theicingonthecrazycake

When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Archive for the tag “Xanax”

Is depression the new leprosy?

I have suffered from migraines since adolescence, and I remember my mother telling me that she had no idea what it felt like, as she had never had a headache – migraine or otherwise. She took care of me even though she had no frame of headache reference, holding a cold washcloth to my forehead and making sure I saw a doctor to diagnose my condition. She couldn’t be empathetic, but she was sympathetic to my pain.

During a bout of major depression in the past year – a battle that I am winning – I have experienced empathy, sympathy and compassion. I have friends and family, both near and afar, who have given me shoulder after shoulder to lean on and much encouragement and unconditional love. Some have been empathetic, having suffered from mood disorders themselves. Others have been sympathetic – like my mother’s response to my headaches – wanting to know more about what major depression feels like and how my treatment is going. I once had difficulty accepting that I was lovable. Excruciating difficulty. Now I know I am lovable even in my ugliest, lowest moments and when, at times, I’ve been incapable of being a good friend or sibling or aunt or adult child in return.

One of the most profound experiences happened two weeks ago. It made me cry. I went for a walk with a friend, whom I had not seen since last year. She had no idea what had happened to me in the last 12 months. I told her my story, and when I got to the part about the mental hospital, she stopped walking, gave me hug in the middle of the walking path and said “I had no idea, you are so brave to have done that.” No one had ever told me that I was courageous for seeking help, except my counselors and psychiatrist. Later on in the week, we went rollerblading together. As we were blading down the East Bay bike path, she said “I know you don’t feel like your old, athletic self, but I still see the spark and energy and soul you had when we used to run together. It’s still there. And I promise you, one day in the future, I’m going to be telling you to slow down because I won’t be able to keep up.” Pass me a Kleenex, please.

Conversely, I have been treated like a leper by uninformed fools who think that this is my fault or just a pathetic excuse for not being social or, better yet, that I just need to “snap out of it” or “be happy” or “change my mood.” How simplistic, how fucking easy. Duh, why didn’t I think of those easy fixes before I “chose” to be depressed?

Do you think I choose to “be” this way, much like people choose to suffer from, say, diabetes or heart disease? Do you think my wildest dream was to sit in a mental hospital for six days last November because it was fun and spa-like, shelling out $1,300 of my own money – money I was saving for a trip to Ireland – to get better? No and no. I saw and heard things in the hospital that I still can’t talk about to this day. People are really, legitimately ill, and thank God we have places where we can go to get help as well as the strength to admit we need help. Hopefully the patients who sat beside me in treatment have informed, non-fools at home to support them through recovery.

When I was hospitalized, I was officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, which is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as:

A combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes.

I fall into the “multiple episodes” category, unfortunately. I have gone into very deep, dark places on and off for almost 30 year, places that I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to see, including starting to cut myself at age 11 and having suicidal ideations in my late 20s. I would look out the window of the equity research firm at which I worked and fantasize about jumping out the window, wondering if a seven-story fall would be enough to kill me. Thankfully, I sought help after having this recurring thought for a week straight.

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The Job Interview – Parts 2 and 3

Continued from Part 1.

***

Part 2

A balding man in a rumpled gray suit shows me into a large conference room. He has bags under his glassy, empty eyes, which are framed by a mono-brow. He seems ambivalent, bored, robotic.

He leans in close – too close for my one-foot personal boundary rule and not far enough way for me to avoid a whiff of halitosis – and says “I’m the HR Manager, Dick Dickensheets.”

Think bad horrible ugly catastrophic thoughts, like exploding nuclear bombs and dead kittens, I think to myself. Do not laugh. Do NOT laugh.

“We’ll get started just as soon as Sage Green, our Marketing Director, arrives. In the meantime, would you like something to drink?”

Shit. Dead kittens, dead kittens, dead kittens. No, not helping. Men who wear capri pants, men who wear capri pants, men who wear capri pants. Okay, I can breathe now.

I think about asking for vodka on the rocks, but ask opt for water instead. I want him to get out of the room quickly so I can release a roar of pent-up laughter.

