Monday, March 27, 2017

A note from the desk of Super Sensitive, Irritable Girl! (Like a super hero!)

 
Let's talk about some things that are fun.
 
Going on Space Mountain at Disneyland for the first time, and being so surprised by all the turns in the dark that your natural reaction is just to crack up laughing throughout the ride.
 
Seeing Jens Lekman in concert and having no idea what you're getting yourself into, and then thinking, "This is one of the most bizarre things I've ever heard and seen in my life," and saying in Alex's ear: "This is a trip!" and dancing and smiling so big without abandon.
 
Sitting on a couch in Courtney's living room and just talking and talking and talking about whatever with my gal pal, for so long that at some point we say, "Huh. Maybe we should get lunch."
 
Those things are fun.
 
I'll tell you what's NOT fun.
 
Being irked by basically anything and everything that seems to be happening around you.
 
No. I mean, like, iiiiiiiirked.
 
Like, recognizing you're way too irritated but being unable to stop it.
 
You know how sometimes your irritation builds? You're just having a bad day, for whatever reason. You're tired, you're PMSing, you're impatient, or something is just not feeling hunky dory inside you (and it's probably totally normal as humans to only feel hunky dory a certain percentage of the time but we WANT to feel that way so much that we expect to feel that way 95 percent of the time and when we don't we are always clawing our way back to that place, even though forcing it is not how to conjure it up. I'm pretty sure it can't be simply conjured). And then throughout the day you get more and more annoyed, so that it reaches a point where a song comes on the radio that you don't love, and all of a sudden your inner thoughts go something like this?:
 
Oh my goodness I HATE this song! And why is it even on?! And that part is the worst part, the part with the whistling, and of course THAT's the part that was playing when I couldn't get to my phone fast enough to change tracks so I just HAD to listen to the stupid stupid whistling and I just need everyone to GET OUT OF MY WAY! but also I need them to wait on me like I am a PHARAOH. I want people FANNING ME WITH LEAVES but I don't want those leaves to make ANY NOISE as they brush the air, and I want the people fanning me to, like, be there as a quiet emotional support but I also want them to just disappear from time to time but the fanning can't stop even though I CAN'T HANDLE! seeing a human form in my peripheral vision right now. And I need my boyfriend to tell me -- AND MEAN IT!! -- that I am the most beautiful woman he knows, and will ever know, and he needs to bring me Advil and some pizza but then I need him to, like, sit on the couch quietly, but also disappear if needed but of course still be there in the next room for emotional support if needed and.....
 
No? Just me?
 
OK well that ridiculous pattern of thinking that you read up there -- that is approximately how I've been feeling lately kind of all the time. I feel like I'm continually at that point where I've had too much -- like I've been babysitting for three hours and the kid won't stop crying and I've had three hours of it and then another straw gets added to the camel's back and I feel like I'm going to crumble into nonexistence because I couldn't keep being agitated so the only solution was to pop like an over-inflated balloon. I'm at that moment, a lot. The moment where you've reached your breaking point, or feel like you're about to. Today, for example, the day had hardly started and the Keurig was brewing really slowly and I got so upset. It's not like I'd been having a big long day and then the Keurig was brewing slowly and I couldn't take one more thing. It's like I'm always in that moment where it's too much.   
 
It's. Awful.
 
Also I'm not kidding. I mean, yes, I took some comedic liberties with likening myself to a pharaoh just now, but the sentiment is totally accurate -- I am really struggling to be anything but annoyed. And my expectations of other people and stoplights and the radio and my appetite to be exactly synced to fix my frustrations and make me less crazed are way too high, I recognize that.
 
I could keep analyzing this but I'm not sure I want to so let's move on.
 
***
 
OK so let's talk about some things that have made me feel happy, or content, or have made me laugh lately, even if they were short lived. Because even though they're few and far between I do know that they are there and if I chronicle them here it will probably make me feel a little better.
 
(Unless the Lumineers start playing on Pandora. Then forget it. Sorry, Amy, if you're reading this.)
 
This weekend I went to a wedding and there was karaoke at the reception.
 
Let me repeat that.
 
Karaoke.
 
At the reception.
 
Take a bow, bride and groom. Good move.
 
