Day 35: Area 6, Ease on Down the Road

Angela puts on some music, I don’t even know what the heck she picked in terms of genre but what I do know is that she must love the sax, because that’s what’s playing again, and it’s one “Fausto Papetti”. What is a Fausto Papetti? Fausto was an Italian sax player who was kind of a big thing in the 70s and he liked to put sexy ladies on his album covers, which was also kind of a big thing in the 70s.

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He’s playing some sort of mambo. Next up is “The Blob”,

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so I guess we’re going for a sax-heavy co-opted Latin American Flair today. Unfortunately, “running” from this music is not an option for me while I’m in the chair.

What else, what else. Well, I kinda come out and tell a lot of people that I’ve been doing TMS. Of course, folks are pretty supportive and all but, it still makes me anxious to come right out like that. It definitely puts me in a state of vulnerability, which often seems to get me into some sorta jam, as it’s veeerrry difficult for me to stuff down and it aaaaalways lends itself to a craving for intimacy…

Oh, vulnerability. Oh, you.

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Because vulnerability is kinda problematic when you don’t really have anyone in your life to be vulnerable with, doesn’t it? Like I mentioned before, my closest friends have done a bit of a drift and my family either worries their well-meaning faces off (which makes me want to keep things from them to protect them), and/or steamrolls me with advice. So, guess what happens.

I mean, you have no clue if you haven’t been reading this blog all along. But if you have?

Then I bet you guessed correctly.

Enter LT!

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Yep, my not-boyfriend, LT. My not-so-healthy option. But you know what? He’s there. He’s more there than anyone else is or can be, and he is strong, and so this happens. If there’s nothing to eat but chips, you don’t starve, you eat the damn chips. And so when I am aching to connect, I find myself in the arms of LT.

Listen, I don’t want to say the guy’s just a bag of Doritos. He does care about me. Genuinely. And we have a reciprocal relationship. I’m just saying that…I don’t think this one is in it with me for very long, realistically. And so I have to be very, very careful with getting invested. Unfortunately, being open and disclosing things about yourself often leads to emotional bonding. So I tell myself that I just need this for now, and I’ll create some space later, to balance it out.

Because I’ll totally be safe, and totally do that.

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Anyway. I want to ask him these stupid questions. Questions like, “Now I know you said you aren’t going to up and run if you know what the deal is with me…but now that I’ve revealed this thing, is that still the case? Is it different now? Or are you still not going to run?”

I know, I know, that sounds sad and why would I care? I guess because, when you have this thing with so much stigma attached to it, the last thing you want in a vulnerable state is for someone you do care about to confirm these fears that there’s something wrong with you

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and you’re not worth being around, because of it. So, they’re not so much stupid questions at all, because it’s not about the general idea of it ending. It’s based on very real fears of it ending…because of that. If he’s gonna bail, I want it be any reason other than this thing I already feel insecure about. Make sense?

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Oh, sidebar: despite these worries, on this day I feel…pretty good. Not wiped out. For no good reason I can think of, really. Is it TMS working? Something else? Sometimes I just get these good days, and I don’t know what the determining factor is, which makes me annoyed. What’s even more annoying is people who are still like “Just Enjoy It!”

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which I understand is meant to be supportive, but in its way…it’s kind of dismissive. It doesn’t take into account the big picture at all, and so I then know that the person doesn’t really know what it is to have MDD. “Just Enjoy It” doesn’t quite cut the mustard, because the depressed person knows that the unusually good, well-balanced feeling probably won’t stick around, when they don’t know what caused it, and therefore, how to replicate/extend it. One knows that one will be sinking back into, at best, a dysthymic state sooner than later. A state that is, for all intents and purposes, one’s unfortunate normal.

“JUST ENJOY IT!”

I love you, non-depressed person but, this is another one of those teaching moments in the blog. If a depressed person feels unusually good on a particular day and is anxious about it, because they know from their history that it won’t stick…please don’t say the above. It’s a conversation ender, and makes the depressed person feel like their valid concern…isn’t. If you were starving for 2 weeks, and found food to eat, you wouldn’t love it if someone waved their hand said

“JUST ENJOY IT!”

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to you, if what you were trying to do was figure out how you could continue to get said food in the future, because being hungry doesn’t feel good. Be happy for them for having the relief of a good day, but maybe also listen, and empathize, and/or help the person sort through what might’ve been different about that day (although don’t get super frustrated if you can’t figure it out; brain chemistry is not an uncomplicated thing).

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Anyway. Even though I don’t know if the good feeling is TMS related, as my sessions wind to a close (the final session is next week), I know that this process will always have been important to me. At the very least, it helped me do my little part against stigmatization, by starting this blog. Which, in turn, helped me “come out” to people close to me.

So, back to LT… now he knows. He knows this is who I am. Intellectually, I am aware that there is nothing I can do about the fact that he could bail over the condition I manage. And that if he walks because of that, that’s on him. It doesn’t make me a defective joke of a human. I couldn’t have gotten this far in this project- a project that takes a shitload of time and heart and apparently helps people, that I do for free- if that were true. I would be a total societal non-contributor, which is not what I am. I’m actually a pretty incredible human being. If he fails to recognize and value this…his loss.

I know these things. Intellectually.

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But I suppose that doesn’t help my heart, that feels that sting of rejection, that is more sensitive to Maj, that believes her when she says that if she drives everyone away, I deserved it.

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This is the back and forth I go through. What I know vs. how things irrationally- yet convincingly- feel. I try, though. I try to lean into letting go of what I can’t control. To say, let him come to his own conclusions. Let him sort through what I’ve laid on the table, that which most keep hidden away behind bulging closet doors.

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Let him decide if he’d rather know who he’s dealing with upfront, or if he prefers a tidier picture with the imperfections not showing. He will do what he does, he shall choose how he chooses.

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(I know that’s the third time with this guy, but I love him, all Getting It and shit).

For me, I choose to continue to be vulnerable and brave when I can stand it. If that puts me in a place to where, worst case scenario, I get attached to LT…I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. Because I choose to be relatable, instead of present myself as some sort of ideal human. I have to be open and real in order to continue to help people who suffer from depression feel less alone and ignored.  To do that, I choose to continue to tell my story and give my take on what it’s like to live with this condition, and what it’s like to love someone who has it. With or without LT…or any other man. Yes, I crave intimacy. Yes, I want to be loved. But for who I am, not a false version of me. And if I can’t be cared for romantically the way that I am, I’d rather be alone than modify myself to where I can’t serve my purpose anymore. Because while the men seem to come and go…the purpose sticks. It is always there.

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How could I turn my back on something that has been so faithful to me, for the comfort of a man, which may be transitory (no matter how much of myself I give to him) due to factors beyond my control? I can do my best with my purpose, and it doesn’t abandon me. And it’s my mark on this world…that I did something worthwhile when I was here. So I guess, the journey comes first…and then, Dream Guy and I can walk together on our respective journeys, or not. It’s not my job to determine who, if anyone, will walk with me. The right people will do so, in their way…all on their own.

Area 6, Ease On Down the Road.

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Day 34: Area 6, Let’s Tell Them What It Feels Like

I’m writing from present day- notice my fancy italicized text- which I don’t usually do, unless it is to give context to a post. What I don’t normally like to do is write about how I’m doing right now, as I’ve found value in some time having passed to give perspective in the way I craft a post. But I’m reaching the end of Part 1 of this blog and, readers, I will confess, I am having a low moment tonight.

