Tag Archives: psychology

Night Three

Here I am. It’s Night Three: the third night in a row of the wild swings, from giddiness to despondency in moments, that characterize my depression and anxiety. I am twisting and writhing, trying to fit myself into a world that I’m sure doesn’t want me. I am worthless, stupid, ugly. Wasted space, wasted potential. I should have been better, different. Somebody else.

The refrain from that chorus of voices, the youngest parts of my psyche: Why can’t you just be somebody else? Somebody normal? You’re broken. We’re broken. Fix us. Fix yourself. Be better. Please. Be better. Please.

Be better. Please.

I know these are defense mechanisms formed in my early years. Parts of me saw the world and how shitty and unfair it was — fuck, were they in for a surprise in 2017 — and figured the only way to survive was to internalize ALL the bad and make it my own. Make it me. If I was the bad thing, I had some control. I could improve me — the world, not so much. But I could be better — had to be better — or the world would swallow me and spit me out like so many others who couldn’t “handle it.”

God only gives you what you can handle. I don’t believe in god, haven’t for many years, but that saying still makes my stomach sink like a stone before the rage bubbles up into my chest where it burns red-hot. You only give us what we can handle? Do I look like I am handling this relatively easy life to you, you vindictive, omnipotent fuck-face, lying on the floor in a heap of tears and snot and sweat? How can I handle anything with this useless, broken brain you saddled me with? And don’t even get me started on those who have it worse. You accept their prayers while killing their kids and destroying their homes and tearing holes in their bodies and devastating their souls. Either make yourself useful for the first time in thirteen billion years, or go back to your cloud palace and leave us the fuck alone, you gossamer-winged douche canoe. Also, your wine fucking SUCKS.

Okay, that felt a little good. For a moment.

Still: four years of steady therapy and sixteen years of every medication under the sun feel worthless tonight, on Night Three. I’m exhausted to the point of collapse, but when sleep comes, I dream in rapid, flickering images, full technicolor and too well-lit. Vignettes of violence and humor and fear and love and death and that British lizard from the insurance commercials. Snippets of songs and whispers and horns and sirens and bad-movie dialogue.

I wish I could say that I had a good reason to feel this way. There isn’t, though. It’s just me, and my brain. It’s not Vegas, or the Orange Fucker, or work stress, or life stress – though none of those things help. It’s just me, and the voices.

Be better. Please. 

My therapist says to be nice to these voices – they’re only coping mechanisms, after all. They’re trying to protect me. And they are asking politely.

But I cannot be better right now, tonight, or really anytime. At 32, I am mostly baked – I am doing my best, and I am not going to become a superhuman anytime soon. I also cannot control the shitty, unfair world we are stuck in. But I do have work tomorrow, so, voices, here’s my offer: calm down, shut up, and go the fuck to sleep. Be better at being my psyche, will you? Please?

Here’s to a better Night Four.

 

 

Medication Frustration

This is the top drawer of my bedside table, a.k.a. the “med drawer”:

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This is where I keep the stuff that most folks organize neatly in a medicine cabinet. Mostly, it’s full of your typical and over-the-counter remedies: ibuprofen, pepto bismol, benadryl, cold medicine. It’s also where I keep my meds for anxiety, depression, and migraines. It’s a necessary, if messy, drawer. Usually, I open this drawer at night to take my daily medications without so much as a thought; it’s automatic, an action I’ve taken every night for years.

Sometimes, however, I really fucking hate opening that drawer. This week is one of those times.

I’ve been on some sort of daily medication to treat anxiety and depression pretty consistently since I was sixteen, which makes fifteen years of me opening this drawer (or its previous incarnations at my parents’ house and other apartments and dorms) every night. I’m incredibly grateful for this drawer, for the drugs in it (which have changed over the years several times–if you want to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of prozac vs. zoloft vs. lamictal vs. lexapro vs. a couple others I don’t remember at this point, I’m your gal) and for the doctors and therapists and friends and family members who have helped me get my shit together and get the help and medication I need to treat my anxiety and depression.

And yet, right now, I really hate that fucking drawer.

I hate that I have to cut my lexapro doses into little quarters as I wean off a higher “winter” dose to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I hate the bitter taste of the pill residue that gets caught in my throat sometimes when I don’t cut the pills perfectly. I hate the fact that that higher dose made me incredibly drowsy in the afternoons for two months and eliminated my libido. I hate that these pills make it hard for me to lose weight and even, sometimes, to experience joy. I hate the fact that I rely, to some extent, on a pill to make myself “normal,” if there is such a thing.

I know that these feelings are valid–and likely temporary. I also know that there are alternatives to medication that I may try down the road in addition to my current therapy regimen. I also know that if I decide to try those methods and they work, that’s great. I also know that if I decide to try those methods and they don’t work, that’s okay, too, and meds will still be there and probably still be able to help me from falling into a non-functional depressive black hole.

I sincerely hope no one thinks that I’m saying meds are inherently bad or that no one should take them; I don’t think that at all. If you are feeling low, and especially if you are thinking of harming yourself, please go get help, and if a doctor or therapist thinks meds will help, consider their advice seriously. I’m also not advocating that anyone take meds if they truly feel they aren’t working for them. Basically, I’m the non-judgmental ninja over here, promise!

All I’m doing is sharing with you that, for whatever reason, this week I’m just tired of the process. I’m tired of opening that drawer. I think it’s okay to be tired sometimes. It’s okay to hate the drawer and to feel grateful for it at the same time. I hope, if you have a drawer, you know that, too.

