So today was my 22nd Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatment and it (KNOCK ON ALL THE WOOD) still seeming to be working. If I had to guess I’d say I’m like 75% of a “normal” person and that’s a giant change for me. I’m still tired. I still have brain fog but not as bad. I still have bad days. But I’m feeling so much better. It could go away at any point so I’m enjoying it while it’s here.
And I’m continuing to do embroidery to distract me from getting drilled in the brain and my latest one is a favorite:
Victor was impressed with my stitching but thought a cat dissection was sort of a fucked-up subject but I explained that it’s not a dissection, it’s just cat who wants a belly scratch and then you look inside the cat (metaphorically, Victor) and guess what? Surprise! THERE’S ANOTHER CAT IN THERE. CATS STUFFED WITH CATS = TWICE AS CUTE. (Unless it’s cats having sex, which is also technically cats stuffed with other cats but is less adorable and not necessarily something that should be embroidered on a pillow. Maybe. Depends on the pattern, I guess.)
So, long story short, I think this treatment is making me more optimistic because if this cat is a Rorschach test I’m pretty sure I’m failing it in the best possible way.
14 more treatments to go…
So I was just outside walking Dorothy Barker and it’s pitch black but I saw the movement of those ducklings I chased off the street last month and they were in the middle of the street again like fucking hooligans so I started chasing them again toward the park but I couldn’t see them very well because I have severe night-blindness so I was taking pictures with my phone because when it would flash I could almost see them but I guess they were scared of the paparazzi because they started running straight to my backyard so I ran after them and I kept taking pictures so I wouldn’t lose them in the grass and I was yelling “JUST COME HERE, STUPIDS” but in a comforting sort of voice and then a car drove by and it was my neighbor and he was like, “Hey. So why are you chasing a skunk?” and I was like, “What do you-OHMYFUCK THAT’S A GODDAM SKUNK” and the last picture I got was of its butthole as sprayed a fountain of stink-pee at me.
Luckily it didn’t hit me directly it was close enough that the dog and I need a real shower and this is exactly why you shouldn’t go outside ever.
Also I have now succeeded in chasing the skunk into my backyard and I don’t know how to get it out and I’m going to just set fire to the house now.
If you like true crime podcasts then you already know My Favorite Murder because it’s the best and you should listen to today’s minisode:
Or if you are totally creeped out by true crime then you can skip that and look at this series of selfies I tried to take that for some reason didn’t turn out well at all.
On second thought, they turned out pretty perfectly after all. Good dog.
In the last month I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they’re having a problem leaving a comment on my blog and honestly I was too depressed to deal with figuring out what the problem was but today I’m feeling much better so can you help me figure out what the problem is real quick?
Everyone should be able to comment and see your comment posted immediately (unless you include a spammy amount of hyperlinks in your comment or are one of the two people who are in moderation for being the dangerous kind of crazy.)
So to see who is having the problem can you go leave a comment in the comment section to see if it shows up? If it won’t let you comment then please let me know in the comments. Wait. No. That won’t work.
If you can’t comment then let me know on Facebook or twitter or email me. Ideally if you could tell me what error message you get if your comment doesn’t go though and also tell me what browser you’re using when it didn’t work that would be perfect.
Also, sometimes people get an error message saying that you have to remember your password for wordpress to leave a comment but that’s just because you’re using an email address that you’ve used before for a wordpress account and wordpress wants to help you. It’s totally not necessary though and I don’t do anything with email addresses so you can feel free to just make up a new fake email address and it should let you in with no problems.
PS. If you need something to comment you can just tell me something awesome that you love right now.
I’ll go first. Right now I’m loving the latest season of GLOW (don’t judge me), the fact that it rained enough that my grass is green again, and my furry coworkers below.
Happiness. Every day I have it drilled in my head…figuratively. And now sort of literally.
My 15th session of transcranial magnetic stimulation was yesterday. My 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th this week. Another 20 lay ahead. They still hurt a little, the magnets drilling and tapping so loudly I have to wear earplugs. My blinking tic beats out an involuntary pattern with the rhythm and my eyes water. Afterward my skull feels misshapen, my face stiff as I make strange faces on the long drive home. But each day I feel stronger and instead of feeling like my mental illness is being beaten into submission each session, it feels different. I feel the pulses shooting goodness into my head. It’s worth the pain, I think. The slow tapping on the right side of my brain where my anxiety lives. It whispers with each pulse: YOU. WILL. BE. STRONGER.
The furiously fast drilling on the left side of my brain where my depression lives: YouWillBeOkayYouWillBeOkayYouWillBeOkay *breathe* *remember to breathe*
I feel different.
