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

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*

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?"

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."
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.
"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).
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