It’s never been enough for me to work to make some money so I have it to throw around to have a good time when I’m not working. I’ve always felt that I must have some sort of purpose, and I’ll say that, ever since I fell into crisis a year and a half ago, it never became more important to feel like I have a reason for being on this planet. My blog became that purpose. I hoped it could help people, both depressed and dealing with the depressed. Indeed, there have been some signs that it does; one particular reader spurned me on to continue when I was having difficulty with a particular topic, to where I didn’t write for months. And yes, I’ve been reblogged and linked a few times. I see the validation in this, and no, I don’t need validation constantly.

At the same time, I cannot dismiss the fact that in this arena- that of an unknown blog- the validation is…hardly even regular. Mostly, readers are what I call “ghost followers”. Moreover, writing a blog is a solitary activity; the clarity of your audience’s reaction that you get from a performing art is not there. In writing, no one is obliged to clap when you have finished, and even if they did, you wouldn’t hear it, of course. You can see people have read, but unless they comment or write to you, you can’t tell if anything resonated or if they just skimmed over a couple sentences or what. The whole business is rather lonely, to where the idea of putting in the time for Part 2 (spoiler! I went back for more TMS a year later) seems goddamn overwhelming. 

I hit 50 posts today, and I think back on the countless hours I’ve spent not just writing, but finding the right gif’s and sourcing them and going back in to reread and edit and etc. etc. and there is this part of me that is like, “Was this the right choice? Was this the best use of my time to help people? Was it one giant waste of time? Did this really fulfill any sort of purpose, or is it just one big dead end?” It’s Friday night y’all, and everyone I know is either out or in having a good time, and I feel really, really fucking lonely over here. I could go out, but truth be told, I feel like I haven’t earned it. I feel like I haven’t worked hard enough, churned out enough content, it never feels like enough, and so here I am. Here I am, about to write a post that will be quite different from the others in that it lacks any depth (or any real topic of substance, actually)…with no idea how to proceed.

Here I am. Where are you? Are you a follower or did you stumble on me and are reading out of boredom while you wait for your date or friend or your ride or sleepiness or whatever to show up? Does any of this mean anything? In a world of memes and puppy pictures and listicles and funny articles…where does this stand? It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of that which is easily mentally digestible…is the time I put into this blog vs. the impact it makes disproportionate? Because at times it feels like it is. It feels like going on stage, night after night, with a piece you poured your blood, sweat and tears into, to have 3 people politely clap, and that includes the bartender. And then promptly forget about you and your complex, mind-boggling, in-the-weeds work. Except for those rare occasions when someone shows up and claps enthusiastically- and you never know when they’ll be there- so you keep showing up, keep doing your bit, even when the weather is bad outside. 

Seeing as I only have 3 more days to go, I’m definitely finishing Part 1, and maybe I’ll write a follow up. But doing another 30-something of these…man, I don’t know. Maybe this blog just isn’t made for popular consumption, and while I was never trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator, I also hoped that it could reach beyond my friends and this one guy in Slovenia who seems to catch every post. I wanted to serve as a guide for a wider audience- to deliver more material than I can in performance. And if I give it up, well..I don’t know where to go from there. To someone like me, letting go of what you thought was serving your purpose- with no Plan B-is maybe more frightening than the notion that it may not be exactly what you hoped. 

To be honest, I’m not totally sure why I’m even writing this present-day portion…maybe it helps me justify potentially quitting this blog when the 36 days are up, instead of continuing to cover Round 2 as I originally planned.

Or maybe speaking from my present, from where my heart is at this very moment, just helps me feel…less alone tonight. Back to the story.

I basically have no material today. I can tell you this much. Angela forgot to give me earplugs today, and I forgot to ask, and the result of this is that the TMS machine is

VERY LOUD.

Like it’s

VERY

VERY

LOUD.

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Like I can’t even figure out the source code to make that font any larger to tell you how loud it is.

There is no music today either, but it wouldn’t have made a difference because all I hear is

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And we’ve been over that that’s basically what it sounds like with no earplugs. Like a jackhammer, right next to you, or woodpeckers in your ears. In a neat sequence

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of 35 pulses, every 12 seconds, 55 times.

And it blocks out everything

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And my thoughts get jumbled

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And I get so confused

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And I start a thought in the 12 second gaps, but then I know that next sequence is coming,

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and here it is

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and I lose my train of thought as that train zips through my brain, and eventually there is nothing to do but

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(and in all my time writing, I never thought SpongeBob could so well illustrate a state of being that I’m having difficulty putting into words).

It wasn’t pleasant.

Back to present day: Not every post is going to share eye-opening truths featuring deep self-exploration. Sometimes, it’s so quiet around here, it makes my mind go quiet, when I get to where I’m not sure what the hell the point is in deep diving to extrapolate meaning from my experiences. And other times….Things

Are

Just

LOUD.

Day 33: Area 6, I See You Making Changes

I can’t believe I have written like, 50 posts on this topic. How I am still not famous I don’t even know.

Anyway I have 4 more sessions. And I’m feeling A-MAAAAY-ZING AND ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

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Just kidding. Don’t worry. TMS does not turn you into that type of person. Certainly, you can have moments like that, but you’re not walking around like Pollyanna 24:7, unless that’s what you’re aiming for. In which case yeah, you can probably eventually get yourself there, and you do you. Personally, after what I’ve been through and seen and given the state of the world, I find acting that way somewhat delusional. But if I wanted to? Well…I’m seeing that I maybe have the tools- and therefore, the choice- now. Whereas before, I simply had no chance…not even for a moment.

Unfortunately, TMS does not automatically make me the kind of person who jumps out of bed all ZIP-BE-DEE-DOO-DAH with a ton of energy. It didn’t go that far. I’m still super tired, and I know I say that in every goddamn post, but I’m here to report a truthful experience, and the truth is I am still not a morning person. So there you go.

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Today Angela and I both muse about how nice it would be to be lying on a beach somewhere. We are both summer people and both can’t wait for it to get here already. She sets me up.

For whatever reason- maybe it’s because I’m tired- the first sequence hits hard.

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My hand twitches something fierce, like Thing having a seizure.

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(This is a more chill Thing).

But the rest of me doesn’t jump, because I suppress it. I don’t like Angela seeing me jump. She worries, and then is all like, “You take your medication today? Try to relax.” Then I feel like a pussy. I mean, I’m on session 33 for fuck’s sake, I shouldn’t be jumpy.

Today, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac on the YouTube. Perfect.

When I am done, I feel pretty good. I realize it’s the third session in a row for this, and I make note of it. Again, external, environmental factors help; there is an Americana singer-songwriter on the train that lifts my spirits, who I am surprised to see this far down the subway line. It seems like he’d be too cool to be down this way- I didn’t think any hipster came that far out on any subway line unless it’s The Great Gray Corridor.

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Perhaps he just came in from Portland and doesn’t know where the cool areas are yet.

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I catch my reflection in the subway window. I look casually cute today. No makeup, but the hair is pretty alright. That’s a step up, considering I usually look rather beat this time of day.

I do ok until lunch. Then I find myself sitting near a woman on the phone with someone or other- I think it’s her man- talking about her lunch and what kind of sandwich she’s having. At first, I am irritated. Who wastes phone minutes talking about bullshit? Who does that? Who is it that gives a flying fuck about your sandwich?

But the anger doesn’t stick today. It comes to me…it’s not about the damn sandwich. It’s about human connection. She’s just connecting with someone and the truth is, this one ain’t exactly changing the world right now and the sandwich is the only thing she has to talk about at the moment. And someone cares enough to hear her talk about her mozz and pesto on a roll. I think, given the context of the conversation, that other person actually asked what she was eating.

I laugh about the idea of not only texting LT about my sandwich, but also blatantly stating the I-Want-To-Connect subtext, as I have a habit of doing when I think he doesn’t get something (he gets things more often than he lets on…he just sometimes is very good at pretending not to). LT would probably find me to be a wacko or a loser or both. And I realize.

