Dozen

Yesterday was our twelfth anniversary.

Saturday we drove down here to the in-laws in Indy, and yesterday morning left Amy with them and headed to Cincinnati.

We saw a matinee performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It was a very nice, small theater — every seat had a great view of the stage, and every word was clear. On the other hand, the sort of 1920s feel (original script, but 20s costumes, music, and so on) was weirdly realized (we thought Maria looked and sounded more like a 50s NYC maid, for example). We both prefer period productions — we didn’t know in advance that this one was an adaptation. It felt a little overacted, a bit extra boisterous — perhaps a nod to 20s slapstick? Neither of us was familiar with this play — we decided we like others of his rather better.

The real kicker was seeing an ad in the brochure, for another theater’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar — we would have seen that instead if we’d known about it.

But hey — a couple hours nice and warm and peaceful, with something entertaining to watch — very good.

Nice dinner at BJ’s Brewhouse, and the next day, a leisurely stroll through two malls doing a little final Christmas shopping and buying a quilt for Amy’s bed — a quilt I hemmed and hawed over and am still second-guessing, in true Marcy-shopping style.

Again, shopping in malls doesn’t sound like a particularly romantic anniversary outing, but it was by ourselves! Only what WE wanted to look at! Our own pace! And uncrowded, too.

Thence to Metamora, a tiny village in Indiana between Cincinnati and Indy, where we were supposed to have the B&B’s anniversary suite but were given a smaller but warmer room instead. To Batesville for dinner at the Sherman House, followed by a turnover and brownies from the bakery across the street.

Breakfast was cream-cheese-filled French toast served with butter-orange sauce, sliced oranges, hot chocolate, and sausage patties — delicious.

Amy had a good time with her grandparents and caused no trouble. If she missed us, it didn’t make her miserable. I think the “worst” thing was just that Grandpa mentioned going for a walk as he was getting her ready for her nap, and so she didn’t sleep at all, but knocked on the door and asked for the walk.

Having a nasty sore throat that started Saturday night made the beginning of the trip rather miserable for me, but cough drops, Advil, hot salt water gargles, and steaming showers helped a lot, and while my energy level is still low and my head still feels rather stuffy, my throat doesn’t hurt anymore.

Oh, and I’m glad I brought my Ativan, which I haven’t needed in ages now; for whatever combination of reasons — holidays, general stress, being sick, being away from home — I had some anxiety to quell.

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Anatomy of a small panic

First of all, I was shocked to get the message about the TV opportunity when I got home from errands with Amy.

Then I was shocked that I decided to accept.

Then I was nervous all day wondering what to wear, what to play, what to say, how to sneak something nice in about the festival without looking like a flatterer, what to do between the spot and my performance, whether or not my dulcimer (sitting in an air-conditioned, albeit 78-degree house) would stay in tune in the outside with potential sun on it (the stage is covered, but the sun will sneak under the cover at the time of my performance)…

Also, yes, reading some things in the blogworld (and it’s not the first time it’s come up) about privacy, especially about children’s pictures, has me half shaken and half wondering if it’s really that big a deal, and then there are other levels of analyzing those feelings and worrying about them.

I stayed reasonably distracted until I put down my book and took the first Ativan. Moments later I took another to make a full 1mg, had a good cry on the couch. At this point my heart is sunk — hopelessness, meaningless, no reason to live, the drugs are not working, having to take drugs makes me sad, and pure fear — at the same time as the small rational voice trying hard to remind me that this is what depression and anxiety have to say, and that it will pass, and that at normal times I do like living and find meaning in a variety of things and in general. In the midst, though, one feels like Prince Rilian from The Silver Chair — that the depressed and anxious state, the meaninglessness, must be the true me.

I return to bed and moments later the drugs are working. I am thinking about being in bed. About how bed is good. Bed is warm, bed is sleep, interesting dreams, rest, comfort, pillows, books, all that sort of thing and more.

The relaxation broadens.

At some point I went to sleep.

Admissions

This morning I had the “intake interview” at the psychiatry office in a tiny town twenty minutes away. I had planned on taking Amy with me, but it turns out Mark didn’t have to be at work until after lunch. (Classes are over; this week is meetings and planning.)

I thought I arrived on time, but I hadn’t realized that this town is in the next time zone, so I was actually an hour early. Fortunately, they weren’t busy and took me in early.

Some basic paperwork — identification info, insurance info, that sort of thing.

Then the interview. I guess it makes sense for an agency providing a variety of services and therapists and all to have an admissions process to figure out which service / therapist would be the best fit. But it still seems odd to me.

I have an appointment with a LCSW therapist next week. I wasn’t able to find out much information about her at the office’s website, other than education, areas of specialty, and the fact that she’s a runner and volunteers with the humane society.

