Got back from head-shrinking appointment a bit late this evening. I’ve made improvements regarding my situation. This means no hospitalization! I am much relieved. However, I’m still not functioning very well and “we” are continuing to make med adjustments and loads of more therapy. They have put me out from work for another week. I guess this is just as well as I fear I would not be able to project a professional image and would probably suck in general at this stage of the game. So, on I go.
Moving Images: An Update From the Day
Well, we made it to the movie, “A Mighty Wind” and I made it through the entire screening. Sounds so stupid, but it was not easy. Panic attacks throughout the movie. I just focused on something on the screen and dealt with it, but I think I missed most of the movie. Seemed more sad than funny, but I do not think I can pass a cinematic judgement on it due to my state as I watched.
We also went by my office. That was more difficult than the movie. I seem to have no control over my emotions. None of it really makes any sense to me.
The whole day was sort of like this pro-longed feeling of detachment. Like we were moving images without sound or meaning. And yet, I know I am doing better. At least I think I am. ugh.
We didn’t make it to Peter and Duncan’s. I was just so wiped out by the time we got back to Salem.
Anyway, that was the day. Much fun. not.
Sad Sack Walking
Karl feels I really need to get out of the house today. He is right. The more I allow this “thing” to keep me from doing even the most basic of things the worse it could get. So, my Palm Pilot batteries ran out a few days ago —- I need to synch with my work pc so the Palm will be operational again. All of my friend/family numbers are stored there. We are going to try to go into my office. As it is Easter, I do not think I will have to interact with anyone from work. Am worried I will come across as a sweating idiot. It will be good to go in just for a few minutes anyway. I miss work and miss the people I work with. Keep telling myself that I may be able to go back a week from Monday, but I guess I won’t know til I see the doctor(s) on Friday.
We are also going to try and see a movie and Pete & Duncan want us to come over late this afternoon. I haven’t seen them in too long. So, Karl has big plans for me today, but I think he is right. I need to push myself to do little things. Am just so tired and these panic attacks are severe. Ugh. I think I got about 4 hours of sleep. Interestingly enough, I am feeling better today than yesterday. My mood is lighter. Not so down. Go figure.
Easter, Sad Poems, Some Cool New Music and a Sad Sack…
Tomorrow is Easter. This is a significant day for so many. To be honest, it has never meant much to me. I tend to think of it as a day during which I can eat as much chocolate as I like without feeling guilt. On the religious aspect I feel a bit adrift. There is so much in The Bible and in all religions that seem, to me, to be so much fantastical fairy tales. However, it is a beautiful and poetic concept. I do believe in God and have a very strong faith base, but I have to wonder how much of what we are told in Christianity is actually holy or simply the writings of men with good intentions —- telling us fairy tales.
So, this morning as I tried to find the energy to move — the energy to break the inertia of this depression, I was thinking about Easter. And a poem came to me which I had, for some reason, memorized as a teenager. I haven’t thought of it for years so I double-checked myself with a book —- and, to my surprise, I had almost remembered it correctly. However, I had forgotten the brother and sister names of Arthur Rimbaud — and I had forgotten how beautifully Patti Smith can write.
“…arthur, frederic and their sisters, isabelle and vitalie, labored thru the streets of charleville in white ribbons and cloth of blue to receive their first communion. close to the church it was arthur who broke formation and called to the other rimbaud children to come run with him thru the field, past the chapel off a bridge into the cold and finite water of a river that led to the warm and infinite blood of christ.”
Patti Smith, from “Easter” 1978
Anyway, that little verse has been tucked away in my head since I first read it in 1978. It was printed on the record sleeve for the Patti Smith Group album, Easter. Think I got it just a few months before my brother was born. I turned 12 in 1978, but I think I got this record during the summer of 1978. I could be wrong. It doesn’t matter.
