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.


TBH, sometimes it’s like, FML. And that’s OK.

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I had it all set in my head to write this great “I Overcame My Eating Disorder” post, and then, unexpectedly, I had cause to watch some of my wedding video. It totally took the wind out of my sails, people. I was so thin then, and I mean, I LOOKED happy enough.

The gist of it was that my aunts came in to town last weekend – three of them – and of course it made me think about how my body has changed since last they saw me. And like, I don’t go around all the time feeling bad about how I look, but let me tell you I tried on my entire wardrobe before deciding what to wear when the whole family met up.

Thing is, I don’t know how to write about this. I don’t know how to write that sometimes I look in the mirror and literally do not recognize myself. I’ve been eating disordered since I was 14, and I always want to stay positive and light for teh interwebz but sometimes it’s just not that easy. If I want to keep writing, if I want to keep being honest, then I really have to admit. It is not that easy all the time.

Why do I want to share this? Why do I want to expose myself in this way? I mean, everyone’s weird about their body, right, why put it out there? Because nobody TALKS about how they’re weird about their body. Nobody TALKS about how it feels. And I think that’s important. At least, it makes me feel better to think that.

So we went out to dinner, my aunts and my parents and me, and we all had Bloomin’ Onion and steak and what have you, and the whole time I was feeling like this huge whale that probably should have gotten a salad instead of a filet mignon. And at the end of the meal, my aunt leans over to me and tells me how amazing I look. That I really look amazing.

This, from the woman who probably remembers me as I was in my wedding dress, all thin and beautiful. This is me then, just after the wedding, on our honeymoon in Mexico. What you don’t see in that picture is my bulimia. And now I don’t have that. It’s cause to be happy. It’s a reason to be proud.

Right?


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I called my shrink today. My insurance changed effective January 1 and, me being me, I’d put off calling my treaters until the last possible minute. (Our appointment was the following morning at 8:15.) She actually picked up, which threw me off guard a little, and brought up a very good point: with new insurance, I’d have a new deductible.

A new DEDUCTIBLE – not a new COPAY.

So I hopped on over to the insurance website and, sure enough, there it was right there in the sidebar. $900. Hey! $900! And three medications to refill this week! Now, that’s a way to really ring in 2012.

I mean, I’d just forgotten about it, the whole deductible thing. I guess I never had one before last year, and, we’ll remember, that was no picnic either. So I don’t know, I guess I’m just bad at being a grownup or something.

But, nevertheless, I counseled myself, breathing deeply and trying to keep my heart rate down, I’m very lucky to actually have the money at this moment in time. Like, barely have the money, but still. One could also say that I’m lucky to have insurance at ALL – even though not having it is just not an option for me anymore. So I’ve got a number of things going for me, here, on what would seem to be an inauspicious start to 2012.

I nixed the appointment with my therapist (needlessly, in hindsight – my medication will more than reach my deductible), and she was gracious enough to accept the late cancellation.  The other piece of good news? She takes my new insurance. Thank God.


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