I miss having someone who gave a goddamn about what I’m having for lunch. Or if they don’t care, who will pretend they do, because they know I just want to connect with them, just want to hear their voice, just want out of the isolation that a job that encourages limited social interaction lends itself to. And I’m not sure I will have that again. This kinda thing always results in X resentment. I hope X doesn’t take for granted that he was able to jump straight from one person who cared about his lunches to another, without ever having to feel the loneliness of examining his own sandwich, not that he ever ate sandwiches because GRAINS ARE BAD, but, you get what I’m saying.

Anyway, for now, I guess I better get used to talking to myself about my damn sandwiches.

Area 6: I See You Making Little Changes.

Day 32: Area 6, Is This Our New Normal?

A lot of lateness lately on my part. Because I can’t get out of bed in the morning. Seriously, I don’t know why I am so fuuuucking tired every morning.

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I imagine that waking up to the prospect of going to work to do the same thing, the same thing I do every day, grinds me down; not a whole lot I can do about this. It may also be because I’m just so worn out from going to TMS, every week, twice a week, early in the morning, as a not-morning-person. The novelty wears off, and I know I’m in the home stretch. It’s just a nuisance of an appointment now that cuts into precious sleep.

I am especially exhausted this morning, and desperately need a pick-me-up. I ask Angela for “house music”. Angela has no idea what I’m talking about. After some explanation, we settle on the descriptor “dance music” and…what I get is a Saturday night in a taxi KTU mix. Oh well.

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Be careful what you wish for, but also be careful what you bitch about, because the music cuts out- some internet problem- and now I have nothing. Now I’m longing for KTU garbage, because even that is better than silence (I maintain that Steely Dan or The Eagles is not). I am left to my own thoughts. I was listening to Hideaway by Kiesza this morning, and it’s stuck in my head. It reminds me of LT.

Dammit. Now I’m daydreaming about LT. I do not want to daydream about LT. He takes up enough real estate in my brain as it is, and though he’s cute as a button, it’s still annoying that he doesn’t pay even half the rent.

I try to make my mind blank. Just be.

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And like that, it’s over and I’m out of the chair.

Strangely, I feel pretty good after today. I can’t 100% attribute this to TMS. Some of it is environmental, external. It’s at least a semi-warm day where I won’t be fucking freezing waiting for the (elevated) train. I decide to stop in Dunkin for coffee (I’m not supposed to have it pre-TMS), and see a man passed out over his newspaper, mid-penstroke, various classified ads circled. As I often do when I’m reflecting on mental health, mental states, all this…I wonder what his story is. Do you ever do that?

Do you ever peer over the shoulder of a passed out stranger to see what ads they’ve been circling in their newspaper? No? Just me?

This entry is a shorty, as I don’t really have much more to say about the session today. If anything, it illustrates how, at a certain point, being a TMS patient becomes a new normal, just something else you integrate into your weekly routines. I try to remember how fortunate I am to be able to receive this treatment because I have insurance and that insurance covers it, while trying not to get too angry about the fact that there are so many people who cannot. I try to cheer myself on about how hard I’m trying.

But it’s not easy. I can’t say I have a ton of outside validation, and so it being this private thing I don’t talk about with anyone makes it difficult to be all rah-rah about it. It seems like this, I don’t know, shameful thing at times that I have to keep to myself. We’ve already been over the LT thing, and my closest friends are still in my life, but they’ve dropped off just a bit, having recently dealt with Me In Crisis. They rarely ask me about TMS, even though it’s a chunk of my weekly time…it’s just not a thing we talk about. Maybe it’s because it is a reminder of the past, and they just want to move on and forget about that part of my history…believe that I’m all better now. That I don’t need them now. That I don’t have a long-term thing. That I am normal.

Oh my dears, I am anything but normal.

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But so, not talking about TMS- or even depression- with anyone, it’s like this isolated part of me. I don’t know what I’d do without this blog. I know people “ghost read” it. Either you like me or you like my writing or the content or who knows what, but at least it’s some sort of outside connection in terms of this treatment being a part of my life. So thanks for reading what you’re reading right now.

I’ll close this out with an article on ketamine for treating depression, a reflection of my ongoing interest in developing “as needed/one shot” medication therapies for depression. Ketamine has shown to wipe out suicidal ideation in a matter of hours. Give it a read.

Area 6, Is This Our New Normal?

Day 31: Area 6, We Are Not Uncomplicated

Day 31:

Doc Magnets is at TMS today. Apparently my settings have to be checked over, etc. Doc Magnets puts on Zeppelin.

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Doc Magnets has good taste.

For the first time, I notice other patients in the waiting room. Normally there is no one because I’m the first of the day. These two are polar opposites of each other. One looked very nervous (first timer?)

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And one is falling asleep (old veteran?)

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It makes me think about my own journey, how I started out panicked, but never really made it to the falling-asleep stage, instead settling into a mild anxiety every time I got in the chair. Not because the treatment scared me, but because I felt like so much rode on it succeeding. It makes me wonder about other people’s journeys- how they felt starting out, how they were at the end. Some people must have gotten better, or insurance would never have approved a non-pharmaceutical treatment. Where are those people now? Did they stay better? What changed in their lives? And what about those that did not? Where are they? Did they try again? Try something new? What happened to them?

There isn’t much more to say about today’s TMS appointment, besides those lingering questions. So I’ll steer off on another topic (as I’ve been wont to do). I’m very interested in the effects of psychedelics on depression. I mention this in my last post to where I was talking to Spice about it. I’ve since done more research; more articles here, here and here. There are even nonprofits, including MAPS and HRI devoted to medical use of psychedelics in mental health, going for whatever angle they think is most likely to get through the regulatory process (MAPS primarily focuses on MDMA for PTSD, HRI on psilocybin for depression in cancer patients).

I’m even more convinced that the illegality of psychedelics is utter bullshit and in fact, a detriment to society, preventing us from what we could be. Terence McKenna put it like so: “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing.”

Another big reason the progress is slow on the legality of psychedelics is that they can’t be patented anymore, so drug companies aren’t interested because they can’t make money off of them. Not to mention that they are not daily maintenance drugs, but more on an as needed basis- sometimes they’re even just a one shot deal.

People are struggling and sometimes dying. But the drug companies, well, they can’t make money off of what could be one-shot deals.

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Readers, this makes me very, very angry.

And the more I learn…the angrier I am at Spice for not hearing me out. For dismissing my interest as “trying to be edgy”.

FUCK. THAT.

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It hurts. A lot. Now, I understand concerns about legality. That’s valid. But if you know me, you know that I consider major depressive disorder to be very, very serious, with a huge negative impact on our society as a whole. And if someone wants something to help them with their condition and the law hasn’t caught up yet, because the law is controlled by big companies that are controlled by rich people- who NO DOUBT are using those very substances to help their own mental health if they need it (while making it difficult to obtain for us plebes), I support that.

It feels like a punch to the gut if anyone who truly cares about me and my wellbeing won’t at least hear these arguments of mine out, and claim my reasoning to be superficial, as opposed to a genuine attempt to fix my brain when therapy and medication haven’t worked, the jury is still out on TMS, and ECT has too many disturbing side effects. Even old-school old-timers I’ve talked to, while they don’t agree with me 100%, understand the logic of my arguments.

Spice and I haven’t been in touch since that argument, that triggered that awful episode I had. I felt abandoned by him, who I considered one of my closest allies.

I’m not sure what to do.

