Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lester Flatts, Earl Scruggs, and Drugs

Once long ago I heard Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs do a song on "The Beverly Hillbillies."  The song, "Can't Have Your Kate, and Edith Too" is about a guy who, clearly, wants to be with two ladies at once.  Maybe not at the exact same time; I don't know what kind of things Lester and Earl were into.  But in its way it's a timeless song, hitting on the nature of love and relationships.

I've been having panic attacks, bad ones.  I've also been depressed for quite a while.  So yesterday I went to the doctor and she put me on Paxil.  Now, I've never taken any kind of drug to treat depression.  I suppose I always thought that I didn't need them.  Maybe I should have taken them years ago; I don't know.  In any case, I'm on them right now, as I type this.  On top of the Paxil the doctor also gave me Adivan, which is much stronger than I anticipated.  I took half a Paxil and an Adivan yesterday afternoon, and more or less lost the day to a haze.  Today as an experiment I took only the half tablet of Paxil.  I still feel spacey.  Maybe it is "hangover" from yesterday, maybe it's the pill, maybe it's just me.  I don't know.  At least I slept last night.

Back to Kate and Edith and Lester and Earl; these pill make me wonder if I'm in a similar situation.  Specifically, can I have my brain (which we'll call "Kate") and my medications ("Edith," if you will)?  Can I still be the same person I was once I've altered my brain chemistry?  I don't know.

I think the depression really took hold when my cousin Ryan died.  He was like a brother; we were raised together, often in the same room.  We went through the same crazy family and home situations.  He was only eight months younger than I am, and he died from a massive heart attack back in November, right on his living room floor.

This event changed me.  It made me sad and angry and bitter.  I was angry because he died, having never heeded any advice about diet and exercise and stress.  I was so angry that he died that I didn't grieve for him, not until just a few nights ago.  It was long overdue, and it helped me.  Not only in getting over a death, but in learning to let go of misplaced anger.  To deal with things.  I'm very slowly learning to deal with things.

And now I'm on Paxil, and my fear is that it will just bury the things I haven't dealt with yet, but need to deal with to get out of my self-imposed mental cages.  In exchange, I'll be in a better mood and not suffer panic attacks.  But at what cost?  A lot of the things that this drug treats are also aspects of my personality.  I'm quiet, reserved, almost painfully shy.  Will that change?  Will it change my thoughts and attitudes towards social conventions and behavior, between right and wrong?  I just don't know.

I suppose that it is a risk I'll take, at least for the short term.  Maybe it is an important step in learning to let go of the idea of control, maybe it is a clean solution to not allowing myself to be happy, or maybe it's a huge mistake.  The only certain thing is that I can't remain the same person I always thought I was supposed to be.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Life is Hard

Sometimes, during the course of human events, something horrible happens to a person. Maybe a person does something horrible.  Most likely both, at some point or another.  I think there is a natural tendency to want to bury it, to hide it from the light of day in some dim recess of the mind, slated to be forgotten.  And there it will remain as the months and years and decades pile dust over it until it just sits, a vague semblance of its original form.  Maybe you can ignore it.  Maybe you can forget it altogether.  But it is waiting, just biding time.  Eventually you'll stumble across it, and all the distance you've gained from it will transform into inertia.

When it hits you, it hits you like a ton of bricks.

A lot of crazy things have been happening in my life.  For a while I allowed myself the luxury of believing external forces were at work.  That I was Good, and Evil was befalling me to test my mettle.  During these turbulent past few days, just last night, I realized that I am not Good.  I'm just a person, as weak and as thoughtlessly cruel as anyone else.  I don't feel like a bad person...just different.  A lot of things aren't as I thought, but I'm realizing that I have a much bigger role than I wanted to believe.  And I'm realizing that not dealing with events as they unfold is much worse than the alternative, because nothing can stay secret forever.

So there it is.  Maybe I've reached the gold standard of maturity, dealing with things no matter how much I don't want to and with more regard for the truth than for its possible consequences.  Sometimes it feels like self-sabotage.  I have to do the work all the same.  Whether it is with faith that things will work out in the end or with the idea that uncertainty is better than stagnation, it has to be done.

A big part of this, for me, is giving up the illusion of control.  The idea that I can guide the course of my own life, eliminating the things I want to forget, pretending or more likely working very hard to believe that things are going the way I wanted them to go, is false.  There are other people, and everyone in my life has some degree of influence.  Sometimes admitting it is hard, seeing how little control over your own life one actually has.  It is for me.

I almost feel like a different person.  It's a horrible realization, but it's more than just that.  It's an awakening. It's a realization that all the uncertainty I've fought against cannot be overcome.  It's also a rallying cry, a stark declaration that life is different now, and that growth and change are natural and inevitable.  A sign that you have to embark upon a dangerous and difficult path of learning greater truths about yourself, things you may not really want to know.

When it happens you have the choice to continue trying to ignore and pretend, or to take the journey, with all the dirt and pain and confusion that being human entails.  It's daunting.  It's necessary.  It's scary and exciting and hard work, a long trek through the twisted halls you've created in your own mind, a labyrinth filled with the monsters and pitfalls you've encountered or created.  It is a long, dark tunnel that, once entered, once made real, is real.  There is no turning back once you take the first steps. And as a wise person I happen to love says, "the only way out is through."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Welcome back, I guess

It's been a long time since I've written anything here.  A big part of that was knowing that people I knew were reading this.  I've always suffered from insecurity, and it felt too intrusive.  Too much like people would get to know the me that I hide from myself, running the risk of someone making me look at myself too closely.

Turns out I may have to get to know myself.  There are major changes coming over the next few months.  I don't want them, but I can't stop them.  I have to learn to cope.  I have to learn to live my own life.  I'm sad, and angry, but mostly just panicked.  And I can't keep everything to myself any longer.  It's too much.  I can't handle it alone, I need help.  My friends are there, even though I know I'm being terrible company.  I don't want to tax them too much, but I am so thankful for everyone that has listened without judging.  It made me realize I have more than I may have thought.

There is no such thing as fair.  That may be the first lesson I'm learning from what will become my new life.  I can't ignore past mistakes or the reality of the future.  I can look at it as a nightmare horrorshow, my life disintegrating before my eyes as I'm powerless to stop it.  Or I can look at it as an opportunity.  A chance to grow and change, maybe to be happy.  It is hard to see things that way.  So hard that panic keeps overwhelming me, leaving me almost crippled, unable to breathe, my heart beating wildly, blood pulsing so hard that I can hear it, a desperate surge singing through my ears.  But even from the bottom of a pit if you look up you can see the sky.  Maybe it is a very slim, very distant sky, a sky that will take weeks or months or years of scrambling to reach.  But it is there.  It has to be there.  I have to find it.  I have to believe that one day my hand will reach the edge of the pit, and that I'll be strong enough to lift my head back into the light and air.  That I'll be able to come back to the world.

So I'm going to try to open up a bit.  To not be so guarded, to not be afraid to know myself or to let others know me.  For so long I feel like I've been hiding, like I was afraid to connect with other people.  It's hard to be alone amongst your friends, to hide your thoughts and feelings from everyone.  I'm having trouble still; being this honest is hard for me.  I don't want to get into the gory details just yet, but I may.  No one has to read this, but I'm afraid I may have to write it.