Friday, August 28, 2015

When You're in a Shopping Cart You Can't Stop It Till You Crash or a Friend Stops It For You

I want to hide in this bed all day.
I want to cry over and over.
I can't keep but doing everything and keep going until I'm sick. It's like a compulsion to go and when I stop, there's always a list of someones asking for my time, the time I don't have. I can'g keep up.

This should be over but I'm just starting to understand. I'm just starting to recognize feelings and I don't like them. I want to turn a blind eye and run away. So many times in my mind I construct a plan to run away. It is guilt alone that keeps me rooted where I am.

But I know where I'm going. I like to think that I can mentally change things but it's chemistry. I like to think I can avoid it, and maybe I can, but I tried last time and I couldn't and it happened and I hated it. Even if it doesn't happen now, its going to happen anyways. One of these days.

I feel like my body is like an unpredictable grenade and I'm just waiting for all to explode on em.

This is why I am afraid of school. This is why I don't want to go.

I'm afraid I'll start attending and the stress will trigger and I'll really melt down and collapse. Last time I went to school, I lasted one day. Then I had the biggest meltdown I've had in almost a decade. The kind where you can barely breathe because the world has become unreal.

Wish I could say, "It'll resolve," or "it'll pass," but it won't. This is me. This is who I am. This is how it will be.

I've lived my whole life with mental illnesses and they're not going anywhere. More often than not, I wish I was neurologically normal. I know there is no normal, I know we all have our quirks, but there's a baseline. Not everyone is battling what I am. Thank goodness there are others who can relate. When I meet them, when I hear their story, it makes me not feel so alone - to know there's nothing special about my experience.

Grateful for the people in my life.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Again. Anxiety.

The anxiety has been looping up again and it scares me.

After months of being vomit-free, I threw up today.

There's rationality out there and I know what it is but I can't sync up my emotions with it. They're overbearing and push on the front of my brain and the suppression sinks into my stomach in hot waves until I'm walking around in a constant state of nausea.

I want to will myself to let go but it's all still there. I want to say it all has a reason, but I don't believe it does. Words seem cheap and my fleeting emotions are taking center stage. I want those with advice and antidotes to shut up and let me be. I don't want advice, I want solutions. I want them to throw themselves out on the limb instead of yelling from where it's safe.

Stories are easy to slant in any direction and right now I could scrawl out a list of woe-is-me's. I know the full stories and I know how to distort them and I can choose to present them in the most biased of ways.

Distort. Bias. Slant.
Here we go....

Met him three years ago. Traveled 200 miles to see him this weekend, as I promised I would, and then, he kissed me. I didn't want him to kiss me, in mind and logic and intentions, but the few-years-younger-me wanted it and couldn't find the words or reason to say, "No thanks, this isn't a good idea because you're my friend and I want you to stay my friend.". He kissed me and wanted more and I obliged.  In the morning, he decided to change courses abruptly and pushed my presence away even though I still had 24 hours of the visit left. I spent the rest of my visit trying to avoid the human I had drive five hours to see and had been so eager to spend time with. I left that afternoon.

What about dollars? Dollars are a stress because dollars are food, house, and university education and tickets and gas money to see friends.

I had the a chance to go to the rain forest for two weeks, I could've visited old, dear friends I miss in Atlanta. I skipped all of that, though, to focus my energy on getting home for a job I had committed to in the States. The week's work would cover 2 months of rent and food, a huge relief and something I was dependent upon as I went to school. Getting home was a stressful disaster, but I did all I could, having the job awaiting me be what kept me moving. It wasn't until just the day before that I got the notice that I wasn't needed for that task. Two months rent -- poof. Tschao.

These are two knots I hold in my stomach.

Now I know there's more to both of the stories and if the main characters are read this, I hope they know that I see the other side, I see their side, and I see more than the above. To the first, there's more communication and in the final story, solid, valid reasons. Neither above story mention worth-mentioning factors. Neither of the logic and truth, though, seem to soothe the anxiety that's built itself up in me.

Today has been bliss, so why am I vomiting?
I feel safe and loved here so where did it come from?

When my anxiety comes, it sticks around. Relief is temporary as the ailments - sheer exhaustion and nausea - continue and I wonder what I did wrong and what I can do differently.

I don't know what to do. I just want to hide and sleep over and over - and I know this pattern. I've been here before - where the only desire is to sleep it off.

