The Grey Season

There’s a saying here in Pittsburgh.  “There are only two seasons, winter and construction.”  Although comedic, it is partially correct.  I say partially because winter doesn’t really accurately describe the season correctly.

When someone thinks of winter, they think of the glistening white snow.  That’s not quite the case.  When winter begins to move upon us, we don’t just know it by the chill in the air when the wind kicks up.  Suddenly, the sun is lost behind thick layers of smoke colored clouds.  There doesn’t have be precipitation, but there is an endless, dreary overcast sky.

The clouds darken when the freezing rain comes.  Eventually, it will turn to snow.  However, it is not the pristine white, untouched snow you see on the hillsides.  It is grey, dirty slush, on an concrete sidewalk, and packed against the blacktop roads. The precipitation darken the buildings, and everything is enveloped in shadows.

It’s best described in a personal journal entry below.

“February 23, 2010
‘Tomorrow, when I inspect the world outside my window in the light of the morning, it will be blanketed with snow.  A vast, endless landscape of white.  The ground, the rooftops, and even the sky will be varying shades of grey – monochrome, bitter, lifeless, and uninviting.'”

This is Pittsburgh's third season. The Gray Season.

I have felt grey over the past few days.  I can’t feel for a better word.  Something like, my flame isn’t burning as brightly. It’s a dampening effect, casting a shadow over me everywhere I go.  The vibrant colors of the world filter and leave only the grey inside of me.

I worry.  Is this the start of another depressive episode.  It doesn’t feel like depression.  It feels like blah.  It’s not as if I am despondent or lifeless. Jokes are still funny, and I still feel like getting up in the morning. I’m not crying. My world still operates normally.

It’s just as if everything has lost that little something. There’s no spring in my step. The sun is behind the clouds and only dim light filters through, both literally and figuratively. Everything is dull. I find myself becoming less enthusiastic and more disinterested.

I have ideas, but none that I am passionate about. I read things and find it difficult to find something constructive to add. Or interesting, for that matter. Moments are moving slower. Sounds are turning to whispers.

I can’t hear the rain on my roof.

I am afraid to move or speak. I don’t want to upset the balance. It is a careful balance on the scales that I work so hard to maintain. I have to shake the rain out of my hair, off my coat. I can’t stand the clouds, casting shadows onto me.

Where’s my fire? I seemed to have misplaced my fire.

I’m going to go check the medicine cabinet.

Am I a 10?

I like to apply the 1 in 10 rule to everything.  1 in 10 people…

Those are the words from a man we call Fireman Dave.  Fireman Dave was at work yesterday to give us two DPW required seminars, blood borne pathogens and fire safety.  He is a truly entertaining man.  He began his presentation with the quote above.  And he did apply the 1 in 10 rule to many things.

With blood borne pathogens, he said, “1 in 10 people have something you don’t want to catch.” Sure, there is logic in that.  I know I’m part of that 1 in 10.  I have HPV.  I know it’s contagious in a sexual setting, so it doesn’t apply.  But it still makes me one of those 10’s that someone wouldn’t knowingly have sex with.  No big deal; I’m married.  So it doesn’t apply there either.

“1 in 10 people will catch something they don’t want because they aren’t educated about health and safety.” I’m a 10 – I had never even heard of HPV until I had it. We talked about all of the things that you can contract from contact with blood. Did you know that Hepatitis B can live in dried blood for up to 7 days? Scary.

He told us a story about a woman who called 911 because her husband had been stabbed. The police had told Fireman Dave (who is also a paramedic) that the scene was secure, so he rushed in to help the man. He was leaning over the man and checking his vitals. He hardly had time to look up in the mirror in front of him to see the woman stab him in the butt.

“1 in 10 people are truly wacky.

We all laughed. After he said it, I joked, “Yeah, that’s me!” Haha! “Nah, I’m just kidding!

He continued on with his presentation filled with humorous anecdotes. I made an off color comment about one of them. I heard a mumble in the crowd, “Oh yeah, she’s a 10.” and everyone roared. I smiled, shrugged, and said, “I told you!”

I may have seemed jovial on the outside. But the anxiety was welling up like a balloon being inflated from the churning in my stomach to get lodged in my windpipe. “Breathe, just keep breathing… keep… breathing., I repeated in my head. I was more still than a statue and closed my eyes for more than a moment. I hoped that when I opened my eyes, I would be out of the spotlight. When I opened them, the fluorescent lights seemed to be brighter and the room much quieter. Fireman Dave went on, but was the spotlight really off of me?

“Am I really a 10?”

Fireman Dave described 10’s as being Richard Baumhammers, Richard Poplawski, or George Sodini (three notorious murderers in Pittsburgh). I’ve actually read “Crazy George” Sodini’s blog before authorities shut it down. Although it was both homicidal and suicidal, it was very much like catching a mental health blogger on a bad day. Except, this was every day for a long time.

I’m not homicidal. I’ve never been homicidal once in my life. I’ve only ever wished death upon two people, and I never even considered that it could be by my hand. My moral compass has always been finely tuned upon a sturdy foundation of values. But, if George Sodini could have a blog that I could understand, could I be a George Sodini? Am I that 10?

