I haven’t been feeling terribly well, lately—particularly in the mornings when I eat. I suppose I could just stop eating all together and that would really help with my weight loss goals, but the cramping in the stomach, the nausea and other related issues seem to indicate that something bigger is amiss. I don’t know what that something is, but I have an appointment with my doctor to see what we can do about it. My fear is that the medicines I’m taking are affecting my liver, and I want to nip that in the bud if that’s the case. If it’s something that will pass and I just need to press through it, then so be it.
Meanwhile, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in my bedroom either sleeping or sitting in my chair reading, or watching Good Omens on my laptop. The cats, Anastasia and Raku, are thrilled for me to be there, inasmuch as a cat will ever express that they’re thrilled about anything. I have a new-to-me chair that I’m happy with, and I cleaned up another one that I’ve had, one that I’ve never actually been able to use because the cats claimed it immediately. So, new life, new me. I have chairs.
The other day I came in to find this:
I’m not trying to start problems or anything, but Anastasia has already established that this is her chair when I’m not sitting in it. I fear that Cleo is either inadvertently going to cause a war, or that’s precisely what her plan is. To be honest, she’s my partner’s cat, so it’s not like she wandered in out of nowhere, but this is not a room or building that she comes in, until the past few weeks. All I ask if if there is fur shed in this fight, let it not be on my chair, and let my chair not be collateral damage.
I decided that we needed to walk around West 6th Street and check out the galleries. I turn around and Tamara, @davincibox, is hugging the Treaty Oak.
Allow me one more entry in this vein, and then I’ll move on to happier things.
I sit, and write while I can sit. I'm not feeling my best; stomach cramps and other symptoms of a stomach bug are bothering me these last couple of days. It's maybe a good time to sit with myself. Usually when I'm sick I sleep through it, which is fabulous. Sleeping for 36 hours straight is a dream come true. Yesterday I slept until noon, then got up and putzed around. Today I got up around 8 AM, so there's no avoiding myself or my life.
Last November I challenged a couple of friend of mine. Barry has been an artist (a jeweler) for 35 years, and he is searching for a new direction for his art. Our friend, Tamara, is a graphic designer, but when we met almost 30 years ago we were both aspiring artists. It's our bond. She has always, ALWAYS, been naturally more talented than I. I make up for some of it through persistence. Barry wants to take his art in a new direction, Tamara wants to take her life in a new direction—as do I. So, I suggested that the three of us together work on an exhibition of artwork. Barry suggested the Elgin Art Studio Tour in May 2019.
At first we sat together with 15-30 minute sessions, then we critiqued. We talked about what we wanted to accomplish, gave suggestions about where we thought each other's work was going. We worked. Tamara came to the studio regularly and it seemed like this was going to be taken seriously. We took field trips to art supply stores and came back to work on our stuff. I live here and am able to work during the week. Tamara has come during the week, but it's mostly weekends for her. Barry works every single evening of his life on jewelry.
This has to be taken in context of my life. My previous post about beginning on the path is not separate from this art that I'm working on. It's all connected, especially in my mind. My thoughts about what I wanted to accomplish were very much addressing the demons that haunt my mind. I've addressed these demons off and on for most of my life; it appears that it's going to be a lifelong battle.
Sometimes I feel that perhaps there is a problem when we keep things together. This made itself apparent in my last job. We all worked very hard (and learned so very much.) But, perhaps our working to keep things together, however tenuously, was enabling the company to continue to put off investing in the necessary infrastructure changes. While we worked (“Did whatever it took”) to help the company fulfills its promises, the company kept promising more and more until the balance shifted and we couldn't keep up. Most of us felt, though, that we HAD to keep up, that we HAD to make it work, and as we lost more ground, our stress increased to dangerous levels.
I think about that experience in my current job, where I keep a more firm stance on what I can and cannot do. And major changes are happening because things are not working as they should. Departments are being created and facilities are being established to handle the mountain of paperwork that we work with, to eliminate the problem of lost documents that has plagued us. The phone center is being beefed up and redesigned to allow the processing teams time to do our jobs, rather than spending our days answering calls. Things are changing because problems have been brought to light. This, as opposed to us working furiously against time and logic, blaming and flagellating ourselves to "make it work".
But, what of myself? I look at the years that I've wandered through life making choices that I knew were wrong and that I would one day pay for. But, I have not ever been homeless. I've not ever, really, been hungry. I've always taken a loan from my future self to pay for sloth and gluttony in the present, knowing that at one point it would all catch up with me. I've always managed to keep it together just enough to get by. What's catching up to me now is anxiety—paralyzing anxiety that has an affect on my daily life. I feel I'm losing my grip. Some days, for no reason I can put my finger on, I can't get out of bed. I literally get sick and tremble under the covers. It's coming for me.
A few years ago a person very close to me surprised me. I got a call that there was a problem, a possible drinking problem that I was clueless about. Before the evening was over, that person had been arrested for DUI, and a couple of weeks later was in a rehab facility. At the time I was so overwhelmed and under so much stress that the idea of going into rehab seemed like a vacation. But, I had managed to keep it together enough to put that off, for the time, anyway. This person continues to battle demons and alcohol, two years later. Nobody said that it would be easy or that change would happen overnight. And I have moved on to a better place of employment and a better place in my life.
Was holding it together really the best thing for me? Its' all catching up to me anyway, have I just been putting off the inevitable? I wonder about that as I navigate a job that is going through an incredibly stressful transition, and as I work on the paintings and mandalas that will be a part what I present in the exhibition. As I barrel toward a nervous breakdown, I listen to Chill-out Lounge Music and imagine that I am on a beach, in a cabana listening to the sound of the waves and watching happy people enjoy their vacations. I wonder what my therapist would say about this. Maybe, after all, it is time to finally fall apart.
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.