Saturday, June 25, 2005

Heat wave!

I don't know if this happens to anyone else out there, but I find that my body has serious issues regulating its own temperatures. In some ways, I wonder if the perception of hot and cold can be simultaneously due to environmental influences and be the product of a psychosomatic interpretation. I mean, do I feel hot because it's actually hot in my house or do I feel hot because I think it's hot? Regardless, I'm uncomfortable and it's 11pm here.

I should be sleeping. But sleep has been unpredictable these days. Last night, I fell asleep at about 2am and woke at 4:45am when my gorgeous pooch, Robbie, demanded his morning bathroom run. Of course, after waking, I couldn't go back to sleep, so I decided to trek down to Chicago for a marine aquarium conference, which was amazing.

Beside the point. What was super discombobulating was going to bed at 11pm on Thursday, waking at 5am to walk the damn dog, going back to sleep and not waking up again until 4:30pm. Seriously, I was expecting to wake up around 11am. The funny thing was that I could have easily slept longer but I was thinking that my fish would be expecting their morning meal!

One of the things that my psychiatrist mentioned to Brendan is that he should watch my sleep schedule because changes typically indicate some kind of shift in mood. Considering I've been paralyzed with depression lately, a change in mood is welcome.

RANDOM ASIDE. One of the funny things that having pets or kids does to the responsible party is force you to consider their perception. I mean, when you take your kids out, you need to provide for their potential needs until you'll be home again. Don't wanna go out with a diaper.

Well, I've been thinking about my fish. They peer out at me and I wonder if they have any idea that they're stuck, that they could have been born in the ocean or a river or lake, but instead, they were spawned in an aquaculture facility.

I wonder if my betta fish gets lonely. I was thinking about getting him a gal so they could mate and have little betta fishes. After all, that's what we're all here for in the end. My fish exists to create more fishes. I exist to have kids. Further my genetic signature.

I had to raid my piggy bank today to get enough money to pay for the tolls to get to Chicago. I still ran out of change because I got lost. Try paying a toll with pennies. They don't appreciate it. Neither do the people behind you. Kind of embarassing. That's why I don't like to go out. It's the little things that make you feel like a complete ass.

At this conference today, I was reminded about the first time I was absolutely certain that I was different from other girls my age. I was 17, doing a semester abroad in London and I spent my time in museums and churches instead of pubs and clubs. The other girls in my program stayed out until 3am and I went with them a few times. But really, I felt no need to drink away my money when I could stroll on the Thames. Alas. Seeing museums, movies, plays, churches and general sites alone didn't bother me. Eating in a cute cafe with a good book didn't bother me. Going to the Proms and watching the band morph into this living entity alone didn't bother me.

The other girls were scandalized by having to ride the tube alone.

I was by myself at the conference today too. And when I looked around, I realized that women just don't do that. There were men there by themselves. But women? Nope. I was the only one. Upon realizing that, I actively looked for other women who came by themselves, but there were none.

Is being by yourself so hard?

I've been feeling fairly misanthropic lately, so predictably, I've been fairly anti-social. I don't particularly like a whole lot of people. I tend to be a bit paranoid. Not like, everyone's trying to kill me paranoid, but more like, the evil superficial bitches of the world are trying to fit me into a stereotype of humanity that I don't belong in. Maybe everyone feels this way. We're all a little suspicious of each other.

This type of thinking can easily be a side effect of depresson as well. I mean, I can usually tell I'm depressed when someone does something nice or says something nice and my first thought it, why are they being nice to me? I conclude that they either want something or they feel bad for me. Greed or pity.

That's why my pets are so refreshing. People can be duplicitious little shits. Cats, dogs and fish? They're predictable. My cats want food, a clean litter box, fresh water and occasionally, a nice lap to hang out on. My dog wants three walks a day. He likes other dogs. Tennis balls. Open spaces. A comfy bed. My fish? Clean water and food.

Animals are simple. And in some senses, when you treat people like you treat animals, people become simple too. After all, people like good food, a clean habitat, affection and entertainment.

Hmmm. My playlist just jumped from Metallica to Bach. It's good to be me.

And I'm sure that it's good to be you too.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Where did June go?

There's something about being depressed that makes time blur together in a relentless series of mundane tasks that feel insurmountable. It's wonderful to snuggle in bed with a beloved teddy bear, but not so joyous when you stay with your stuffed animal to escape the seemingly daunting task of making the bed. When stupid things like laundry and putting dishes in the dishwasher feel as difficult as taking four pets to the vet or getting the car to the shop, "life" is reduced to a series of sheer rock cliffs and rainy days where a clear path once stood, and in reality, does stand.

That reality becomes confusing when depressions lift and you look back on a period of time that felt so arduous and exhausting only to find that the landscape was smooth and easily navigable. You look around at the vestiges of what felt like the result of Herculean struggle only to find yourself angry that the clutter and filth of days gone by is hanging around to infect the first inklings of your potentially good mood. Because around here, good moods are like the most delicate flowers in the world and when the hurricanes come, you want to shelter them as best you can lest they be ripped to shreds before your eyes.

Of course, life here is either a violent storm or a sunny day; the middle is missing. Once upon a time, that middle was my master plan. When moods threatened my sanity or my existence, I could always cling to the stability of a fairy tale future and the fabled steps I needed to take to get there. The elusive success was supposed to be born of hard work and dedication and so, even if I partied every night, I would still wake up for 8am classes and viola, my GPA never dropped below a 3.6. But now crap like GPAs doesn't matter. In fact, my college and graduate school training works against my ability to get a job. And the jobs I apply for are positions that I could have gotten before I graduated from high school.

