Only on the Blue Line?

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So things are terrible here in Boston, and, after yesterday’s MBTA shutdown, I wasn’t expecting a swift commute home. The Red Line took forever – it wasn’t even worth trying to swim through the sea of passengers at Downtown Crossing to make my connection to the Orange. Walking the something-odd blocks to State Street, I wondered if now would be a good time to Uber. I’d calculated the fare from Harvard Square before leaving work at $21-$25, but now it was 30 minutes later and traffic would be worse.

I kept walking.

This was a mistake.

Lured into comfort by the relative emptiness at the Forest Hills-bound entrance, I was unprepared for the low-ceilinged hell that awaited me at the Blue Line. The crowd bound for Wonderland at the State Street station was like nothing I’d ever seen in real life, aside from those Phish mega-festivals back in the early aughts. After a few polite minutes spent pushing through to the opposite side of the platform, I gave up and just stood. There was nowhere to go. By the time the next train arrived, the human surge was enough to bear me to the very lips of the doors… but no room in the car.

It was approximately 4:30. I decided, still, to wait.

This was another mistake.

After an interminable span spent clicking through my Longform feed (have you READ the latest New Yorker article on psychedelic medical research? FASCINATING.), another train finally arrived. By some swift stroke of doom I found myself square between the cars, and the vector physics of MBTA-boarding ensures that, when squared between cars, there is no possible hope that you will make it through. You will remain, stymied, on the platform, again, wondering how you could possibly be so close and yet so very far away.

Waiting. The crowd was large, but jocular, and this Chinese woman behind me started chattering, at nobody in particular, about the high-speed train Guangzhou to Beijing, suggesting that if our trains in Boston were faster, and arrived with greater frequency, perhaps we might not all be waiting here in a frothing mass of subterranean torment while that homeless blind guy belts out “New York, New York” for the fifth refrain. Of course, she didn’t really SAY it like that, but she was totally right on. “America, you know, think they number one… but maybe…”

The train arrived, and this time I all but RAN through the open doors, thrown inward by the throng behind me. I turned around and saw some brown-skinned men helping the Asian lady up off the floor. “How multicultural,” I thought. “See? Things aren’t so bad, even on the Blue Line.”

A trio of white construction workers banged their coolers together as the train pulled slowly from the station.

“I totally tripped that lady, bro. Talkin’ shit about America.”

And that was the first time I ever felt unsafe on the T.


Quiet, now.

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This has been total hell. The whole spring-into-summer. One slow-burning, creeping infection that reinvented itself hourly. There was the hospitalization, of course, but that was just the beginning. That was only the spark.

It wasn’t like last time, this past time – again, June. There was no brandishing grand hopes of success or faith in newly devised treatments. Rather, I harbored a dreadful certainty that this scene would play itself out again and again, rippling its dark water into every corner of my life. Call it what you will, premonition or self-sabotage, but damn if it hasn’t been just like that. My entire basement is flooded, at this point – I’m draining it out a bucket at a time.

Things got really weird for a long time. It’s kind of like, “woah, what was in that brownie” and then forgetting you ever ate the brownie. You’re left unmoored, disembodied, completely immersed in a tilt-shifted world of your own making. It’s different – eerily hollow – but familiar. Then you wake up seven hours later wearing your roommate’s favorite dress, inexplicably covered with butterscotch ice cream topping.

Except that last part never happened. Not this summer, anyway.

Somehow the real-life aftershocks seem even more shattering this go-round, which is saying a lot, I suppose, since my last breakdown resulted in the end of my marriage. But it’s a true statement if there ever was one.  If I tried to list the ways this summer’s trials have screwed up my scene, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. And it would probably be super depressing.

I have a new therapist who specializes in DBT, and, for better or worse, I’ve given up trying to give up Abilify. It works too well, this designer-drug miracle, and pulls me together so completely. Having a new job helped a lot, that much I will admit – having to pretend to be OK sometimes leads halfway there.

So here I am, facing up to reality and moving along. Still pretending from time to time, but mostly just analyzing the cost of the metaphorical sump pump. Getting sick was expensive.


