Still working on blog archives. This one is dated May 15, 2010.
At 20, my great-grandma died. She was 92 and raised 5 girls who in turn had 15 kids and countless grandkids and great-grandkids. My brother was the first great-grandchild, and he called her "Moo-mama", which we all ended up adopting. Her funeral was a packed house of her large family and neighbors and friends through the years. The pastor presiding over the service kept calling Moo-mama Mrs. Hill, and a longtime neighbor came up and read a poem about his nice neighbor, Mrs. Hill. Towards the end of the service, the pastor asked if anyone else would like to come up and share some memories about Mrs. Hill, and the crowd was dead silent. I was sitting in the front row wedged between my grandma and mom, and as I went to stand up they actually grabbed my hand for a second to stop me, then let me go. I walked up to the podium overlooking at least 300 people, and said, "Hi, I'm Hed, M's grandchild. I keep hearing everyone up here talking about Mrs. Hill and I don't know who that is. I know Moo-mama." As soon as I said that, I looked over at the pew I was sitting in and my mom, my grandma, my sister, my aunts etc.-who for the entire service were composed-were just bawling their eyes out. I felt awful, I just wanted to share a few memories I had spending time with my great-grandma!
After the service, people were leaving to the cemetery, and so many people stopped me and told me "you said exactly what I was thinking, I just didn't have the courage to stand up there." In a day of mourning, I felt good that my great-grandma, my Moo-mama, was loved and cherished by so many. If Moo-mama died this year, there is a strong chance that I wouldn't even be at the funeral. I am grappling with what my psychologist is calling "social phobia". Me. ME! The person voted "Most Outgoing" in junior high. The person who was a bingo caller in a large casino with 500+ customers daily. The manager who steps in and fixes problems. I haven't told my friends that I am terrified to leave my house, and when I do leave, it's because I have to. I think they would all say something along the lines of, "you're pulling my leg, right?" I don't go to family events, I didn't go to a funeral for a very close friend of my family recently. I didn't go to my niece's and nephews first birthdays, or second, or third.
When I was younger I was always a homebody, but I went out and hung with friends when I could. I didn't make excuses not to see them. I have lost jobs because I couldn't leave my house. Up until last year, the phobia was mild enough that I put on a happy face and went to work, or saw friends maybe once every three months. The cracks started around March. I had taken vacation time off to take a road trip with my husband up north. I had started taking Cymbalta for anxiety in January, and it made me go from anxious to extremely depressed. My boss took me aside and offered to give me a "vacation" where I was on medical leave. I couldn't get out of bed. I started seeing a psychiatrist who upped my dose of Cymbalta and also gave me the mood stabilizer Lamictal. Five weeks later, I was back at work and better than ever. I was working, I was solid. Even my employees saw a change. You know how they say hindsight is 20/20? I'm so stupid that I didn't realize I was in a "manic" sort of phase.
Since I was 15, I have been in and out of doctor's offices and hospitals for severe depression. I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and in my twenties it was revised to Bipolar II. The difference? Regular bipolar people, during their highs, or "manic" stages, will do things like stay up 5 days straight, compulsively gamble, eat, have sex and then crash. People with II have more of a "hypo-manic" state, which is instead of these bouts of crazy, "it is believed to be underdiagnosed because hypomanic behavior often presents as incredibly high-functioning behavior. Indeed, to a physician or psychologist specializing in mood disorders, highly confident ambition might appear to be symptomatic of hypomania if that individual's goals are viewed as unrealistic." (Taken from Wiki) That was me last summer in a nutshell. I took on college courses while working a 50+ hour a week job. I started a diet that had me organizing and labeling all the food in my house at 4am, and keeping a food diary. I offered to organize all of the shelves at work, and work on employees Human Resource files, and everyone just thought I was at 100%. If you know me, if you REALLY know me, you would know that that's me at like, 300%.
Anyway, my 300% self crashed and burned around Thanksgiving. I quit my job without notice. I withdrew from all my classes. I started calling in sick to my brand new job, giving them excuses like, "oh I have a flat tire and I...I uh, can't leave my car behind." There was a point where I just couldn't get out of bed anymore. When I did, I ate, I would try to function, and I would end up crying and going back to bed. I saw a doctor twice a month ($100 a visit because I no longer had health insurance), who tried to prescribe better medicine, or told my husband things like, "make sure she is praying, and tell her she's pretty and that you love her every day." I was suicidal. I started cutting my arms because I didn't know how to function anymore. And instead of this going away after a month like other depressive episodes in my life tended to last, it lasted five months. By this time I was so distraught I couldn't even talk to friends on the phone. My doctor finally got the meds right: Celexa in the AM, Elavil and Lamictal in the PM, and I'm sitting here typing to you all.
The residue of this last depressive episode is social phobia. I have turned so inward that I can barely speak to strangers. It sucks. I used to be the life of the party, the one who always had a joke to tell, the one you could always count on to cheer you up, and now I feel like I have nothing to offer to anyone. I am broken. The Hed that friends and family know is on life support, and I'm desperately trying to bring her back to life.