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.


Let’s talk about something different.

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Let’s talk about my legs.

And how they are covered with disgusting, itchy eczema.

Let’s talk about the soles of my feet, and the psoriasis. How it wakes me up at night. How I’m too embarrassed to get pedicures, and how I pre-emptively apologize to anyone who might have the misfortune of removing my sandals.

So when I was in the Bin this last time I was talking to one of the girls about it, and describing how awful and gross it was to have eczema on your legs AND psoriasis on the soles of your feet. She was on the verge of asking me to show it when a nurse interrupted.

“Coconut oil!” she crowed, over the din. She repeated herself for good measure. “It works wonders,” she promised, before turning on her heel and leaving the room.

So last week, in the spirit of self-soothing, I went out and bought myself a jar.

cocoNUTS

 

It’s hot as anything in here, so it’s all melted now. But before the Wave of Unbearable Heat, it had a consistency like cool butter and melted perfectly as I rubbed it into my skin. It was freakin’ AMAZING. Pretty soon I’m reading all about it, how it’s good for all SORTS of things. Great for your skin, great for shaving, GREAT for your hair, apparently – especially if it generally hovers somewhere between “frizzy” and “wavy” even on a cold winter day (hello, check). Some people use it as face wash, if you can believe that! And wow, suddenly I’m slathering this stuff on my legs, rubbing it on my feet, dipping my fingers in the jar like holy water, and practically SPOONING it over my hair, where it then sat for 2 hours, wrapped up in a bun. Don’t worry, I washed it out.

Liquid gold?

But you know what? For all the hype? My legs are even MORE red and itchy than before, the soles of my feet are doing… a little better, which is not to say that they aren’t still completely disgusting / awful, and my hair still hasn’t dried from this morning. On the plus side, I smell like a tropical island ALLTHETIME and B! felt compelled to make Mai Tais tonight. I’d like to take some measure of credit for that.


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.


Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.

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Depression’s like that, kind of. A heavy mood can sometimes be vanquished with skills or medication, but sometimes, before you can really decide what’s happened, you find yourself nose-deep in shit. Consumed.

I’ve become rather used to small victories – had a good run, if you will – so I attributed a meltdown during my sister’s bachelorette to a few too many vodka-sodas and a ugly confluence of possible circumstance. We may or may not have been headed for a gentlemen’s club, and, if we’d been turned away, one could only attribute it to the fact that we were women. Due to my history this would have been enough to trigger angst during the good times, and the stream of self-hating texts I’d sent B!’s way the previous morning indicated that it was not, in fact, good times. Far from.

The next weekend, I went to Maine with my mom and sisters. It was our first vacation with just the girls, and it was lovely! Or it would have been, if I could’ve shaken the feeling that something was horribly askew. Like the world was tilting on its side and no-one could feel it but me. I hid behind my camera and did my best to swallow the burgeoning fear, but I’m not the actress I used to be.

I put up a good show, though.

Until it all stopped.

Something was said that should not have been said, and suddenly B! had contacted not only my therapist, but also, at her urging, my family and the police. Everyone was desperate to find me, because it was now apparent that I’d become a desperate case. A suicide risk. Sounds scary, right? But it wasn’t – not to me.

That’s how you know you’ve been eaten.

I don’t like to post these things, generally, until I’ve made my way through them and have emerged, triumphant, with a bit of snark or a smile. But that’s not this story, friends. Not yet.


Coming to Terms.

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My sister is getting married in June! JUNE! EEE!!! I am SO excited. She has picked out GORGEOUS dresses for us to wear, BEAUTIFUL flowers to adorn the space, and, most importantly, has set about ensuring that the cocktail hour is a feast not to be missed.

But here’s the thing: The gown I had to order? WAS A SIZE ~TEN~.

10. one-zero TEN.

I think my wedding dress was a sample ten, and they had to cut that thing apart and make me a whole new dress from the refuse. And now, this thing that’s a size ten, this enormous tent of a sheath, it is STRAIGHT-UP FITTING ME. FOR REAL.

Part of me wanted to apologize to the salesperson, to explain how I used to be a size zero, how I used to buy clothes in the CHILDREN’S department at Target. But the larger part of me – the better part, pulled it the hell together, smiled, and agreed that the ten fits much better than the eight. I spent the ensuing months resigning myself to being the Fat Bridesmaid. You know, the bridesmaid who isn’t the CUTEST but has “spunk” and can drink most of the groomsmen under the table. That’s me.

I went for my first fitting the other Sunday fearing the worst, and you know, the thing doesn’t look half bad. My mom is not the greatest iPhoneographer, so I’m not sharing those images, but let’s just say I looked somewhat… regal. And with the hair and the flowers, I’ll bet nobody will even THINK to ask if I’m pregnant. And if they do? I’ll challenge them to a tequila-shot competition.


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