Author Archives: americandepressive

Being crazy

Being crazy is not knowing how to plan.

Being crazy is not knowing how to count on yourself.

Being crazy is not knowing when or how to turn to your friends and family.

Being crazy is not knowing which facet of you is going to wake up with you in the morning.

Being crazy is not trusting your observations or conclusions, even when you’re concluding something that seems completely factual.

Being crazy is constantly second-guessing your unconscious thoughts.

Being crazy is having a strictly-defined taxonomy of “insane”, “crazy”, “irrational”, “depressed”, “manic”, and “I think I’m alright?”, and always trying to measure where you are.

Being crazy is being poor.

Being crazy is being homeless.

Being crazy is wondering if you stink, and how much.

Being crazy is knowing you stink, and have that be on the list of today’s problems you can’t fix.

Being crazy is skipping opportunities for better hygiene, and having absolutely no idea why.

Being crazy is not being able to tell people what’s on your mind.

Being crazy is not being trusted.

Being crazy is watching facial expressions and body language 24/7, trying to understand what your friends never say.

Being crazy is usually getting that wrong without knowing it.

Being crazy is scaring the hell out of the people who love you.

Being crazy is scaring away the people who love you.

Being crazy is not being able to explain what the people who love you should be scared of, and what they shouldn’t.

Being crazy is being scared.

Being crazy is rage.

Being crazy is self-hatred.

Being crazy is self-hatred because you’re angry and self-hating.

Being crazy is not understanding yourself or your actions.

Being crazy is having decades of bad track records.

Being crazy is being told you have a bad track record, as if this is news to you.

Being crazy is well-meaning people who are completely, painfully, thoughtlessly clueless.

Being crazy is getting bad advice.

Being crazy is getting good advice that is totally impossible.

Being crazy is mistaking good advice for bad, and vice versa.

Being crazy is getting constant advice that is a variation of saying, “Just be more rational.”

Being crazy is exposure to people who don’t give a shit that you’re crazy.

Being crazy is trying to pass for healthy in public, and never quite knowing whether you’ve succeeded.

Being crazy is spending time with other irrational people, usually people who are differently irrational than you are.

Being crazy is hopelessness.

Being crazy is resting a thin strand of hope on a med.

Being crazy is skipping a med.

Being crazy is running out of meds thanks to poor planning.

Being crazy is worrying about the cost of med refills.

Being crazy is not being able to start a med because it’s $500 a month.

Being crazy is wondering why the fuck the meds aren’t working today, and if it’s your fault.

Being crazy is thinking the meds will never work.

Being crazy is knowing that “the meds will never work” might be the most rational thought you have all day.

Being crazy is lonely.

(With apologies to John Scalzi.)

ADD mushbrain, scheduling, and annoying logistics

Just realized that I have a 3:30 Skype session scheduled today with my shrink, and checked my (disconnected) phone in a panic with no idea if that was an hour from now, right now, or an hour ago.

Got lucky, it’s still 30 minutes away.

Since I haven’t paid my phone bill, and I’m currently without a permanent address, I have two problems to solve every time we do this: a fast-enough Internet connection to maintain the video call, and a private-enough place to hold the conversation. Currently writing from Starbucks, which fails on both parameters. Will probably try to use the café at a nearby big-box store, where the Internet connection is faster, and I hope that the café has few enough people that I can get away with semi-anonymity. Luckily, I’ve got a full laptop battery charge, so that’s one fewer thing to worry about.

Not a hard logistical problem to solve, but every time I have to solve it, I’m reminded that I have to solve it, and all of the many big and small failures that add up to that moment. I.e., I couldn’t pay my phone bill, so now I’m offline when I can’t plan otherwise, and never mind that all of my healthy behaviors require me to be online.

In other news, the mention to the Old Friend last week that my ADD mushbrain sometimes forgets I have appointments and to take my meds on schedule somehow came as news to him, and had a lot to do with why he flew into panic mode. That’s almost funny—compared to the other shit my illness does to me, running late and blowing off reminders feels like barely an annoyance.

Update: “Excuse me, ma’am, but I’m trying to have a very painful and very private meeting with my psychiatrist, and your two children running around and screaming are putting a spike in my brain. Would you mind tapping them on the head with a mallet until they fucking shut up? Thank you.”

No, I’m not Frankie Avalon either

The place where I’m crashing this week is a long walk from anything, and I ran out of smokes last night, so this morning (more accurately, this noon) when I woke up, first order of business was to get my bipolar ass to a market of some kind, put things in my mouth, and set them on fire.

Said market is in a neighborhood with several nursing homes and old-age retirement places—my grandmother used to live in one of them. So when I opened the pack and looked for a place to sit—I was fucking exhausted after walking for 30 minutes—I wasn’t too surprised to have to sit next to an older guy, sitting on the same bench, next to his motorized wheelchair. He was smoking, the other benches were occupied by people who weren’t, so I had to sit there so as not to be an asshole.

I’ll try to transcribe the conversation.