 

 

Politics of Petty Negativity: Oh, Jeb(!) Edition

So on Facebook this morning I posted a rant about Jeb(!) Bush(!)’s latest gaffe, in which he said, in a Town Hall on Saturday in South Carolina:

“Universities ought to have skin in the game,” the former Florida governor said at a South Carolina town hall with Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy. “When a student shows up, they ought to say ‘Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that’s great, it’s important to have liberal arts … but realize, you’re going to be working a Chick-fil-A.'”

“The number one degree program for students in this country … is psychology,” Bush said. “I don’t think we should dictate majors. But I just don’t think people are getting jobs as psych majors. We have huge shortages of electricians, welders, plumbers, information technologists, teachers.”

There is so much to unpack here, it’s insane.

Understandably, a LOT of people were upset about this bullshit he spouted, myself included.  My initial anger was due to the insult aimed at psychology majors in particular.  I feel very strongly about this, because:

A.) I know many psych majors who have gone on to land important, wonderful, and even high-paying(!) jobs, from medicine, to HR, to clinical psychology and research, to labor work, to writing…the list goes on.  To imply that psych majors have no career options is just wrong and shows that he doesn’t know what the ever-loving fuck he’s talking about.

B.) Dismissing psychology as a valid field of study is dangerous.  People who struggle with mental illness have to overcome enough stigma and red tape to seek psychological assistance (therapy, etc.) as it is, and for a major political figure to imply that this is an unimportant area of study doesn’t help matters.

C.) On a personal note, psychology saved my life.  My therapist (who, yeah, has a job!  It’s therapy! He gets paid and everything!), one of those lowly psych majors, helped me out of a major depression and suicidal episode earlier this year and continues to help me.  His is an essential profession, so to hear a major candidate say something that might dissuade others with an interest from pursuing it…well, it rubs me the wrong way.

As I re-read Jeb(!)’s comments in a later moment of relative calmness, however, I was struck by something – I agree with one of the statements he made!  I KNOW, RIGHT?  I’m all #FEELTHEBERN and #HILLARYROCKS and #OMALLEY…EXISTS but I agreed with a statement Jeb(!) Bush, of the Bushy McBushes, made.  Here it is:

“We have huge shortages of electricians, welders, plumbers, information technologists, teachers.” (implying, of course, that students should pursue these fields)

Jeb(!) is right!  There are millions of jobs opening up in the trades!  These jobs can be well-paying and are essential to the American economy and our everyday lives!  People should consider these jobs!

We also have a teacher shortage!  Teachers play an essential role in American life and the economy!  More people should be teachers!

SO WHY NOT JUST SAY THAT?*  THAT IS A GOOD THING!  JUST SAY THAT!  COME ON!

GOB COME ON

Why, Jeb(!) do you have to insult psychology majors (and, for that matter, philosophy and other liberal arts majors) to make that point?

Why, Jeb(!), do you have to insult the dignity of food service workers (he makes working at Chick-Fil-A sound like the worst possible fate a human being could have**) to make that point?

If you are trying to encourage young people to follow certain career paths, Jeb(!), why not just extoll the benefits of those paths instead of insulting others?  Why engage in negativity when positivity will get the same point across?

The answer to this for Jeb(!) personally is, I’m sure, complicated, and, ironically, would necessitate an in-depth examination of his psyche and how his upbringing in a rich, entitled family which has already produced two US Presidents affects his worldview.  But in general, I believe that Jeb(!) and other politicians engage in negativity politics because they believe it wins elections, and it’s become their default setting, even when trying to make a simple point encouraging young people to study the trades at a town hall.  Get that insult in, these politician’s aides constantly say to them in greenrooms and hotel suites and on tour buses, and people will start paying attention!  That’s what will get you the votes!

The good news for normal people is this hasn’t held true for the last two US presidential elections.  Say what you will about Obama, but he didn’t win in ’08 by denigrating college students and women and fast food workers – he won because his primary message was one of hope (again, whether or not you agree he has delivered on that is an entirely different post).  And in 2012, Romney guaranteed his loss the minute he called 47% of the country moochers.  The lesson? LOOKING DOWN ON REGULAR PEOPLE DOES NOT WIN NATIONAL ELECTIONS ANYMORE, GUYS!  WE HAVE TWITTER NOW!  WE WATCH JOHN OLIVER! WE WILL KNOW IF YOU SAY MEXICANS ARE RAPISTS, AND EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE LOTS OF RACISTS IN THE US THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH OF THEM TO KEEP YOU AT THE TOP OF THE POLLS!

I would love to see a day when politics (on both sides of the aisle, the GOP is not alone in this) leaves petty negativity entirely behind.  We’re not there yet, and who knows if we ever will be, but I do know that, after some blinding rage this morning, I’m feeling a little more mellow and sympathetic towards Jeb(!), who just doesn’t get that his politics of negativity is only going to bite him in the ass!  He’s so oblivious, it’s almost sad.

If only he’d taken a psychology course, you know? 😉

*To be fair, the reason he won’t say that is because he actually has no actual interest in helping anyone get any job through educational assistance and training in the trades or any other field.  He’s not been super great for education or teachers.  He mostly doesn’t care.

**Of course, no one, including Jeb(!), would feel like they could insult food service workers if they were paid a living minimum wage, but Jeb(!) would prefer to eliminate the federal minimum wage altogether, so…yeah.