Regarding my on-going ride on the trauma rollercoaster, seems like some days are better/easier than others. Today is kind of rough. I got 5 hours of sleep, but I don’t think there was much quality to the sleep. It is a day when every move of my body takes ten times the amount of energy to do anything. I forced myself to take a walk with my Walkman. Only lasted a few blocks and then turned back to home. I feel like such a loser. I want to snap my fingers and end the nightmares, anxiety attacks and all of this fear and frustration running through my body. But there is no easy way. I just need to buckle up and try to do all that the doctors want me to do. I guess I will take a nap, then another walk.
Karl is visiting his family on the cape today. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t know if I could deal with so many people and I also didn’t want to drag them down on the holiday. Am tired of being such a sad sack. I’ve got to get a grip on this and these newly formed phobias. They have rendered me useless on most levels. It all just sucks. Enough of this pity party.
I’ve discovered some great music. Nothing new, but new to me. I really like the work of this kid from Norway, Sondre Lerche. His CD, “Faces Down” is really quite good. He is only 20 years old, but his songwriting is exceptional. I would call him a sort of pop-folk singer.
I also really enjoy Ladytron. I guess they would be classified in the current electro-clash movement. They are somewhat similar to Miss Kittin, Golden Boy and FIscherspooner. Also on the musical front, Goldfrapp has made a bit of a departure from the sound of their first CD and have jumped on the electro-clash band wagon. Their new song, Train, is awesome. It can be heard and video can be seen here.
A quick note that these are not performers you want to listen to when your head aches. Lots of massive beats can sometimes be too much to take. Like today. Today is strictly an easy listening day for me, the Sad Sack.
For those who fully celebrate, may this be a wonderous Easter. For those of you who do not celebrate Easter — have loads of chocolate and think of things that bring you to a place which is safe and holy for you.
This rollercoaster of trauma is no easy picnic and there seem to be no easy answers to many of the questions that keep coming up. On the one hand, I am sleeping a bit better. I should re-phrase that to state that I am getting more sleep. The quality of the sleep is not what it should be. I am also not feeling as desperate as I was on Monday. This is significant and well worth making a note. However, I still feel very low. It just seems hard to get up any level of motivation — and then when I do try to do something — like take in a movie or go to a restaurant for lunch I have a panic attack beyond belief. So, while I am no longer feeling without hope, I still have a feeling of use-less-ness.
Karl is upset that my newly-appointed therapist is not seeing me again until the end of next week and is not happy with the meds prescribed as it takes a while (two weeks) for them to build up in my system. I just started taking them on Monday evening. I understand his concerns and agree that I should probably be seeing someone more often, but am at a loss as to how to address. I am leaving a message with my doctor to give me another referal and will try to find a less busy shrink.
Part of me wonders if what the therapist told me might just be true — that it takes a time for this sorts of disorders to play out. Maybe that is what is happening. Maybe it is playing out and I am on my way out of this shitty fog and off this damn coaster. At least this is what I hope. Meanwhile, I have to continue to push myself to do things and face these new-found phobias head-on. It is just hard to do that when you feel so down. I’ve never really felt as low as I’ve felt these past 3 weeks. Anyway, I am going to try and take in a movie tomorrow. Tried to do this yesterday and had to leave in the middle of the movie because I couldn’t catch my breath. …then had a lovely crying spell in the car. …I don’t think anyone noticed. At least I hope no one noticed.
I know it is stupid and not very logical, but I find all of this quite embarassing. Am only putting it in my blog just in case there is someone else out there going through this. I think it helps to know you’re not alone. Am reading a book advised to me by one of the doctors I am seeing. Am finding it hard to read, but that would be a normal reaction. I read a few pages and then have to put it down. The Courage to Heal by Bass and Davis is not without controversy, but it seems to ring true as I read. The book is aimed at women, but once you start reading you understand that it is intended for both men and women. So it goes.