Me: [nods]

Him: Hey. You look like that guy, are you that guy?

Me: No, probably not.

Him: Frankie Valli. That’s it, you’re Frankie Valli.

Me: No. [This is a new one. Usually I’m told I look like Robert Downey Jr. This started after his drug bust photos were published, and stopped when Iron Man came out.]

Him: [sings tunelessly for a little while]

Me: [puts headphones back on, doesn’t turn them on just yet]

Him: [reaches over to shake hands] I’ve seen you around a lot. Like, from a few years ago. I see you around all the time.

Me: No, I’m rarely here. [I.e., I stay near here irregularly, and I very rarely sit outside the market. I shake his hand.]

Him: Hey, you want a beer?

Me: No, thanks, I’m good. [It’s noon. I rarely drink.]

Him: Hey, are you a creator?

Me: A what?

Him: You look like you’re a creator to me. You’re a creator, aren’t you?

Me: I’m a writer.

Him: No, you’re a creator. Man, why would you do that? Why would you do that to me?

Me: [silence]

Him: [touches the back of his head] You’re coming here and creating this pain in the back of my lobe, the back of my right lobe, man, why would you do that to me? Putting all that stuff in there, you’re putting all that stuff in there. I’m just this guy, a small guy, just sitting here, and you come along and….

Me: [protest briefly, then get up and go to another bench. He’s yelling that behind me as I walk away.]

I’ve been telling friends that if I get myself into a residential or inpatient program without money or insurance, the biggest problem is that I’m going to be surrounded by sick people. They think I’m making excuses for why I don’t want to get help. Me, I just don’t want to have my only human contact be people like this, in a situation where I can’t get up and walk away.

Hello, world

Hi. I’m the A.D., and I’m bipolar II co-mormid with Attention Deficit Disorder. I hear that’s called “Hyperactivity” disorder these days, but I don’t have that, so I don’t like including that word.

<everyone>: Hi, A.D.

There, now that we’ve got the trappings of A.A., I feel like I’m starting this blog in a socially acceptable way.

I’m starting this blog for a couple of reasons:

1. I’m starting a new med and reaching out to people more than I have in the past, and the first thing I learned is that telling people about my life tends to scare the living fuck out of them. These are people who’ve supposedly known about my life for a long while, so this is leaving me rather confused.

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t keep a diary, but can be extremely eloquent when writing to other people, so how better to harness that dynamic but to be the anonymously ill writing for a faceless audience? I sure as hell can’t tell this to my friends, even if we’re all in agreement that I have a decently large network of very good people who know about my illness and try to support me. So instead, I’ll talk to you.

2. I just came across The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, and it annoyed the fuck out of me that the first thing she writes about is her experiences with the British NHS. Me, I’m an American, which means that the collective reply from my health system is, “Fuck you, you’re on your own.” At least, until you’re healthy enough to afford what we have to offer, or at least, healthy enough to find what scraps of social support remain on the table.

3. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to Someday When I’m Not Here. That’s not to say that I’m suicidal, or thinking about it. That’s saying that I’ve sometimes been far enough in the pit to know what suicidal tastes like. As I’ve been thinking of it, “not being suicidal” is a nice fence around my depression, and sometimes I lean on it, and every time it’s supported my weight. But someday I’m afraid that I’m going to try to lean on it, and I’ll immediately topple over backward into whatever’s on the other side.

But I don’t seriously think I’m going to off myself. Not if I’m laying odds on it. I think it’s a lot more likely that I’ll wander in front of a bus when I’m not paying attention, or that I’ll just disappear one day—either the victim of violence, or just so far up my own ass that I stop connecting with the people who pay attention to me. In some ways, that’s a damn shame, because a nice solid suicide attempt is one of two methods to actually get governmental assistance, for a short time at least. The other is to commit a crime and go to prison. Until then, fuck you, you’re on your own.

I have a shrink, and I’ve been working with her for nearly 20 years. The only reason I can afford her services is that we’ve been bartering my geek skills for brain work. I’ve had other shrinks, of varying usefulness. I’ve tried a dozen different meds. Right now, I’m taking 225 mg of Effexor and 40 mg of Ritalin, and I started 5 mg of Abilify a few days ago.

I’m an Ivy League grad, with most of two graduate degrees that I didn’t quite finish. I bill out at $100 to $125 an hour when I’m able to work. I’m a freelance writer with some decent bylines and a book under my belt. Last week I was homeless, and as I write this, I’m in danger of becoming homeless again this week. I have two dollars in my pocket and something like that in my PayPal account; my bank account has been overdrawn for two months.

I’m pretty much scared shitless of my future and barely tolerating my present, and that’s pretty much the constant.

Maybe you’re someone who’s got what I’ve got, or you know someone who does, or—most likely—you don’t exist and the most regular readers of this blog will be the Google spiders. (No, really, the search engines are called spiders. I’m not schizophrenic.) In any case, it’s a useful exercise for me to imagine you’re there.

I might come back to write more later. Or I might disappear from here for months at a time. We’ll both see as we go.