think it might be the help you need, mainly because you get to tell a stranger all your thoughts and fears and get a response to them. It might be all you need. A place to unload and feel light for a while you know?

e.f. bartlam said...

Good luck getting it sorted out...take the pills. A good doctor will be just as concerned about making sure you are still you after they get things fixed.

I've got a couple of good friends that are on some serious medication...I knew 'em a long time before they started taking the pills and I can't tell a difference in 'em at all.

BugginWord said...

Shrinks rock. Except when they don't. Also? Never write a piece about your shrink and then show it to your shrink. That didn't go well at all. Also? I heart corndogs. Like a LOT.

Judearoo said...

Beautifully written.

I'm with Veg on this, its gotta be a good thing. And best of luck with it all. x

Ed said...

My happy pills make me more awesomer.

Not really.

They just keep me from committing murder on a whim.

Nari said...

I'd get off just for the corn dog.

I hope the humor defficient receptionist has the proper ability to match you to te right therapist.

If not, try to remember to keep looking rather than give up as I would do, feeling that it had become too much trouble because as long as I can get to the corn dog, I clearly don't need any fixing.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Happy pills are a girls best friend!

Horse Gardener said...

You are an awesome writer, doesn't change the bipolar aspect, but your creativity may be bred from the bipolar aspects.
I'm a therapist...hope Diane Lane takes good care of you. If she doesn't...well there are as many therapists out there as there are bipolar people....find one that works for you....if she doesn't, don't get jaded...
Btw...your blogs are my therapy...keep up the good work.

Not the Hero said...

Get this, my sister had a psychic tell her that I may have a seratonin imbalance. So what did I do? I went and looked up the symptoms. If I am honest with myself it is probably true that I do have alot of the symptoms.

However I could also have: a brain tumor, menopause, or i could be pregnant. (these cover all the symptoms)

However I could also have a combination of other things. So the question is do I take the second hand word of a psychic and got get help? No. Instead I go and take the over the counter suppliment that is supposed to help with all my symptoms. So far it hasn't worked.

Good luck with the appointment.

Beta Dad said...

This is some of your best writing! I hesitate to say it's my favorite post, though, because there's not a lot of sex, zumba, redneck dads, chubby jazz dancers, binge drinking, etc. I guess I can see why you might be wary of taking pills that could make you "normal."

I had a girlfriend in college who was textbook bipolar. They put her on Lithium, which I thought hadn't been used since the fifties. Anyway, she didn't like being normal, and so stopped taking it. Our breakup took approximately a year and included stalking, suicide threats, the whole nine. I'm not sure what the moral of that story is.

Also, I don't think I could patronize a business where anyone who worked there said, "have a blessed day."

JJadziaDax said...

good luck! love your posts chica, it'll be ok (yea yea i know but it always sounds nice :)

Rusty Hoe said...

You've got guts lady. Loads of them. Making that call is sometimes the scariest part. I hope Diane Lane, or another if she isn't the right fit, can help you sort through the maze. Sometimes just talking about the shit we all carry to a complete stranger who has no other job than to be a human GPS can do wonders. Big hugs.

The mad woman behind the blog said...

I don't look like Diane Lane but if you want to come in and lie on my couch, I'd really like to discuss the significance of the corn dog reference.

On a serious note, you already know you have balls of steel for what you've shared. I admire you and want that you find the outcome you are looking for.

Have a fucking awesome day.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the Lane lady. Just keep in mind that sometimes you gotta shop for the right fit ... I was a serial therapist-jumper for a while, and went through several before I found the one who helped me turn everything around and finally get off that damned roller coaster.

Nicole said...

I went to my therapist for the first time because I knew I was depressed. Still, when she asked me, "Do you think you're depressed?" Well. I said no. I was wrong.

It took me another few days to make the appointment to see the primary care doc who would give me the antidepressants. And a few more to actually take them.

I never miss a day---at least, not on purpose. And I'm still me. And I don't want to stab myslef in the thigh anymore when I'm unloading the knives from the dishwasher, so, that's a bonus.

Anyway, that's my story. This is yours. I love the way you're telling it and I hope the way you end up living it is even better.

Good luck. Tell that receptionist you're a Wiccan lesbian. And then wink at her.

invagrantly said...

actually i'm always happy if people wish me a good day. good read.

Tara said...

Good luck with your appointment. I'm the same way with medications... but deciding to start therapy was definitely the best decision I've ever made.

magnolia said...

this all sounds familiar. hope the appointment goes well.

Penny Dreadful said...

Well done chicken. It is a hard call to make. I waited until things were as bad as they could ever be before doing it myself. And I was the same as you, didn't want to deal with pills (although I have them now it is for different reasons. I feel like I am in a Woody Allen film sometimes). Seeing a therapist is one of the best things I have done in my life, and I feel now that I'm the person I always wanted to be but never knew how to get to. That sounds so corny I want to throw up, but you know what I mean x

George said...

I have never posted a comment before but I would like to say that you inspire me!

ladytruth said...

I wish I could get my dad to make that phone call, to take the first step but he refuses. Why spill your guts to a stranger who likes writing things down slowly on a yellow note pad while watching you ramble on about your dad hitting the shit out of you and your brother while your mom is busy making supper in the kitchen? I say that's EXACTLY why you go and make the phone call. If only I could do it FOR him. I wish he had your courage.

Shannon said...

Welcome to being a 'Cancer'. My therapist looked like the "Fairy Godmother" from Disney's Cinderella. Really. Well, off for another glass of Shiraz....amazing writing. Wish I could write as well.

Michelle Saunderson said...

Well said. I hope everything turns out great.

nova said...

Huh...I've never been told to "have a blessed day" before. What do you say to that?

Lady Jennie said...

I've never lived anyplace where "Have a blessed day" would be culturally acceptable from a stranger.

I'm not sure why people are so resistant to anti-depressants when there is likely a biological reason that will respond to medicine. I see that everywhere (clearly I'm not resistant to it).

For me, I'm sure it makes me a better mom than I might otherwise be. I'm prone to enough mood swings as it is even with the meds.

Kristy Lautner said...

I made that call yesterday too, although mine was to someone that I KNOW can help me and will understand, minus the pearls of course!

I hate meds too, they interfere with my artistic musings:)

Jayne said...

Brave post, and I wish you the best. I love this point of view (2nd). I find it very helpful for when I really need to get outside of myself to look back in.
You did this beautifully.
Be well.

Eric said...

Diane Lane was kind of annoying, I hope it all works out. X

Bth said...

You wrote this brilliantly. And as many have said, bravely. I'm catching up on reading blogs, and this post has just reminded me why I love reading yours so much.
In my experience, all the answers you need are inside you anyway, but sometimes getting them out, and arranging them in a logical order- so you can see clearly - is hard to do on your own.
Really hope it goes well.