So my friend Lemar sang several times, and guys, he just has such an impressive, flawless voice. He can go really low in register or up to falsetto tones. I wonder what his range is.....I wonder if he's on a Mariah level....
 
So I love listening to Lemar. I just want him to keep singing more songs when I hear him sing one.
 
Also my friend Sam really makes me laugh. When we hang out we egg each other on in our silliness and it's the best. Last night we went out for ramen and we kept talking in valley girl voices and it was so funny for me. On the flipside I can talk to Sam about all the serious things I'm dealing with right now, and he will listen to the minutiae and give me sturdy, supportive words of advice and encouragement. He's such a great friend and I just know he has my back. Like Fight Club, but without the violence.
 
I've never seen Fight Club, so I'm not sure why I made that reference. Just felt right. Also did you know Brad Pitt studied at the University of Missouri, just like cute little irritated me?
 
Annnnd, let's see. One more positive thing, then I'll let you be.
 
I like that I'm listening to my body more than I usually do.
 
I can sense when I don't need any more coffee, and so I don't drink any more of it.
 
I notice when I have headaches. I haven't solved this problem with a headache-free bow, but I'm at least recognizing how often they are happening, what things are abating them and that there are several occasions where nothing seems to release the tension.
 
Last night at the ramen party, I ordered a veggie bowl (with meat on the side). There were big chunks of cabbage in it, and for most of my life I would just eat around that cabbage.
 
But I ate that cabbage.
 
Several bites of it. Big chunks. Flavorless. But down the gullet they went. Because they were there, and I know that they have some sort of vitamin or something in them, and yes they're flavorless but that doesn't mean I can't pull it together and eat them. It's not as if I feel any sort of immediate or delayed gratification or improvement in my bodily feelings, but I just know that it's not a bad idea to eat cabbage that is put in front of me and I did it and I know it's silly but I'm proud of myself for that.
 
***
 
So this post is long -- as most of mine are -- and I am going to sign off.
 
If you are feeling chronically and acutely irritable, like me, I really feel for you. I hope that you can find at least a few moments of contentment throughout each day, and I hope that you return to your less-angry functioning state very soon. I also hope that a few things are making you laugh, or getting you away from your discomfort, and that you are recognizing those and returning to them for more peace.
 
XO
Bails

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In a season. Or, sweating like a cartoon.

 
Hiiiiii, Friends.
 
(Oftentimes when Alex texts me he writes, "Hiiiiii," with all those extra "I"s. I like it, because he says "Hi" like that out loud sometimes. Drawn out and like he's happy to talk to me because he's had a long day and I'm relief for him. I don't know if that's what he means by it, but that's my interpretation.)
 
I guess my extra "I"s are apt, in that case, because I haven't written to y'all in a while. And I've missed you. I've thought about you several times, but several things (acceptable and non-acceptable excuses) have stopped me from writing to you.
 
But here I am.
 
Hiiiiiiii.
 
I'm not sure what I'm here to say, but I did want to drop in and chat with ya for a bit.
 
So let's see.
 
Well I've -- mostly, more or less -- concluded that I am in a SEASON right now. Ya know how that happens? You walk around feeling grumpy or lost or confused or like you're wasting your life by doing or not doing something, and this goes on for weeks or months and then finally you think, "Well maybe this will pass."
 
Well, I think I might be there.
 
Three days ago I was in tears and feeling like I might feel this not-great way forever. It was a scary* moment, and I'm not entirely sure I won't feel that way again. But today I'm feeling less frantic and more optimistic and I'm glad.
 
*Understatement
 
I bought myself a spiral notebook (for $3.25!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A ONE-subject, WIDE-ruled, only 70 sheets notebook!!!!! This is outrage!) at a retailer that I will not name, for I don't believe in throwing this business under the bus for their outrageous pricing.
 
But it is, let's be clear, outRAGEous.
 
Emphasis on the rage, if you didn't catch that. It's important that you do.
 
Anyway.
 
I bought this notebook and so far I've written in it on Saturday, yesterday and today. I'm treating it as a journal.
 
When I started college, my brother told me I should journal. He said I should write every day, and if I didn't feel like writing I could just write: "I don't feel like writing," and then close the notebook.
 
