Friday, September 09, 2016

Mental Health Report

This afternoon, I'm heading over to the college for my third round of psychological assessment testing. Counting my intake interview and a second interview, this will be my fifth time there. This is supposed to be the final round of testing, and I really hope that's the case.

I've wanted to do this for some time. Especially since 2014 when my therapist told me she thought she recognized ADHD in me. My psychiatrist at the center where I get therapy refused to take that seriously. An independent psychiatrist I saw last September just told me losing weight would alleviate a lot of my symptoms--he didn't know what to do with me because I've already tried a lot of medications that made things worse, and he couldn't just throw pills at me, I guess. It's been a very frustrating journey just to get to this point, where someone is taking me seriously.

I've known for a long while now that whatever's going on in my head is more than just Generalized Anxiety Disorder with a little Panic Disorder and a little Agoraphobia. It's pretty deep and intense, and it's confusing. Not having a name and a suggested course of treatment for it is like being lost at sea. And it plays so hard into my abuse trauma, because I was always "taught" that whatever is wrong with me when I mess up is because I'm bad or wrong in some way. It's not something in my brain, it's just because I'm me and I'm awful. So I needed to do this pretty bad.

But honestly, I hope this is almost over.

I hope this is the last bit of it and then I can wait for an analysis of whatever the results are.

That trauma, that voice in my head that tells me how stupid and awful and unlovable I am, has really been brought back to the surface in a way it hasn't been in a while. It's really powerful. And in just the two weeks I've been doing this, a lot of it is just raw and insistent. I feel heavy and slow and clumsy all the time. I have trouble sleeping restfully, even with my CPAP machine. I'm trying to stay happy and active, but I also feel myself disengaging from things again. I'm just overwhelmed and internalizing everything. I feel sick. I'm having long, exhausting nightmares. I can feel how little motivation I have to take care of myself.

It really sucks.

I tried really hard this summer not to let depression take over. And depression always takes over in the summer, from around my birthday and into late September. This summer, I did much better than usual--even though I turned frickin' 40 this summer--but right now it's just all there on the surface, making me impatient, defensive, and easily wounded.

And these tests, man. Tell me what's wrong with this picture. Make these blocks into specific shapes. Do these math word problems. It's stressful, because it makes me realize just how hard it can be for me to reason or solve puzzles. It makes me feel like I'm inherently dumb and I've just found work-arounds for that to get through life.

I want to add, too, that the grad student they've paired me with has been nothing but encouraging. She has to be objective, and I need her to be, but she's been empathetic and delightful. She's a much better person than either of those discouraging psychiatrists ever were.

But damn, I want this to be over. I'm hoping the results put a name to all of this and I can stop telling myself that it's just because I'm shitty and maybe cut myself some slack. I'm just so, so tired right now.

(So this doesn't end on an entirely bleak note, going there is really good for Pokemon Go, and Pokemon Go has helped keep my anxiety down in public. The building is a Poke-Stop, and it's right on campus around a dozen other Poke-Stops, and someone always has lures out. And since the building is next to a creek that feeds into a lagoon, I catch a lot of water Pokemon when I'm waiting for my appointments. I have caught so many Psyducks, and thanks to the abundance of Magikarps, I'm about a third of the way to evolving a Gyarados, which is probably the Pokemon I want the most that seems feasible. Damn, I have never seen a Charmander anywhere...)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Happy Birthday, Star Trek

I'm going through one of my phases right now, so I don't have anything particularly eloquent to say about it, but I wanted to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Of course, the show was long-canceled by the time I was born, but it was my Mom's favorite show as a kid, and she introduced me to it through local reruns about the time Star Trek III: The Search for Spock came out on VHS (so around the middle of 1985). It didn't take me long to become a huge fan, and to start reading books about Trek (more about the making of the series itself than the novels). I remember going as Spock for Halloween either that year or the next. A day doesn't pass for me without something that's Star Trek-related appearing. It was a huge influence on me, and it continues to be.

Happy Birthday, Star Trek.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Muppet Monday

I used to race home after school to catch Fraggle Rock on HBO as a kid. Today, I don't know many people who loved that show when they were kids, but I sure as heck did. My Mom loved the Doozers; she thought they were just the cutest things. I remember seeing some of these in person at the Museum of Science & Industry around... 1986? 1987? I'm not sure of the year. I can't remember if Fraggle Rock was still on TV, and I'm not sure if Labyrinth had come out yet or not. But my parents were still together, so it was definitely pre-1988. I'm looking at the Muppet Wiki page for exhibits, and I don't recognize the names... the one that seems right is The Art of the Muppets, though it doesn't list a stop at the Museum of Science & Industry. It does list a stop at the Children's Museum in Illinois for a few months in 1985, but I'm not sure I've ever even been there. Still, it fits the time frame. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I always think that it was the Museum of Science & Industry because I saw a great exhibit there about robots that featured a large number of movie animatronics, including the shark from Jaws and Johnny Five from Short Circuit, around the same time. I'll have to ask one of my parents about it.

Anyway, I saw some of these guys in a museum, and it was neat seeing the various armatures and gears inside. There was a demonstration on how they worked. All the stuff I wanted to grow up to do.

So, today's Labor Day, and the Doozers work pretty dang hard, and they bring back some warm memories for me. This is "Doozer March Song (Set Your Shoulder)," written by Philip Balsam & Dennis Lee, which appeared in episode 19 of Fraggle Rock, "The Great Radish Famine," on May 16, 1983.

Happy Labor Day.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Song of the Week: "I Think I'll Call It Morning"

A beautiful, soulful tune to start a late summer morning with. It's a beautiful day today, it's a holiday weekend, and I'm having chocolate-flavored coffee with apple cider donuts. From Gil Scott-Heron's impeccable 1971 LP Pieces of a Man.