Anxiety, Brain Injury, Depression

Triple Whammy

Dealing with depression, anxiety, and a brain injury is confusing and disheartening.

Were my lows this low, before the stroke? Did I always hate crowds this much? Did I overthink things this much? . . . or everything just a little bit worse? I don’t remember so I can’t make an accurate comparison.

I spend a lot of time scrutinizing things like, what to do with my time, who I’ll spend it with, where I’m comfortable being from moment to moment, and how I’ll get there.

I make mistakes, but they’re not as drastic or detrimental as they used to be.

I have no regrets because in each wrongful act I’ve committed, or mistake I’ve made, I’ve learned more about myself and human nature.

As humans, what we want and what’s right, don’t necessarily coincide.

On top of that sentiment, it’s all relative to who you’re surrounded by, what your beliefs are, what takes priority at the given time, what makes you tick, what resources are at your disposal, etc.

That being said, I’d like to strive to be a better person, while minimizing emotional pain across the board.

A few of my goals for this winter are to remain seizure-free and to combat my impending, debilitating depression. That means staying away from stressful, demoralizing situations.

Part of this quest for salvation is having to battle my inner demons and win. It can be done but it’s not easy and it’s a never-ending struggle.

So, after a week of serious thinking, in early December, I decided to try remain to sober.

My neurologist okayed me to have ONE alcoholic beverage per day. However, I can’t ever predict whether I can stop after one.

For instance, on a Wednesday night about a month ago, I thought, “A glass of cabernet sauvignon would pair nicely with a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie,” and it did but . . . Then, I had two more glasses of wine, only one glass of water, and forgot to take the evening dose of my anti-convulsant.

The morning after the “wine and pie fiasco,” I had a seizure.

I was treating the site where I bit down on my cheek during said seizure. It wasn’t healed after a week. This, among other things, solidified my decision to try self-restraint.

I’m really good at justifying things to myself. I never, really, considered sobriety before because I’ve never believed in abstaining from something. I believed that telling yourself, you can’t have something is just . . . cruel. But, in weighing pros and cons, at this moment, allowing myself to drink is more cruel because of the imminent domino effect.

Overall, I need to take better care of myself.

It’s been a solid month of sobriety. The more time passes, the prouder I am of myself. I’ve been treating myself the way I’ve always wanted to.

I figured, if I could just make it through the holidays, the rest would be cake.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to drink within the past month to deal with stress, to make myself comfortably numb, to “fit in,” to not remember, etc. But, I realize that those “coping mechanisms” are temporary, counter-productive, and NOT healthy. Again, one drink would be alright, but I never can tell if I’ll stop after that one. It’s better FOR ME to cut it out completely.

It took a few weeks but, now, I feel better than I have, in a long time.

I’m more in-tune with my body. If I feel “off” I think, “Did I take my meds? Do I need food? Do I need sleep?” There’s no ignoring, or guessing, or forgetting.

For about a year or so, I was afraid to leave my apartment; afraid I’d forget my morning meds, worried I’d have a seizure or a panic attack at the gym or on the bus, stuff like that. Irrational fears, really.

I people say, I’m sharper and my speech has improved. I think it’s true. Even if it’s a placebo effect, I’ll take it!

I’ve been having weird, embarrassing dreams where I slip up and do something stupid. When I realize it’s only a dream, I feel relieved and reminded of what could be or has been and I’m like, “No, thank you.”

I’ve had more energy. I still NEED my naps and I still crap out from general fatigue, but it’s less frequent and doesn’t last as long.

 

It helps that everybody in my life has been so supportive.

They say, “Do you!”

And I say, “Hmmm . . . Okay!”

 

I don’t know. Something just feels right about 2016.

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Art, Change, Learning

BREAK the Cypher

I spent my New Year’s Eve, going through my artwork from high school up through college; some after too. The idea was to refresh my memory as to what influenced me at different stages in life; what motivated and moved me. I wanted to ramble about art and not leave anything out. I still plan on doing that but I came across something I forgot about. Something along similar lines but not what I was looking for.

I forgot I used to use writing as an outlet. I remember, I took a creative writing class but I didn’t know I ever wrote anything relevant or that I attempted to share.

In my hoarding, I found three issues of “Galerie,” a yearly student-run publication, put out by my high school. I was on the staff for two years. I had, at least, one visual piece, as well as one piece of writing, in each issue I found.

I’d like to share a piece I passed off as “fiction” in my senior year. Bare with my eighteen-year-old self, as I’ve had 12 years to fine-tune my “voice,” grammar, vocabulary, etc.

“She looks into the mirror stares into the face of a person longing for change. She is a girl of eighteen with dark hair and blue eyes. She has a pale complexion and her lips are rosy pink. As she looks into her own eyes, she is distracted by the leaves outside the window, rustling as the wind whistles through them. They remind her of how restless she is. She has been a part of a twelve-year routine that she has wanted to end for so long. The end is so near but so far away. She covets a new beginning. She can’t wait to start over. She wants to cut ties with all those surrounding her. They are all so boring because they are all the same. She wants to be with people have goals. She wants to be with people who are like her. She’s different. She likes being different but she’s so lonely. She’ll be glad to go. She won’t cry when she does. She’ll smile. She will be sad to leave some people because even the important ones in her life right now might not feel that she is important enough to stay in touch with. She knows, however, that the people who care about her most will always be there.