Little events become big, in this state. Little blows echo louder and have impacts that can last for days. It all builds up.

They say it's just me being bipolar. If so, my high just ended and I'm not ready for the lows to start.
(actually, they don't phrase it like that... "just you being bipolar" isn't a phrase I've heard)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When Margaret wants to ride on a motorcycle in Ecuador....

Quito, Ecuador
It was on my way to Jorge's home from the airport in Quito when I knew that I wanted to ride on a motorcycle before I left Ecuador.

This was a request I mentioned many times Jorge and one that he definitely wasn't keen on making happen. I don't blame him. The roads of Ecuador alone are something of chaos. Lanes are ignored and turn signals are totally optional. Passing on two lane roads is the norm - even right before super tight corners at night.

Motorcycles are the filler of the roads. They weave in and out, pass however possible, and basically seem to make up their own rules.

I've gotten around on motorcycles (as a passenger) before and can't get over the feeling of it.

So, it I knew I wanted to ride here.

Days passed.
Nothing happened.
Jorge was wise and didn't make my lil' dream come true.

It was my final night in Ecuador and things were happening. Dancing was the other thing I wanted to do and it was up to me to make that happen to. My only experience dancing had been with Gato in Montañita. Dance montage!

It was great and all, but a few dances doesn't exactly satisfy a dancer's desire to dance for a four week time period. I wanted to dance more and it seems that Ecuadorians don't like to just dance on the fly like blues dancers. They want the proper music, proper time.

(this is a limited perspective 'cause I ain't seen all of Ecuador yet)

So it was my final night and I hadn't really gone out dancing yet.

After a meal of wings at Allita Banditas (so good, so good), I dashed out while the others finished to catch a bus. While waiting for the bus, an unmarked car pulled over.

The man said he was going to Quito and the older couple in the bus stop got in and told me to get in too. They said the buses weren't running any more (they were, I think) and for a dollar, he'd get me to Quito. For five dollars, I could get to my destination. That's a really, really good deal.

So yes, I got in the unmarked car.
The car of Luis! Luis who wanted to talk about lots of things -- things that I couldn't always get myself to care about enough to understand the Spanish. Listening to Spanish takes energy, for me, and I'm not always keen on using that energy at night.

In the end, yes, he got me to where I needed to go which was this "salon de salsa," or "salsatech."
To the Ecuadorians, it was a novel place because you could go there and dance with other people! This is novel to them because generally, in Ecuador, you go to a club and dance and the people you dance with are the people you came with, generally. You stay in your group.

Here, you can dance with anyone -- which is what I'm used it.

I was so confused, one night, when I asked someone to dance and he said, "I'm here with a girl."
My thoughts went along the lines of, "Yes, I know you're with a girl -- but I was asking you if you wanted to dance."

Just different cultures.

So here I was, and I got to dance.

I got to walk up to people say, "Hey! Want to dance?" and they said, "Sure!"
They got to say, "Dance?" and I'd say, "Uh huh!"
'cept all of that was in Spanish.

I wanted to dance with anyone and everyone.

(and there was a girl with a Seattle Sonics hat which sort of blue my mind)
(a whole group of folks from Seattle)
(I wasn't super fond of them)

The whole night was a blast and the Ecuadorians were wonderful.

At the end of the night, there was one man I asked to dance and he cracked up like it was hilarious. We danced through the next three songs switching between laughter and serious salsa faces. He bought me a beer and I talked with him and his younger friend.

It was time for him to go and that's when I saw he had a few jackets, one leather. Definitely for a motorcycle.

"You have a second helmet?" I asked.
"I want to ride with you."

I then had to explain to him that that riding on the back of motorcycles is something I greatly enjoy doing and that it was a goal of mine

He kept double checking that I knew what I was getting myself into. He also made sure I knew where I wanted to go and end up and that I knew he wouldn't go fast, despite what I wanted. He said with me on board, he would be driving safe.

Within minutes, I was whipping around downtown Quito in my little black dress, a big red helmet, and a leather jacket. I was definitely the happiest human on the block.

At the red lights, he'd ask, "Are you ok?"
"I'm so happy!" I would reply in Spanish.

I watched as the speedometer climbed up at 90 kph at times. Yes, he was driving safe. 40 kph over the speed-limit, yes, but safely. The red helmet kept perching itself on my head at awkward angles, but it was securely fastened.