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This is probably not uncommon in people with depression, desperately seeking out remedies for their broken and hurting brains that are unconventional. Bear in mind that for the unconventional outlier of the mainstream, conventionality can be hard to achieve, because conventionality seems to hinge on- in this country- exhausting efforts by people like me to minimize fear (we stigmatize that which we don’t understand and thus, experience fear, as a defense mechanism), and what makes money (watch the drug companies ask the chem labs for something that’s like psilocybin, but is not psilocybin, so they can make money off of it). It’s terrible when you feel like it isn’t enough to be trying to help yourself get better; it also has to be within very strict parameters…parameters set by the powers-that-be that, quite honestly, don’t even care about me.

And what if your therapists were garbage and meds didn’t do shit? Well, conventionally thinking people don’t have answers for you. They just say go to the hospital and don’t kill yourself, profoundly lacking the understanding of how bad of a scenario that really is.

If you are depressed, as you fight this disorder, there are some people- good, well meaning people- who aren’t going to understand your journey, and they’re going to lash out or maybe just leave you. They cannot deal (they should not have to if there is abuse involved; but may not be able to deal with you even if you are not abusive, just depressed). Know that this may not necessarily be forever- you might reintegrate those people if you so choose later on, once you are more on track. There are people who simply cannot cope with the symptoms of depression; even your spouse may not be able to, after pledging forever to you in front of your whole community. That huge step may not even be enough to stand together to battle this illness. You have to let these people go.

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Know that these aren’t necessarily bad people. They’re a product of our misunderstanding as a society of mental illness, which manifests in an insistence that we must have smiles on our faces, all the time- even if they are manufactured. This perpetuates ignorance, intolerance and dismissal of those with mood disorders.

And this is what motivates me to keep writing. A huge part of why my blog exists is to try help destigmatize this medical condition by 1) clearing up misunderstandings 2) explaining the biological basis as best I can 3) highlighting the contributions to society one prone to depression can actually make 4) helping the depressed, or those involved with the depressed, feel less alone 5) challenging the aforementioned norms 6) applauding and encouraging further efforts by those trying to get well and 7) being interesting to make it all more palatable.

In this little corner of the blogoverse, to whoever is reading.

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So then, to the depressed: regarding those people who HAVE stuck by you, who have listened (not necessarily agree) without attacking you, who have dealt with your bullshit for months or sometimes years…I know how depression sucks you into yourself, but I hope this little bit sticks in your subconscious…value those people. Hold to those people. Sometimes they are going to get exhausted and they will let you down. But if they don’t leave you…know that you owe them big because sometimes you are tough to be around. In your well moments, show them gratitude. Know their efforts matter. Remember that they matter so much, they very well may have saved your life.

To the non-depressed: I know it’s hard. But try not to abandon your depressed friend, lover, or family member. Distance yourself when you must for self-preservation, but don’t stay away for good. Hear them out. Listen to what they have to say, especially if it’s in the context of getting better. Always, always support efforts to get well, even if you question the methods. Do your own homework before criticizing the avenues your depressed loved one is exploring, unless you already have and know for damn sure it’s harmful. Even then, if you must steer them away from something you know for a fact is harmful (like, I don’t know, spending 1K they don’t have on a BS psychic or something),

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do so gently while emphasizing how proud you are of them for trying. Help them get help with their depression, because it’s hard for a depressed person to overcome the shame of what they have, and the overwhelmingness of getting help. It feels monumental to pull it together and find a way out of the hole as it is, the last thing they need is to feel shot down by someone they thought they could trust.

I don’t know what’s going to come of Spice and I. I’m not sure when or if we ever will be in touch again. Given our history, that stings. And it stings that it doesn’t seem to bother him at all. Do I even want to be friends with someone like that, who seems ambivalent about being in my life? Right now I don’t want to speak to him and he clearly does not want to speak to me. Maybe we’ll eventually make amends, maybe not. For now, I will focus my efforts on those I feel I can still trust…

Area 6, We Are Not Uncomplicated.

If anyone has further thoughts on how one can best cope with and support a complicated, depressed loved one, feel free to post in the comments.

Day 30: Area 6, Are We Alone in This?

There is not anything that really stands out about this day. I am exhausted this morning, although there’s nothing unique about this, being a night owl

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and all. The currents pound my head,

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but that’s not really unique either, as it feels that way when I’m super tired. Angela puts on YouTube, and I guess we’re continuing with the 80s rock theme, as I hear Van Halen’s Jump

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and The Final Countdown by Europe. Speaking of which, I am counting down the seconds for that one to be over.

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My mind wanders to LT. He missed out on the 80s. I mean, there were some things that were- as we said in the 80s- no BFD to miss. Such as The Final Countdown by Europe. But those of you that experienced the decade know there was quite a lot in the culture, particularly in music culture, that was truly memorable and – as we said in the 80s- rather boss. For one, it was the advent of rock concerts that filled entire stadiums, and DJs that filled entire megaclubs. I suppose there was a certain tone of superficiality and excess, but honestly, the disco era was far worse. At least in the 80s, excess was couched in the context of…success. Aspiration. Upward mobility, which was particularly exciting for women- from the shoulder-padded boss bitch in a short skirt to the comedian who finally told it like it was from a female point of view to the groupie screwing her way up to Vince Neil. Now, I’m not trying to make it all weird, because I was a child, but let’s be honest- I watched movies and music videos: I could wrap my head around the idea of using womanhood to get to places that were traditionally more difficult for a woman to get to.

Aaaaaand I just got all feminist.

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LT is not really a feminist.

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Soooo….from a man’s perspective? Well, there was still the upward mobility thing and the amazing concerts and Transformers came out and also you got to see women break out of their shells and be all badass and move up in the world.

nd I just got all feminist again. LT is not really a feminist. But guys like that stuff…right? Especially if said badass women are hot.

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It just came off to me as a raw point in history with only a certain amount of polish. Like a bitchin’ Camaro with a fresh paint job that still has a little engine trouble from time to time.

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Sort of like this blog.

In contrast, the 90s just seemed so- I don’t know- polished and blah. No engine trouble. Or if you did have engine trouble, you didn’t show off your little imperfections- you lied about it. The exception was grunge, which was all about imperfections and the struggle when you rejected that 80s hamster wheel before it could reject you. And oh how it would, if you didn’t play by its rules… that Hamster Wheel Dream I was raised on and wasn’t ready to relinquish. I didn’t understand “the grind” and the necessity of conformity behind the gloss (until the tail end of the decade when my parents weren’t supporting me anymore), and the pendulum swung so hard the other way with grunge, I just found it depressing. Depressing like the opposite end of the spectrum- the super phony polished and blah. I don’t know, whatever, yap yap yap,

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I’m just thinking about things in the chair to pass the time.

I don’t really want to think about LT because he is bothering me lately. He’s broke pattern and didn’t text at all the day before. But it’s not so much that action as it is that I’m more bothered that I even care. Or that I would think he would be any different than any other man- super into me and excited as hell for the first month, before the inevitable backoff once the novelty wears off. I mean, of course he would do this. Especially at 23. It doesn’t matter whether he says he’s different, because he wouldn’t know any better to say he is, in fact, the same.

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He is not different from other men. He’s just not. He is the same. Don’t you think otherwise, I tell myself.

And then TMS is over. I feel strangely sharp mentally, for being so tired earlier. Now and then I get that right after a TMS session, and it lasts a few hours. Of course, demoralization at work- again-

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burns out my energy and the mental sharpness slowly dulls, to where all I can do is the bare minimum at the job. Why is it so difficult for managers to grasp that being dismissive hurts their employees’ productivity, hurting the bottom line? Like, you’re making 6 figures. Please. Your life is good, you’re set, and it’s not that hard to be polite. If you can’t manage, step outside for once and get some air for once like I have to do when you won’t calm the fuck down.

I check out an article today about microdosing. I’m used to it in the context of recreational use, but apparently in small doses, it can actually help with depression. Something that can slow me down emotionally when I’m triggered, and help me right away? I’m intrigued!