Maybe not. But, the 1 in 10 rule is relative. It states that “1 in 10 people that you encounter…”.

Mental health and development issues are very commonplace in my life. My family has something or another, whether they want to admit it or not. So, my threshold for slapping a 10 on someone is probably way higher than a “norm’s” would be. I consider serial killers and child molesters to be 10’s. Does that mean the “norms” consider me a 10?

What do you think?

Holding My Medicine Hostage

If only there were chains...

Today was the big day. I was rescheduled to see my psychiatrist’s nurse. I had to beg my mother to babysit T.D. and bribe my father to drive me the 15 miles up there in rush hour traffic, but I made it.

Here’s the big deal about going to see my pdoc. He’s located 15 miles away, I don’t have access to a car because C.S. takes it to work, and I have no one to watch T.D.

To be honest, I don’t have a great relationship with my parents or siblings. We don’t feud anymore, but decades of doing so has left our relationships strained. The state of our relationship only matters a little. They aren’t very giving people, and each “favor” ends up being a debt that can be called for repayment at any time. I’ve known more understanding loan sharks.

My friends work. And I’m also very particular about who watches my son. I prefer mothers, experienced nannies and babysitters, or female teachers. Those seem like high standards for babysitting a kid for an hour, but I consider it to be reasonable for a child with PDD-NOS and a significant speech delay. Would you leave your baby with someone with limited experience with babies? Though T.D. Is not quite a baby chronologically or physically, the same principals apply.

I actually made it there early, despite the traffic. But, it was certainly a “hurry up and wait” situation. Not only did I end up waiting the 15 minutes that I was early, I waited an additional 15 minutes past my appointment time. That is 45 minutes that my father had to wait around in the parking lot for me.

And all for what? Exactly what I predicted – a pitiful, unproductive, and largely inconvenient appointment with a nurse practitioner who probably shouldn’t be dealing with the likes of me.

I outlined the problems and ineffectiveness of my medication very clearly for her:

      I’ve been so depressed that I gained 10 lbs in three months. She answered,

“That kind of weight gain is practically impossible on Lamictal and especially Wellbutrin.”

      Yeah, I know. Both of them are notorious for weight loss. I have a genetic predisposition for extreme weight gain. That’s why I chose them.

My anxiety is unmanageable. I have regular anxiety attacks over every little thing. I’ve developed migraines over this again.

I don’t sleep anymore, apparently. I’ve been taking supplements for insomnia and now they don’t work. I started taking over-the-counter medication for it, but you can only take that in moderation without risking frying your liver. So, now I’m stuck with increasing sleeplessness.

It’s been about 6 hours a night off and on for two months now, and has been every night for the last week. And some nights, it’s 5 or less. Last night, I slept 4 and a half hours. I used to become hypomanic when this occurred. Now, my brain and my body are so tired that I am in a perpetual fog where I am completely dysfunctional.

    My moods are all over the place and I am highly reactive. This began slowly about two weeks ago. It started as only certain things that could trigger an unpredictable response. I would laugh hysterically, cry uncontrollably, or fly into a fit of rage at the drop of a hat, for seemingly little reason. Now, it’s progressed into constant states of arousal. I’m either delirious with hilarity, extremely irritated, or crippled with depression.

The nurses solution? Increase the dose of Wellbutrin and let the doctor determine the rest two weeks from now. My suspicion? She’s not allowed to adjust any medication other than antidepressants.

So now I take my medicine like a good girl and hope that I can manage my life within my two week period of the waiting game.

I decided that I hate nurse practitioners masquerading as psychiatrists more than I hate doctors.

Ugh.

Called Off?!?!

I was prepared for my psychiatrist appointment this morning, for a change. With the help of my bipolar bloggers, namely Ruby and Manic Monday, especially when referring to the post The Case of the M&M Interactions.

I had determined that my medicine is not right for my current symptoms. I’m cycling faster and faster. And the irritability has returned. I’m not grumpy – I’m flat out pissed. And I’m always a ticking time bomb as a result. I can’t sleep at night and it’s hard to be motivated in the day. This med check, as annoying as they usually are, was absolutely necessary.

My doctor is located about 15 miles away, so it’s quite a trek to get there, and usually very inconvenient in my busy schedule. I arrived early only to discover that my doctor had just called off 10 minutes ago. It was absolutely enraged. I had dragged myself out of bed extra early, called my mother out to sit while T.D. slept, inconvenienced my husband to take me up there before he went to work only to be sent away. WTF?!?! I know things come up. But there was absolutely no consideration for his patients.

To make matters worse, I had to sit and wait an unacceptable amount of time to be rescheduled. Where is the level of professionalism in that office? I watched the minutes pass and knew that if I didn’t get out of there soon, C.S. would be late for work. And even worse than all of that, I had to push to be scheduled before my medicine ran out. That left me to be scheduled with Nurse Betty. I know what she’s going to say. The same thing she says every time I have a complain about my medicine, “We’ll keep you on these medications and see what happens. I’ll have you scheduled in a month with the doctor.” UGH! Why bother?! Wait, oh yeah. They are holding my medicine hostage.

I really hate doctors. Seriously.