I had my first appointment yesterday with Capital Health Mental Health Services. I met with a social worker named Danielle for my assessment. Our appointment was about 2 hours long and we covered a lot of ground. She asked specific questions, which helped, because everything is kind of a jumble in my head and I didn’t really know where to start. I have booked another appointment with her, and she encourages me to continue to see my grief counsellor, so I’m slowly building my army. The one that’s going to help me win this war.
For someone who is introverted, anxious, panicky and kerfuffled, talking with her was very easy, and she mentioned that. I told her about this blog, and that I wrote about my experiences freely, so that’s what she had me do. Write it down. Well, let me tell you, I haven’t written that much by hand in a long time. My hands have gotten used to using a computer keyboard to write, and I hand wrote all my feelings and thoughts for her yesterday. I think my hand might still be slightly deformed. My wrist actually aches, my fingers cried out in protest, my grade school teacher, Mrs. Prime, must be very disappointed that cursive is going by the wayside.
But anyway… after talking for a while, I saw that she’d taken several pages of notes. I kept talking, she kept writing. She asked questions, sometimes I didn’t know the answer. It didn’t matter. She said something I thought I knew, but I guess I didn’t really take into consideration until someone said it out loud: I’m not expected to have all the answers. Wait, what? Really? Um, I knew that. I think. Did I? Yes. No. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Someone said it out loud, and it clicked. I’m not expected to have all the answers. I’m not expected to have all the answers. I don’t have to have all the answers. Ahhhh.
Trust me, that doesn’t solve anything, but it makes the problem easier to handle. I know that should be common sense, that I don’t have to know everything, have an answer for everything, and like I said, deep down, I think I knew that, but sometimes it’s an ego thing. There, I said it. I have an ego. Who doesn’t? I don’t like looking um… non-omnipotent. Un-omnipotent? Omnipotence-less? I don’t like looking stupid or weak or not knowledgeable, or unskilled. No one does. My anxiety about the subject has been an obsession since I was a child. It’s ridiculous, I know. I get it now. Older and wiser and all that stuff. It’s still very real, and it’s an issue I’m going to have to deal with, but I keep making breakthroughs regarding my lack of all-knowing power, and I’m learning to make peace with the fact that I’m more human than magical goddess. I’m a magical human. (I still have an ego)
When it came time for me to write some things down, there were some specific questions that were asked. The first was: What do I want to see as an outcome from treatment and therapy? What do I want different in my life, both immediately and long term? Well, I didn’t write down the obvious answers, winning a huge lottery (without actually having to have bought a ticket), travel the world for free, banish ice from Nova Scotia forever… that sort of thing. Here’s what I did write.
I don’t want to be panicky and anxious anymore. I don’t want to feel like every stressor is the end of the world. I want to be able to have memories of my mother that don’t leave me feeling like I can’t manage without her. I want to be able to make plans without panic about everything that could possibly go wrong. I want the racing thoughts to stop. I want to be able to turn off my brain at night so I can finally sleep. I don’t want to cry all the time without reason. I want to be calm and collected enough to manage my life and business without constant meltdowns.
That’s all I had room to write. I was impressed that I got so much in there. So was Danielle. She says I’m very descriptive and direct, and she seemed to really respect that. Cool. There are a lot more things I want to see change, but that was a great start. Specific. There are more things that I want, but like I said, I ran out of room, my hand was already cramped (wimp) and well, I can out of brain power, to be perfectly honest. I want to go back to work. I miss being productive, I miss my boys (and Caitlin, I guess :P) Nothing personal guys, I love you and miss you, but my brain still short circuits on a whim and I’d be useless to you. And it would be a giant pain in the ass, admit it. I know that it’s inconvenient for everyone, and that is the biggest annoyance about my mental state right now. I don’t blame people for resenting me, even just a little, even though they’ll never admit it. I understand. I know you love me. I’m working hard on this, I promise you. Not just for myself, but for all of you. I’m pretty goddamned hilarious, and you all shouldn’t be without that 😉 But seriously, I am working on it. Because I miss you all. And I miss me too. I used to be awesome, but now I’m awesome that’s wrapped up in a little bit too much crazy. Yes, crazy. I’m crazy. People think that’s not the right words to use, but yeah, it kind of is. I’m askew, unsound, and kind of mentally deranged. Those are some of the definitions of the word crazy. So, yeah. I’m crazy.
