Thursday, December 31, 2015

Don't Want the Anti-psychotics


The thing about mental illness is.. is..

They just put me on anti-psychotics.

When the doc told me that, I was surprised and taken aback, but rolled with it. I asked her, "What did you say that this is?"

"A anti-psychotic, mood stabilizer and..." and something or other.

150 mg of extended release Seroquel.

Then I went home and did my research. I saw what the experience of others was on the internet. Now, I know the internet can sensationalize and only show extremes, but I read over 50 accounts of folks' experience with this med.

First, it's not a lil' med you slip in. It's a full blown anti-psychotic and powerful stuff. It makes you sleep. It makes you gain weight. It can make you feel disconnected and zen. It works! It can work swell! But I've also heard you can become dependent upon it.

Reading and reading, I kept thinking, "I don't need this... why am I on this? Why does she think I need this?" and then "I don't want this! I won't take it."

I know I'm hypo-manic right now, so I know my judgement is skewed. This is one of the worst parts of bipolar disorder, not trusting my own judgement 'cause I know I might be swinging too hard.

Anyways, I know I might not have good insight, but my gut (??) goes, "DON'T DO IT!"

I'd rather double the therapy and up my lithium a bit, not add in this stuff.
I'd rather learn to cope with the symptoms - I think I can do this.

Seroquel does work, sure. I just don't know that I'm so far gone that I need it.

This is where I'm confused.

I want to talk to someone. I want to talk to someone who understands! I want to talk to someone who gets it. I want to talk to someone who has been there. But I don't know who to call. I don't know who gets it.

My decision, as of this morning, was to just go straight back to my psychiatrist's and ask 'em why they put me on it. Why do they think I need this?

Can't I just learn to cope with this as me?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!


I've only cried three times today, so I'd say I'm doing alright.

I woke up this morning and realized it was Christmas and felt eager to get out of bed. No dread or anything. In relaying this to Mom 10 minutes later, I started to cry out of relief.

It's been a year since I "became bipolar" and it's been the lousiest year ever. In all of the muck, though, I'm grateful, because I have some amazing people supporting me.

Blogging is something I miss, but I just don't have the energy for it. I'm hoping it will come back as a coping mechanism, as I think it does do good. Besides energy, my attention span is shot. I used to be able to hyper-focus on writing out a piece and now I tend to not get past a paragraph.

The whole family is at home, right now. Ian, Dad, and Mom. We all met up a bit past midnight, last night. We're all wearing matching bird shirts, now!

Monday, December 21, 2015

nomeds?


I wonder who I would be, what would happen if I went off of my meds.
I wonder that sometimes...

then I remember that when I forget just one dose, I cry and restaurants if there are people in them and go back to wanting to kill myself or die or something about not being there.

So I keep taking em.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Support Group

I started going to a new support group.

It's full of people like me and I love it. It's nice to be around others who can relate -- not looking in from the outside.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

sometimes you hate everything about everything
by you
I mean I

'cept I don't hate everybody.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 2015 Update

Seems I've gotten down to one blog post a month.

Since my diagnosis with bipolar disorder, I've simplified my life immensely. No Facebook. No dancing. I don't see many of my friends any more 'cept for a small crew of folks I truly trust. My household of 11 gives me all the social stimulation I really need.

Life is structured routine to dance around with.
Streamlined.

I spend a great deal of time in the comfort of my very own bedroom which I adore. It's my room and a place where I can sleep each night and owe nobody nothing ('cept for rent). This room comes with no emotional obligation and I don't have to tip-toe around emotions.

I go to university.
I work.

I see the doctors rather regularly and they keep an eye on me.

I'm learning to recognize and manage the symptoms and my medications work wonders.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Interstate Driving

Sometimes I want to call myself horrific names for things I do or can't do that I want to do.
I demean myself for where I'm at and how I am coping with things.
I shame myself for not being like my other friends.

One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to not call myself any names, or say things to myself, that I wouldn't say to a friend going through the same thing.

It really, really helps.

This morning, I had a 90 mile trip planned out to go visit some friends and their new child who was born this past week. What an honour to be invited to be with them!

I got up at 5 AM, was out the door by 5:30 AM as to beat traffic. I was on my way and then...

and then I hit the interstate.

And I lost it.
Sobbing.
Crying.
Shaking.

I would regain composure and then loose it again.

