Uncomfortably Numb

Pink Floyd’s lyrics are strangely apropos:

When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb

It’s funny how the brain works. I could convincingly lie to myself and self-soothe my anxiety with the simple words “I just need to get passed ______________” and then fill in the blank with the most urgent need, goal or problem. And, honestly, I think I’ve done a good job lying to myself my whole life this way. It’s even the way I write when I am composing a story. I will work like a mad-woman to get from major scene A to major scene B, and when I start on major scene B, construction of major scene C is underway and promises to be better than what I was anxious over major scene B. And that works for me…..for writing. Life has none of the elasticity of imagination and when the rubber-band starts to fray there is no surprise when it SNAPS!

The good news is I didn’t snap, but I guess to carry over the simile I frayed a bit. I don’t know when I stretched to my outer limits. It might have been trying to understand why my reaction to the humiliation parceled out by my job wounded me so completely. It might have been trying to explain to the first roommate about how the PG&E bill works in the apartment. It might have been the 30 days waiting for the second roommate to move out. It might have been the lack of scaffolding (exercise, meditation, self-care rituals) to hold my shape when I started to implode. It might have been the conversation with my liberally libated sister about how I was going to put everything into storage, transfer to a patient service center in the central valley within the next 30 days and move. It could have been the constant internal dialog about setting up the rules for new roommates and the stress of going though that process all over again. I just kept telling myself I just need to hold on and this too shall pass. In the meantime, my heart was always skipping along at an abnormal pace, I was always tired, I was isolating, I was hiding in my two favorite video games (Lili’s Garden and Merge Dragons) instead of being productive, the house began to accumulate the detritus of a throw-away lifestyle, I couldn’t focus to pray, I stopped taking my other medication and my need to eat sugar increased 100 fold. I have been bragging of late how my need for candy and cookies has waned since I’ve reached this utopian level of sanity. I never allowed myself to believe I would never binge again, and I was enjoying the control until I was really enjoying the package of Extra Stuff Oreo Thins. For now, I’m back to not having the binge-ables in the house.

The racing heart rate and palpitations were worrying me so I focused on that one point in the darkness because if you can’t see the whole bad the whole bad doesn’t exist….right? I was positive it wasn’t cardiac related because I didn’t have the time to deal with that so I prayed that He would take away or ameliorate or just fix the problem. The response was as solid as stone and as true as sunshine; “Up your medication.” I knew what medication and there was complete calm in the acceptance of this admonition. I went back to 100mg. Wellbutrin at first. It knocked the fuzz off the edges and sharpened my acuity enough to better function in my dysfunctional state. The racing heart problems improved but didn’t go away. I realized those where symptoms of anxiety, so after four or five days of just the extra Wellbutrin I went up on the Buspar. Now I only have the problems with the physical aspects of anxiety when I think or write about them….like now.

This time though, there aren’t any self recriminations, no loathing or feeling like a failure because I couldn’t maintain the lower meds. I’m not a failure. Period. I am owning my medication, I am owning my needs and my sanity. Though this is not what I want, as I’ve stated before, I want to be off the meds and functioning with enough tools and controls in place to make my life what I need and want it to be to be who I want to be. I’m just not there yet. The greatest discovery I made during this recovery time (and I’m still in recovery from the stress) is that even though I lost a lot of my controls on eating, money, emotions and thoughts, I never stopped eating three meals a day. It sounds trivial, I know, but considering for the past three years is the only time I mindfully ate three meals, even if my evening meal was toast, in my life. I have established a ritual or habbit or self-care regime that has taken root and has truly grounded me. There were days when I just wanted to go to bed and skip dinner or just blow off lunch but I didn’t, I knew I couldn’t. This gives me hope and a plan for the medication. I do plan on going down on them again, but not until I have the exercise down as a rote process, same with meditation. I believed that because I knew I had to do these things to keep the chemicals on my brain I would do them. The first thing that fell away from that nascent structure when the storms gathered was the exercise. Not that getting up to 3.5 minutes on the HIIT machine was really exercise, but the budding routine died a quick death. When I get a grip back on the wheel to steer through these tumults I will reintegrate it back into my life, but at this moment….this exact moment….just thinking about adding one more thing to my to-do list pushes me back to the brink.

I’m not back in the void, that much I know for sure. I don’t even think of what could have happened if there wasn’t a Divine Telehealth consult. I was wishing someone would hit me with their car, or I could see myself slicing through my wrists, type of crap starting to blindside me, but I didn’t go back in. Honestly, the idea of being safe in bed doesn’t even appeal to me. I don’t want to hide from the world, I just can’t handle all of the world without my chemical blankie to make me feel comfortably numb to function.

There are a lot of changes behind me and a few big ones on the horizon. I have made the decision to get out of this apartment where I feel like I’m locked in to the trauma of the past and the uncertainty of the future. I can’t afford the rent by myself and I don’t have the wherewithal to find a suitable roommate. I’m going to move in with my sister and brother-in-law in the central valley and get a job at one of the hospitals my nephew works at. I’m putting my 30 day notice in for the apartment on May 1 and I’ll be moved out before June 1. I’m putting my two week notice in at work either May 7 or May 14. I’m thinking I want the last week off in May to really focus on things around the house and get it done so I’m not over-doing it. Once I get settled into a the house, once I get settled into a new job, once I get settled into a routine, I will start putting my life back on the rails towards my goals. It’s annoying how life tends to grab you by the ankles just as you’re getting your feet under you. I stumble and I fall but I am very proud of the fact: I GET BACK UP.

Climbing Down The Walls

So, I am unemployed, or underemployed.  I still have the granny nanny job, but the relaxing job of 8 hours a day five days a week, along with the paycheck, is gone.  Monday I needed two doggy downers to get me off the walls, but it completely wiped me out for Tuesday and then another attempt at the wall yesterday, but I talked myself out of it and avoided the chill pills.  I sat down and made a list of everything I need to do to, both large and small, and having it all in one spot keeps me away from the walls.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just love ticking things off a to do list gives me a deep down, tickle of a thrill.

The list is a two fold tool.  First, it puts everything that I need to do, everything I need to think about, everything that I need to buy in one place.  I need to put them in line with priorities, and I’ll put that on the list to do.  Second, it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I cross something off, but not enough to celebrate and blow off the rest of my to-dos.  The most important things that I need to do is get the credits for my CEC ‘classes’, study, pass the test and then start looking for a job in medical.  The other is to bolster my meager income and finish the chapter for House of Dragons.*

What is surprising me is that I am still getting up relatively early, I’m getting a good nights sleep, though some nights I stay up as late as 11:00pm (scandalous, I know) but I’m feeling the need to stick to my work schedule.  I don’t want to sleep the day away.  That said, that doesn’t exactly mean that I want to take the world be storm either.  I’m not hiding in TV, but I’m not as productive as I could be…..but then again, it’s only been four days…..I should probably just get to know myself without having some place to go in the morning.

* Soul Searching: House of Dragons is the first installment (hopefully) in my stories of missionaries all over the world.   This is about a cadre of companionships in Vietnam trying to return a lost Vet home and the general struggles that go along with being in the Lords service.