I’ve been labelled, which I’m not sure is good or bad. I’ve been pegged at Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Panic Attacks. Doesn’t that sound fancy? That means what it’s meant for years, I’m a chronic worrier, excessive planner, detail oriented, anal uptight about life. There’s tension, always, my back feels like it’s going to snap over backwards some days. There’s tension in my relationships, all of them, whether I want to admit it or not. I’m introverted (I know… shocker), and that’s just who I am. That makes it difficult to socialize, especially when it’s coupled with an intense anxious feeling about having panic attacks in public (they are NOT pretty). So I’m afraid to be around people, but I’m also afraid to be alone. I’m afraid of public, the bus is now the WORST place to be, and I know I must look like the bitchiest person in the universe when I walk down the street, praying that no one talks to me.
The second I had to answer was: What are my coping mechanisms? What have I done so far to manage my symptoms/issues? Well, this is the one I didn’t really know. I don’t think I’ve been coping very well, and that could very well be because I’m so busy worrying about things that don’t matter, I don’t even notice how I get from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night. Since I haven’t taken the time to notice the things that I do to make myself even a little happy, I just ended up having it all pile up on me until I’m exhausted and don’t know how to fix anything. I don’t know how to manage my symptoms, I don’t know how I get myself down from a panic attack (unless I just go and go and go until I wear myself out and fall asleep right there on the floor… it’s happened), I don’t know how to manage the pain of losing my mom and best friend, I don’t know how to handle my life without her, and that’s what has brought me to this point. I’m still pretty damn lost, and that’s what I finally recognized in myself, and what prompted me to ask for help. I don’t know what makes me happy for crying out loud.
So, now I have to figure out how to answer that question. What am I doing to manage my symptoms? Well, the drugs are nice. I’m kidding, I actually hate that I have to take pills to not feel like I’m about to fall off a tightrope at any second. It sucks to know that my brain is a cesspool of fucked up hormones and chemicals that leave me unbalanced and loopy. It also leaves me very distracted and frumpy feeling, and some days I really can’t drag myself out of bed. I hate those days. They linger too, when I can manage to drag myself out of bed and brush my teeth, I’m not motivated to do much else. How am I supposed to find out what makes me happy if I can’t find the pick me up to do things? It’s like I want to run, but someone has broken both of my legs.
So what makes me happy? I don’t know. Not entirely, anyway. Chad makes me happy. Cuddling my cats makes me happy. Listening to classical music makes me happy. Drinking Earl Grey tea from my delicate little teacup makes me feel snooty and British and I like that, so that makes me happy too. Desserts make me happy. Desserts is stressed spelled backwards, so maybe I should take that as a sign or something. It seems to be working for me so far, so fudge and sweets and baking makes me happy. My friends make me happy too, and this is the frustrating part of anxiety and introversion. Thankfully, I live in the age of technology and social media, so I can be my charming self and socialize without anyone ever having to see the panic and tension in my face and body language. My fingers get all loosey goosey when I’ve had a cup of tea (or five) so it feels natural. So what else makes me happy? I don’t know. I guess I’m going to have to find out.
So, imagine how much hand cramping was going on after writing all that stuff down. Well, I may have paraphrased, but you get the picture. After Danielle read all that, she did this wonderful thing. She gave me feedback about what I’d said to her and written down. She was impressed that even with this intense anxiety that leaves me curled up in a fetal position in the middle of the living room, I put myself out there and took my fudge and sweets to the Sunday Market. A great strategy was having my friend Honey there for moral support. Yay. I’m not completely inept. I still have a few good ideas. Maybe I am making progress. Danielle also said how impressed she was by my being able to express myself and describe how I’m feeling. I guess that creative writing class finally paid off. Too bad I didn’t finish it. Maybe I’ll take it again. I’ve got much more to write about now. I mean, if Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey can be called literature, my ramblings are going to win me a Pulitzer. Who knows?
So, where do I go from here? I keep taking it one day at a time. I’m going to take note of my routine, and incorporate the things that make me happy, from feeling like I’m on Downton Abbey while drinking from my little teacup, or making Bourbon and Candied Bacon Fudge. I’m going to continue seeing my doctor, my grief counsellor, my social worker, and a psychiatrist (eventually… one step at a time) until I feel like my head is on straight and doesn’t feel like a fishbowl full of fucked up fish.
I’m going to go make candied bacon now…