I realize this is essentially unsubstantiated bias, but I confess I think I’m too smart for a social worker to help me. For some reason I think of social workers as helping the uneducated or the poor and so on. I think of the parenting class that the Simpsons were sent to, where the parents were all carefully taking notes as the teacher emphasized NOT to throw trash in the backyard. Plus I think the two therapists I tried in NY, who were not at all good matches for me, were social workers. I suspect that a social worker will think I think I’m too smart and will try to cut me down to size. If she’s good she’ll be able to correct my bias without direct opposition. Well, we’ll see.

Next month I see the psychiatrist. I could just have our family doctor oversee my medications, but the idea makes me a little nervous. I think at least one appointment with a specialist will make me feel more secure. See? There’s my bias again. I am so unique and so complicated and sophisticated that only a highly trained professional specialist can understand and help me. Heh.

Joe respected and worked with my intelligence, my delusions of grandeur, and my inferiority. If I could get a weekly $100 gig…

We’ll see how next week goes, first.

Lunch

Mark had more graduation stuff this morning.

Amy and I went to church. We invited the pastor and his wife and son to come over for lunch.

We had salad from the garden (my wide row of mixed lettuces is doing fantastic), and Mark made some honey mustard chicken and rice.

It was nice to be quietly social in a small group.

I have been sleeping okay with one Ativan each night. I am generally taking another in the afternoon to prevent anxiety building up before bedtime. I’m not sure I need the afternoon one, but am allowing it a few days to give myself a sense of safety and less pressure. It does make me a little drowsy though.

I have not taken the Ambien. I will keep the one dose and the prescription just in case I need them later.

Today I made a list of therapeutic goals.

Tomorrow is the paperwork appointment. I dislike paperwork. I expect tomorrow to be a somewhat challenging day. I should prepare ways to recover from it once I get home from the appointment.

I am slowly re-reading my DBT book, looking to continue practicing the skills. I may write some about them here, but I don’t have time right now.

Those who seek, find

I’ve always had a very strong and controlling inner observer-critic — always monitoring what’s going on in my mind and heart and body, watching what I do and say, mocking at times, reminding of the ultimate pointlessness of it all.

Part of doing any work on mental health (or physical health, or developing a new skill, or anything) includes observing yourself and evaluating what’s going on and what progress is happening.

But the observer shouldn’t be the ruler and judge — just a noticer.

Anyway, last night as I took my Ativan and lay down (with Mark’s arms around me… touch is food), I was just slightly agitated but close to calm, and plenty tired. Every once in a while I wondered if I was anxious, but I noticed that if I looked too long or too deep or too closely, the anxiety would come. As if looking for it was calling it forth.

So I practiced looking quickly — and trusting that, hey, if I am indeed anxious, I’ll know it without having to check all that hard.

And I slept.

This morning, I am a little sluggish.

The picnic yesterday was challenging for me, being around people but not really engaging or being engaged in much conversation. I hung out with Amy mostly, and eventually found some peace inside where some other kids had ended up to play with the toys.

That was weird

I had glimpses of anxiety during the evening, but managed well.

Then bedtime arrived, and I became more anxious. What if something weird happens with the Ativan?

I took it — read for a while (fifteen minutes? thirty?), turned out the light and rolled over. Anxiety blipped and murmured. I cried a little. I got up and cried a lot. Apparently the Ativan hadn’t worked.

Through journal, computer, hotline, nurse line, doctor-on-call distraction and help efforts, the anxiety escalated into full panic, with severe rage and hopelessness at the same time. The fact that nothing at all helped kept making things worse. I wondered about taking another half milligram, which is why I called the nurse line (yes, it matches possible serious side effects — call your doctor) and then the doctor (first dose, low dose, unlikely it’s a side effect; probably you are just reacting to the fact that it didn’t work to put you to sleep). Finally the doctor on call said that if these symptoms did not wear off in an hour or two, I should go to the ER to be treated.

I tried to wait an hour but was not able to. So I woke up Mark and we discussed (remarkably calmly, thank you Lord) the options and decided I was safe enough to drive myself in. So I did. I didn’t wait terribly long. No one was very helpful (what did I expect, magic?) but they were all relatively nice. They suggested I go home and try another dose of Ativan tonight, but they also gave me a prescription for Ambien.

I am a little afraid of sleep meds, because of, um, interesting side effects I’ve known some people to experience. But I decided I should fill the prescription just in case I needed it. I hadn’t thought there were any 24-hr pharmacies in town, but the ER paperwork had a list. I started out, first one, then the next, and they are all closed, even Wal-mart. I return to the ER, and they say, oh, yeah, we know, we need to fix that in the computer. Not much of an apology. They couldn’t fill the prescription for me, but they did give me one night’s dose — except we had to wait for someone from the main part of the hospital to bring it over.