(this is reminiscent of a few weeks ago when I tried to drive the same route on the interstate in the rain and lost it even worse than this time and couldn't get myself home so Dad had to rescue me)

I kept thinking I could "get it together" by the next exit, after enough tears, though, I realized that wasn't going to happen. I realized that putting myself through that for another 80 miles would be really hard on my body, mind and drop me off in Olympia an emotionally-needy wreck.

Not exactly what a family with a new baby wants to deal with - their visitors needing comfort and not functioning well.

So I turned around.
Got off at an unknown exit.
Drove till I recognized a grocery store I went to once a decade ago with my mom and made the right turns.
Accidentally drove on a one way road (thanks hazard lights).
Made my way back home.

And as I drove, I kept telling myself how awful and incapable I was.

Then I remembered Mrs. W. Mrs. W was one of my dearest childhood friend and neighbor's mom. She was proper, always well composed, orderly, caring, and she also didn't drive on the interstates.

When I would call myself names, this morning, I thought, "Would you say that about Mrs. W.? No? Then you can't say it to yourself."

And I would move on with my thoughts.

I've cried 11 times in the past 24 hours and it's ok.
It's totally alright.

I'll get through this.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Better

It's been hard to write this year. I haven't been in the right place. I haven't been in the right place for any of the things I enjoy.

Things are, though, doing better.

For the most part, I haven't wanted to kill myself for almost an entire month! This is huge.
Suicide hasn't been at the front of my mind this month.

The only times that it has come to mind, mostly, is when I forget a dose of meds. Then, the tears quickly start to stream down my face, again (yesterday it was four times over Audrey Hepburn's life story and another time because the restaurant had a lot of people in it) and I think that death is a quick solution.

For the most part, though, I feel steady.

My anxiety is quite low and my brain has slowed down enough to give me time to think through my actions.
Getting better.
Getting better.

(although I never will be "better")

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quarter Century


(written in the style of a 90s preteen chapter book)

"This was the best birthday I've had in a decade," I told L as we both finished our dinner and he headed to bed. "It felt nice to actually celebrate, deliberately celebrate, with a close group of friends who know me well." We were wrapping up our day at 6 PM and life was good.

My birthday has been something of a non-occasion for the past while. The last time I had a celebration was in 2009. It was a lovely gathering but, for the most part, it was with folks I barely knew at all (though, since have gotten to know).

Other years, I've been to scared to have anything happen. Generally, I'm afraid of admitting that I just might be worth celebrating, ya know, which is what birthdays are about.

The most frequent occurrence, since high school, is that I'm away someplace where no one knows me or people don't know it's my birthday and I don't feel like telling them or making a deal out of it. Last year, I worked a bit and then went and spent a night alone in a hotel in Juneau so I could catch a flight the next morning to my grandfather's funeral.

2008 - Seattle, Washington - Mom surprised me when a friend of mine came to take me to a musical - it was lovely
2009 - Arzier, Switzerland - gathering of sweet folks, but not anyone I really knew super well at that point (I did get to know two of them well afterwards, though)
2010 - Olympia, Washington - not a celebration, did get to see a close friend
2011 - Bowen Island, Canada - L'Abri - no celebration
2012 - Haines, Alaska - a friend made me a delicious dinner and dessert and we went on a hike
(this week, I was doing 72 hours of work an this week, in 2015, I'm working 67 hours)
2013 - England - L'Abri - they hummed "Happy Birthday to You" to me and I walked to someone's house to take a shower
2014 - Haines, Alaska - worked a bit then ferry to Juneau, night alone in hotel

So, not that it was totally forgotten, I've had some lovely birthdays - but I haven't had really had a birthday party with a group of folks I know well. I kinda wanted one.


This year I was twenty five.
This year I decided to do a thing and make a thing happen.
This year was different.

One part that made it different was that I finished up a 22 hour shift at 8 AM on the morning of my birthday and started working again, a 16 hour shift, at 4 PM. This gave me 8 hours to celebrate.

I invited a small group of friends to join me to celebrate for tea at the local tea shop I've grown up going to in the adjacent town.

To my delight, everyone could come except for three humans (work, too far away, dance camp).

Two of the humans that could come, I wasn't expecting to get to see at all! Audrey, at the time, was living in California so her being in Seattle was pure magic! Not sure how she worked it out, but I'm grateful.

There was also Kyle, who I hadn't seen sine last year. I tend to see Kyle once a year. This year, of all the days he could make it to Seattle for just one day, he made it to Seattle on my birthday. He even brought his sister (!) who I've been hearing about and wanting to meet for over four years. He normally lives in Africa.

