Monthly Archives: July 2007
Just what the doctor didn’t order.
Dr. P specifically asked me, “Do you understand the importance of not doing all-nighters anymore?”
I responded meekly, “Well, maybe.”
She told me that if I’m deliberately depriving myself of sleep I should take some extra Topamax or Thorazine, something that will knock me out, to force myself to sleep and stabilize my mood. Topamax, which acts as a mood stabilizer, worked very well at this a few weeks ago when I took an extra 100 mgs one night.
So did I take an extra pill? Nope.
Why am I doing this? First of all, I don’t feel tired. My mind is working brilliantly, and I know if I sleep now I might fall into a depression. It’s a race against the inevitable, and the inevitable will, by definition, eventually win. Given that because of my illness I have my “useless” times, times that illness gets in the way, times that I cannot function, I celebrate the times that I can be productive, more than a “normal” would, because these times can be fleeting.
So now I celebrate. Tomorrow I may fall.
Depriving myself of sleep is like depriving myself of food. I push myself and push myself. I disregard the doctors. It’s like I want to stay sick. Anorexia is one of a handful of mental illnesses where in fact the patient does and does not want to get well.
Here’s what I used to tell myeslf when I was 22: “I am special. I don’t need as much food as other people. I can get by on less. Sure, most people my height should weigh about 115, but I’m different and should weigh in the 70’s. I’m so special that I can endure hunger. I am strong enough to endure the suffering of hunger. Other people can’t stand it but I can. I am special in a way that only I can recognize, because the rest of the world sure doesn’t know who I am.”
Everything seems so out of proportion and strange. QB, the dog I had put to sleep back in November of 2006, used to bark at his reflection certain windows, as if he were seeing some strange dog, not himself. I feel lke barking at that strange woman I see reflected back to me; whether accurate or not, I don’t see her that way, and I am frightened.
I know what it would be like to attend a NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) function with my mother, so I don’t bother. I imagine my mother winding me up, straightening my posture, and then, while I spin, patting me on the head, saying, “Look at my dahling little consumer!”
“Consumer” seems to be the most commonly accepted politically correct term for a person with a mental illness–a mental patient. I can’t stand the word “consumer.” It must have been invented by a well-meaning parent or therapist with an underlying desire to patronize and do exactly what is supposedly not intended–stigmatize.
“Consumer” is a euphemism, and because of this, the user of the term is implying that the patient’s illness is of minimal importance; rather, the patient’s role in the economics of medicine is of more concern.
“Consumer” tells the world nothing about the pain I have endured and continue to feel. “Consumer” won’t tell you that when I first became ill, I lost all of my friends because no one wanted to associate with a “mental patient.” A “consumer” might take medication, but a “mental patient” suffers the side effects of sunburning, dizziness, dry mouth, and constipation. “Consumers” drive prices up and down; “mental patients” live and die.
Do you want to refer to yourself by euphamism, or do you want to be proud and tell the world who you are? If we all stand together, in raw form–politically as incorrect as we can be–we can defeat stigma now.
I should, of course, have explained the situation to Mr. and Mrs. Graham, that I hadn’t meant to break the peg, and that I would replace the guitar. But I was young and stupid. I put the string back and made it look like the peg had broken by itself (yeah, sure!). Needless to say, the Grahams never hired me again.
This was originally a sound file. But the sound file was lost in transfer, so I’m posting the poem here:
OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN
I didn’t brush my hair much
It fell like barbed wire
Around my head and neck
I read S&M porn
Waiting for Dr. and Mrs. Parent to return
The night fallen — a bayonet dropped on an unsuspecting sun
I marked time, wrecked on the couch
I am a monster
Where am I? How did I get here?
Puffy face, zits, lost teeth
Gaps in intellect — something’s missing
Monster that I am
You don’t want me near your children
I broke young Timmy Parent’s G.I. Joe doll he got for Christmas
Don’t you see?