On Sunday I think I looked almost like a normal person. I was still scared. With each step I knew I could fall back, that the exhaustion and fatigue and anxiety could hit me at any second. My daughter knew too…and she was amazed at each step I took. Yes, we can go get lunch. Yes, I’ll take you to get new shorts. Yes, we can go to the mall, the candy shop, the book store. Yes, we can swim and listen to show tunes and sing. Yes, we can play a game. Yes, I’ll read to you.
Yes…I’m enjoying this too.
It was the most I’ve done in a single day in…longer than I can remember. And instead of ending the day feeling rung-out and empty and raw I felt…normal? Is this what normal looks like? Because if it is I want this.
Normally I struggle with simple things. I make strange choices. The strength is takes to shower or the energy it takes to eat? You don’t get both so choose wisely. Every action takes such work…as if living with mental illness is like waking to a new different disability each day. Someone else could quickly do the simple tasks of the day but I am hobbled. It can take hours for me to do what could be done in a good day in minutes. But not today. Today I feel strong. I feel guilty for being able to leave the house without xanax to dull the world…for being able to accomplish the things that normal people do every day. And I feel angry that this comes so easily. I shouldn’t. I should feel lucky and blessed but then I remind myself that it’s not just happiness coming back….it’s all of the emotions. It feels like cheating, like I’m on some illegal drug or cheating somewhow…stealing these emotions I forgot were so strong. And maybe that’s for the best because it means that I appreciate how much mental illness takes from me when it is present and how much it’s worth fighting for relief. Even with it hiding I know it is a terrible monster I will always fear.
When this monster shows its face I fear the world, I fear myself. I loathe the terrible things that I see and I am too paralyzed to even discuss the news items that stick in my head. My dr tells me it’s not safe for me to dwell on these things and it’s true…my intrusive, compulsive thoughts makes me obsess about terrible things that happen in the world. She reminds me that it will suck away my life if I allow myself to be paralyzed with fear and dread. I am not built for rebellion. Not yet. She reminds me to look for the good in the world because it is real even if it doesn’t get the same press and this is a very good idea for people with broken brains, but mine keeps repeating “It’s not enough. We’re all going to die. The world is awful and I am a part of it.”
But now, today, it’s saying something different. It says that the world is a terrible place…sometimes. And filled with terrible people…who can change. But suddenly I’m reminded that there are more people who I know who care, who are empathetic, who fight for others in quiet and loud ways. I see that I am not alone. I see how terrible it would be to feel the terror of the world by myself…and how heartening it is that I can see so many people doing small and beautiful things to make the world better. I’m reminded (for the first time it feels like) of how alone I would feel if I was the only one who felt disconsolate or frustrated. I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be surrounded by people around the world who care about others. Who are here for each other. I think I knew all this before. But mental illness changes “knowing” and “believing” into two very different things and I can breathe for a moment and know that it will be okay.
It’s an epiphany that brings me such relief. It’s going to be okay. Not perfect, never perfect…but we will be okay even when we’re not okay. Even when we’re wanting to be better than we are. It’s okay to take a breath. To love and celebrate and smile and mourn and dance and cry and start all over again.
After a Sunday of driving and shopping and dealing with real live people in the loud world I come home and I am so surprised to find that I am not exhausted. My daughter tells my husband how much we did. “Mom did so great!” she says. As if I am the child. And it makes my heart swell and break at the same time. But I will take this. I don’t want to lose it. It feels so shaky. Like holding on to magic you know can’t be real.
My husband mentions traveling this summer…the beginning of the same argument we have had for years. I can’t travel. It’s too taxing. I would get sick. I would end up in the same wheelchair I’ve ended too many trips in. I would slow them down. They go off together on adventures and I am sad but relieved. I’ve missed many trips. I missed the first time my daughter saw Japan. I watched them on FaceTime from my self-imposed jail as they explore the world.
But I will not miss the first time she sees Europe. Because it will be the first time I see Europe too.
I think it surprised Victor, how quickly I said “Okay. You know what? I’ll go.” He and Hailey held their breath as if I’d take it back. I hold my breath too. I wait for my body to say, “No, this was a trick. It’s not real. You don’t deserve this.” But it’s not saying that. Not yet at least. It’s saying, “I want to go. I want to live. I’ve been waiting so long.” It says “Let’s see Scotland and London and Paris. Let’s walk on distant islands and walk through mountains and see the things that I can’t quite imagine really exist because I never thought it would have been possible to see them. But maybe, a little voice inside my head whispers, maybe it’s possible.
Maybe this is real. Maybe it’s not forever but it’s for today and if it’s real today then there’s a chance that any day in the future could be like this one…full of promise and energy and an ease I feel like I’ve stolen…one that I feel jealous of even as I experience it.
Next month I will have completed 35 days of TMS treatment for anxiety and depression. And to celebrate (knock on wood) I will see things I never thought possible. Some of them in distant lands, yes, but many of them the lovely, simple things that the rest of the world takes for granted. I will take my daughter. I will say to her, “Look. Here is the world. It’s been waiting for you.”