Also attending was my brother Ian, Peter from dance, and Eric from elementary school.

The day started with L. L's the wonderful man I get to spend this weekend with. Generally, his daughter makes sure his needs are met but, when she's away, they have me step in to keep him company and make sure he's doing alright.

6 AM is our go-time. Then we had eggs.
8 AM and I was off.

I stopped by my folks' place and got to spend an hour with my mom. I even got to open presents with her! What a cool family I have. I love those humans. It was rather exciting to see her on my birthday. Last time I saw her on my birthday was 2008 or 2010. 2008, I think.


Then, Kyle and Katie, his sister showed up and we headed over to St. Ed's That park is one of my favourite places in the world. As tiny as my town is, it has this massive park with wonderful hiking trails. It was a good time to catch up and just be with Katie and Kyle. I got to meet Katie! Kyle has told me so, so much about her and I've been hoping to meet her for years. She was even more delightful and insightful than Kyle's descriptions. It was also really interesting to meet someone who really knows Kyle better than probably anyone else besides Kyle himself.

Following our little hike, we picked up Eric at the bookstore and headed over for tea.

Time was spent with chickens and in antique shop and soon, everyone was there.

Crikey. Everyone was there. They were there.
They got to meet each other.

There's something surreal about all of your worlds colliding. One of my greatest anxieties has been worlds colliding. I liked to keep life spaces separate and clean and tidy. I had my dance world, curling world, high school world, exchanger world, church world, etc. This year, I've been experimenting with introducing them to each other, letting them brush shoulders.

Cards were on the table with different questions. It was entertaining.
Ian and Peter at the beginning of their high tea.
By the end. Ian's look says it all.

Tea there was lovely, as it always is there. It's the sort of place where things are nice but you don't have to be 100% top notch nice at all. They let you be casual (which is good - because who can resist lemon curd with a spoon?).

Ian and Peter ended up getting high tea which means some five courses. They didn't pace themselves and ate what was served so, by the end, they barely had room for dessert. It was amusing watching their faces change from course to course as more food was brought.

I ended up having the cozy tea --- raspberry turkey tea sandwiches, lavender earl grey tea, salad, and a small assortment of desserts with a scone. It's definitely a full meal.

After that, we wandered, rode horses, chatted, and I was very, very happy.

There were lots of pirates running around for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cop vs Bicyclist

"YOU ON THE BIKE!" went the loud speaker on the cop car as his lights spun around. He'd done his siren behind me, but I didn't think it would be for me... until he mentioned the bike.

Then I knew it was for me.

No helmet.
(I left it at the library on accident and am retrieving it tonight)
They didn't like my driving style.

I was doing something cyclists something do where, in a long line-up of cars, you pull to the front. Why? Not to be a jerk. Not 'cause it makes me go faster. I do it 'cause it is good for visibility and such. There's reasons not to and reasons to do it. He discussed what I should've done and I acknowledge that I considered both of those ways of getting through the intersection and had chosen the wrong choice.

"The unsafe choice," he clarified.

A bicyclists got killed by a cement truck in our town the other week so the cops are really cracking own on us cyclists.

To the cop's credit - he was polite and doing his job. He listened to me. He wasn't a jerk face.
My privilege is that I'm white and, while I wasn't thrilled, I wasn't ever scared for my life.

No ticket.
Just a warning.

To be honest, I don't think he was doing anyone a favour by stopping me. He wasn't saving my life. If he wants to make the streets safer, he could start by watching those cars that keep trying to take their free right turns onto my head... 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

wrekawrekawoootwooot


I'm a wreck - an absolute wreck. Don't even know what I'm doing here or why I'm here or if I should be here.

I don't know where this comes from. I don't know if it's all in my head.
I don't know when it will end or if it will go away.

Lately, I enjoy reading the stories of other folks who are bipolar. Kurt Cobain is my favourite. I read them and then I find me in parts of them and I go, "me too," and feel like someone understands 'cause I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Think it's in my head. Think I'm making it up.

And then I cry, I keep crying, for the stupidest of reasons.

Crying because I'm driving and just imagine if the motorcycle in front of me were to crash.
I cried three times because I'm supposed to go to university orientation and I feel anxious about it. I don't want to walk around school in a group or go to school or be there or have people talk to me or ask me to wear a name tag and all those things make my stomach turn to knots.

