Living Dead Girl -Chapter 1

“Hello, my name’s Patsy,” I spoke, mostly to the floor.

“Hello, Patsy”, disembodied voices echoed back at me from the circle I sat in. I refused to look up…there was no point.

“Did you have anything else to tell us today, Patsy? Why you’re here, maybe?” The cool, soft voice of Dr. Tellman (yeah, irony there, am I right?) cut through the gloom of the purposely-dimmed room from my right. She kept us in a semi-darkened state to “free our inhibitions and allow us to speak easier”, or something like that.

“I’m here because the State thinks I’m nuts, that’s why I’m here, Dr. Tellman”.

“And what did you say to them to give them that impression, Patsy?” Still, with that same easy, coaxing voice. God! She could sell milk to cows, which would be difficult, because of the whole lack of communic-

“Patsy?”

“Oh, sorry, Doc, woolgathering. I told the State’s doc the truth, is all. And he marked up my sheet like a game of tic-tac-toe. Next thing I know, here I am with the rest of the Cranks, Tanks & Yanks.”

Creaks, whines and rustling met with that statement, & I knew I touched nerves, and got some of them curious. 

Off to me left, I heard 

“Whatzat? Whatchoo said? Cranks, Tanks & Yanks? Zat some kind of insult or sumpthin?”

“No, not an insult, Tommy, it’s just my own way of describing this place.  You see…Cranks are real crazies, through no fault of their own. Something’s wrong upstairs, & they can’t help it. I feel bad for them. 

Tanks are the ones gone crazy because of drugs, alcohol, or both. They did it to themselves, so they get no sympathy from me.

And Yanks, well…those are the poor ones that been through hell so bad, abuse, war, rape, you name it, they’ve suffered & seen it, and they can’t contain it inside their brains by themselves. They get yanked all over by others, put through torture so horrible, ain’t no one should have to go through that shit, specially not alone.”

“And where would you put yourself in that labeling system, Patsy?” Dr. Tellman attempted to get us back on track, but I could hear in her voice that I had her interest.

“Nowhere, Dr. Tellman. I’m not in any of those categories, because I’m not crazy. But the truth sounds an awful lot like crazy, these days, so I might as well have a vacation, hmm?”

I could hear her pen scritching against her clipboard as she wrote notes, quick & efficient, just like her. If I concentrated, I could probably envision her wrinkling her nose as her ash-blonde hair fell over her eyes while she wrote, and her tucking it neatly back behind her ear, sliding her pen atop her ear to wait for the next thought.

“And what is this ‘crazy truth’, Patsy?”

“Well, that I’m a Reaper, and that I’m a living dead girl.”

Shadow #FamChallenge

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and High-Functioning Depression.

This has cast a large and looming Shadow over a good portion of my life, and it’s not something that a lot of people understand.

GAD isn’t just feeling anxious over stressful things in your life…it’s feeling stressed all the time about everything. It’s a sense of dread, of tight anticipation that something bad is coming, right around the corner, every second of every day. 

It’s illogical and it’s irrational. 

It’s a chemical imbalance that requires meds, balanced nutrition & exercise to mitigate & treat – but there is no “cure”. No magic pill, & no ultimate therapy that makes it go away forever.

And it’s not something you can “fix” by saying “Just don’t worry about it, it’ll all work out. Let it go, why don’t you?” 

I take my meds, & get along pretty well most of the time, anymore, as far as that’s concerned. I still have panic attacks every now and again, but they’re fewer and farther between now, since I started taking better control of my meds & managing my stress in other ways with music, exercise, reading, writing, & my other coping techniques.

My depression, on the other hand…

It’s a sneaky bastard.

High functioning depression is hard to spot in a lot of cases, because the people who live with it are just that good at hiding it.

Here are some of the warning signs that go along with HFD:

1.Difficulty experiencing joy: I know how this will probably sound…but…while I can be happy from time to time, laughing & smiling, going on about my day, I can’t remember the last time I Experienced Joy. True moments where I actually let go of myself and just relished in the joy of a moment? Nope, couldn’t say – it’s been that long. It’s always tinged with the dread of “knowing” that it’s not real.

2. Relentless criticality — of self and others: For me, this is moreso about being self-critical. I know that I do a lot of self a deprecating humor. This is not always healthy. 

