Beginning on the Path

Not to belabor the point, but I’ve been going through some issues lately. I write about them because I feel people can relate. The same way I relate when I read other people’s writing about their similar issues. So, here I continue to write about my journey. If you feel that these posts speak to you, please feel free to mention that in a comment below.

I would like to blame it on my cell phone. Or, as Milli Vanilli offered, to blame it on the rain. In this case rain makes an excellent scapegoat; I love sleeping in the rain. I mention the phone because it is very easy to spend hours looking at it, interacting with other people around the world that I’ll probably never meet in person.

I always have excellent plans for a day off. I have a list of things to accomplish—either written down or in my head. Then comes the day. I don’t have to get up to go to work, so the alarm gets silenced as soon as it goes off. (This might be my favorite thing in the entire world.) Then, I fall back to sleep until it’s embarrassing. I get up, make coffee and read while I drink it.

Between sleeping in, morning naps and afternoon naps nothing gets done. Nothing. If it weren’t for lunch with Barry I might not even eat. He was out of town the other day and I started shaking from low blood sugar around 2PM, because I hadn’t eaten that day. Fortunately we had left-over tacos. And bagels & cream cheese.

Today I woke up from my nap, stepped over the unwashed clothes, around the furniture that is waiting to be emptied and removed from the room, right past the clean clothes waiting to be folded, and out the door. I came into town because of a 70% off custom frame deal. That ends tomorrow. So, I could have waited until tomorrow, except that I couldn’t stay at home any longer. I didn’t bring my computer so that I could write, because I suck at life. I did, though, bring my journal because I’m not a heathen. Now I sit and contemplate all that I could have already accomplished. I sit in a coffee shop in Austin, not home where I should be and where I pointed run from.

I had my first therapy session yesterday—post-assessment, that is. I was really looking forward to working through a lot. He gave me some things to watch for, and a few things to think about as I go through my day. Not sure how much I expected from the first meeting, but I feel like I’m not cured yet. I haven’t had another episode, but I still feel not-completely-cured. I need something to work on from one session to the next. I do know that I need three exercise sessions per week. I was told to watch how I talk to myself (such as declaring that I suck at life) and to learn to have a more constructive dialogue with the more hysterical, irrational voices that scream at me. I’ll watch for that.

In the meantime, I think setting up better routines would be beneficial. I’ve already begun straightening the bed as soon as I’m out of it. Now I just need to do something else before my coffee, because that’s where the slow-down really starts. And I should make it a habit to fold a load of laundry every day.

Barry is the example to look at. He is working from the moment his feet hit the floor. He sweeps before his eyes are completely open. I don’t necessarily want to be a workaholic, but I can spot where things begin to stall for me, and I can intercept. Twitter and Facebook are time-suckers, but it’s not all in vain if it helps build a following who might someday buy a book. And I enjoy interacting with all of the people I’ve met so far. So, when I get home I should immediately sweep or vacuum, then I can look at Twitter. Tamara said that her rule growing up was that they had to clean at least one thing before they could leave the house. That is a good life plan.

These are great habits and I can visualize myself incorporating them into my life. But, depression is real, and the thought of laying down, seeking the escape of sleep, is too easy, the need too strong. I rarely am able to resist it.

Nobody has said that this would be easy or that change would happen overnight.

Writing

I should be writing. In a sort of twisted game of procrastination I’ve ended up writing in my blog, which is, in fact, writing. Shh… don’t tell me; I think I’m procrastinating and distracting myself from painting, which was part of the long list of procrastination techniques used to keep me from writing. A few minutes ago I was working on a mandala that I plan to use in a small exhibit that I’m supposed to be a part of this May. So, here I am at my keyboard in spite of myself.

If I’m going to be using my laptop, it would make more sense for me to be at my desk, where I have a docking station along with a larger monitor. However, there’s a spider on the computer and I don’t want to disturb him. He might be my father visiting me. The spider was here earlier; he dropped onto my mandala and wanted to play with my pen. He’s so tiny and delicate you can barely see him, and only if you try hard. I didn’t want to let him hang around a piece of paper I was working on, so I grabbed him by his thread of web and carried him outside. The light out there was not great. I could see him on my finger, but I had to kind of go on faith that I had successfully released him into the wild. When I got back to where I am working—a meeting table in the middle of a larger space that also contains my office—the spider was right there on the table. I resigned myself to the fact that it was my father visiting from the other side and no amount of taking him outside was going to change anything. So, here I sit with a tiny spider building a web on my Surface computer like he’s supposed to be here and we’re just hanging out.