I was taking lithium for a while and then I stopped. My doctors and friend who knows about this stuff  say this is really really bad. I don't know if I want to take it or not. Everyone says I need it. That it's dangerous for me not to have it.

But I've been without it and been fine.. well... not really.

My therapist (who I haven't seen for months and am supposed to) said to keep writing. It's a good thing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

just wanna go dancing


I'm supposed to go dancing now.
I really want to go dancing now.

But I can't. I can't leave my room.

I've wanted to go dancing for months but haven't been able to and I get to anxious to go. It's one of my favourite things to do in the world but I really, really can't.
My head starts to tingle and my stomach goes all loopy and my heart becomes noticeable.

I want to go dancing so bad.
Instead, I'm making myself breathe deeply and calming myself down by telling myself I don't want to go.

Head hurts.

Nononono.

I've been doing so great! Why can't I dance?
When did this even become a thing? I guess it because a thing a while ago. I love dancing but I get overwhelmed by it. I know the people and they know me and I love them and they show love to me.

Alas, here I am in my room and I'll probably just make envelopes all night.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Megan Fed Us


Megan fed Sean and I food.

She fed us delicious bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, mozerella, fresh tomatoes from her friend's garden, basil just snapped off the plant, olives, and cucumber.

It was delicious and...

I am very grateful.

She loves. and listens.
Sean, he loves and listens too.
And they share.
And they're rad humans.

Two perks of being in Seattle.

Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder


Hi. I'm Margaret and I'm...
I'm...
they think I'm bipolar.

They think I have bipolar disorder.

They refers to the doctors --- all five of them. Psychiatrist. Counselor. General Practitioner. Naturopath.

They also refers to friends who know me well, know bipolar disorder well, and can put the two together.

This is news to me. Utter, complete news. It wasn't news to some of my friends, but it was news to me. When the diagnosis came up, I was like, "Nooo... that's not a thing that is me..."

Basically, what they think happened, was that the trauma of the car crash really triggered and more extreme version of what was already happening. Looking back in my blog, I can see the patterns. They're pretty loud, blatant patterns, actually.

Bipolar, in a simple form (and there's a lot of forms of it) involves high high highs and then low low lows.

There's a mania stage. For me, this year, I was making a lot of bad choices that were so out of character for who I am, it was enough to make me run for help. These weren't just bad choices like staying up late - they were dangerous choices that made me want to curl up and ask what was wrong but, then, at the same point I felt like I was being rational and logical in my choices. They are the sort of choices that I don't think I could ever write on my blog.

I got super high (not stoned-high) and then I crashed oh, oh so low.

A few months of near-constant nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, exhaustion and headaches.Crying every day without exception. Suicidal thoughts. Couldn't do a lot of things I liked to or wanted to do.

They thought it might be something to do with a concussion or, who knows -- then they put the pieces together and were like, "Yo! This is... this is looking mood-swingy to us."

My depression can be a constant stream of anxiety where anything can set it off, the littlest of things, and it can carry on and add up.

The diagnosis was around May or June. They still have to check out if it lines up with meds but, well, it looks like a textbook case of bipolar.

I don't know what to make of it. It scares me, it does. I've been scared, lately, of the next high-to-low and then it hit. Right now, it's hit. I've been crying again, I've been dreaming of ending my life (don't worry - I won't, I promise I won't). I'm back to napping during the day. I'm back to the nausea. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow, I tell myself it will, but what if it's not?

I'm overwhelmed with life and I can't keep up with it.

So that's about it.
More thoughts later.

But, well, now we know what was up this year.

Cheers.


So, friends, you want to help, you say? You guys say that, and I appreciate it.

1. Please don't take it personally when I don't respond to your letters, messages, texts, and calls.

2. But please, please do write - postcards are really nice. Write without wanting or expecting me to write back. On Facebook, once again, write -- but maybe even include something about understanding me not writing. I feel so anxious about not getting back to people but frequently don't have the energy to respond.

3. Please understand when I don't have the energy to hang out.

I can barely make it through some days. Hanging out beyond my routine can be over-exhausting. It's not you, it's just me and how it is.

4. If I do have the energy to hang out and am in a phase of depression, or in general, I really appreciate it if you check with me before emotionally unloading on me. Check with me before you share heavy things. I tend to take them in and I might feel it for the next day or two after our conversation and I can't afford that. I had one friend I tried to be there for, when I couldn't, and I ended up vomiting once we split. Trust me, I want to be there for you and talk to you about heavy things but, even more, I want to not bring myself down with stomach aches and nausea so I can't even function with day to day life.