I will say it to myself too.
Please God let me still believe it.
I had one dark day this week but the rest of the time I’d say I feel 50% less depressed and I haven’t had insomnia (KNOCK ON ALL THE WOOD) in a week, which is insane because insomnia is my full-time boyfriend and I do not miss him. TMS could stop working and it might be a coincidence but after 3 weeks I think I can say that it’s sort of working? (I whispered that and put a question mark behind it so that the God of I-Heard-That wouldn’t fuck with me.)
There are little things I notice, like the fact that I’m less likely to tweet terrible things at 3am and that I actually want to listen to funny stuff. I haven’t wanted to watch anything funny in a long time because my depression makes me not be able to appreciate it and I feel like I’m failing at being human, so instead I watch documentaries and horror films because they match my mood, but today I caught up on my friend Ze Frank’s True Facts series again and I smiled. That smile is the equivalent of laughing hysterically for normal people and it’s a welcome thing. Will next week bring me saying that I feel like shit now? Maybe. But it’s nice to know that something worked if even for a few weeks. And now, true facts about pangolins.
PS. I finished a new embroidery kit.
This month I’m working on my new books so I’m sharing some chapters you never saw because they didn’t make it in my last book. Enjoy!
THE THIRD ARGUMENT I HAD WITH VICTOR THIS WEEK
Me: We should do this. It’s like a fountain. Made of beer and plastic cups.
Victor: Why would you want to make drinking beer more complicated?
Me: “More complicated”? Beer-drinking is complicated to you?
Victor: No, it’s not. That’s the whole point of beer. It’s supposed to be easy.
Me: And that’s why we should do this thing. It takes the easiness of beer and then adds an element of excitement to it. And danger. And a furious elegance.
Victor: I’m pretty sure there’s nothing elegant about chugging four glasses of beer at the same time.
Me: And I think that your definition of elegant is a little limited. I’m gonna do it.
Victor: NONONO, YOU’RE GOING TO SPILL IT ALL OVER THE-
Victor: I cannotbelieve you did that.
Me: Really? It’s like you don’t even know me. BTW, that’s what four glasses of beer look like on the floor.
Victor: You’re dead to me. Clean this up before it spreads to the carpet.
Me: It’s like a waterfall. But with beer. It’s a beerfall. Which is totally aptly named, now that I see all the beer on the floor. It’s like the warning was right there in the title.
Victor: How many times have you tried the four-beer thing?
Me: This was my first time.
Me: …Inside the house, I mean. Obviously did some practice runs, but I did them outside because I didn’t want to spill beer all over the kitchen because I thought that I might not be perfect at it the first time. And turns out, I was totally right. I’m even right when I’m drunk. I’m on my 16th beer, yo.
Victor: OH MY GOD, there is beer all over the porch. How many cups did you spill out there?
Victor: So…all of them, basically?
Me: I don’t know. I can’t be expected to do math when I’ve had 16 beers.
Victor: You haven’t HAD 16 beers. You’ve SPILLED 16 beers.
Me: Yeah. The MOST beers. Ever. It’s like a record.
Victor: That’s not something to be proud of.
Me: I can’t be held accountable for that. SIXTEEN BEERS, VICTOR.
Victor: …ARE ON THE FLOOR, JENNY. They don’t count if you don’t swallow.
Me: Ew. Are we still talking about beers?
Victor: You know what? Never mind. Good for you.
Me: Really? Well, now I feel like you’re just humoring me.
Victor: I am. And now I have to hose off the porch.
Me: No, don’t. I’m trying to get the ants drunk to see if they can still focus.
Me: I’m drunk AND I’M DOING SCIENCE.
Victor: That’s insane.
Me: No. It’s multi-tasking.
Winners: Beer manufacturers. Ants getting drunk for free.
Loser: The carpet.
This is my second week of daily TMS treatments and I know that’s all I seem to talk about but that’s because it’s sort of eating up my life, but in a so far totally worthwhile way.
Today I finished this embroidery pattern, which seemed fitting because I was stabbing someone in the head with a needle while being stabbed in the head with magnets.
Then I started a new one but paused to take a panoramic picture of myself in treatment so you can see how it looks.
And then I went outside and this happened:
I just finished my 9th TMS treatment and this happened in the psych unit parking lot. My depression looks like numbness. Uncomfortable numbness. If yours does too then you’ll understand this. If yours doesn’t you’ll think I’m even crazier than before. Also, if I knew I was going to tape myself I would have showered and worn makeup but whatever…sometimes raw is good.
I don’t know if this is working or it’s a coincidence. I don’t know if it will keep working if it’s working now. But I know that mental illness is real and that we’re worth the process of looking for a cure. Today was a needed reminder of that.