On a lighter note, the new Fleetwood Mac CD came out on Tuesday. Not thrilled with it. That is, not to say it is a bad CD — it is actually quite good in spots, but this is not a Fleetwood Mac record. It is as if someone merged a Stevie Nicks solo project with a Lindsey Buckingham solo project and just mixed the songs around. Then they stuck a “Fleetwood Mac” name on it. I would have never thought Christine McVie meant so much to their formula — but she did. There a strong absence of balance, harmony and pop. The songs do not connect. However, for those of you who know me, I am a sucker for Stevie Nicks and have been playing her tracks over and over again. Buckingham’s tracks are good, but loud — and I seem to have a constant headache so I’ve not been listening much to his stuff. The cover of this new CD is quite telling. It is a photo of the band lying on a floor. The photo is cropped so that the drummer and the bass player are not on the cover —- leaving a shot of both Ms. Nicks and Mr. Buckingham. As that old Fleetwood Mac song goes, oh well.
So, these have been my days/nights. I sit, cry, read, listen to a disjointed Fleetwood Mac CD and try to rest. Basically, things just suck right now, but I’ve faith and am tough. I will be ok. I guess it is just going to take me a lot longer than I expected. On top of everything else, I left my boss, assistant, HR and my staff at our firm’s busiest time. I know that I shouldn’t because this is certainly not something I set out to do, but I feel guilty and embarassed. When I discussed this with my therapist, she told me to get over it and deal with what really matters — me. So, I am. And, I do think I am getting better — just at a really slow rate of return.
A Theraputic Kick in the Ass
Just an update to my further adventures on the trauma rollercoaster. Just coming round the Insanity Drop.
Spent the day at the health clinic meeting with various medical experts. I’ve been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While certainly not thrilled with this diagnosis, I was relieved to have a doctor provide confirmation for me that I am not going — nor will I be going crazy. This has long been a fear of mine. The problems I’ve been encountering are text book examples of this disruptive disorder. I am basically useless at the moment and will most likely be this way for a while longer. Therapy, new meds and rest are the days ahead for me. I’ve been placed out of work for an additional two weeks, but it sounds like that will end up getting extended into May. Ugh. The hope is that “we” will note significant improvements within the next two weeks. If not, then the coaster might be headed for a temporary stop in the Hospitalization Zone. …which scares the shit out of me.
I feel like it would be so much healthier to be at work and to think about someone other than myself and my problems. The problem is that I can’t seem to get out of the car to go into the office and than I’ve those nagging/unpredicatable crying “jags” plus bad panic attacks when around people. This just really sucks and am so tired of feeling so depressed, sad and exhausted.
However, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel and am feeling somewhat optimistic. I start the new meds tonight. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. —- and, if you believe in such things, I would appreciate a prayer or two. I have to say this has been the three most terrifying weeks of my life thus far. Of course, my logical perspective seems to be out of focus right now — but this is how it has felf for me.
Sorry for the dull posting and any type-o’s.
Trauma Rollercoaster and Thoughts of Regretta…
I’ve not been posting regularly. Things have been kind of rough for me as of late and I suspect that this will be my most “private” posting as of yet. As I sat with each specialist to prep for my body scan regarding the genetic disorder passed to me by my late father and we reviewed his autopsy report panic attacks started to hit me from every direction — thus quickly sending me into a downward spiral of depression. Feeling so low I knew I was headed for trouble. I’ve been there before — well over 15 years ago and it was not fun. All of this childhood trauma is knocking me down and out. To borrow a NIN title, I feel broken and am basically incapable of doing much. Depression sucks — and I seem to have it all. Crying jaggs (and I never cry!), tossing cookies, sleepless nights — and a horrific nightmare I’ve not had since I was 19 or 20 years old. At that time, I think I had what could be termed as a nervous breakdown. Am doing everything I can to prevent this from happening to me again.
So, now it is back to major therapy. Sort of like being on a rollercoaster of trauma. Just when you hope things are going to settle down you start to hit “The Childhood from Hell” loop, then the coaster hits “The Curve of Sadness” —- and the ride seems to be going on without end. Like I was placed in my cart due to an E ticket from hell. And so the ride goes on…
It took a while for the doctors to get me in with a shrink that they felt could “evaluate” and “help” me. I met with her today. After having spent an hour talking to her and crying — she tells me we are out of time and will need to meet again tomorrow. As I was trying to pull myself together I told her of my plan to return to work this coming Monday, but plan on working this weekend to catch up and see how I do. She just looked at me and said, “We can discuss that tomorrow. Have you ever been hospitalized for depression?” …the answer to that question would be a no. However, am sure you can imagine what is running through my mind.