5. Feel free to ease my anxiety by reassuring me it's ok and that you understand.

6. Gifts are surprisingly encouraging, just sayin'....

7. Ask me before you give me advice. Ask if I want advice. It might be hard for me to take advice from you if you don't live with bipolar disorder or aren't really, really familiar with it. This is more than just "changing my outlook" - it's chemistry.

8. If you've got tangible ways you want to be there for me, let me know. I'll tuck it away in my brain and someday, I might very gladly take you up on it. I really am grateful.

9. If you live with bipolar disorder - I would love to hear from you. Once again, I might not write back, but it's encouraging to hear from folks who understand.

10. If you think bipolar disorder isn't real, or other mental illnesses, and it's all in my head and I'm making something of nothing --- just stay away, please, and keep your mouth shut.

That's all, I think.

Photo of me is by Michael or Eric...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friends Are Good At Grounding



Living with Bipolar Personality Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder, for me, means one thing - my brain likes to race around in a swirl when things are mucky. It latches on to the right ideas and settles on them, even though there are more vibrant worthy thoughts to be thought.

And, when, I'm in the right season, even when things are just fine, I'll be quick to turn something mucky. I work hard on not doing it, but it can happen. I've been doing pretty good on it, lately.

What I really appreciate is friends who give me no reason to feel anxious.
Who give me every reason to feel secure.

The other day I was hanging out with E and M. I was feeling especially disorganized, this day, and not-together. Not once did they feed my insecurities. Instead, they were solid there for me and kept pulling me towards the Margaret I am, but can loose track of when chemistry goes totally whack. When I was hopping about trying to make the parts of the day click, they just let me do my thing.

My inner dialogue was that their thoughts must be like this, "There goes Margaret again. Can she ever get it together? Now I'm just waiting for her, again, because she's such a f'ing spazz."

It's easy for me to start believe lies and walk toward them.
Or dwell on the insufficiencies and let them take over.

Grateful for friends that know me and love me and let me know that. Friends that support me in who I am no matter the season. The ones where, when I start to fear they might dash this next season of a depressed downswing. They let me know they're here for the long run, ups and downs.

This is what helps keep me going.
This keeps me grounded.

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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Margaret Meets Club




https://www.facebook.com/Graiman?fref=ts

Friday night I did something called, "Going to a club."

Margaret, meet the Club.
The Club, meet Margaret.

*cue strobe lights, smoke machine, heavy bass*
*add so many people you can't move*
*add in a mono-exhausted human*
Bam!

I seem to not really know what's happening till it's just about to happen. Friday night, Jorge and I were discussing what to do. He had an obligatory event which is what ended up happening.

In Ecuador, there's more of a social obligation to do things than I think there is in the States. Like, in the States, if I don't feel like going to a party, I never feel like I should. My friends understand that first and foremost, I'm taking care of my well being and, to them, they respect that that isn't a reflection of how much I care for them.

Here, from what I've gathered, you truly have obligations to go - frequently as a reciprocation for someone who has come to one of your events. In this case, Jorge was to go to a club for his girlfriend's best friend's graduation celebration.

Before going to the club, my roommate here, Paolita, jumped in to do my hair and make-up. Those are things I just don't really have down. I've sort of learned to do mascara but even that's iffy.

Hair blown out, cheeks blushed to the maximum, dress on, and we were off.

Turns out we got there an hour which was, for me, the biggest blessing of the night. There was a crowd around the entrance when we got there and very few people were being let in. After a few cigarettes, Jorge showed them a card with the name of the club on it, "Love," and after some intense scrutinizing of our passports, the four of us - Jorge, Regge, Paola, and I - were let in.

Definitely a culture shock.
Definitely like in the movies.

I'd never been to a club or anything like it in my life. Lately, I've been thinking, "I wonder if I'd like it.." but hadn't had the gumption to go. Now I was here and, crikey, it looked cool.

Hexagonal mirror structures hang from the ceiling, the bar glowed, the walls glowed, smoke machine and lights, and dudes alllll around the perimeter with their arms crossed behind their backs. Mirrors and strobe machines. It looked unreal.

Since we were early, it was near empty.

For someone with SPD, Sensory Processing Disorder, this was perfect. It gave me time to slowly adjust. We walked around, checked in our belongings, and got a drink.