During my freshman year, I wrote every day.
 
That's the only time in my life I've done that, for so long a stretch.
 
It felt great, and I am on occasion nostalgic for that rhythm in my life.
 
Since I bought this ludicrously expensive notebook, I have felt overwhelmed by the obligation (that's not really an obligation because no one is forcing me to do this) to journal.
 
On Saturday I wrote until my dinner was brought to my table, and I stopped mid-sentence. I never finished the sentence.
 
I wrote yesterday in my car during lunch and got frustrated at first because I didn't have a hard surface to write on. I found a board game box in my back seat (yes) and used that and I felt better and carried on.
 
Today I wrote during lunch again and I really loved doing it.
 
I've written about headaches I've had, about my alcohol intake, about my feelings. I've mentioned things that have made me feel good and things that have made me feel bad. Ever a writer, I try to use the most accurate nouns and adjectives I can to capture just how something felt or feels.
 
I've fought the urge while writing to set the notebook down and google something.
 
I'm not saying I'm heading down some valiant journaling journey here, but I am saying that this feels good. I feel like my moods and my physical sensations (I've had a lot of headaches and have been struggling to wake in the morning due to really intense dreams) have been alllll over the place lately. Things happen so quickly -- I'm here! Then there! Thinking about this! Then that! -- that I feel like I can't keep up with them fast enough to write them down, just in a matter of fact way let alone take the time to analyze them.
 
(Also I hate that I'm here! Then there! I feel like I'm a cartoon who's sweating and the drops of moisture are flying off of me. The droplets never come back to touch me (read: I usually forget the thoughts as soon as they come), and I'm still whole -- I don't melt away even though I'm losing water weight. But I feel the exhaustion of being stuck on a treadmill, running and running but not covering any productive distance.)
 
But in the past several days I've written down some of it, and it's been helpful. I wrote down one particular thought or worry, and as soon as I got it down on the paper I felt less intensely worried about it. That doesn't mean I shouldn't address it with friends or in therapy, but it was progress. And it offered relief.
 
I'm grateful for this activity in my life. I'll probably go for a cheaper notebook once this one fills up, but I am fine with my $3.25 purchase.
 
I'm glad I have you guys to "journal" to, too. You can thank me later (or now. You're choice) for not filling up this blog with the ins and outs of my headaches and eating choices, but rather scribbling that down in a green notebook. But I do appreciate you listening/reading to what I do write here. And to those of you who text/call/email/talk with me, you know who you are, and I thank you for all your support and willingness to listen to me ramble on and on and....
 
There are a lot of good things in my life right now. Through all my recent moodiness I have been lucid enough to recognize my many blessings. I do hope the negative things -- and, particularly, the sense that they are too much -- will pass.
 
Meanwhile, I'm glad I have you guys to say "Hi" to.
 
So, I'll say it again.
 
Hiiiiiiii.
 
Byeeeeee,
Bailey

Friday, February 24, 2017

Happy kid

 
List #11:
 
 
Cats.
 
Reading.
 
Watching VH1's Top Ten music video compilations from week to week (or, sometimes, day to day) -- notable chart toppers: Meatloaf's I would do anything for love (but I won't do that), Tom Petty's Free Fallin' and Don't Come Around Here no More, Mariah's Fantasy, Seal's Kiss from a Rose, Blue's Traveler's Run-Around, TLC's Waterfalls.
 
Watching 7th Heaven, Full House, Figure it Out, and Friends.
 
Watching the following movies over and over and over: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Wayne's World, Wayne's World 2, Big, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Selena. I also frequently rented a Disney sing-along video from the movie rental place (where Mom would treat us to Bubble Tape and other candy treats).
 
Playing Dr. Mario (I was and still am very good at this game), Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong 1 and 2.
 
Watching my brothers play a particular Sega game, the name of which I don't know. I also remember eating iced animal cookies while doing this. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm.
 
(Um, yes, I did have a lot of screen time as a child. But I also played outside a fair amount and did my homework and read several books. So quit judging.)
 
Getting tickled mercilessly by my dad. There was (and still is) a very extensive vocabulary surrounding this activity. The most important one you should know is that to get Dad to stop tickling you, you must say "S-T-O-P STOP!" This is much harder than one might think to accomplish while you are laughing maniacally.
 
