My dreams last night ran an ad for a video game.

Twice.

Seriously, the narrative would get interrupted to bring me a commercial for something called “CLAW” which began with a young boy shooting a golden zebra with a bow and arrow, then followed this kid as he sort of devolved into a monkey, hunting more and more primitive animals with more and more primitive weapons, while a choir of female voices in the background listed off the names of famous hunters (of which Sigurd, Atalanta, Nimrod, and Sabertooth were the only ones I caught.)  The tagline was something like “You don’t need to use your teeth.”

It ran this ad, without notable variation, twice across my brain.

I have not been watching TV for the last few weeks, and I’m worried my brain is trying to fill the niche.

So one of my media mail boxes, full of books, died on the way out to me. It was shipped in a plastic bin, with one side missing. A number of the books are undoubtedly gone–the box was jammed full, and now it isn’t.

And I’m pretty okay with that. I don’t know what I lost, and I won’t until I miss it and go looking, which probably won’t be until I get my own apartment again. (I do think most of my Anne Bishop has wandered off.) Oh, well. Amazon heals all wounds.

The WEIRD thing is that I’ve acquired a hitchhiker book.  Wedged in between Sandman and the True Game was…”The Marquise of O–” and other stories, by Heinrich von Kleist. Not a book I’ve ever owned, or thought about owning, or knew existed. I pulled it out and said “What the hell…?”

I see the scene now. The post office is jammed. Paper flutters down. Workers wheel dollies packed with media mail, careening through the aisles, and suddenly WHAM! Collision! Chaos! Apocalypse! Two boxes are down, bleeding books across the concrete. Oh, no! What goes where? No time to worry! This is the post office, damnit! The show much go on, the mail must go through. What’s left of it, anyhow. Books are hastily shovelled into bins, slapped with labels, sent on their way.  A few forlorn volumes are kicked under bins, to lie lonely until somebody fishes one out and reads it on their lunchbreak.

And somewhere, a student of German Enlightenment literature is picking through his box of Goethe, muttering about the low standards of the postal service–if there is a god with an aesthetic sense running the universe, he is hopefully wearing black and smoking a clove cigarette–and he reaches a hand into the box, up to the elbow, like a vet inside a cow’s rear end, and fishes out a dog-eared copy of Daughter of the Blood.

“What the hell….?”

The anti-nausea drugs are awesome.

It’s weird, but I didn’t actually expect them to work, somehow–even though I know that the brain and the body are pretty much the same thing, for some reason it seemed alien that a loathing of food brought on by Bleak Despair(tm) could be stopped by mere anti-nausea drugs. As if you couldn’t possibly treat a psychosomatic symptom without twidding with the brain.

But I sat down and devoured an entire French drip sandwich and fries and felt pretty okay about it. (Granted, I should probably go for the veggies rather than the starches, I know, but by that point, I was thinking “Anything I can look at without puking is a Good Thing.”)

The anti-anxiety were interesting. I have this habit of having long, long conversations inside my head, which is great when I’m writing dialog or composing a blog entry, but terrible if I’m stressed, because I wind up having the same pointless one-sided arguments over and over again, and they only make me miserable. And this particular drug made it much easier to stop having them. I didn’t feel any better, per se, I had no more energy or less misery, but at least I wasn’t dredging up all the old hurts and yelling about them in the sounding chamber of my own skull. I’ll definitely need more than that to get out of the hole, but the ability to choke off those arguments and say “No…no, this isn’t productive…” was very nice.

Alas, I can take neither anti-nausea nor anti-anxiety while I need to drive, but at least I have an evening of  peace and hunger to look forward to.

I Can Has Meds!

Anti-anxiety drugs in this case–something called Hydroxyz pam. Apparently you can’t call in a controlled substance across state lines, so this and an anti-nausea are the best my doctor could do for me until I get back home. Still, at this point, I will happily take what I can get.

(Why, yes, I will be blogging my psychopharmacological adventures. Did you expect anything less?)

The side-effects of this drug are drowsiness and dizziness, so I can’t drive.  I haven’t noticed much yet in the way of dizziness, but then, I’m not jogging around the room any, because Carlota’s elderly Manx is asleep in my lap.
 
I don’t feel miraculously better, but I’m not seized with an urge to cry, and I’m not yelling at anybody inside my head, so there’s a lot to be said for that.

Well, the plane ticket’s bought, my dear friend Deb* is waiting to offer me the crash space, the car will be shipped–no, dear readers, I may have made some very VERY stupid mistakes recently, but trying to drive back across Texas on my own in this state is an idiocy too far even for me–and I should be back in Raleigh by the end of the week. (Couldn’t do the tourism thing. I am not feeling much enjoyment of anything at this point. Better to fly out later and visit Carlota for a few weeks sometime when I can actually enjoy shit.) This ill-considered jaunt cost me most of my book advance, but hey, there’s no point to money if you don’t spend it.

Besides, it was a journey of self-discovery. Like a vision quest, only…y’know…dreadful. Well, some vision quests are probably dreadful, too.

Possibly I should have bought the stuffed jackalope back in Las Cruces….