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I tell Spice about it, one of my greatest champions as of late in these challenges. I have told him damn near everything, and am grateful to have someone with whom I can share my little steps of progress. I like being there for him (although he tends to be more reticent) and that he is there for me. I’m excited, and think he will be too, that I have stumbled on this.

Wrong. Instead, I find myself totally shocked when he lays into me about exploring this avenue, implying that I’m doing so…TO BE COOL.

……

……

I’m not even gif’ing that, because I can hardly find the words to express how this made me feel, much less an image to reflect that, that’s any more than just a black hole. And boy have I been in a black hole. I could have died from this. I don’t have time to worry about being cool. Nuh-uh. I am about getting well, not being cool. Spice was one of my greatest supporters and…I feel betrayed. I am hurt and insulted and…I’m horrified. I’m especially horrified when he alludes to the fact that “alcohol is one thing” but psychedelics is like, really problematic.

UM HELLO ALCOHOL IS A DEPRESSANT.

I am so stunned that I don’t reply. It hurts so bad to have someone I thought was on my side skewer me on the grounds of superficiality, when it comes to something I take more seriously than anything. Even if he wasn’t immediately on board because it was a subject he wasn’t familiar with, to jump to that conclusion without even hearing me out…about the benefits, about the ridiculousness of drug laws that outlawed psychedelics in the first place…to suggest that alcohol is a preferable choice…I am so dumbfounded, that I feel myself just go, just go, just go numb.

Until I’m not. Until I start to feel again.

Until I start to feel hopeless again. Dark again. Dragged down. Again.

I hate this.

I know what to do. I call a friend. I am sobbing. The friend I call is very emotionally intelligent and knows how to handle the fact that I’m howling over the phone. About how everyone walks away and how everyone is going to walk away. This is what it always comes down to. But he talks me down. He reminds me why he loves me. He reminds me why my voice deserves to be heard and why I deserve love. I am very, very fortunate to have this man in my life. I calm. I thank him. I know I owe him. I don’t know where I would be without him. I let him go.

I am on my bathroom floor. Past my dazed and turbulent state, I am confused as to how I ended up here. I don’t want to get up.

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It is the same: angry and despondent that these triggers still happen, relieved and proud that I have the mechanisms to pull through them without hurting myself. Mixed emotions.

Maj is retreating back to the pool, crashing tides recede, things are settling down, but I still feel tattered and ripped up from the damage she does inside me. Strangely, I feel a yearning to call LT. This is not sensible because my whole angle is to keep things easy and uncomplicated with LT, not go showing any realness. He would freak out. Other than our very first encounter where he got a sliver of it, LT has never seen this side of me. For some reason, I long to show him more of who I am, beyond this Hot Older Woman archetype.

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This is a terrible idea, given I can feel him pulling back already, but that’s my bad habit I guess…when I see them stepping back, I step forward. Like a dance. I take the reins. I try to make things ok. As if, you know, you just have to know me better. As if knowing me better won’t do the exact opposite.

He is not different, I remind myself. He is just like the others.

But the craving is stronger than my logic. I sit up, and I call anyway. I don’t tell him what’s wrong. I just tell him it’s been a bad day and would he tell me about his, and he does. He has a sweet phone voice, deep and full, but with the smoothest, most soothing lilt. It reminds me of his touch- strong yet gentle. It occurs to me that I may be getting attached to someone who is not attached to me and I will myself to get off the motherfucking phone NOW.

I don’t want him to know me. Not really. He would walk, and I’m not ready to be done with him. At the same time, I also know that I do need to be done with him eventually, and the more he knows me, the harder it will be to let go. I make a note to myself to never confide in him again.

I wonder if I will follow this rule. Hope is like an aspirational 80s dream for me. Hope is so hard to relinquish.

Truth is, as much as I hate to admit it, there is this part of me that would love for someone like him to love me. But I don’t think he could. Not the real me. And no, my life doesn’t depend on this- I know I am loved by others. But I wonder if I can ever truly be loved from anywhere but friends and family and those crushes on me from around the world by men who think they could love me, if I’d only let them in (who would turn out to be no different from anyone else I actually let in)…from anywhere but at a safe distance. I am different. I am weird. I am challenging. At times I am intense. I have doubts that anyone could handle being close. It is hard to love yourself when you feel you are a fucking freak. When you feel like if anyone is exposed to too much of you, they will reject you.

I realize this is the heart of everything for me. Not fitting in. The grunge-era misfit who can’t fit the mold. Who does aspire, who does want to move up, but doesn’t buy anymore that the only way to do it is on The Hamster Wheel Dream I grew up on that since ground me down.

Where are the others like me, that feel so strongly, that feel so big? Are there others like me?

Day 29: Area 6, Who We Gonna Call

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This is how I wake up this morning. The other day I had a pretty bad episode, and while the worst is over, and I’m up, and I’m functioning, and I’m on my way to TMS, I’m still in not in good shape psychologically. After one of these things, there are about 2, 3 days where I’m still vulnerable, where I have to be vigilant. Part of that is reaching out to the support network. Problem is, mine is kind of hit-or-miss. I had friends there for the worst, but the worst was so bad that it seemed once the biggest of crises was over, they drifted away. The whole thing was unexpected for them, and very rough. I guess they thought I was ok now, 3 months later, and I was too embarrassed to reach out to them and say, “I’m still struggling with this. I don’t want to go down that road again”. I should not be, but there were a couple times when I had reached out that way, a couple months back, and they were…less responsive, than when things had reached a crucial head. This is a thing that happens, that I’m sure depressed people can relate to. It sucks, but then you have to just step back, and turn to new and/or different friends.

Which means sharing your deeply personal story again and again and again

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(it might be part of the reason I have this blog), wishing there wasn’t such a stigma, knowing there damn well is stigma and hoping to God they don’t share your personal details with other people.

Problem is, even if I could count on literally anyone I know to pick up the phone if they saw it ring, it’s 7:45 AM and every one of my friends right now is either in transit, getting ready to be or sleeping.

Except the LT. I know the LT is at work already, and would answer my text. But I still don’t know the LT all that well, and I’m afraid to reach out. Not only do I not know the LT well, but also it is this not-serious, tenuous thing…I know he probably has an expiration date, but I don’t want to drive him away just yet with my realness. I feel like mornings with him can’t be calling and asking for support. I feel like mornings with him can only be like

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I wish I could call the LT. I wish we were like

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But even my friends know the deal and are like

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Sometimes I wonder if it would’ve been better if we’d never been involved, if I’d met him at the laundromat or a local bar and we had become platonic friends. Then there wouldn’t be all this tip-toeing around and feeling like I have to put my best foot forward or he’ll freak out and stop talking to me. We could just be real.

I hate dating. I want to fall in love with a friend.

I hate that it’s 7:45 AM and there is no one else to call. I wish there was someone to call.

I get to TMS and I have to fill out something called the phq9 for insurance purposes, which is a test that basically asks, So, How Bad Are You Really? I check my score on my phone which shows that I am Moderately Depressed. I’m not thrilled. I can only say it is an improvement from my Severely Depressed at the start of this process.

Angela puts on YouTube and at some point I get R.E.M. Guess which song I got! No, not this one. This one would have actually felt comforting.

Nope, it was this one. The one R.E.M. song I despise.

Sometimes I wonder if that song is supposed to be a joke. I can’t believe it’s something we should actually take seriously unless we are rolling on Molly or incredibly stupid. (ETA: I google this later and find it is indeed meant ironically…but there are a helluva lotta people that’s lost on so…I still hate it). I want to throw a bowling ball at the TV.

