(written a few days ago...really, i promise)
I have turned into a monster. Cruella Deville meets Omarosa meets the Antichrist. Cutting off old people in the hospital parking lot, glaring down the man at GAP who suggested I try some jeans on from the "curvy" line today, hating the men out my window who have been moving furniture up and down the stairs so loudly (seriously can't you haul that oven down four flights of stairs with a little more grace and composure?) and looking at everyone with the impending, "What, is it idiot day in Dallas???"
I missed my medicine last night. I used to just think that perhaps I was the meanest person in the world, just a total, you know, bad word. Which I called my sister in the fourth grade and got spanked for, grounded, and told that I was never to call a family member that again. To which I replied, "but what if she really is?" I got spanked again.
Sometime in the last few years I started reading about and discovering, hold on to your pants, MENTAL ILLNESSES.
Hear no Evil
No one wants to talk about this. No one wants to be labeled as "mentally ill." This sounds much too like someone who hears voices, sees invisible people, and lives in a rubber room with a padded suit, security guards, weekly electric shock therapy, and drool constantly running down their faces. And while I agree we are a completely over-medicated society (which is one of my new years resolutions: one year with NO antibiotics) I think it is sad that words like Prozac and Zoloft have come to represent depressed and emotionally needy or psychotic women, people who don't have enough faith and haven't prayed with enough fervor, or kids who are totally misbehaved and are trying to be fixed through medicine. The stereotypes go on and on. And they exist because in some cases they are true. But not all cases.
I realized a few years ago that I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. Which would no doubt explain the years and years I have spent throwing up when I get too excited, nervous, or full of energy. It would also explain why I could never pass a test in school. Why I get mad at people when they are trying to talk to me while I am on the phone or too many people talking at once or too many things going on in my life at once... or just too many loud noises at once, like the movers today... because these things can become overwhelming and they cause anxiety inside of me. This explains why sometimes my heart races, I start sweating, and I feel like I am floating outside my body experiencing everything from a different little world. And it also explains why in those moments when I go to my doctor and INSIST that I am having a heart attack (like Oprah said to do) that she looks at me, does the little EKG and says...no sweetie, still no heart attack. Just a panic attack.
What? No heart attack? I cannot breathe. I cannot think clearly. I feel like I am going to explode and I am nasty mean out of no where for no good reason...I feel like I might want to kill you. She says she understands and tells me again...it's just an anxiety disorder.
Ever had these thoughts or feelings? The irritability. Inability to focus, concentrate, to sleep without dreaming, to talk about something important without sweating, to drive through a parking lot of certifiable idiots without feeling the need to run them all over. You may have anxiety. I do. And for so long I thought it was just a mean demon inside of me, but it turns out that my mind gets to a certain place where it feels overwhelmed and cannot handle the world around me...so my body reacts, my emotions react, my words react, everything reacts and I start shutting down to stop from feeling overwhelmed. And all of this happening to a girl that gets stressed out about very little, if anything.
A perfect example is forgetting words on stage. In rare moments I will be singing a chorus and realize that I have no idea what the second verse is. Once I realize this, I feel anxious. Dangit!!! What's the next verse??? Then I panic a bit. My mind starts going fast. I sweat. My throat hurts. My heart pounds...I know I am starting to have a mild panic attack, but I swear it feels like a heart attack. And then, I am convinced it is a heart attack. And then, I freeze and I don't know what to sing next, and then the rest of the show is a blur and I leave stage feeling like I have physically been hit by a train...I am exhausted. For me that is what anxiety and panic attacks feel like.
Anxiety is controllable and it is never an excuse...but sometimes it is the root of the little DEMON Jenny that comes out.
And after having talked to several different doctors I have realized that low doses of medicine, for me, can help keep it leveled out(I have also, in the process, been diagnosed with ADD). Mixing this with exercises in breathing, thinking calmly, walking myself through my situation, and being, as the Bible says, "clear minded and self-controlled" I can get a grip on these moments that feel so out of control for me. They are scary moments. Like an asthma attack or even a really bad charlie horse that seizes up your leg or terribly painful heart burn that you have no control over. It is scary to feel something that you are not so sure you can control.
Back to Cruella. I feel better now. Sitting, drinking some tea, and telling myself that I am irritable right now because I am feeling overwhelmed. With what, I am not sure. It is hard to know what triggers it. Take it from me, a laid back, never stressed out, calm, cool, and collective woman...there is no reason for me to have panic or anxiety, but yet sometimes it is there, out of nowhere, like a roach. The house is clean and then a perfectly huge roach shows up. Yuck! Where does it come from? Who knows. I live on the third floor and I just don't think roaches can climb three flights of stairs. But they show up. Same with these random mental illnesses...they show up, even if you feel like you got a clean house that is all in order. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason...it just is.
I am not sure why I am telling you this except that I went to the doctor today to get a refill on my medicine and to just make sure I was on the right track with dosing and what not. It feel like a zoo in there. A bunch of exotic animals, and me, the normal family friendly dog. Poodle. I started to feel crazy. There were three LOUD talkers. One guy listening to earphones and singing, mumbling, and twitching. Two teenagers that looked like real mutants. And some high strung rich ladies with lots of plastic surgery going on looking around to see who was looking at them. And then me and one normal guy. We caught eyes for a second and bonded in that..."these people are crazy," way. And I remembered the first time I ever went to a counselor. One of the questions in the interview process asked if I had ever wanted to walk in front of a moving bus or car before? I broke down in tears. I am not that screwed up!!! I don't want to fling myself in front of a bus! I was tempted to leave. Surely I was above this. Surely I was not sitting in that chair answering that question.
And I guess I felt that way today with the crazy lobby. I thought about bailing, telling the doc, look take care of the wild species in here, I am just a simple poodle who might have a mild and temporary neurosis, or look, I could just be a mean person. That's it. Let's go with I am mean.
But then he called my name, I went in, and took another stab at becoming a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ...a phrase I stole from a great woman in Dallas. I left with my new prescription, got stressed about riding the elevator down with all those sick people, so I walked 13 flights, almost ran down people in the parking garage, and thought about breaking my windshield wipers off the windows after they kept bizarrely going off and decided ....yeah....maybe I will go get this prescription filled after all.