He exits the room, leaving a lingering trail of bad breath, and after a 30-second fit of giggles, I sit at the conference room table, tapping my fingers against the glass top and anxiously wondering whether my face is visibly blue based on my Spanx-induced oxygen deprivation.

Two minutes later, Dick arrives with Sage. Alarm bells go off – “runrunrunaway” they shrilly chime in unison. At first glance, I realize that Sage could be a man or woman or in the middle of a sex-reassignment surgery; a foreboding sense of dread about this interview starts to wash over my body.

It is wearing a tight-fitting pantsuit and a skinny tie – both in tropical fruit colors – with a crisp white shirt to pull it all together. Its hair is short, but not too short, fashionably slicked back, as shiny as a freshly waxed beamer and framing a semi-feminine face. Waxed eyebrows? Maybe – could go either way (they do provide a stark contrast to Mr. Dickensheets unpruned mono-brow). There is no visible 5’oclock shadow, although a curious bit of fuzz adorning its upper lip looks like a burgeoning caterpillar. Oxfords with laces and a slight heel. No make-up, wait is that eyelin…

“Hi Beatrice,” it says, interrupting my thoughts. It shakes my hand and says “Great to meet you,” sounding like Lauren Bacall or Kathleen Turner after smoking a carton of cigarettes.

“Good morning, Misterissus Green,” I slur, hoping he is too distracted by my muffin top to notice my poor enunciation. “You can call me Bea.”

“Well Bea, let’s get started, shall we?” Sage says in its raspy voice.

***

Part 3

The jump from the third-floor bathroom window has left my knees bruised and my panty-hose in shreds, but otherwise my body seems to be in working order. I glance up at the mangled, dangling window screen and then look over at the crushed shrubbery I had landed in, realizing – as I survey the large, packed parking lot – that I don’t remember where I parked my car.

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The Job Interview – Part 1

After months of unemployment, isolated from all the living except for a cat, dog, goldfish and orchid, I had taken to wearing sweatpants every day and eating copious amounts of Cheetos. So while it was surprising when I finally got a job interview, it was not surprising that none of my business-appropriate attire fit. Well, my clothes “fit” – after squeezing into three pairs of Spanx and deciding that muffin top was not only acceptable, it was the new sexy.

On the humid, rainy morning of the interview it takes me 27 minutes and 32 seconds to dress myself in 14 layers of spandex and an interview suit. I check my hair and make-up in the hall mirror (hair looks like an already-bad 80’s perm gone horribly awry and makeup is melting), pop half a benzo and head out to my soon-to-be-repossessed car

Driving the 20 miles to the interview, my mind is humming while my makeup continues to slide off my face and onto my neck. This company manufactures the rubber stoppers that are put on chair legs to prevent floor damage. I will be interviewing for the Senior Copywriter position; if selected, I would oversee production of the quarterly rubber-chair-stopper (RCS) catalog, including writing all the copy. Did you know that RCSs come in 325 different colors, and 75 different sizes? And more recently, they had become available in eco-friendly, sustainable materials, like recycled plastic, bamboo, cork, soybeans and bio-combustible cornstarch? (Don’t ask, I don’t know what the hell the cornstarch stuff is either, which given Murphy’s stupid Law, I will be asked about in the interview.) Six materials X 325 colors X 75 different sizes = a lot of scintillating copy to write.

I had applied for this job in a fit of Resume Drunk Dialing.

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Muscle memory

My land-line business phone rang at 1:28 a.m. early Thursday morning. (Do not mock my land-line; I have a very nice iPhone for personal use.)

I awoke from a deep, Klonipin-induced sleep with the thoughts “Who died, who died, whodied??” racing through my head as I tucked into the fetal position between my comforter and a fluffy pillow. By the time I reached the phone – located in the other room – the caller had gone to voice mail/hung up. I looked at the caller ID, expecting to see my parents’ phone number or a call from one of my sisters. Or maybe my brother, telling me the Bulgarian Princess had absconded overseas with my nephew. Instead, I was shocked; the illuminated number had not been on my quickly assembled mental list of potential callers.