I finally get home, and Mark wakes, and we talk a bit about what happened, and among other things discuss how I need to stop thinking about the psychological and life issues right now — my mind is not in a sufficiently stable state to believe what it has to say about the quality of my life and relationships. I need to trust that, while I do have issues, they can be resolved or at least worked on, without drastic ultimatums or anything like that. That it’s the sickness that is making me feel quite so much that my world has fallen completely apart without hope or help for any future.

Blessed kindness, we slept.

I woke around 8:15. My eyes are very heavy. I feel just a little uncoordinated. Tired, tired, tired.

But otherwise not too bad.

Today’s schedule, if all goes well, includes plain old normal day at home with Amy, playing, doing dishes, making the bed, diaper changes, meals, etc. Then the science department’s picnic late in the afternoon.

I have taken my Zoloft.

I will take another Ativan later, when I am not so very tired but before 4, if I need it, so that I will be able to take one at 10 for bedtime. The doctor on call told me I could double the dose if I needed to, but no more.

Drugs in hand

Ahhhhhh…

I have a bottle of Zoloft and another of Ativan.

Ahhhhhh…

Yesterday I called the psychiatric associates to make an appointment — I don’t know why I thought I’d be able to get in that day or maybe the next, but I was really disappointed to find that not only would I have to wait for Monday, but that this appointment would be for paperwork only, not to see a doctor.

I tried calling a friend in Culver but the phone lines down there were not working. Then I remembered a woman from church who gave me her number this week, and so I called her. She had just been complaining to her husband about having no one to hang out with, so it worked out well for both of us. Amy and I hung out over there with her and her mom and her baby, and the older boys when they got home from their half day. We had pizza for lunch. We walked around their large property and saw the two horses and the cow.

But I had to come home for Amy’s nap and to put a load of diapers in the dryer (I was glad it was raining).

I was able to eat dinner.

Increasing anxiety in the evening. I tried to talk to Mark about some of it — about this sinking feeling that I must be fundamentally flawed as a human being, because having a poor social life has always characterized me. He pointed out that I expect too much from people. Well; yes; isn’t that a fundamental flaw?

Is it the kind of thing I can change or not? Is it rooted in the depths of the core of my being? Or is it merely a surface twist that I can correct with new habits and practice? Is it something that God will redeem in this life, or not until the consummation of the Gospel?

Joe told me that I have this Quest for what he calls Fusion — a longing for the kind of whole world that baby and others and environment form, with no distinction of self vs. others, no sense of loss or lack. And that my task is to grieve the impossibility of recovering or restoring that state, and only then, when I have given up the pursuit, will I be able to live less hindered.

But how does one do such a thing?

Without feeling that giving up the Quest is Death? The death of all my hope, all that I long for, the death of the self I would like to find and be.

Anyway, as I wrote last night, I was mildly anxious and it kept me up much of the night. I found some peace later in the night, but still stayed awake a lot.

This morning I woke anxious, and increasingly so.

I decided to make an appointment with my family practice doctor. He is out of town, but I got an appointment with another doctor in the same office, for eleven.

To keep busy, Amy and I first went to my friend Amy G’s house to retrieve my DBT manual, and Amy G also prayed for me. Then we went to the playground where the Wednesday playgroup was supposed to meet. It was only me and she who did not sit with me at lunch two weeks ago. A little awkward, but mostly just sad for me. Oh? And it was cold and windy. Fortunately I had a jacket in the car for Amy.

Then to the doctor, where we had to wait forever. (Amy cried all the way down the hallway but calmed quickly when she felt assured she wasn’t the one seeing the doctor. And she got a sticker.) But he listened attentively and agreed that some Zoloft and Ativan would be perfectly reasonable while I waited for the Monday appointment.

Off to the grocery to get the prescriptions (Mark has told me she sometimes falls asleep in the shopping cart, and now I got to see it myself), home again to eat lunch and do Amy’s nap.

I feel reasonably okay right now. I am tired. I think I will wash the lunch dishes, go out in the garden, and then maybe lie down with the kitty for a while.

I don’t intend to take the Ativan unless I need it, but if I need it I will take it. Just having it helps defuse some of the power of the panic. Funny, too, how every time I feel remotely normal, I completely question my self-diagnosis. And vice versa.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Knox office (the psychiatric associates) had a therapist I could connect with?

I am painfully aware of money lately; with current gas prices we have only $30 unallocated in the budget each month. Going to Culver or Plymouth probably costs a couple of bucks each time. To see Joe again would be out of pocket — because he is not in our insurance network they wouldn’t cover anything until after a $4000 deductible. And, folks, we already live so simply and frugally. I can’t imagine what we would cut out of our budget to afford Joe.

Besides, I still want to buy a freezer. 🙂

———

Woman: why don’t you ever stand up for me? or why do I have to beg?
Man: what, can’t you stand up for yourself? or why can’t you just ask?

Does this conversation ever resolve with not only mutual understanding, but with satisfaction?