The Twentieth Argument I Had With Victor This Week

Me: You know how I’ll know when we’re really successful?  When I can buy the New York Times just to throw it in the trash so that the garbage men will think I’m smart and sophisticated.

Victor: You can buy the New York Times now.

Me: Yes, but then I’d feel like I have to read it.  Have you seen it?  It’s enormous.  And there isn’t even a comic section.

Victor: Really?

Me: Well, I assume.  I’ve never made it all the way through.  I mainly just buy it when I’m on a plane because then I look smart and also it’s really big and so it makes a good blanket.

Victor: Because the smartest people on the plane are huddled under newspapers like homeless people.

Me: I don’t huddle.  I drape the sections over me gracefully.  And then I crumple some into a makeshift pillow.  Sometimes I make a paper prom dress or sailer hat.  And then I sigh to myself and shake my head condescendingly and tell the person next to me that I found another error in the crossword section.

Victor: I thought you didn’t like to talk to people on planes?

Me: I don’t.  That’s why I say that.  Say something ridiculous like that and people assume you’re either incredibly smart or incredibly stupid.  Either way, they tend to avoid you the rest of the flight.

Victor: Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that you’re wearing the sports section like a Snuggie.

Me: Well, whatever works.

Winner:  Victor by default because “sports section snuggie” is fantastic alliteration.

The Fifteenth Argument I Had With Victor This week

Me: Every time I cook something in the microwave it smells like burnt popcorn.

Victor:  That’s because you burnt popcorn in it.

Me:  Yeah, like, a week ago.  It’s like the microwave is holding a grudge.  It wasn’t even my fault.  I hit the popcorn button and next thing I know there’s a fire.  If anything, I’m the one who should be holding a grudge.

Victor:  It’s not really normal to fight with microwaves about whose fault it is that you burnt popcorn.

Me:  It’s like the microwave is being haunted by The-Ghost-of-Burnt-Popcorn-Past. We might need an exorcism.

Victor:  I’m pretty sure we just need you to watch the popcorn when you’re microwaving it.

Me:  Or maybe it’s being haunted by The-Ghost-of-Burnt-Popcorn-Future.  Because it’s bound to happen again.

Victor:  It really doesn’t haveto happen again.

Me:  Why can’t our microwave be haunted by the smell of a delicious four-course meal?

Victor:  Probably because you don’t microwave four-course meals.

Me:  Well, no, because they would just end up smelling like burnt popcorn.  This is exactly the reason why I don’t cook.

Victor:  Yeah.  That’sthe reason.

Me:  I mean, get over it, microwave.  It’s time to move on.  You’re keeping me from baking delicious things.

Victor:  You “bake” in an oven. You microwave things in a microwave.

Me: No.  Like if I made home-made squash casserole in the microwave I think that’d be baked squash.

Victor:  It’s microwaved squashed.  Because you microwaved it.

Me:  No.  It would be “microwaved squash” if it was frozen, pre-packaged squashed made explicitly for the microwave.  This is different.  It has ingredients.

Victor:  It’s just squash.

Me:  And salt.  And I had to wash the squash, and cut the squash.  So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.

Victor: You microwaved squash.

Me:  Stop saying that.  You don’t “washing-machine” your clothes.  You don’t “oven” a roast.  So I didn’t “microwave” fresh squash casserole.

Victor:  It’s not a casserole.  It’s just squash.

Me: Sometimes I think you hurt me on purpose.

Winner: The microwave.  Loser: The Catholic Church, because they refused my offer to pay them for a microwave exorcism. It’s like they don’t want Jesus to have money.  This is why people don’t understand the church.

On finding the cure for depression

So. If you read here you already know that I’ve been getting stabbed in the brain by magnets every day for an hour for the last few months.  (Click here to read the whole TMS story if you’re new here.)  And yesterday?  Was my last session.

Overall, it was uncomfortable, weird, a reminder that insurance companies are satan, expensive and time-consuming.

It was also totally worth it.

I am not one of the lucky third of people who went into full remission with transcranial magnetic stimulation.  I’m also not one of the unlucky third who the treatment didn’t work for.  I’m in that middle ground…better, but not perfect.