Where did I want to end up? At Daniel's house. I met Daniel through Couchsurfing a week or two ago. We met to just hang out but I've seen him and his wonderful girlfriend, Karlha, more than once now. To get back to where Jorge lives would be $25. Daniel lived quite close to where I was dancing so I asked if I could crash his place. He said that was fine and we agreed to meet at midnight. He told me to take a taxi to be safe.

Heading down a main road, I saw a bridge Daniel and I had crossed two days before. From there, I was able to navigate us there.

We pulled up to see a car -- in side were Karlha and Daniel.
They weren't exactly expecting to see my face underneath the helmet.

So that's it! Two goals for Ecuador in one night, the last night.

Daniel is a selfless host. He insisted, insisted on sleeping on the group and on giving me the bed as he already had two surfers on his couch. Tucked away in his shirt, I slept so, so soundly that night. Morning was for lounging, meeting the other surfers, watching cartoons, lounging and being happy to just exist in a house in a large t-shirt and feel so at peace. Followed up with a walk to the market to get some guayusa and chiffles and then Jorge picked me up and took me home. At home we had lunch and then Doris, Marcel, and I went to give food to the Indigenous folks who are striking in downtown Quito.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thanks for the Aloe

Ecuador knows what's up.

It makes up for it's outrageous sunscreen costs ($20 a bottle) with super cheap fresh aloe vera ($0.50 a spear).

Friday, July 31, 2015

Live vs Visit

Home in Uzhgorod, Ukraine
I was asked how I choose between deciding if I live in a place or am visiting.

Like I say I lived in Ukraine but only visited Russia.
Sometimes I say I live in Seattle but other times, even if it's for more than a month, I consider it only a visit.

Since I'm on the move rawther frequently, it's not really a time-thing. I normally consider 2 months to be a good marker for me, but that's just because if I wasn't so generous with time, I'd never be calling anyplace home and I like having a place to call home.

For a place to be called a home I usually need...

- a daily purpose or routine
- a community
- a place to sleep (can change)

That's actually, about it.
The last one is iffy.

Right now, I say that I live in Seattle because that's simplest. Missing Alaska, but loving Seattle.

Traveling With Mono

I've been sick on the go, before, but never with mono.

Mono basically drained me of all energy for the past month. And, when I thought I had energy, it was just a cruel joke that made me sicker.

When Doctor Hundert at the hospital said that he thought it was a fine idea for me to go to Ecuador just three days after getting out of the hospital, I was surprised and nervous. I was ready to call it off. My folks were more than ready for me to call it off. Almost everyone I talked to was down for me calling it off.

But, here I am!

I figured, it would be better to be resting for two weeks in Ecuador and to have a few conversations with my Ecuadorian friends than to stay in Seattle, start to feel better, and regret not going.

I'd like to quickly throw out a salutation to all those with chronic fatigue and medical conditions that oblige you to keep track of your energy levels --- I know this is barely a window into your world.

Traveling with mono means sleeping in.
It means not having any guilt about sleeping in.

It's about days where you do nothing in attempt to heal up for when you do go out.

It's reminding yourself that the less you move the better.

It's constant awareness of energy levels and saving energy for special days.

It's not knowing when it's time to push yourself and deciding not to even go there.

It's the fear that I'm going to slip back...

but I haven't, yet, and I don't think I will.

It's finally moving after a month and finding that climbing up a small hill, the tiniest and shortest of hikes, leaves you feeling light headed. It's being grateful for a host that tells you to stop when you nee to stop and go your own pace.

It's naps --- lots of naps.

And now, I'm starting to get lots of energy and feel hyper and want to dance for hours (three hours, to be precise) and not knowing what to do with it. I let myself move, I let myself dance, but I don't let myself get lightheaded. If my head feels weird, I stop.

It's a balance, and I'm not yet accustomed to it.
I wanna ride a bike.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

When you coming home?

I've been asked by a few folks, "When are you coming home?"

Great question!
No idea!
(well, some idea...)

Once again, I'm in a foreign country with a one-way ticket.

This time, though, it wasn't on purpose. I thought I had a return ticket but, alas, I don't 'cause of contracts and vomit.

So I'm not exactly sure when I'll be back in Seattle, but I do know I'll know pretty soon.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rotary Youth Exchange Reunion in Ecuador

The other night, I had such a sweet night. I asked Jorge if I could see Paz and Andrea as well when in Ecuador and for a night, all four of us were together again.

