Thanks, Y’all

Me…sorta

This year has been…well, let’s just say I’ve had better years than 2012. When it started, I was still dealing with what I unaffectionately called “stabbyfeet,” more commonly known as “peripheral neuropathy.” Some days, I’d wake up and it would feel like I had somebody stabbing me in the feet with a Garden Weasel. No problem: just take a bunch of Neurontin, and it would go away. This relieved the pain, and knocked me so loopy, that I couldn’t possibly go to work. Some days I was fine–no stabbyfeet; no medcoma. Other times, I’d miss a day of work, or even a week of work. To make this worse, of course, is that I’ve always danced with depression. The year or two of being fogged-up from the meds left me frustrated, and that frustration didn’t exactly help my depression. I felt largely worthless. I don’t know if I worked every day of a pay period from January till March. Then came April.

Oh, dear God, April.

I’ve written enough about the struggles I’ve dealt with from my major depressive meltdown–the brain kablooey, as I call it–and I’m not going to blather on about it this morning. You know what happened, and all the crap I’ve been through trying to get back to some semblance of being me…

And THAT is what I choose to dwell on this morning: those who have helped me as I try to climb out of the black hole.

I wouldn’t wish my April meltdown on anyone. It sucked, and I was isolated. Literally. I moved in with my parents for awhile, because I couldn’t really trust myself to be alone. I wasn’t going to kill myself, but I could see myself also not getting out of bed for days at a time, never bathing, diving even deeper down.

So, I’m grateful for my parents, who were supportive and encouraging, but knew enough not to push me. They understood that they really COULDN’T understand what had happened to their elder son, only that it was some really, really dark hell, and that there was absolutely nothing they could do to make it go away. They helped me with medical bills, didn’t question why I’d sometimes go for drives and come home amped-up on Monster Rehab Energy Beverage and smelling of Newports and salt water. They mailed packages for me to people they’d never heard of, and put up with my sometimes alarming mood swings, as the docs and I tried yet another in a seemingly endless series of psych med permutations. They didn’t complain when I would hole-up in my cool dark room at the other end of the house. I couldn’t stand to be around myself, so I can only imagine how hard it was for them to tolerate me.

I’m grateful for my doctor. Dr Borgia is, quite simply, the most brilliant doctor I’ve ever met, and I’m glad he chose to devote his brilliance to Psychiatry. Every time he prescribed a medication, I researched the shit out of it online, and his choices were always spot-on. They didn’t always work for me–no psych med works the same for everybody–but it was clear he knew what he was doing. When I had real problems with side-effects, or something wasn’t working, I would call his number, regardless of office hours or day of the week. His answering service always contacted him, and he called me back pretty quickly. He never tried to rush me off the phone, and he was willing to change a course of meds, even at 9 o’clock on a Saturday night. One night, I was having a horrible time with rage-spikes on one particular med. He told me how to start weaning off of it, and called in a prescription for something new. He doesn’t take any insurance, and he ain’t cheap, but I don’t begrudge him one cent. He’s worth it. And finally, we seem to have hit on a phab pharmacological phour (sic). It’s a shitload of pills–some of which, if the cops ever checked my pockets, would trigger phone calls to pharmacies to make sure I had legal prescriptions–but it’s a small price to pay for feeling better. Thanks, doc.

My “shrink,” as I call him, is actually Rick, my therapist. He runs a faith-based counseling center in Sarasota. Although he is an ordained minister, he never preaches to me. He’s simply an awesome therapist. I’ve been to too many therapists who can’t play in my ballpark. I don’t mean to sound like an arrogant dickbag, but I’m not an easy patient for a therapist. I’m more intelligent and a better bullshitter than the average human, and when a therapist can’t keep up, I lose all respect, and I don’t take them seriously. If I don’t take you seriously, I will play you so slickly, that you won’t even know how badly I’m fucking with you. I’ll be out the door and halfway home before you realize I talked the whole session, and never answered your question. Sure, I’m the one who’s not getting any benefit, but for Jung’s sake, at least recognize when I’m snowing you; act like you know what you’re doing, and get my ass back on track.

Rick is an ace. I respect his intelligence. He doesn’t shy away from tough questions, and he’s like a border collie: when I start to stray from the topic, he gets me back on point. He’s also sharp enough to read my moods, and to adapt our session’s focus based on that. Some days, I’ve gone in there feeling good, almost like I’m cured. Other days, I’m a mumbling, dark cloud of a human. He’s stuck with me through a hell of a ride these past seven months, and I’m thankful for Rick. If he weren’t something special, I wouldn’t drive the 110 mile round trip every Thursday afternoon for our 3pm appointments.

I’m thankful for my Michelle, whom I met in that secret club I’m in. She was a sobbing, raw nerve the first time I met her, in a Sunday night meeting almost seven years ago. I made it my mission to make her laugh. I did. We became friends, far more than friends. I’m godfather to her son, and my parents love her. More Fridays than not during my dark months, she’d drive down from St Pete to Sarasota, and we’d go to breakfast. She’s been in her own Abyss, where no light can reach. No matter how bad my week was, we always ended up laughing like loons. I could laugh with her, because she knew what it was like to be where I was. I felt safe. We had fun, and I’m sure the Shell Girl misses our weekly visits.