But better is so good.  I’ve tracked my moods every day these last few months and (other than a short dip halfway through treatment) I’ve steadily gotten better.  I even had 5 seemingly random days over the last month where I felt what I imagine most people think of as normal.  I haven’t had days like that in so long I’d literally forgotten I could feel that way.

I know some of you are looking at the process yourself and every single person is different but here’s how it helped (or didn’t help) me:

Depression:  When I started treatment I was in a deep and very long-lasting depression that I’ve been battling for well over a year.  I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I started coming out of it.  I think I was operating at 10-25% when I started treatment.  I’d say I’m between 60-75% now.  I’m still have depression.  I’m still medicated.  But this treatment was like a soft reset…like turning your phone off and on again when it gets laggy and broken.

Concentration:  This is still a struggle for me but I have seen a little improvement.  Not much, but a little.

Sleep: My sleep patterns changed the very first week.  I still struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep but most nights I’m asleep around midnight rather than angrily tweeting about insomnia at 4am.  I’m less likely to feel like I’ve been drugged and hit by a truck in the morning.

Anxiety: TMS treats depression on the left side of your brain but I also did treatment on the right side of my brain for anxiety.  This isn’t always standard so ask your doctor about it if you’re having TMS.  This is where I felt the most improvement.  When I started TMS I was having severe anxiety and massive problems with agoraphobia.  I had a hard time leaving the house and I didn’t answer my phone. I struggled with even emailing people.  Right now I feel almost normal.  Tomorrow I’m leaving to see Europe for the first time in my life and I would never have imagined I’d agree to on this trip if you’d asked me a few months ago.  And I’m scared about traveling but I’m excited, and that’s something that I haven’t felt in a long time.  My family actually noticed these changes in me before I did.

OCD and ICD:  Unfortunately TMS didn’t really improve this a ton.  I still feel irrational OCD and ICD thoughts but slightly less.

I don’t know if this will keep working but if I fall into the deep depression again I qualify to get follow-up treatments in the future and it’s nice to have hope.  In fact, hope is the best thing that came from this treatment.  This treatment is still new and strange and we don’t know exactly why it works for some or why it doesn’t for others but the fact that it does work for some people means that there’s hope for all of us…that things are getting better and slowly we’re figuring out how these wonderful and terrible engines that run us work.  I have hope that I will get better.  Because I did.  And that’s a good reminder to keep close when things get bad again and my depression starts telling me lies.

I will get better.  So will you.  Each day more and more people understand the struggle and more treatments become available.  One day there will be a cure.    We’re getting closer every day.  And I’ll be here for it.

PS. I did embroidery every day as I got treatment and a friend (Laura Bundesen) sent me a pattern that I could concentrate on while in the chair.

Finished:

Stabbing a brain thousands of times while getting stabbed in the brain thousands of times. It’s almost too fitting.

HELP. If you’ve ever been to London, Paris or Scotland please tell me what to do.

HEY!

I’ve had one too many cocktails (two) so this might not make sense but we’re taking Hailey to Europe this month and have no idea what we’re doing because I’m a procrastinator and we’ve never been to Europe. I mean, technically Victor has been to Europe but he just spent a week working in some guy’s basement in Torquay (long story) so I don’t think that counts. Long story short…I have no idea what to do. We’re only spending about 2 days in each town so there’s not a lot of time to fill but I want to make sure I don’t miss something awesome.

We’ll be road tripping from Glasgow to Isle of Skye and back to Inverness. Then we take a night train to London. Then another train Paris and then we fly home. If you’ve ever been to any of these places and have a great restaurant/attraction/stop that was fantastic please let me know.

We’re staying in lots of haunted hotels and doing ghost tours because that’s the kind of people we are but we’re cool with anything.

Tell us where to go?

Do you want a free book? Of course you do, unless you’re some kind of monster.

This is a potpourri of stuff so buckle up.

First off, today is National Coloring Book Day (really) so I’m giving away copies of mine (YOU ARE HERE: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds) right here.  If you need one for yourself or a friend leave a comment and I’ll send a few out tonight.  (Just make sure you leave a valid email address in your comment because that’s how I’ll contact random winners.)

Secondly, Today was my 33rd TMS treatment.  That means I only have three more to go.  I had a dip in emotions last week but not enough to be a depression and today I feel really good again.  Fingers crossed it continues.