Jesus, I do not want to be placed in one of those places. Boy, Interrupted. Matt Flys Over the Cukoo Nest. I just fucking hate this. And, my mind keeps going back to an old friend of mine with whom I’ve lost contact. He once told me, after I decided to end therapy, that if I didn’t fully deal with all of the crap I lived through — it would catch up to me and it wouldn’t be fun. I used to call him “Regretta” — from his fave movie star, Gretta Garbo. I miss him and now I am worried that his warning might have been correct.
The one thing that I seem to be able to do and focus on is playing with our new CD burner. I’ve burned so many CD’s it is really scary. Now, I’ve moved on to making CD’s for friends. Poor Peter and Duncan are about to get CD’s they probably have no use for. Oh well. The doctors have encouraged me to do the things that relax me. I was given the “assignment” of seeing a movie a day. Normally, this would be a dream come true for me. …but I seem to be having a great deal of trouble getting out of the car and going into a cinema. And I am having trouble focusing on movies on TV via DVD. Actually, I am just having trouble focusing.
If only I could get one solid night’s sleep. If only I could feel ok. I really want to return to work — seems like it would be good to get back into a routine and have to deal with things other than all about me. However, 75% of my job is dealing with people. Not sure how I would do with that percentage of my job right now, but would sure like to give it a shot.
Karl has been great. He has been my savior and is helping me work through all of this crap. Am so lucky to have him in my life. I’ve also been blessed to work for such a great firm. My boss and the firm are being very supportive as I get through this. And, I will get through this!
Grandmother, Melisa Manchester, Led Zeppelin and Other Personal Reflections
So, as I’ve mentioned in a couple and my most recent post, I am working through a rather difficult time. I’ve been doing a lot of personal reflection as of late. To be honest, sometimes it feels like that is all I can do. Anyway, this morning as I forced myself into motion I decided to put on a CD I purchased last month. Now, I hope I don’t get teased too much about this — but when I found out that Arista was releasing Melissa Manchester’s 1978 hit album, Don’t Cry Out Loud, to CD — I was sooooooo excited!
I do own her greatest hits, but found the prospect of actually paying money for one of her actual albums on CD seemed a bit much to even me. Don’t get me wrong — she has a fantastic voice, but there has always been something lacking in her choice of material. I’ve always thought of her as Bette Midler’s less-fortunate sister or something. Talented, but no cigar. Anyway, I didn’t even tell Karl about purchasing this CD. I hadn’t even played it until this morning. I associate this album with a very specific time of my life. …and with my Grandmother — with whom I was very close.
Both of my parents worked long hours and my Grandmother used to look after me quite a bit. She also indulged me and loved spoiling me. She gave me the kind of unconditional love that every child needs. She also gave me some neurotic tendencies, but no one is perfect, right? Anyway, when I was about 4 or 5 my parents built an extension house on to the one we lived in for my Grandmother. So my summers and afternoons during the school year pretty much belonged to me and my Grandmother.
We had several sorts of rituals. One was our listening to music time. I should note that this was a ritual I established. I spent a great deal of time alone in my bedroom and by the late 70’s was starting to slowly get myself into a bit of trouble with some of the kids I hung with at school. Am certain my Grandmother was aware of this, tho she never made a point to tell me. Anyway, I remeber wanting to break the music ritual, but she put her foot down and refused. Now, my Grandmother never refused me anything — so I didn’t put up any arguement. Thus, our musical ritual remained in place.