Assembling cow scrapbooks. Yes you read that right, and yes you have no idea what that is because I'm probably the only kid who did this. I went through a very long cow-collecting phase. Mainly people gifted me with stuffed animals cows, as well as various bovine paraphernalia (boom! I just spelled that correctly on the first try! Eat that, spell check!) such as a cookie jar, a coffee creamer pouring mechanism, candy, popcorn tins, etc.
 
But! I also made not one but TWO cow scrapbooks. I spent much time cutting pictures of real cows (from Country magazine) and figurine cows (from catalogs) and milk mustache ads and then gluing them onto colored construction paper (each page alternating through the rainbow, then repeating the pattern), then hole punching that paper, numbering the pages, and sticking it into 3-ring binders. I used to plant myself in front of the TV or the stereo and rubber cement my way to bliss. For hours. These scrapbooks are still at my parents house. Obviously. Who would toss such hours of labor?
 
Sometimes my fifth grade teacher would let us read all day at school. I loved those days. I still long for those days, and do my best to recreate them at home.
 
When we went on vacation, we always took our minivan, never an airplane. We would drive to DC or Iowa or around Colorado, and I pretty much enjoyed the destinations (DC was a little boring for my 7-year-old self, but we celebrated my birthday there which had its perks), but I always loved the car ride best. My older brothers sat in the back bench seat, and I would drive them crazy mostly but also gifted them with "The Giggle Hour," a time in which they could say anything and I would lose it. I always sat in the middle seat on the driver's seat, Riley in the middle on the passenger side. I would read, stare out the window, enjoy cans of Coke and Pringles and sugary candy (my parents fed us vegetables, I promise). I loved it loved it.
 
Doing math homework. I always did it first thing because I enjoyed it so much. It was an ease into the reading and writing (which I also enjoyed, but for sure had a love-hate relationship with).
 
Doing crafts. Cross stitch, latch hook, filling up pages of sticker books. Etc.
 
Jumping on friends' trampolines.
 
Babysitting, especially at night. What a thrill! And I made money! I divided my pay in half, to the penny, kept some at home for spending and took the other half to the bank. (I wish I could say I kept up that habit).
 
Checking email, and composing long responses to my friends who I saw every day at school. (I still love email). I also loved those email surveys that would circle around -- filling out my favorite color, book, etc.
 
Having sleepovers with various girlfriends.
 
Writing poetry.
 
Dr Pepper and Sunny-D (mostly during eighth grade I loved these things)
 
Walking through knee deep snow, cutting through backyards, from the bus to our house. With a backpack full of thick books and a trumpet case in hand (that, probably, my brother carried most often), my brothers and our neighbor would walk and walk. We'd get home, ditch our wet shoes at the door, grab a soda and chips and dip, and plop in front of the TV. We'd fight over who got to choose the show, but pretty much we'd stick together in the living room for a couple of hours anyway.
 
Talking to my friends on the phone.
 
Going on band field trips. Solo and ensemble competitions, playing at elementary schools, and competing in full-band contests in "the Springs" (Colorado Springs). I loved missing classes, wearing my cummerbund, playing cards on the bus with my friends, and stopping at Burger King or Fargo's Pizza for lunch. Pure fun, and made me feel grown up.
 
School dances. Yes!
 
The giant Super Bowl parties my parents used to have every year. I mostly ignored the game, watched some commercials, ran around with church friends, ate cheese dip and my mom's delicious brisket, and drank lots of soda. I always lamented when it was over and I had to do homework and was up so late on a school night, but the party itself was great fun.
 
Watching all of TGIF every Friday night, followed by 20/20 (oh, Hugh Downs and John Stossel)
 
Having the house to myself. A rare occurrence in a family of six, but sometimes it happened and it was glorious. I popped a CD into the living room speaker system, made macaroni and cheese, and just OWNED that house.
 
Church youth group events. And church retreats. Retreats!!!!! Loved. Still love.
 
Daydreaming about my crushes.
 
Going to amusement parks and water parks.
 
Playing and watching football.
 
Gym class.
 