I don’t have a lot of friends, in the traditional sense. I’m good around people when I have to be, but other humans can leave me weary and stressed. I like to fulfill my mission with them–working ten hours shifts alongside them, buying stuff from them, or visiting friends or family as required–then get back to my solitary cave as quickly as possible. I never really feel lonely. I have people I could do things with, friendships I could cultivate more thoroughly, but I feel like I still have too much heavy lifting to do, too much healing left, too many callouses to develop. I’m getting really good at making it to work most of the time, and I don’t freak out too much most days. (There are a number of Xanaxes secreted about my desk and in my pocket, lest one of those anxiety attacks sneak up on me) Work and other inevitable social situations pretty much exhaust all my “being around other people” energy. I’ve gotten better, and I hope that will continue, but I’m not going to push it unnecessarily.

Last but not least, I am thankful for you, my Interweb People. I got cards, letters, hand-crocheted zombie-vampires, books–you name it–from all over the continent (even Lego people from the U.K.!). Thanks to everyone who dropped something in the mail–especially Christina ❤ for crocheting and sending me Vlad, the zombie-vampire doll, with whom I had much fun. Also, so many of you were quick with e-mails or Vox comments–SHIT, I mean, “Word Press” comments–or DM’s, texts, Facebook messages–the list goes on. I may or may not have met you in person, but you are a very real part of my life, far moreso than most of my “flesh and blood” friends and relatives. You’ll never understand how much a sentence or two on a Facebook post or blog entry meant to me. You were my lifeline, and I am grateful.

Vlad on the bow of the USS Nimitz

Ah, yes. And I’m thankful for the USS Nimitz (aka, my truck) for getting me where I needed to go, as well as places I didn’t actually NEED to go, but just sort of wandered into.

Well, it’s after 10am Thanksgiving morning. Dinner at my parents’ house is at 2pm, so maybe I should try and sleep an hour or two. I’m scheduled to work OT tonight from 1800 to 0200. I can always cancel. Maybe I will. Maybe this will just be a really long day, and I’ll have to power through on Monster Rehab and Adderall. (NOT a recommended combination for amateurs. 😉 )

One of the bright spots during the early, darkest part of my journey back, was this little shell shop out on Siesta Key. I’m not sure of its name, but the girl who ran it was cute as a bug, always sweet and smiling and happy to see me. She loved Led Zeppelin, and had a great laugh. My Michelle and I always visited her on Fridays, and I dropped a few bucks there on multiple occasions (Lord knows, I mailed out enough sharks teeth and starfish to populate a small bay).  Shell Girl’s name? What else: Michelle.

Here’s a picture from around the midpoint of my adventure. I was waaay slouched down so she and I could be in the same frame, and I’m still sporting lovely eye-bags and a general manic, lithiumish look.

Shell Girl and me (I’m on the left, if you were wondering)

Smiles were rare this past summer. When I had them, it was likely one or more of you were responsible (or my darling little Shell Girl).

The image at the very top of this post is a still from Fellini’s “Armacord,” and it pretty well shows how I’m feeling recently. Things aren’t all bright and springy inside my head–there are neither bright flowers nor verdant lawns–but there is light enough to see, and the promise of more light to come. And there, through the snow and gray murk, I can see this grandiose blue thing, so long invisible in the dark; that hopeful blue thing that is my soul.

Happy Thanksgiving. (And thanks be to you as well)

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8 Responses to “Thanks, Y’all”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Tom. 🙂 I hope you’re doing better each day. I’m also thankful that you are part of my little circle of friends. 🙂

    • Thanks, hon. I’m glad we found each other in the Interwebs. It kind of sucks that Jupiter is closer to my sandbar than you are, but still. 😉 I’m happy to have found you.
      “Saán ka nakatirá?”
      “Jupiter.”
      “Tae!”

      (I was never good with dialogue)

  2. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. I sometimes joke that I love people, but really can’t stand humanity. Here’s to the people that we love and love us.

    • That’s a good way to put it. I don’t usually like cat people, but I love my cat. (That said, I don’t baby him and refer to myself as something saccharine) Same with I don’t really like kids, but I love Punkins twins, my godson, and my friend Krista’s kid, Andre.

      Being trapped inside my own brain this year taught me that a friend’s value doesn’t necessarily depend on physical proximity. It’s all about caring, all about the love. I saw two of my work friends all summer–two–and I saw Michelle several times. My Interweb friends did most of the heavy lifting, and I’m forever grateful, even if y’all are 3000 miles away.

  3. I see the blue thing quite a bit. Have you ever thought of regression therapy?

    • Honestly, no, I haven’t ever thought of regression therapy. Interesting idea, though. Your comment made me think of this:

      “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
      That perches in the soul –
      And sings the tune without the words –
      And never stops – at all –

      (Emily Dickinson, “Hope” stanza 1)

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I SO agree with Steve. I love you guys. People in general suck! 😉
    You are beautiful, dude……keep getting better, you peacock in a blizzard! 😀

    • You are awesome, Lauri. I’ll do my best to keep getting better.

      I love my circle of online friends, most of us refugees from Vox. We come from different backgrounds, live in different countries, believe in different gods, work in different realms. Some post frequently and eloquently; others dash out a paragraph every now and then.

      Whatever it is that caused us to meet–however we’ve nurtured our initial contacts, and grown them into fullblown friendships–one truism remains:

      You said “cock.” Bwahahahaha. *snerk*

      Happy Sunday, hon. Stay warm.

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