Life, overall, is better than it was earlier this month. While work is still a handful, I seem to have more emotional wherewithal to deal with it. I’m not hiding in the revolting bathroom of that very old building, or calling in sick, pulling the sheets over my head in bed and contemplating what excuse I could find to go on disability so that I could spend my days taking care of the cats and writing. Now I go to work, and most days I look forward to it. I don’t for a minute want to give the impression that my employer is abusive. They’re wonderful; I’m simply falling apart.

I visited a psychologist a few weeks ago. Come to think of it; he’s supposed to call me back with what my insurance company said about his plan to go forward with a psychological assessment. (He pitched this as a wonderful thing for me. He said that I could use it with his clinic or take to any clinic of my choosing, that it would be treated as a golden egg.) I went so that I could learn better coping mechanisms and techniques. I’ve kind of given up on the idea that it will all just go away. It’s probably a part of my genetic make-up and I just need to learn how to deal with the depression/anxiety or what-have-you. When I visited him for the intake interview I was so distraught that I forgot to ask him what I should do if I have another episode. I’m not certain I want to know what his answer would be. I have a feeling it would involve an emergency facility, and I’m not looking forward to being in an emergency facility. Not while I still have sick days left.

I’m not even sure why I’m feeling better. My medical doctor, when I described that horrible Tuesday in which I was hiding under the sheets, told me that it sounded like an anxiety attack, so I’ll stick to that term until I learn otherwise. Anxiety attack: a nice little package I can present to people when they wonder why I’m nauseous every morning of my life, or why I’m in a fetal position in a bathroom stall that is so small you can’t open the door without straddling the toilet, and so old that opening one stall door throws both doors open and you have to avert your eyes when you walk by in order to not see the startled expression of some other unsuspecting dude sitting with his head in his hands, unaware that the stall door just hit him on the knee, exposing his nude bottom half to the person who is now walking out the door. There aren’t a lot of good reasons to do this, and ‘anxiety attack’ says a lot in just two words. And most people can relate.

My friend, the spider, has moved to the lamp. It seems like it would be too hot for him, but he’s swinging up and down, building his little web to catch microscopic dust mites that float through the air. It’s getting late and probably no more work is going to be done on my novel tonight. I believe that there is pie in the refrigerator in the house. I have milk, so I think I have a plan for the next 45 minutes until I go to bed and let the CPAP take me into the lovely world of dreams and sleep until the alarm goes off and another work day begins. It’s nice that this Sunday doesn’t find me anxious and distressed. I wish I knew what I did to make this happen. Maybe I’ll review my journal to see if any behavior patterns appear. But, probably I’m going to read while I eat pie and then go lay down with the cats.

Life is good.

* Update: Three days later and I found myself, yet again, hiding under the sheets this morning. But, that’s okay because I now have an appointment with the psychologist tomorrow morning to have the assessment done. They tell me that I’ll be sitting alone in one of their offices answering questionnaires. That’s not the one-on-one experience that I longed for, but something about this guy makes me trust him. He did tell me that the actual therapy would begin after the assessment was done. While I’m there tomorrow they will set up an appointment for me to come discuss the results, once the doctor has analyzed my answers. Fair enough. And that will be the golden assessment that I will be able to take with me and be received with open arms at any office I might want to visit. (He did say that I could choose to stay with his office, but he didn’t seem exactly excited about that. I have a feeling that his main bread and butter comes from other sources, like people visiting him at the behest of a judge.)

I’m sitting at my desk with the Surface plugged into the docking station and my friend, the spider, is spinning his web on the larger monitor. He has a buddy with him; two spiders spinning in concert on my monitor while I work on my novel and my blog. I guess my dad is looking out for me after all; he seems to be in it for the long haul. Usually, the spider/Dad is gone in less than an hour, but this little dude has a roommate (Dad’s brother, Ken?) and they’re building a web, making themselves at home. Like they’re gonna see this thing through with me.

And, Life is still good.

My friend, the spider

Taking a Break with Cats

I’ve been away from my mind my writing desk for the past few weeks. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to pick up writing here where I left off. In the meantime, I share with you pictures of my sister’s cat, wearing a delightful ruff designed by my nephew.