Bearing up

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It goes without saying that things have been happening. Despite what one might wish, things are always happening. We are powerless to stop it. Some normal things happen, that much is for sure, and some wonderful things, but some things you wish you could pretend AREN’T happening also happen.

It’s on again, this war in my brain, and it’s on full-force. If back in May I hinted at a storm to come, I had no idea it would be a monsoon of such magnitude, or one that’s proven to be so mercilessly unrelenting. I mean, I would have come with snacks. And honestly? We’re out of Chianti. ALREADY.

I’ve equated depression to many things, but what comes to mind most recently is some kind of morbid onion shedding its papery skin. With each layer, you think, oh yes, here’s the bad part. Now, I remember. I remember that vague hopelessness when faced with life’s bounty or crosses, and the distinct inability to sort one from the other. Or no – *I* remember this –  come on – let’s just get out of bed. On the count of three. Just this one more time – and staying in bed for another two days.

With each layer lost another emerges, more bleak than the last, and you never get any closer to the damn meat of the onion. And I don’t even like onions in the first place, so WHY?

Oh, who brought the Sun Chips? Good call, dude. Looks like we’re in for a long one.


Delusions.

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Like most people with mood disorders, I’ve always loved reading books about other people with mood disorders. More than one of them have had a bipolar protagonist. And I’ve always thought, while reading: “Huh. That kind of reminds me of… me”. This is not to say that I’m inclined to wear a tutu to the grocery store or buy spur-of-the-moment tickets to Vegas on a newly opened credit card, but the way things tend to cycle inside my head has always made me wonder.

For example.

Syracuse, NY (home of my alma mater) is not known for its fine weather, but the perpetual slate-grey skies mirrored my dysthymic mindset to such an extent that I could only conclude that the pairing was meant to be. I went to class, kept my grades up, and partied like a rockstar, but, behind the scenes, my mind was an abyss. I sought help on more than one occasion, but no amount of talk therapy seemed to lighten my load. And, at the time, I was resistant to medication. The summer before my senior year things got so bad that I had to quit my waitressing job in Boston, bow out of my prizewinning internship at an ad agency, and move back to SU, head in hands. My boyfriend and I had just recently ended our year-plus relationship, and I was terrified of all that lay in store. That first semester was a nightmare. Horrible.

Then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

I remember the moment everything turned roses – it was the screening night for my film class – and finally, to quote the great Sylvia Plath,

“All the heat and fear had purged itself. I felt surprisingly at peace. The bell jar hung suspended a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating air. ”

It was wondrous.

But, as we all know, the only constant in life is change. And it wasn’t long before my euphoria plunged back to black despair. The moment the switch flipped back is just as clear as the moment it flipped on, and I cried on Katsu’s shoulder, knowing that my reprieve had ended. Not knowing when, or if, it would ever begin again.

Those switches are less clear now, but I’m beginning to think that some have flipped. The first was euphoria – living alone, freewheeling out to my new boyfriend B!, even moving home bothered me less than anyone could have imagined.

The second, of course, is now. The realization that all those good times were on some spectrum of yet another mental malfunction – a symptom of this suspected disease. All the progress I thought I’d made? Nothing but hypomania triggered by my stint in the Bin.

And you know what? That really feels like shit. Seriously.


A Geek Tragedy

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So I wound up returning that computer I bought, just in case any of y’all were breathless with anticipation. I returned it and I got a new one and then, pretty much immediately, my 2009 MacBook Pro died.

Or rather, I killed it.

I was replacing its hard drive with the 1TB beast from B!’s 2007 model, and there must have been some sort of static discharge because now the damn thing won’t even boot. If you put your ear very close to the keyboard you can hear the gentle purr of parts whirring, but there’s no lights, no chimes, and certainly no error messages to pave the way. I emailed my tech guy (yup, I have a tech guy) and he agreed that I was totally screwed. So we’re debating between a new Mac Mini or a 13″ MacBook Pro from 2011. Like money grows on trees.

I feel bad about killing the computer, but not THAT bad. I mean, I probably should have taken better precautions when I was changing out the drives – all the RAM installs had made me a little cavalier. But you know what? Lesson learned. Why look back. Ever forward. Now we get another new toy, which is fun, and I get to spend more of my credit card company’s hard-earned capital. So it’s really a win-win.

#not


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