It was NEB (now ex-boyfriend), whom I haven’t talked to since last October. Why? And why – after he left no message – did I call him back? Because, stupid me, I still fucking care for some masochistic reason. Did his mom die? Was he sick or had he been in an accident? Was he drunk and finally ready to offer an apology for his douchy douche-bag behavior last year? Did he butt-dial me? Did his new girlfriend, trolling through his phone while he slept, stumble upon my number? I had to know. It’s my nature. For me, ignorance does not equal bliss.

I dialed without any thought, the muscle memory in my fingers typing the number without the need to hit redial. It rang and rang. I got his voice mail. I hung up, leaving no message. Alas, I would get no answer to my “Whys” that night and, most likely, ever.

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COL Letter: The Great East Side Dog Poop War

NOTE FROM AUTHOR: This is part of my series called Crotchety Old Lady (COL) Letters: Complaint letters written from the Crotchety Old Lady that resides deep inside my soul (and she doesn’t take Xanax, although she probably should).

PS – Thanks CS for reading my blog and getting me off my butt to write today, and thanks RK, who has no problem discussing poop with me (the hallmark of a true friend). XO to you both.

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Dear Providence East Siders who Despise Dog Poop:

I understand. Dog poop is gross. In fact, all poop is gross. But it’s a necessary fact of life.

And thank God as inhabitants of the first world, with clean water and modern sewage systems, we can poop in the comfort of our own homes and then flush it out of sight/out of mind. (Unfortunately, approximately 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to clean, proper sanitation and do not “enjoy” the comforts we do.)

But the crotchety old lady digresses.

Unlike humans — at least modern first-world humans living where proper sanitation exists — dogs go outside. That’s another fact of life. And people, especially on the East Side of Providence, are very bitter about dog poop.

I’ve been chased, I’ve been cursed out, I’ve been screamed at by people in passing cars, I’ve been told that “your dog’s fucking pee kills my grass” (shouted from a 4th story window). By the way, a shout-out to the therapist whose office is on Angell Street: Do not stand out in front of your urban building and pontificate to me about the pros and cons of whether my dog should be pooping on your three blades of grass. Just make up your effing mind.

In recent years, a spate of letters have appeared in East Side Monthly magazine (I would post links, but this award-winning rag doesn’t have archives available online), with rants from irate East Side homeowners battling the scourge of dog shit on their perfectly manicured lawns. Here are some of the arguments and COL’s thoughts on the matter:

Argument #1: Use your own (bleeping) yard, not mine! It’s mine! It’s not yours. Nor is it your dog’s public restroom.

COL response: This is an urban neighborhood. Some people, including me, have no yard at all. I must walk down three flights from my rented apartment to the street below, regardless of the weather, and walk two blocks to find anything remotely resembling grass. There’s no shoving the dog out into a fenced yard when it’s 14 degrees. Where should I go, armed with my biodegradable dog poop bag?

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Holidays on Eggshells, Cast of Characters

I awoke in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat. I was having one of the worst anxiety attacks of my life. An anxiety attack no amount of Xanax could temper. One week from today, I will be waking up 1,200 miles away from here, in my parents’ house. Thus, the anxiety.

What did finally temper the middle-of-the-night panic was David Sedaris. I started rereading Holidays on Ice, which is a yearly tradition for me. If you haven’t read it, I beg you to do so. And if you have, reread it. Mr. Sedaris can pull me out of the deepest, darkest rabbit hole. He is Xanax in book form, and he made me laugh myself silly at 3am. He also makes me strive to be a better, funnier writer. (I’m still working on that. A lot.)

Anxiety, you ask? It’s the holidays — it’s all about decking the halls and fa-la-la-la-ing and family and all that shit. Well, Norman Rockwell certainly did not paint a picture of my family. And while I love ’em to death, the word dysfunction should be on the family crest. Christmas forces us to all sit in the same room for hours on end, which can sometimes be a recipe for disaster (while providing excellent writing material).

So in the spirit of the holidays let me present to you the cast of Holidays on Eggshells. This “family” is not my family, per se (cough), but my real family did provide a teeny-tiny bit of the foundation.

Holidays on Eggshells

To be presented for a limited one-night engagement at the Sigmund Freud Regional High School gym. Free admission, but donations kindly accepted to pay for family’s mental health care.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

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