This was the ritual —- after my Grandmother’s “story” (The Edge of Night) ended I would go into her living room and put an LP on her huge record player. Am sure you know what I mean —- one of those big wooden cabinets that held a record player inside and was decorated with speakers on either end of the cabinet. I wonder why they stoped making those? Hmmm… Anyway, normally I would put on a Barbra Streisand LP. I would lie on the floor. She would lie on her sofa. I would sing along with the record and she would put her hand on my head and hum along with me. Around 1975 or so I started to discover other musical artists than Babs. ( I was an odd kid and had been a devoted Barbra fan since I was 4. Gay much? ha!) Anyway, by 1975/1976 I was discovering artists like The Who, Blondie, Patti Smith Group, The Ramones — and, thanks to some new friends at Caldwood Elementary School, bands like Kiss, Queen and Led Zeppelin. Grandmother was always cool with the new music. She didn’t care for most of it, but she would listen with me. She would always find something positive about at least one song —- excepting Patti Smith Group or Kiss. She just plain didn’t like them. However, she did love “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.
During the summer of ’78 my mom was pregnant with my brother. I was in my 12th year of life and the marriage of my parents was falling apart. That had always fought a lot and I really had no reason to think things were any worse than usual, but I remember being sad. Normally, I would just turn to Babs records — still do when I am down. However, during the summer of 1978 I heard the single, “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and just loved the sheer drama of it all! So, I secured a copy of the album. At that time, I love everything about the record. I loved the cover and gatefold artwork — lots of pretentious shots of Ms. Manchester doing modern dance in a some sort of empty amusement park which was in bad need of a paint job. …and the music. I would venture to say that me and Grandmother listened to this album for several months straight. Even despite the fact that Babs had released a new LP that year, this was still the one we listened to together.
After my brother, Roy, was born — my parents decided to divorce. Everything changed in what seemed like the span of one night — tho am sure my memory exaggerates here. However, my Grandmother had to relocate to Houston to live with her sister. My Dad moved to Port Arthur and me, Roy and Mom moved to a nice apartment in Beaumont. By this time I was in jr high and was really mixing with a questionable crowd. I had already dabbled with drugs, but got much more involved with them in the summer of 1979. Anyway, after my Grandmother moved to Houston — there was no one to stroke my head and hum along with me. I never listened to the Melissa Manchester album again. In fact, I gave it to her to take to Houston.
So, last month, when I read it had been put to CD — I rushed to Newbury Comix and picked up a copy. I’ve been playing it all day. Funny, I hadn’t played any of this music excepting the cheesy title track which I have on her greatest hits CD since 1979, but I can still sing every single lyric. Grandmother’s favorite song was “Through the Eyes of Grace” — mine was “Caravan” — and we both loved the title track as well as “Such a Morning” and “Bad Weather” — which I think is a cover of a Stevie Wonder song. The arrangements are so dated and over-done, but I just love it!
Grandmother died in 1996. I wish she were around to hear the album in full-glory digital sound. She would love it and I would love to hear her hum along. As I put the CD on this morning, I was worried that it might make me feel really sad —- something I def. do not need to feel anymore of right now — but instead I have to say it has been somewhat healing. It made me feel warm and comforted. It gave me hope.
Later in the day, upon doctor’s orders, I went down to the pool and just floated in the water and thought about my Grandmother and I came to the conclusion that I will not allow this depression to take me any further down. I see a new therapist next week and am determined that I will insist upon returning to work at that time. I’m going to be OK. Like Melissa sings, “I will find my caravan!” …however, am not so sure her advice about not crying out loud is very sound. Sometimes ’70’s logic is best ignored. Tho, gotta love those bell-bottoms!!!
I figure there is a kid somewhere in some shitty little town listening to the same record over and over again. And, that record may not be very good — but it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that we have art to help get us through the rough times. …and Grandmothers to watch out for us — in that way that only grandmothers can.
Just An Update…
Having kind of a rough time right now. So may not do much posting for a while, but I will be back and I am OK. My doctors have put me out on a medical leave. I hope to be back at work by middle of next week. Sometimes, life throws stuff at you that is hard to manage. I know I am a strong person, but I guess I just need a bit of time to sort through a few things. I am listening to the guidance of my doctors. …not something I am particularly good at doing.
Anyway, not to worry —- I will be OK soon!!!