Going on "Girls' Day Out" with Mom. We would drive to the Springs, shop for earrings and clothes at the mall, usually run some errands, and eat a special meal.
 
Going to the outlet mall in Castle Rock. Mom would set us loose and I would buy cassettes and CDs at the music store, jewelry and keychains at Claire's, and troll dolls at the Russ store.
 
The Wednesday night routine. During eighth grade, my dad was living in Missouri studying at the seminary, and my mom and brothers and I were in Colorado waiting for the house to sell. A dear church friend, Julie, was also a teacher at my school. On Wednesdays, she and I would leave school together, go shopping, eat dinner together, and then she'd drop me off at my mom's office or at the church for my confirmation classes. I still treasure those Wednesdays.
 
Hanging out at Mom's work -- the library. I would go to her office, grab some candy and cash, head to the cafĂ© and get a soda and animal crackers, then scour the Babysitters' Club collection and do my homework.
 
Dubbing music onto cassette tapes from my brothers' CDs and the radio.
 
Oldies music. Also Christian rock.
 
Shooting hoops in our driveway and the neighbors'.
 
Running through sprinklers. Duh.
 
Snow days.
 
***
 
Guys, I'm going to stop. I could keep going. Super happy I had such a good childhood. Very lucky to have been so loved and cared for. XOX

Thursday, February 16, 2017

#Blessed

 
 
List the ways that you feel lucky
 
I have a cat who loves to be right next to or on top of me, and he purrs a lot. He also -- generally speaking -- likes other people. And he's mighty cute.
 
I have a boyfriend who's so patient I can't understand it, to be honest. He's so smart it sometimes makes me mad, and he has great fun hair and he's tall and sometimes wears red pants. When he walks into a room/bar/party/restaurant, I feel relief and calm and comfort. I can talk to him about pretty much anything, and he hugs me and makes me laugh at all the right moments. He can make popcorn on the stove, and he's willing to do most anything with me -- go to concerts of bands he's never heard, travel to the four winds, or wear Halloween costumes that were my brainchild. (He's told me I'm on my own when it comes to Celine Dion concerts and viewing Fuller House, however.)
 
My parents were, and are, beyond supportive. My whole life they have called me by pet names -- Mitsubishi, Bucket, Girlfriend, Peach, Honey -- and told me how cute and pretty I am. They have put oodles of money toward my education, food, shelter, car, phone, etc. They love that I am a writer and compliment my work; they could choose to be terrified about my financial future as an artist, but instead they think I'm on the right path. I know that I am welcome at any time to move back under their roof, and in fact lived there until I was 25. Though my mental health journey has been very different from their own, they have always applauded my decisions to go to therapy and to take medication. Mom sends me care packages several times a year, and cards with Starbucks money in them. She hems and repairs my clothes. Dad just gets me, because we are frighteningly alike. When they were in town last weekend, they bought my meals and paid for museum parking and train tickets and bought me books and a watermelon-painted suitcase from a thrift shop. Together, they show me what 40 years of love looks like. Thanks to them, I know that long-term love exists, and can exist in others, myself included.
 
I have a working body. I can walk, bend without too much creaking of joints, see, taste, hear, smell, and feel.
 
I have a car that still runs and is paid off.
 
I don't feel like I have to try hard to make friends. Strangers are often willing to talk to me, and I love that, because I love talking to them.
 
I am educated beyond the amount required by our government. And I have had some wonderful teachers and mentors throughout my days.
 
I have a full time job with benefits.
 
I have never been unable to pay rent.
 
Don't even get me started about my friends. My closest friends in this world live in Boston, Chicago, Memphis, Seattle, and Kansas City, but their distance does not take away from how loved they make me feel. It is such a privilege to care for them -- to hold their memories and insecurities and happinesses and fears; to know their idiosyncrasies and have a good grasp of the kind of things they need to hear at various times. Beyond those five superstars, I have SO many people who make me happy and who think I'm worth spending time with. I have an amazing family, plus friends who are family.
 
I'm content in the city where I live. I never have to check the weather, I rarely deal with gray days. There are so many places to get tasty eats and drinks, sing karaoke, shoot pool, blah blah blah.
 