3. Constant self-doubt: Yep. 

4. Diminished energy: Mass yep. I’m tired all the time. I try to push through it, because I have to…but there are days I – just crash.

5. Irritability or excessive anger: I try to keep this in check, but yes. I know this is there. There is a well of anger inside of me, that, sometimes, spills to the surface.

6. Small things feel like huge things: And they build up…

7. Feelings of guilt and worry over the past and the future: oh god, remembering things I did from years ago, overanalyzing conversations inside my head, rereading texts and emails to catch “hidden” meanings & subtext…

8. Relying on your coping strategies more and more: I constantly shift my strategies to try to find something that will work, because after a while…they stop working.

9. Generalized sadness: It doesn’t ever go away completely. Not ever.

10. Seeking perfection: In myself, not so much in others. I am my own worst critic in many ways, I know this. 

11. Inability to rest and slow down: My brain never stops. Even in my sleep, obviously, because I’ve been dealing with insomnia for years now. I can fall asleep, but can’t stay asleep, waking 3 and 4 times a night, often from nightmares. And “crash days” don’t seem to garner much in the way of recuperation, it’s more just getting to a point where I can cling by my fingernails again for the next few days.

If you met me for the first time on the street, you’d probably never guess these things about me. 

That’s the nature of High Functioning Depression. “High” being the operative word there, because I do get out of bed every day, go to work, make small talk, handle my life…for the most part…

The depression just sits in the shadow, patient, waiting…

Until I’m alone, usually on the weekends, or at night, when I’m really tired but can’t sleep. 

When my defenses are down.

GAD AND HFD are companions, they mesh well together, and can get so tangled up in each other that they often get misdiagnosed. And the stigma that goes with them is not fun, either.

My ex used to call people with mental disorders like GAD & Depression “weak-minded”.

There’s more than one reason why we’re divorced.

But it’not a weakness of the mind.

It’s a chemical imbalance. And in me, it’s a combination of chemical imbalances & past traumas that cause my issues. I take meds for the one. I work through the other.

Blogging is a help with that.

But the Shadow of GAD and HFD still holds steady over my head, & I know it’s something I’ll live with my whole life. 

As long as I have to sit in the Shadow… maybe I can start trying to think of it as Shade instead…

And at least welcome the fact that it keeps me out of the direct, and damaging UV rays that cause skin cancer?

Well, hell…it’s a theory…

Introvert Aftermath

Yesterday was the reunion. I was gone for about 12 hours, socializing & doing the expected “extrovert” stuff, by visiting the school, hanging out with classmates, making small talk with townspeople, etc.

I got home about midnight, & tried to stay up for a bit, to decompress. I wrote last night’s blog post, had something to snack on…and…crashed…hard.

Super hard.

As in – I woke up today somewhere between 12:30 and 1:00pm – hard.

I’m still exhausted, & can’t seem to gather enough energy to do more than sit upright.

My head hurts as though I were hungover, although I drank no alcohol.

My body feels as though I’d been dragged behind a truck for about 3 miles of bad road.

My phone has rung several times today, someone trying to get ahold of me to do a wedding this week, but I’ve had no energy to answer, much less the desire to be polite…considering the first phone call was placed at 8am this morning, & briefly woke me.

Who calls at 8am on a Sunday morning?

Ferfuckssake.

I’ll get back to this person tomorrow, when I have more energy, and less of a desire to snap his head off like a dandelion for being rude. (And for the short notice -he wants me to perform the wedding this week -during the week – as though I have nothing else to do – see why I’m waiting to respond? Me – cranky…)

This is what heavy socialization does to an introvert like myself.

It causes a complete shutdown, sometimes for hours, and sometimes…in severe cases, it can cause the shutdown to go on for days. 

It takes time, quiet, & space to recharge an introvert. I’ve expended every bit of my energy, reserves included, on what I did yesterday.

And I know I’m going to have to get up & go to work tomorrow – with work being handled by a skeleton crew.

*Sigh*

Early bedtime for me tonight…let’s just hope my insomnia lets me get a few hours uninterrupted so I can function.

No Lightning…But Kinda Pissed

First off – let me say that most of today was just fine. That’s why I’m only kinda pissed.

I went to my hometown during the all-school reunion festivities today, & made my first stop my parent’s house. Because, of course, I did! I’m a good daughter!