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Some other stuff comes on but it’s all rounded out by Hotel California and I want to scream through my mouthguard. I can’t stand The Eagles and I can’t stand that song.

But eventually it ends, as most bad things do.

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After TMS, I race to the train, only to get stuck behind folks casually ambling side by side, with apparently no particular place to be at any particular time. After two “Excuse Me”‘s that yield only dumbfounded looks but no actual movement of asses out of the way, the best I can do is one last “I’m trying to make that one” as I shove past. I take the stairs two by two shouting “Man in the green sweatshirt, will you please hold the door?” because if you don’t call on someone specifically, everyone will just look at you with that same mouthbreather stare like “Does she mean me?” and not hold the fucking door. Thankfully, Green Sweatshirt has the sense to do this.

I am aggravated and cranky. It is not even 9 AM.

It is 9AM and I am feeling goddamn sad, and everyone is at work or on their way, and there is no one I can call.

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I know. I know. I’ve been very depressed for like, 6 months now! Severely so for half of that. I know that’s super inconvenient. I feel like a burden, even though I am merely Moderately Depressed now, and don’t need anyone to come to my rescue anymore, I just want someone to pick up their phone. That is a thing I still need.

I make a note to pick up the phone when a depressed friend calls in the future, because this is awful.

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I wish there was someone to call.

Day 28: Area 6…Area 6…Oh, Area 6….

I didn’t know how else to start this post, other than with this preface. I’m looking back at the notes I wrote on the day, and I am dismayed. Intellectually, I know TMS may not be my miracle treatment; intellectually, I know this has become more about the journey than the final results. Still, I can’t help but feel, though I’m doing all I can to be well, that any level of backslide is a letdown to my readers. It’s a product of our society; we crave that happy ending. That neatly tied up conclusion. Fair warning, there is a degree of struggle in this post. I never promised a perfect, linear course; nonetheless, given the aforementioned, I wanted to give that heads up. I’m still here, still writing in the present day…that’s about all the comfort I can give at the moment. I guess it’s important to note that, like struggles with grief, addiction, etc., progress is rarely linear. There are ups and downs. This was a down moment. But it’s important to include it, because after all, this ain’t no movie script…it’s real life. To the story:

 Today Angela treated me to a little GnR. November Rain, to be exact. The irony of a distraught man having nightmares after his bride was killed- while I’m receiving a treatment for major depressive disorder- is not lost on me. I have two solaces. One is- not to mock your pain, Axl- the corny, unconvincing theatrics of those late night and funeral scenes. The other is the wedding, because I love weddings, especially this one, because Slash plays a guitar solo outside the chapel (that is laughably small from the exterior, considering it’s like a cathedral on the inside).

Have you seen this video? If not, you should. It’s really a short film with music. Beautifully done.

But GnR isn’t really what I was thinking to write about today. I was thinking about writing about something else.

“What something else?”

Well. Um.

Oh God this is always so awkward.

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I always hate having to admit in the blog to any sort of regression. And yet. Here we are. I’m writing about suicidal ideation today.

Yeah, I know. Anyway, the last post covered an occurrence that made me feel…inconsequential. Erased. There is perhaps nothing worse, feeling like you’ve been abandoned. And I don’t just mean by X. I mean, by anyone who claimed to care about me and what the divorce did to me, who have- merely a few months in- since promptly gone on to cheer on his wacky, bewildering journey that involves him doing exactly everything (and, ahem, the one) he swore he wouldn’t do. So many people, not able to reconcile his great joy with what the cost was to me- inconvenient me, with my embarrassing feelings- just…walked away. They just walked away. All those people. All those people I trusted. I bet no one said a word about the public gloating. It is easier to pretend I don’t really exist outside of social media.

Depression thrives on this sort of isolation.

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I’m going to get into some sticky territory. But we have to drag these things out of the dark corners they’re relegated to, or we’ll never understand them, and as long as that’s the case, we’ll be terrified of them. Being terrified means we won’t speak of them, outside of that hushed-tone way…and a big part of this blog is about destigmatization. Stigma doesn’t help anyone.

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(Ugh. I sound like a broken record.)

Well, here we go.

Putting it bluntly, I had my first suicidal ideation in a very long time. Last night. What does that mean? Suicidal ideation means thoughts of suicide. To be clear, it does not mean suicidal intent, and there is a big difference. And now at this time, I find myself running through my head right now The Questions the Therapists Ask. One such question:

“Do You Have a Method?”

Yes, actually, there is a method. That method has been established since the month before I broke down last fall. Because I am a planner and I am a pussy about pain. Not sharing further on that, thanks.

“Do You Have a Time and Date?”

No, no time and date. That there, a schedule, that’s the true sign of suicidal intent. When it’s an appointment on the calendar. So no, I would not say I have active suicidal intent.

Let me talk about distinguishing between suicidal ideation and intent, because I think these two things get conflated at times. And it’s really important to know how they are different…and indeed, how they look different- at least, when it comes to me, and potentially a lot of other people. This matters, what signs to be on the lookout for, because obviously we don’t want people to kill themselves.

Here’s how suicidal ideation and being acutely suicidal often differ. The states of mind feel very, very different.

Suicidal ideation: There is a lot of psychological pain. This is because I’m fighting the thoughts. They’re admittedly quite strong and shockingly horrific in their intentions, because humans are generally programmed to be horrified by being destroyed. The impact of this bewildering- dare I say, robustness- of depression’s (not my) conviction is enough to leave me gasping for air, push me to the ground, leave me not just sobbing, but howling, pulling and scratching at…whatever. My sheets, the carpet, my clothes, my skin. Weakened, helpless.

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Oh I’m sorry, did I startle you with imparting the particulars of my illness? Many apologies. Just kidding I’m not sorry. Get used to it. It’s an awful thing to have, and a lot of people have it, and we’re talking frankly about the shit it does.

I’m about to knock you off kilter again. That aforementioned, disturbing episode of a psychologically tormented human? That’s…actually a good thing. For me, anyway.

Here’s why. It means I’m reacting in a resistant way to what’s happening to me. It means I’m kicking and screaming inside. It means I’m fighting. And fighting….fighting is a good thing.

So what does bad look like?

Suicidal intent: It does not look like fighting. It is beyond the pain of fighting and moves into the territory of resignation. It looks like cooperation. It looks like the army that has surrendered and is now trudging, zombie like, towards wherever the enemy says it has to.

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It looks like being an accessory to the…well…

It looks cool, calm, and collected. That is the emotional state of someone who has a plan to- excuse the choice of words but…execute. As a natural born planner, I’d have to have a certain amount of togetherness in order to do such an extreme thing. I’d have to have a certain level of detachment to disassociate myself from how terrible it really is. Beyond the plan itself, and the prep work of settling affairs, nothing else matters. There is no left over energy to devote to crying. There is very little fear. When there is very little fear, it is often too late; only something circumstantial could work as a lifeline. Someone found the perfect words, the perfect action…the point is, it’s a hell of a lot harder to combat the depression of someone with intent.

This stage- where depression has its grip on one totally- is where there is commitment to the plan, and part of that commitment is lying to everyone around you about your plan, because they will attempt to stop said plan. This is why often, No One Saw It Coming. If you know someone who was in a really bad bad emotional state recently, and then suddenly, they seem almost disassociated…too content, very much in their own world for no discernible reason (i.e., they weren’t just on a week-long ashram retreat or something), in the moment to where they don’t talk about the future…or suddenly pick themselves off the floor after pounding their fists and screaming about suicide, with a startling, fresh focus to go somewhere alone…yes, you need to worry then, and keep an eye on them.

I know that sounds awful, because you can’t know for sure they’re experiencing intent. But that’s my point, you see. That’s why we need to see ideation for what it is- an expression of an illness, not something to be so horrified by that we just avoid people going through it. We should help people going through that.