Bethel! I love my church for so many reasons. I have been embraced by the people there, and they continue to embrace others who walk in the door. It's not a closed off community, and it is a safe, happy space where I am eager to be.
 
Brothers. I have three kind, funny, smart, creative brothers. They are not afraid to be affectionate with me, to say "I love you" out loud. They are wonderful to their wives and children, and put me up in their warm, much-cleaner-than-mine homes when I am visiting. I can call them for comfort and laughs, they will pray with and for me, and I'm just so lucky to be in regular touch with them as an adult -- I'm glad that during our past tiffs, we didn't tear each other to shreds.
 
I was introduced to a faith that made me interested in believing in someone bigger than all of this. And, thank the Lord, I was never pushed in a way that turned me fully off from it. I've had doubts, I've been extremely judgy of churches and church people, I've been bored, worried, etc. during my hanging around church and church things -- Bible reading, small groups. Even though I haven't "felt God's presence" a lot, or at least not in a way that I recognize, I have lost count of the times when I have been rescued by people and words of encouragement and warm meals and pets and laughs, and I have felt that that's been provided for me not just by the human vehicles who deliver them, but by someone who orchestrates it all. And I like that.
 
I have a large personal music collection.
 
I have a library card, and several of books on my own shelves. I am literate, and that is a lucky thing.
 
And, finally, I feel lucky that I feel called to write. And I feel lucky that people read my writing. There was a long time where I didn't see either of those things coming. And here they are.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Today's brave step

 
I am reading Marbles, a fantastic graphic memoir about living with bipolar disorder. My friend Steph told me about it, then I suggested it to my friend Jill, who was gobbling up graphic novels and memoirs, and she read it and was like "Bailey you have to read this."
 
So I started it, and in one sitting I gobbled up 150 pages and am kind of maybe setting it aside so it doesn't have to be over yet. I know I can reread, but I so seldom (basically never) do.
 
So I took a break and started The BFG, which -- can you believe it? -- I've never read. So far it's delightful, as all Roald Dahl things are. What a treasured gift he was, and continues to be -- that Matilda and James and Charlie could all come out of one head?! Amazing.
 
Anyway.
 
In 2 hours and 15 minutes, I have a psychiatry appointment.
 
I am nervous.
 
I need to go, but I hate talking about my feelings with medical professionals. Weird, right? I write so easily about them here, for any Internet stranger to read. But put me in a sanitized office and close the door and I quake in my sensible flats, not wanting to tell them that I cried a bit on my Valentine's date last night.
 
I just made a list of my recent symptoms and complaints (and a few positives in there, too), and even with the margin setting on "Narrow," it spilled onto two pages. I emailed it to Alex to look over, in case I'm missing something. (Though it can be annoying, I find it's good to have someone around who keeps you honest regarding your mental health issues. And if you're dating or married to that person, they (hopefully) know you really well, so their insight will not be for naught).
 
***
 
You know how some people hate going to the dentist so much that they start to get anxious a week before their appointment? That's me when it comes to psychiatry and therapy dates on the calendar.
 
I have psychiatry today and therapy on Saturday, so you can imagine I'm not exactly relaxed right now. Plus I'm still playing Let's Figure Out The Right Med Combo For Bailey, so life's a real picnic.
 
Did I say 'picnic'? I meant panic.
 
***
 
Anyway. (That's our second "Anyway" of this post. This is going well.)
 
Ellen Forney, author of Marbles, depicts several scenes with her psychiatrist in her book. I am envious of her willingness to communicate with her doctor. She seems so at ease with her.
 
In 10 years of therapy, I have never cried in front of a counselor or doctor.
 
I know that's not necessarily wrong, but it is curious, isn't it?
 
***
 
OK, so here's my brave step for the day: I'm not going to cancel my appointment.
 
Oh, and I'm going to show up for it, too.
 
I'm going to print out my symptom list and have it in my tote bag. I'm going to feel like I'm annoying the doc for bringing a laundry list with me. I'm going to be embarrassed by some of the items on it.
 
But I'm going to do it.
 
And maybe I'll buy myself a diet soda at the gift shop downstairs, to carrot myself along.
 
Ugh. 1 hour and 55 minutes.
 
Catch you on the flipside.