I’m waiting on a call back from the doctor, to arrange an appointment and to see if I can get some kind of stop-gap meds to get me through the next week. People keep telling me that it’s okay to go on drugs, it’s not a failure, and I feel obligated at this point to say that gang, you are preachin’ to the choir. I am all ABOUT drugs. Bring on the seratonin and the MAO inhibitors! Bring on the polysyllabic names! I feel no shame, no guilt, no moral qualms on that front. If the devil himself reached a hand down into the hole, I’d grab for it–psychopharmacology is a much lesser evil.

Better living through chemistry, sez I.

*Everybody tell Deb how awesome she is. Also, she’s Sabrina Jeffries, famous romance author, in her spare time, which is another kind of awesome.

Postcards from the Bottom

Well, if I’m going to get any damn use out of this at all, it’s only going to be by keeping careful notes. This is my personality in a nutshell, I suspect–even at the lowest point of my entire life, the little scientist keeps on scribbling, and the storyteller keeps on figuring out how to phrase it all amusingly. I’m glad of that.

A couple of things I’ve learned that I didn’t know before…

Rock bottom is not an absolute. There are levels to it.

Three days alternating between periods of uncontrollable weeping and brief lucidity? Not actually the bottom! Turns out someone can always dig you a sub-basement. On the upside, you can manage to crawl up to the next level for brief stretches, almost always because you’re out in public. (Presumably there’s a point where one’s ironclad social conditioning fails and one becomes a public spectacle, but I have yet to reach it, although I’ve felt it off in the distance occasionally, and been smart enough to get my coat.)

This is pride, of course, and pride is a dangerous thing. You can substitute it for strength, you can drive yourself forward, whip yourself on like a team of horses, but when the cliff looms up, there’s often no way to turn.  But at the same time, sometimes it saves you. Sometimes you should grit your teeth and walk away with your dignity, and sometimes you should swallow your pride.

God willing, before I die, I’ll learn to differentiate between the two.

One thing I did know is that there is a point where you shut off. The emotional breaker gets thrown, with an almost audible click, and suddenly you are cold, cold, cold. You are calm. You have never been so calm in your entire life.  It is not a healthy calm. It is a bad, bad calm, the hurt calm that radiates out from the belly, the eye of the hurricane, the rattlesnake coiling, the old, cold little voice that comes into your brain saying I will take this from here.

I encountered this before, during the bad bits of my divorce, and what I should have learned then is that when this hits, it has a purpose. The purpose is to give you time to stand up, get your purse, and walk away, time to say “Ah, yes. I see,” and hang up the phone. This is the calm that lets you extricate yourself. Do not stay there and hope to remain calm. This is the airstrike your brain calls in to cover your retreat.  It is a finite gift. Don’t waste it.

Physically, I know I’m shot, and not just having a melodramatic episode, because my body’s actually starting to shut down. I’m covered in bruises that I have no memory of acquiring, I’m shaky all the time, food makes me wretchedly nauseated, and yes, as soon as I get back to Raleigh, I’m goin’ to the doctor.  This is really rather unsettling. If I didn’t have the severe stress to blame, I’d start to wonder if I had malaria.

And ultimate indignity, I’vebeen having a period for a week and a half. (There is no god.) It’s finally stopping, but shit, man….that was just cold.  You wanna find the universe and kick it.

In retrospect, I realize I’ve been severely depressed for about two months…actually, right about the point where moving became a real thing I was doing.  I was just ignoring all the warning signs, because…well… I’m never depressed!  I kept chalking it up to stress from moving, and didn’t stop to think that a normal move I was looking forward to would not annhilate my appetite, wouldn’t leave me with a sick knot in my chest that never, ever went away, or make me crazy-restless and walking around for half the night, praying for the hours to pass more quickly.

Nobody noticed, because I didn’t notice. I just kept plowing on ahead, because it’s pretty much the only thing I ever learned how to do. 

Well, live and learn. God willing, this won’t happen to me again, but if it ever does, I’ll hopefully have the brains to recognize the warning signs.

Tune in next time, for more Tales From The Abyss!

Hello, Rock Bottom.

The nice thing about hitting rock bottom, I gotta say, is that you genuinely learn who your friends are. Who’s gonna save you, and who isn’t. I have an astonishing number of friends. You hear yourself whining, and you can’t stop, and you despise yourself for it, and they just keep listening. I first realized this during my divorce, of course, but I wasn’t as far down, so it wasn’t quite such an astonishing display of caring. They keep calling me and IMing me, and you guys have, of course, been very kind, despite the fact that I stopped being funny a couple of days ago and am now a sniveling wreck.  I feel loved.

The not-so-nice thing about hitting rock bottom is that glum realization that you have never been that good a friend to anyone, you never called anybody three times a day to see if they were okay, you didn’t exactly shirk from uncontrollable weeping, but you sure didn’t court it, and in short, that if you were your friends, you’d be totally boned.

Fortunately in life, as Granny Weatherwax would say, sometimes we get things we don’t deserve.

I promise now, O blog of my confessions, that when this is over, when I finally crawl out of this dark hole…I’ll be a better friend when my own friends sink into despair, and I will offer them couches and chocolate and take them out to coffee and IM them constantly. 

I promise.