This minimizes the chances of the individual ever crossing over into intent. The frenzied, turbulent chaos of suicidal ideation is the thing that seems to scare people. But in reality, to me, it’s actually less frightening, because it is merely an expression of pain. A lot of people have trouble with seeing that, but I don’t. I wish fewer did. Consider the alternative to the howling and writhing in resistance to the pain- someone calmly, unblinkingly stepping off the edge of a cliff. The latter is far more disturbing, because you cannot come back from that.

More reason, when you are in a balanced state of mind, to try not to feel scared and helpless when someone is experiencing a depressive episode involving ideation: ideation is far less focused. Given that so many psychological (and physical) resources are devoted to expressing pain in that state, one has less of a chance of the suicide being carried out. There are just fewer resources to draw on. And in a severe episode, suicidal thoughts generally do not adhere to a time and a place that makes sense. It is a voice I do not agree with that screams at me, “DO IT HERE AND NOW”. Which, though extremely upsetting, is- for me- ridiculous. I mean, what if I’m in an office building and the only option is to be a jumper, which would create a huge mess and there’s those 3 agonizing seconds of falling and of course, you can fail? Being hardwired to plan and keep things tidy, this is not a thing I see myself doing.

What we don’t want is so many episodes where someone doesn’t get help, that they cross over into intent, because the pain of the episodes day after day is just Too. Fucking. Much.

I would try to explain all this to therapists, but the second you even say you have a method, in ya go to the ambulance, then they lock you up somewhere, where you don’t get better via say, individual therapy….you just have to do arts and crafts, eat far worse food than you’d choose for yourself, and also don’t have access to things like shoelaces, computers, phones, fresh air, and other things that will totally kill you. It makes me want to make the joke that they don’t have to deny me access to those things, because literally none of those objects are a part of my method.

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Dark, I know.

But sometimes we make these jokes. To cope. But back to the subject at hand, “You say to help, but how?”

Good question. I know that if I feel I am in danger, I am far better off in terms of recovering in my home, as long as someone is there. I tell you this because it’s something to think about when you offhandedly recommend someone call the hotline, because That’s What You Do…which can lead to involuntary commitment if the caller says the wrong thing. Which (depending on the hospital, I suppose, although you don’t get to choose if you’re involuntarily committed) often does more harm than good (why? that’s another post, but just trust me, I’ve done my homework). I mean, if there are no other options and the person is alone then yes, the hotline, but if it’s possible for someone to just simply be there in that suicidal person’s comfort zone (usually home), do that, if you can make it there and mentally handle it. Sometimes that’s all the person needs, is the presence of another person.

Of course, a person behaving psychotically (speaking nonsense, intense paranoia, hallucinating, etc.) or violently towards others is another can of worms, but I don’t have experience in those areas. I’d venture to say most suicidal people are not those things. They just feel alone and inconsequential and hopeless, which causes the emotional pain. The presence of another helps dispel these notions.

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Listen, I’m aware there are a lot of generalizations up there and what I’m saying can’t apply to literally every situation you can think of. All I’m saying is there is 1) an alternative way to look at things other than E’erbody Call the 911, and I’m explaining why that makes sense…2) That we need to try not to be freaked out by extreme displays of emotion, and I give reasons as to why it’s better to keep a cool head and face the ideation problem head on instead of avoiding it.

And so. Back to today. Seeing as I am, at the moment, on the side of Ideation Mountain and not looking to find my way in Intention Valley, I do turn to someone. That person talks me down. That’s all I really need. All I need is to know I am loved, that not everyone has gone crazy and adapted this new normal that X &…eh, let’s call her “O” for fun (because omg you guys THEY ARE THE PERFECT COUPLE SOOOO “X&O”, GET IT??!!) have whipped up to suit their purposes, because not doing so- asking questions- means being uncomfy. There are people who can deal with the uncomfy reality of the abandoned ex-wife that is me. I am lucky these people exist, and I do not take them for granted. I would do anything for them.

I recover, I pick myself up the floor, I give the depression a gentle beatdown with the- excuse me if this sounds corny- newfound power I have, fueled by outside love and support. I am frustrated, because this isn’t supposed to be happening. But if I look at it objectively and simply say, Welp, this is what it is, I admit I have a small amount of pride that I knew just what to do to counter Maj and send her back down to the pool  where she belongs.

I don’t know what to say about the fact that I’m on Day 28 and this still happens. All I can tell you is that TMS is not necessarily a miracle cure, episodes happen a lot less, and when they do, I handle them better. Maybe this isn’t the perfect solution for me. Or maybe I will just need a second round. Maybe my brain will always struggle with emotions. Maybe the balance I have found will make it easier for me to look into other treatments so I don’t struggle. The point is, it’s better than before, when I had no idea what I was doing. It really is.

Those who have been suicidal may very well be nodding with a certainly level of understanding right now,

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so I hope those who have experienced intense ideation feel a little less alone. And those of you who thankfully have not, I hope you’ve come out from underneath your chairs

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and gained some perspective in terms of what to fear and what to merely be on guard with, should you have a suicidal loved one. And if God forbid you are in that situation, what you can do that will help them.

Which is often a simpler solution than we realize. Sometimes all that’s needed is not a phone call to have that person taken away, but something as simple as patience, objectivity, and compassion. And yet, sometimes those things are a lot harder to do than what you thought you should be doing.

Yeah. I get that.

Next post: Day 29: Area 6, Who We Gonna Call.

Day 26: Pull Me Into Focus

My session is not interesting today. Angela pops on the helmet, straps me in, in goes the mouthguard, on goes some 60s rock. I dig. The pulses begin. Series of 30, 55 times.

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I used to count them more because I couldn’t wait to get it over with, but they don’t really hurt now, I’m used to it, so I daydream. Mostly ruminating over what I can do about the fact that lately I feel like a fumbling, bumbling puppy.

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Clumsy. Scattered. Unfocused. I’ve always sorta had issues with focus but lately it’s ridiculous. I should clarify, I don’t have any problem on focus when it comes to the LT; the dopamine and norepinephrine  rushes as of late take care of that. What I mean is, I’m less focused on the right things, to the detriment of things such as Hey Where Did I Put My Keys. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a thing TMS fixes. I have to. And I’m giving myself a good talking to in the chair. He is young and fickle and carefree and will be careless when it comes to matters  of the heart and I say to myself

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I don’t like this phase. It’s making me anxious. Most importantly, I don’t want to lose focus on the importance of my writing due to temporary excitement. The person won’t last- people often don’t- writing is mine always. Even though I’m not sure this is part of its job description, I still find myself begging Area 6 to pull my attention into tighter focus…

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on the right things.

Lost in thought, the session is over sooner than I expected. I leave a little frustrated; I have this whole blog about TMS…of course I want to be that classic success story. But that “lift” TMS patients talk about, that happens about session 20…I’ve had no discernible “lift”. No defining clarifying moment in my brain where the clouds part. I’d be lying if I said I’ve now transitioned to a general sense of well-being (and I know how “well-being” feels, because I’ve caught glimpses of it; i’s truly an incredible state of mine to be in). It’s how I guess most people generally feel? And I wonder how it would feel to be that way…generally.