Third, I forgot what I was going to say.  I think it was important though so I’m going to leave this space here in case I need to come back to it.

Fourth, apparently Furiously Happy is super on sale today if you want that instead of YOU ARE HERE then let me know and I’ll send a few of those out too.

Fifth, this weekend I’m driving to Book People to autograph books so if you’ve ordered one with a special inscription you’ll be getting it soon (thanks for your patience!) and if you want to order one now just go here and follow the directions.  They have all of my books and are a WONDERFUL independent book store to support and I will write anything you want in them.  And yes, I would be happy to write “Knock knock, motherfucker” or draw a picture of a cat or a penis or a cat’s penis.  They make excellent gifts.  My books, I mean.  Not cat penises.  Unless you’re a lady cat who is into that sort of thing.  No judgement.

Also, I typed in “no judgement” looking for a gif and got this.  This sort of feels the opposite of what I was looking for, but whatever.

Sixth, I FOUND A SECRET ROOM IN MY HOUSE.

Victor says it’s not a “secret room” at all and also he won’t let have a crowbar.

I’ve been live-tweeting it.  After you leave a comment click here to read it all.

I’ll take one in an extra large, please

My friend Elan shared this video and was like, “Y’all, we’ve been doing umbrellas wrong”…

…and I immediately agreed because I would wear this every damn time I leave the house because it’s like you’re wearing a personal fence that also happens to be a duck and a sneeze-guard and probably a great barbecue bib.  No one could sit next to me at the movies or stand too close in an elevator and probably I would avoid uncomfortable small talk because I assume normal people would avoid a grown woman wearing a 5 foot wide duck and abnormal people would be just be like, “Can I get that in blue?”

But then I looked it up and turns out that only toddlers get to enjoy their adorable  introversion which just seem unfair because toddlers already can scream at strangers who get too close to them and they don’t even get arrested for it, but when I want a duck-based, protective face petticoat I’m the weirdo.

PS.  Hang on.  I found an “adult version” but it’s basically just the child-sized one with the duck face removed.  FAIL ON ALL PARTS, RAIN DUCK MAKERS.

I appreciate the jaunty hip pose, but I’m pretty sure this is the opposite of “fierce” or “working it”.

PPS.  Hang on again.  I just remembered that Dorothy Barker fucking hates the rain and refuses to go out in it but maybe if I buy her the one for infants she’ll stop shitting on the floor whenever it’s drizzling.  SOLD.  Expect pictures soon…

BOGO

Yesterday I bought a melon but the clerk told me to go get another one because they were having “a BOGO sale” and I was confused but he explained that “BOGO” is short for “Buy One, Get One” and I said that that’s not really a “sale” since every time you buy a melon you get a melon because that’s how shopping works.  And then the clerk was like, “No, it’s buy one, get one free” and then I was like, “Well wouldn’t that be BOGOF?” and he agreed but said that he likes “BOGO” because it’s fun to say and I agree except “BOGOF” is also fun to say and if you yell it at customers as they pass through it sort of sounds like you’re telling them to fuck off but in sort of a Britishy way and that would very attention-getting and probably therapeutic.  He stared at me like I was crazy but I wasn’t the one incorrectly selling melons so I think we’re probably square.

 

Be careful out there.

Hi.  If you had any doubts about my sanity before you won’t after reading this but I have to write this, so sorry.

I have this weird thing where thoughts get stuck in my mind.  Some doctors say it’s a type of OCD and some say it’s intrusive thoughts from Impulse Control Disorder but whatever it is, it super sucks.  Mostly it’s terrible thoughts about the world, or anxious fears that won’t stop echoing in my head and a lot of time it’s terrible things that happen in the news that I can’t stop thinking of…so much so that I am paralyzed and unable to do anything other than wait for it to pass, like an ear worm that won’t stop except instead of a song it’s a thought that exhausts me mentally and physically.