I never bathed, never cared to
Death-reek lapped the flames
Drooled in front of the TV
While the kids sucked their fingers
In their fire-resistant long-johns
Nobody’s home except me and the kids
You see, I roared
While stuffing little Eddie down the toilet
His pink feet kicked like a soldier’s amputated legs
A mutilated spider, its daddy-longs pulled off
I am a monster
I am a monster
When I call the police — 9-1-1
My voice flat as a dead bullet
“I drowned the kids.”
A MAN OF LETTERS
It wasn’t that Micha was smart. It wasn’t that he knew a number of languages fluently or had charm or was learned in art history. It wasn’t his grand opinion of me, or even attraction. Marriage would be an easy out; when he proposed, I couldn’t think of quick reason to say “no.” I didn’t find him sexually appealing, was disgusted with his alcohol habit, his projection of self-pity, his assumption that all women are shallow. I did, however, like the sense of purpose marriage might bring. I knew I had enough money to last until the end of college, but not graduate school. Micha offered stability and companionship–did it matter if I disliked him, didn’t enjoy his company?
I returned home and blew a chunk of my student loan on a round-trip ticket for Micha to visit America, meet my parents, and see if he liked it here. I was twenty-three.
Micha became the caretaker of my parents’ wine cabinet, buying bottles of this and that to “take the edge off.” He told my parents his wish to convert to Judaism, and openly stated his plan to undergo circumcision. He revealed his bisexuality and said he’d prefer to keep separate bedrooms, with me as his wife and other men his lovers. He wept in front of every male he encountered; I never learned if these tears were willed or accidental. In short, he embarrassed me.
One night at dinner, Micha announced, “Julie and I would like to get married.” My parents asked, “How will you support her?” A lively interchange ensued between Micha and my father, who wanted to ensure that his only daughter would be properly taken care of; there was much discussion of the money a translator would make, and where we would make our home.
When I could stand it no longer, I barged in and asked, “Doesn’t anyone care what I want, what I feel, whether I want this marriage? Don’t I matter?” I realized then that I did matter; I needed to assert myself to avoid living the rest of my life with a man I detested. I learned the importance of love in a relationship, that marriage was more than a convenient reason to share a home, children, and money. By cutting Micha from my life, I closed a chapter that didn’t have to be written, years of life that could have been spent in unhappiness, not that I didn’t otherwise waste them.
I went to see my shrink a couple of days ago. This is about how the conversation went; that is, this is my interpretation of the conversation, after I’ve slept on it for a few days.
Just press PLAY!
Now that I’ve slept on it a few days…heck, I’ve done nothing BUT sleep for the past few days. Finally, a few hours ago I mustered up the energy to make a cup of coffee for myself.
That sure helped.
In the recording (I do really hope you can get it to work) I mentioned cycling but didn’t really explain what it was. I’ll provide a link in a future entry to some info on mood disorders and mood swings. Dr. P feels that I shouldn’t deliberately deprive myself of sleep (like those all-nighters I’ve been doing the past couple of years) because doing so can send my mood into the stratosphere.
Let me explain: a “good” mood is a good thing, yes, but a very, very high mood, a mood that’s TOO high, is not good. One can lose one’s grip on reality, or get hyperexcited, or get racing thoughts, which is very, very scary. You hear about people who spend huge sums of money or go on wild escapades–it doesn’t just happen in the movies, it can happen when a person is manic and it isn’t fun; it’s TERRIFYING.
Have a nice evening, everyone, and DO SLEEP (I will, too!).
“Most humor is derived from the well-crafted retelling of our everyday lives.”
This State Park was once an Army base. Here are some photos:
If you look closely at the last photo, you will see Wendy G, my classmate who is also in Paisley’s advising group with me.
Happy day! I’m having a good time out here. No trace of illness.
I rode the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, a 25-minute ride. Here are some photos.
Two girls with numbers:
Here’s a guy with a camera:
Some people and a dog:
Julie S, who kindly drove me to Port Townsend, and a guy with a dog (dog included for free):
More people on the ferry:
Have a nice day. Stay out of trouble.