Yesterday I talked to another friend who has depression; I tell him I haven’t hit “the dark place” since that trigger in late January.  I gotta see that as progress. And I don’t know what to attribute that to other than this treatment, because therapy doesn’t seem to do a damn thing. But mostly I’m tired and anxious because there’s just so much going on for me to deal with, a lot of stemming from how my life changed radically just a few months ago. That being said, I do have my up moments, when I’m around good, supportive people…and yeah, sometimes even when I’m alone. So, I don’t feel like a total failure. I guess I just thought I’d be further along by now. I am the mother wondering why her inner baby hasn’t started walking yet by the first birthday. Like I feel like I’m so close, I have it in my hand, and yet…

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I wish I had something more uplifting to say to you today. This clumsy entry, not the crown jewel of my posts, I wish it had more to offer (but isn’t that life? A parade of mostly mediocre events, marked by the occasional spikes of memorable highs and lows). I guess all I can say is to take into consideration the progress you do make in treating your depression. If you’re treatment resistant, despite all your best efforts, don’t blame you (I mean, what’s productive about that anyway?)- blame, I don’t know, blame modern medicine for not being quite there yet.

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Give yourself credit for your attempts to get better, even if no one around you will because they don’t know jack about going through it in the clinical, long-term sense (or, in some cases, after having rejoined the happy masses, have made themselves forget) and just want you to be “normal” like, now.

I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if this post didn’t exactly stir something profound within or give much of The Oomph or The Feels, but as I churn these out, there’s always hope for a future more engaging read, yeah?

#myownworstcritic

Area 6, Pull Me Into Focus.

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Day 25: Area 6, I Just Want to Hang in the Balance

I mention something about the blog today, some note or something or other I’m taking. Angela asks me about the name of the blog. Eek! Nope. Not ready.

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Subject changes, Angela then gives me tips on how to get out of jury duty.

How am I today? Super scattered. But can’t I give myself a break, even if a lotta people won’t, holding me up to the standard of a not-depressed person? Because for someone who’s juggling a job, and my side jobs, and this blog, and this treatment, and a social life, and downtime, and other creative pursuits no one seems to want to stop reminding me I should also be doing, I’ve got a lot on my plate. And honestly, I know people who are doing just fine emotionally, who are far more cognitively scattered than I am, on the regular. Example: have you seen how tourists- and I’m not talking ESL, but rather, English speaking tourists- order at a Starbucks in Manhattan? It’s like the most complicated, bewildering endeavor they’ve ever been known to undertake.

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Placidly, unapologetically. Like it’s totally cool. I do not understand how you hold down a job if you cannot order coffee. I sometimes am feeling like I’m literally falling apart at the seams, but usually I still have the wherewithal to order coffee. Because other people are waiting. If I cannot manage to order coffee in a timely fashion, I do not order coffee. Because other people are waiting.

Also, several rich people I’ve worked for. All the assistants in the world cannot seem to pull them out of perpetual confusion. To be sure, they annoy. And yet! How well tolerated one is, when one has money and clout.

I’m well aware I’m ranting, and this seems to have little to do with TMS. But in a way, it does, because TMS has to do with my depression, and a part of my depression is that I’m frustrated when with all I’m doing, I’m often called upon to DO MORE, and I wanna be like, My Brain Is Undergoing Some Rewiring, I Am Actively Working On It, Give Me A Fucking Break, Thank You For Your Patience. Part of it is me. I don’t tell everyone. I bet if you’re depressed and have very little money and/or clout to ensure a degree of tolerance, you don’t either. Because then the pendulum swings

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And it’s like, “Oh, then you must be capable of hardly anything. Looks like we’ll have to keep a close eye on you.”

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Oh, good Lord. This is so prevalent in American culture, thinking in extremes. It’s always either the end of the world, or the beginning.

Anyway, I’m spaced out today and yeah, I did something flaky, I left my wallet at home. Angela lends me cash so I can get a Metrocard because she’s super cool and she trusts me. I also had no way to pay the cab driver when I got there earlier because that’s when I realized I left my wallet at home, and I- this was a first- paid the cab driver with a check. Because he was super cool and trusted me. This reminds me that there are good people in the world who cut slack when you mess up instead of enacting some sweeping character assessment of You As Fuckup, as long as you own the fuckup, apologize and do what you can to fix it.

Ok so that rant’s over.

No sax covers today- Angela fires up YouTube and puts on…DEF LEPPARD! AAAHHHH1111!!!!11!


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Specifically, Animal. Solid tune. And I’m thinking, “Be great if Hysteria came on.” And then- HYSTERIA COMES ON.

And I’m like OhGodILoveThisSongIWannaBeAll

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I laugh to myself for a second because I think that if this was a hundred years ago, “Hysteria” would be my diagnosis…which basically meant “sad with woman parts”.

And the next song that comes on is Armageddon and in my head I’m all

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And the TMS pulses magically line up with Rick Allen’s drumming

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And I’m flooded with good memories, drifting back to summers flirting with carnies, wearing

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strawberry lip gloss, bangs curled and sprayed so expertly you might call it sculpture. Concerts (but never Def Leppard…Sad!), notebook doodles about whoever my crush was at the time, and dreaming of NYC so I could hit CBGB’s every weekend. Angela is a bit older than me, and I wonder if she was one of those teenagers I idolized back then, who, with all my expertise, could still get her hair soooo much more perfect than I could ever hope to. Then I get to thinking about my best friend from back then, how we’d dress alike and go out and lie about our age. She isn’t with us anymore, and I miss her. God I miss her, still after all these years since she passed away, wishing she was still here, so we could talk about back then…

Goddammit. From happy to melancholy again. And yet…that is life. It’s both things. I have to remember that.

I leave and I’m feeling pretty upbeat. My mind starts to wander. Remember the LT from the prior posts? I randomly think to myself that he looks like Prince William, but I make a mental note to clarify that if I tell him this, what I mean is Prince William circa 2005, not present-day Prince William, because there’s a difference. I mean-

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So, you know. Getting old is a bitch. Unless you’re Prince Harry.

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I was thinking if I had more time I would make a chart of William and Harry and how William was super pretty like his mom and Harry looked like a Weasley child and then William started to look like his dad and Harry got rakishly hot. I think if this chart existed, the intersecting point would be about 2009.

I think dumb things like this all the time, but it’s relevant here because I’m happy to know I can think of the LT now with a bit of humor, not be super stressed out, ever since I did that little bit of legwork to help understand why I kind of spazzed on the first date. Maybe I’ll even tell him about the 80s eventually, which, if you missed it, he missed out on. But probably not any time soon. I mean yes, we both know how old I am, but there’s no need to put emphasis on it…I barely know the guy. Funny, he kinda knows about the depression already, but not #my80slyfe. Sometimes I’m incredibly backwards.

But someday, I think, maybe if we hit that infatuation stage, I’ll tell him about how my first hair metal…ahem…cassette tape was in fact Hysteria, and only because in the record store my parents asked the saleslady (I saw her as a “saleslady”, but looking back she was probably only 17) if Appetite for Destruction had swears in it, and she totally sold me out and goes “Yes it has the swears” and I was shooting daggers at her then all ready to throw an Axl-level tantrum like

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But then I chilled and picked out Hysteria and my parents asked if this one had swears and she goes “No it does not have the swears” so they let me have it and…well, I have the sales…girl to thank because I looooved that album (ok she actually said, “It’s pretty clean”, meaning, “no swears”…that being said, the lyrical subject matter was a different story. But at least she kept it vague, so I didn’t end up walking out of there with some NKOTB garbage). I especially loved this song. If LT’s attention span wouldn’t be enough to hold for an entire album (I mean, Millennials, RIGHT?), if I could play one song it would be this one because it just…

…it makes me happy, it makes me kinda sad…a nostalgic summation of preadolescent good times and heartbreak and an appreciation I didn’t have then of how important that time of my life would be and how maybe I wouldn’t have lived it as fully if I was constantly reminding myself to appreciate it but…how I also wish I’d taken just a moment, somewhere, to do just that. #IntentionalRunonSentence

Area 6, I know everything won’t be perfect after this. All I ask for is a little balance.