At this point I had all the space I needed and started to dance 'cause, well, I like to dance. Thing is, I'm not good at the bounce-in-one-place dance. I like to spin, twirl, jive, jump, clog, and groove. I tried to bounce-in-one-place but that plan sort of went out the window. I had the space and dancing makes me happy. As I started to dance, I noticed the eyes of the Ecuadorians on me. I read them for disapproval and only saw eye-little smiles of curiosity.

"They think you're high," said Jorge.
"I'm not - I'm not even drunk,"

For the entire night, I had one single drink which I followed up with two bottles of water. Getting drunk for me in stimulating situations is not, not, not an option.

Slowly, the club start to fill up like someone turned on the tap.

When we had first come to the club and were standing outside, I saw a man walk in who looked just like he was from Seattle. To put it simply, he looked like a programmer. I decided I wanted to talk to this person but wasn't in a mood to make it happen.

He was a cross between Nick and Sean which, I guess, means he just had short shelf-y brown hair, angular glasses, and a squinty smile.


Later, he was the one that initiated contact.

"You speak English?"
"Naww... I don't speak it at all. It's a difficult language to understand."
"What? You speak English?"
"Barely."

My sarcasm was lost -- and was forever lost whenever we talked.

"You from Ireland?"
"What? Ireland?"
"You dance like you're from Ireland."

And that's how I met Alexi (name changed).

The room continued to fill towards max capacity - a level of fullness I'd never experienced. At one point, Jorge and Regge dashed off without saying a word to me and that's when I sensed a brain-pattern start to occur well.

It's the one that leads to a SPD meltdown.

Luckily, I know the signs, know the feelings, and know how to do what's best for me.
I wasn't in a mood to explain SPD, I just knew I had to do what was best for me because a melt-down could not, not happen here.

Why was I going to have a meltdown? How about flashing lights, constant noise, people constantly running into me - three senses gone wild. My brain can't handle it, it can't process it. With SPD, my brain doesn't always best process senses like normal folks and in the end, I start to shut down if I don't stabilize myself.

Paolita kept trying to engage me in dancing but, by this point, my eyes couldn't help but dart around constantly. I told her I was going upstairs. She explained to me what Jorge and Regge were up to, but I wasn't really concerned with that. I just wanted to get upstairs where it is quieter and less crowded.

I found a velvet red chair and set myself down.



Posted by Graiman on Thursday, July 16, 2015

And this is where I stayed for the next two-ish hours. There in that chair.

When I might melt-down, I need a base - something I can rely on and feel grounded. This chair was it.

The joyous thing is I caught this all before it ever was an issue. I felt fine.

Paolita wasn't too sure, though.

People down here like to do things in groups. I was talking to Jorge and Alexi about it. When you come to the club with a group, you stay with the group -- being alone isn't a thing you do. Me? I'm totally fine and comfortable with going solo.

If you want to go smoke, everyone comes with you.
Get a drink? The same.
The bathroom? "Wait for me here."

She wanted me to go with her to go dance again or go smoke and each time I said in Spanish, "Nope! I'm very content right here. I like it here. You can go wherever you like but I need to be here."

And truly, I was content and having a fine time. This was such an interesting environment. Once I was safe from the stimulation, I just got to watch people and take it all in. I got to enjoy the music at a more respectful volume for my ears.

At one point, one of Jorge's friends checked in on me, which I really appreciated. I'm not sure the Ecuadorians got how you could come to a club and be happy sitting by yourself upstairs in a corner. It was really sweet of him, though. For all he knew, I was wasted and scared and alone (which Jorge would not have ever allowed to have happen to me).

After a while, Alexi walked by and I sort of dismissed him. He respected that.
He walked by again later and I waved and he came over and we talked.

I soon learned he was actually Russian and when I learned that, it seemed the perfect place to quote Soviet Winnie-Pooh.


I have yet to meet a Russian who doesn't know, "Куда идем мы с Пятачком."

Alexi imports Ecuadorian flowers to Russia.

We exchanged information and he departed with a hug saying, "I like you."
Ha.
I'm sure you do, Alexi. I'm sure you do.

A bit later, there was another man sitting in the other chair across the way from me. For over 10 minutes, every once in a while we'd look at each other and then start cracking up.

Eventually, he came over, gauging my body language on if I wanted to talk or not. I welcomed the conversation. I was here to meet people and welcome human contact.

His name was Jonathan and it had been his 28th birthday the night before. He's from a small town two hours away but now lives in Quito

End of the story, to summarize. I went and slept in the truck till it was time to go.

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.
"Yeah."
"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.
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