Opportuntiy in this town is like a shriveled, rotten prune. What once was ripe is now crippled with decay. Ugh.

I have a theory about my difficulties finding a job. And it's not just that I haven't applied very much. There's more than that. I keep running into the wall with the managers interviewing me; there's this inherent hostility to the interview that really pisses me off. It took me a minute to recognize that these dimwits are afraid that I will steal their jobs. Most store management positions require a college education and as soon as these guys hire a college educated employee, they're looking at competition for promotions and opportunities. Can I really expect some moron who graduated from Ball State to hire me when they know I could easily replace them? Dumb little people are very defensive over their tenuous grip on success.

Alas. I'm stuck. I'm cranky and cheerful. I'm frustrated, unhappy and yet, surprisingly content.

But most of all, I'm waiting.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book Review

I just finished Avery Z. Conner's book, Fevers of the Mind: Tales of a Roaming, Wounded Critter, after weeks of putting it down and forgetting about it, only to pick it back up again. I confess that I'm thrilled to have stumbled upon this work, because if something this poor can be published and labeled a memoir, than surely I could write something that some company would put out there as well.

In all seriousness, Conner's tome is self-indulgent and ultimately, unrevealing. When I read Kay Jamison's books, I felt as though she had stationed a reporter in the depths of my mind's most intimate sensations and darkest thoughts and exposed them to the world in their painful, pathetic glory. In other words, her book was intense; it evoked pity, jealousy, laughter and pain. That's the way a book is supposed to be, particularly when you're writing about an illness of relatable extremes.

Conner's work takes bipolar and guts it, eviscerating his emotional experience of the illness from his logical rationalizations and their eventual failure to explain his life. At the risk of sounding sexist, his account is dry and technical where Jamison's is heartwrending and painful. Both detail their post-bac education in science so the discrepancy is not borne of immensely divergent experiences. Rather, the difference lies in Conner's inability to explain the vagueries of the illness that has indelibly marked his life.

He tells us he was sad and proceeds to ooze out pages of his manic ideas without giving them an adequate context. He doesn't contextualize his behavior well, leading me to suspect that he actually doesn't understand the extent to which being bipolar has taken his life and thrown it in the wind like a billion grains of sand. He's detached, completely unable to separate relevant information from tales of his life that we would rather not hear about.

For example. he indulges us with a discussion of his average childhood. Who cares? His childhood experiences before his disease manifested itself are not relevant, nor are they interesting. If, however, his childhood was marred by emotional outbursts and atypical behavior, then it might be more compelling.

Honestly, if you only read one book about bipolar disorder in your life, don't make it this one. If you read 15 books about being bipolar, I suppose you might include it and then wish that you hadn't.

A good editor who could look at this book and tell Mr. Conner that simply describing a mental institution does not constitute compelling testimony on the nature of being bipolar was desperately needed and clearly, a keen eye checking over the manuscript is lacking.

Not impressed. Definately not impressed.

I don't mean to knock my own writing, but in all honesty, if I can write a better manuscript about my experiences with bipolar disorder, there's no way this drivel should be in print.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Living in Circles

This might be a recurrent theme on this blog, but I can't help it. My mind seems to be lost in its own grey matter, tossing electricity in useless directions trying to stimulate a way out of the maze.

I can't help being frustrated. So frustrated that I'd love the cultural permission to shave my head, grab a drum and sit in the mall, thumping out an endless rythym like the one trapped in my skull. I swear, if science would take snap shots of my brain right now, they'd see the biochemical equivalent of a rodent stuck in an exercise wheel, trotting in the same useless direction ad infinitem. They would see synaptic activity that's completely formulaic and boring, useless and aggravating.

I feel like I'm trapped in a pitch black room and regardless of how hard I try to picture color, I can't remember what it looks like. I have no ideas. No inspiration. No emotion.

I am completely flat. Nothing excites me. Nothing makes me want to cry.

Now, some people would say, "hey dork, tweak your meds," but honestly, I think that's kind of part of the problem.

Every now and then, every patient is stupid and forgets to take their meds for some reason or another. Well, yeah, I forgot for a day and predictably, I'm suffering for it now. Check in with me in about 3 days and I'll be back to my normal depressed self. For now though, you can watch my frustrated agony as I sit, utterly unable to do anything.

Thank God for Brendan because without him, the dog would be getting freakin fat.


Monday, June 06, 2005

High as kyte, I just might, stop to check you out

According to British researchers, who have been much more open to the potential benefits of medicinal marijuana, everyone's favorite green weed may have the potential to aid in the stabilization of those with bipolar disorder. A recent study revealed that two substances of the 60 we typically associate with pot are actually beneficial to those with serious mental illnesses. The bonus? One of those substances is THC, the darling chemical which gives that pleasant, stupid high.

This research flies in the face of most common knowledge about marijuana use and mental illness, as repeated studies have shown a link between drug use, particularly in an individual's youth, and the development of serious mental illnesses.

This research is only in its most juvenile phases, but here's hoping that by the time I'm 30, someone will be advocating that getting high is good for me! LOL!

On our own convoluted shores here in the US, researchers are just now beginning to take a look at the potential medical benefits of illicit drugs. For decades, politics and the "war" on drugs had prevented this research, despite its demonstrable potential.

The conflict between politics and science can be so frustrating. In many ways, I feel that preventing research on illicit drugs is as heinous as preventing stem cell research. Perhaps moreso, seeing as how the hazy ethics of stem cell research do not impact the study of illegal drugs.

At any rate, hopefully researchers in the US will be able to duplicate British studies on the benefits of mary jane.