I can recognize that my reaction is not rational and is unhelpful and I have some tools to help but sometimes those tools don’t work because something happens in such a way that I become convinced that it’s a sign…a warning.  My mind tells me that I need to do certain things to keep myself and my family safe.  And that sounds crazy.  Because it is crazy.  But also?  Sometimes it’s right.  Sometimes that voice in my head telling me to be careful or to change a date or to avoid a flight yells so loudly that I listen and sometimes…sometimes it’s right.  It’s probably coincidence.  If you listen to those fears often enough you’ll see the things you want to see.  But.  There’s always a but, isn’t there?  But sometimes it feels like you have to listen to those voices, because maybe it isn’t crazy…maybe you’re picking up something the universe is laying down, or your subconscious is seeing a pattern you can’t see.  I don’t know.  I only know that sometimes I listen and today is one of those times.

Yesterday I drove up on a fatality as I was driving Hailey to camp.  The police and ambulances were already there.  We said a prayer as we passed.

On the way home I saw a dog I’d often rescued from the street dash out into the street and get hit by a car.  The owner was convinced it was dead but I felt its pulse and she rushed to take him to a vet.  I don’t know if he survived.

On the way to treatment today I barely missed an accident and on the way home I witnessed another.

It’s probably just a lot of coincidences but it doesn’t change this nagging and unending warning I feel in my bones and that’s why today I’m writing this to tell you to be careful.  Don’t text and drive.  Don’t drink and drive.  Don’t let your dog go out without a leash and don’t swerve into traffic if you see an animal dart in front of you.  Be careful out there.  And I will too.

And I’m sorry for writing this because I know it sounds completely nuts but I think the only way I can get it out of my head is to tell you all to be careful because then I’ve done everything I can and maybe voice this will stop.

Be careful out there.  Because I love you.

I have less time to be crazy

Today is my 27th day of getting punched in the noggin with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation which means I have only 9 days of treatment left until I’m completely cured!

Kidding.

About being cured, I mean.  There’s no permanent cure for mental illness yet but I have hopes because this shit seems like it’s sort of working.  I still have dark days and fatigue and brain fog and all that jazz but I also have bright days…lots of them.  More than I’ve had in longer than I can remember.  And I have enough energy to go to treatment every single day and at this point that is sort of amazing.

Session 25: It looks like my glasses are on crooked but it’s just that the magnets are causing my face to spasm and eyes to water.

My last visit with my shrinks went well (I’m seeing one at the psych unit and my old one as well) and one of them told me that when you finally get into remission from depression you are 350% more likely to stay in remission if you exercise 30 minutes a day for 6 times a week.  Spellcheck tried to correct “exercise” to “excessive” and I agree, spellcheck, but I’m trying it anyway.  I’m also sleeping better (which is the first response from TMS for most patients) and that helps with feeling better and that means I have more energy to exercise and suddenly I’m almost a healthy person if you don’t look at all the bacon and vodka I’m consuming.

Overall it’s good and I’m relieved and scared that it will stop working but there’s another issue I hadn’t counted on, and that’s guilt.  A little is guilt for not doing it sooner (although if I had done it when it was first recommended they wouldn’t have treated both sides of my brain so it worked out well that I waited) but mainly it’s guilt over using my time for such self-indulgent things.  Rationally I know I shouldn’t feel this way but it doesn’t change the fact that I feel like I’m being selfish.  It adds up…the hour I spent driving to TMS, the hour I spend in the chair having magnets punch me, the half hour I walk or swim, the hours I sleep instead of work or worry.  It feels like cheating.  That’s wrong.  I know it’s wrong.  But knowing and feeling are different things.  I know that time given to yourself to make yourself healthier is good for you and for everyone around you.  I know that it takes time and effort for some of us to stay sane.  I know that I’m worth the work and that I should feel grateful that I can take care of myself without feeling guilty.  So the next step is moving from knowing to feeling.

I don’t think I’m alone in this.  I think so many of us struggle with the thought that it’s okay to take care of ourselves, and it’s strange that it’s a struggle to treat ourselves as kindly as we treat the dog.  The dog needs walks, and healthy choices and water and play and sleep and naps and bacon and more naps.  And love.

I need that too.  And so do you.

It’s not just a gift we give to ourselves…it’s a duty.

I’ll remind you if you remind me.

It’s casual Friday.

Victor: DON’T YOU HAVE WORK TO DO? Me: IT’S CASUAL FRIDAY, VICTOR.

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