Dad was out of town, so it was just Mom and me, & we ended up wandering the town to look for Dwight Knuth, the gentleman who wrote his autobiography, & featured one of my blog posts in it. We met up with him at the school, & talked to him for a bit. It was really, very nice & he had to have a hug from us both when we parted.

Then.

We went in search of the shadow box my dad built for the school which holds my sculpture of Horton & the book, Horton Hatches an Egg, which I mentioned features my hometown in it.

See the teeny little plaque at the bottom?

Know what it says?

“Donated by the Class of 2015”.

#&#%@$@%$+$+%((#!@!!?#-#-@!

WHAT!?!

Nothing, and I repeat…Nothing about how my DAD built that wooden box FROM SCRATCH… Nothing about how a member of the Class of 1988 created the sculpture.

Nothing about the hours of time it took my dad to handcraft each piece of this shadow box. The measuring, sanding, staining -painstaking work that he put into this piece, making sure that each shelf fit perfectly into the enclosure, and would hold up over the years. 

This is not a “company-made” piece…this is a hand made, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. 

But no one knows that, because my dad is too humble to ever push himself forward in that manner. He’ll never tell anyone about the work he put into it.

Just that the Class of 2015 Donated it.

Ungrateful little shits.

Pisses me right the hell off.

Did I get a thank you?

From my Dad, yes.

From the Class of 2015? I got fuck all.

Anyway…

After that, Mom & I blew that popsicle stand & went downtown to have lunch, retreating back to their place afterwards.

I did stick around long enough to hit the “street dance” too… (Nobody was really dancing, more like milling around the street, drinking & listening to a band play really loudly)

I did end up running into some classmates, & had fun talking to them, catching up with where they are, what they’ve been doing, how old we’re all feeling anymore…

And before I knew it, it was almost 11pm, & I had to get the hell out of Dodge. I hate driving the highways so late at night, after hitting a deer a few years back – it makes you a bit jumpy & skittish while driving alone.

So, I’m home, safe. I didn’t smite the town with lightning…although I’d like to smack some little ungrateful wretches from the Class of 2015…

And I scored some homemade strawberry jam out of Mom’s freezer…so…definite win.

So, no lightning, but still kinda pissed.

Light #FamChallenge

And the light streamed in the window

As I lay, curled on the floor

Broken, just like the day before

Left behind, always left…wanting more…

And the light streamed in the window

Dust dancing in the air

Landing softly in my hair

Building up, slowly, everywhere

And the light streamed in the window

Softer now than before

Angled more towards the door

Knocking louder, the policemen swore

Flashing lights streamed in the window

Going Back…

This weekend I’m taking a little trip down memory lane. Just a small jaunt, mind you.

You see…

My high school is having their 100-year anniversary this weekend, so it’s supposed to be some kind of big blowout weekend all-school reunion.

(Blink too long driving down the highway, and you’ve missed it…I don’t think it’s a whole lot bigger than this photo above suggests)

I’m not going to make a weekend out of it, but I am going to stop in and take a gander at a couple of things that interest me.

First and foremost… There is going to be a gentleman there who wrote an autobiography about his life, part of which took place in my hometown, so he’s going to be signing books at the city hall for part of the time. He used my blog post about Dr. Hordinsky in his book, so I’d like to meet him, face to face, and shake his hand. Talk to him a little & let him know that I did actually read his book and enjoyed it, even the stuff I didn’t write!

I’d also like to stop in at the school & see the shadow box my dad built that now houses one of my sculptures. He asked me to make him a sculpture of Horton the Elephant to go with a copy of the Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hatches an Egg, which has the name of my hometown in it. 

Here’s the sculpture, but I’d like a picture of the finished product!

So, this shindig kicks off on Friday…but, that’s the busiest day of the month for my business, & we’re going to swamped that day, so there’s zero chance of getting that day off. Plus, by the time I get off work…I’m going to be completely brain-fried…

So, I’m going down on Saturday. I figure that’ll give me time to see what I want to see, do what I want to do, and skedaddle out of there before any shenanigans get too crazy. 

…I…don’t have a lot of really fond memories from high school. It was pretty much hell for me there, and I escaped to other towns as often as possible…so, it’s not like this is abnormal behavior to me.

I’ll be in and out like lightning…maybe a couple small scorch marks left behind…no big…

So if Sunday’s paper reads “Lightning Strikes Small Town North Dakota”… 

It wasn’t me…I was home all night…I swear…just ask the cat…