Paz, Jorge, Andrea, and I were exchange students through Rotary in 2007-2008 in Switzerland.

Jorge and Regge, his girlfriend, made wings and we had such a fine dinner. It's always (well, almost always) good to see friends again - especially halfway across the globe.

They're both as sweet and caring as I remember them. Andrea is married and has a little girl and Paz is in law school - she's about to get her master's in Spain!

Rotary Youth Exchange was one of the best things that happened in my life. It was pivotal in making me who I am today and setting me on the path I am. It made the world so much smaller. It's opened doors and empowered me to be comfortable being me. It gave me friends for life around the world and for that alone, I'm so grateful.

Here we are back in 2007-2008. On the left is in Switzerland and on the right is us in Venice, Italy on the Europareise (Euro trip).  I don't think any of us have changed that much. They keep telling me I haven't changed a bit ('cept I'm thinner).

Mitad del Mundo

The most popular tourist destination of Ecuador?
Mitad del Mundo!

Guess that most simply translates to "Middle of the World."

On Thursday, Pato ever so graciously took Paolita and I to Mitad del Mundo - around an hour from where the C family lives in Quito. The drive, in Ecuador, to me seems to be half of any event. Lane lines are frequently ignored and horns the quick go-to in terms of communication.

For the sensory seeker in me, I love it. I have full faith in those who drive me around and enjoy weaving in and out of traffic in a way that would make me cringe in the United States. That's the great thing about traveling, you see new ways to do things and accept them for what they are and go with it. I've gotten used to motorcycles coming alongside the car and seeing folks chilling in the back of trucks while going 40 and 50 mph.

The paths of the roads in Ecuador are super rad. They curve and wind up and down around hills at a relentless pace. If it weren't for the traffic, I'd probably ask if I could get behind the wheel for a bit.

Mitad del Mundo is what it sounds like, the center of the world --- 0°00′07″S 78°27′21″W.

It's supposed to be at 0 degrees latitude but recently they discovered that the real line is around .15 miles north of where they marked. Tourists don't care about that, though, and it's pretty close.

This is where the Northern hemisphere meets the Southern hemisphere, which is quite the concept. This is the equator. It's right, right here...

...right here give or take 240 meters.

Mitad del Mundo is rad --- but also totally, totally a tourist trap which mans it's just overflowing with humans getting pictures taken of themselves over... and over.. and over... and over. It sort of felt awkward, to me. One picture is cool --- but at one point, it seems like the entire point is to have pictures of yourself which isn't, isn't why I travel. I travel to see, to experience. Not sure if I'm expressing this right. Not hating on pictures, but just expanding I don't need that many of myself. They kept offering to take pictures of me and I kept saying, "Naw, I'm ok."

Here's a collection of pictures of pictures being taken:

And here's our crew:

Besides standing on the almost-equator, there was a museum which was pretty interesting. I liked learning about the creation of the monument (behind us --- which is also the 9ish story tall museum). Getting that 9-ton ball on the top was quite the feet back in the early, early 90s.

They made a whole city to go with the monument complete with lots of tourist shops, restaurants, a planetarium, museum, plaza, chapel, and gardens all over.

There was quite a view from the top of the monument. Views from above will never, never get old.

We were coaxed into a restaurant for lunch. I went for a plate that had a few salads on it, fried plantain, boiled corn, a bean soup, and this other thing that I'm awful at describing. When traveling, I generally try to pack in the salads whenever possible because it's so, so easy to eat a lot of foods that make me feel not-so-great as I attempt to try the local dishes. Luckily, Jorge's family eats so, so well and healthy -- lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, so I haven't felt sick once. An hour later, we chased it down with some sorbet. The sorbet I got was from a fruit called "tomate de árbol" which I'd never tasted before.

Exploring Mitad del Mundo was my first attempt, since mono hit me hard, to wander around for a few hours. It was really encouraging! We were definitely on our feet a lot and my energy stayed strong. Even though I've been feeling better than I've felt in a while, I'm still keeping things low-key 'cause that's how mono is. You feel better, push it, and then get sick again. I'm not pushing it - no sir.

I'm grateful to be here and in such fine company. This travel style is totally different from what I'm used to but I dig it. It's nice, especially while having mono, to have other folks figure things out so I really can take it easy. It's nice to be around people I adore to joke around with. This trip is about connecting with the humans more than anything else and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to do that.

I'll leave you with a small collage I made of photographs that Paulita took with her phone:

Be well!
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