“She hopes that some of those people will support her when she begins a new life for herself. She is so afraid of what the future has in store for her but she welcomes it with open arms. She will rise to any challenge that faces her and conquer it so that she may do what she wants to do and become what she wants to become. She’s not sure what she wants to do or become, but she’ll know when the time is right. What she does know is that she wants to succeed. She know that she is capable of accomplishing anything that her heart desires. She is intelligent and interested in so many things.

“Some people might not believe this, though. When she tries to speak about what she is feeling, she sounds stupid and ditzy (for lack of better words). She knows what she wants to say but struggles to get it out. Her cheeks become flushed and she stutters. When she finds the perfect words to say, she often forgets them before they escape her mouth. She fidgets and slumps. She has horrible posture. She’s not confident in herself and in order to counter her nervousness around people, she talks and talks. Actually, she babbles. She realizes she does it but she needs to feel less nervous somehow. The only way she can truly express herself, though, is on paper. The only way she can say what she wants to say without interruption is on paper. She wishes she had more time for her paper, whether it be lined or Strathmore. She wishes she had more time but she’s tired. When she thinks she can finally rest, there is something else to be done. She relishes the thought of a world where money is no object and time is on her side. If she could, she would spend all of her time utilizing that paper. She is sick of work and school and anything else that gets in the way of her and herself. She wants everything to be finished. She wants to be settled in a house with the perfect job. She wants to be in love. She wants to have time.

“In the middle of her thought she blinks and realizes that she has been staring into those blues eyes for quite some time now. She has been caught in her own gaze for what seemed like an eternity. She rubs her face with her hands and sighs. She looks her own face over a few timed and asks herself those age-old questions, “Who am I? What is going to become of me?” We’ll see.”

Again, I wrote that when I was a senior in high school. Sure, I want to pick it apart and edit it but the nature of the content would be similar. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to man-up, because the character I was describing was, clearly, 110% ME. I was trying to express myself while attempting to be, somewhat, cryptic. Some of my favorite authors (namely Chuck Palahniuk and Tom Robbins) “taught” me to use my sense of humor and not be constrained to the “rules” in writing. I cling to them because I’ve found that, like my influences in art and music, I respond and relate the creative people who aren’t afraid to let their personalities shine through in their work.

I’m going to address each of my relevant fears and points, and turn this depressing, albeit optimistic, piece, into a lesson.

When I first wrote that passage, I was a naive, gullible virgin, who had never ventured outside of Rochester, NY with anyone except her immediate family. I’d never been in love and was completely lost and lonely.

I’ve been through a lot in my life. Some of it was my own doing. Other times, I didn’t know any better. Sometimes, it was just a matter of timing and/or placement. Whatever happened (or happens), I’ve always try to learn and grow from it; evolve.

I’m neurotic and methodical, which can be blessings or curses. I think EVERYTHING through. When I say, “I don’t care.” It’s not because I’m indecisive. It’s because I, genuinely, don’t care because the outcome won’t have that much bearing on the bigger picture.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much I want to share about my past but I will say, my stroke is the single-most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with in my entire life. However, I’m doing just fine a year later because of all I’ve experienced up to this point.

A cliche I use once in awhile is, “If I knew then what I know now . . .” Listen, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s kind of a joke to me. It’s one of those *wink wink, nudge nudge* types of things.

I tattooed over my knees, “No regrets. No worries.” I do worry a-lot-a-bit but I’m forever trying not to. Life is a lot of trail and error. Sometimes, you get second chances. Sometimes, it’s one and done. Sometimes, people hurt you. Sometimes, you hurt others. I’m sincerely sorry for the people I’ve hurt. But, at the same time, I don’t regret getting hurt because it’s made me who I am. You have to think about each situation individually because, even if you’re experiencing deja vu, no one is exactly the same. If you don’t think things through, when you can, you’ll never grow and the results will send you around that same vicious cycle.

That’s why I’m analyzing my priorities from 12 years ago; because I want to see how I’ve grown and see what’s no longer important and what I still need to work on.

Here it goes!

I’ve always been restless. I’ve realized that I’ll always be restless. I can’t sit still for too long. I love, love, love traveling. Just a change of scenery for even a day satiates my nomadic tendencies, if only for a little while. I’ve found, if I don’t change things up a little bit, every once in awhile, I get stir-crazy.

A friend shared a quote by Robert Holden. It states, “Beware of Destination Addiction . . . a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” I understand where Holden is coming but part of the reason I’m forever restless, is because I’ll never be satisfied. Another friend and I were talking the struggle with being an artist. You’re your own worst critic and mortal enemy. For artist like us, nothing we create is ever “good enough.” If we created THE perfect piece, we’d implode and there wouldn’t be anything left for us to achieve; nothing to work toward. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Yes, I need to choose goals that are reachable but I’ll never stop trying to do better; to BE better. That mindset has gotten me through my recovery so far. I’m not striving for absolute happiness. I’m trying to be content, moment to moment. Like MOST HUMANS ON THIS PLANET, I have good days and bad days. You just need to seize the days you can. If you have a bad one, dust yourself off, and try again.

“You pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick friends’ nose.” Well, I “pick[ed] . . . friends” who would let me “pick [their] nose[s],” as it were. But, seriously, I have so much love surrounding me . . . I’m so grateful. It’s been hard to let people go who hurt me and there’s a lot of disappointment involved in that but the feeling passes, eventually, and the love and support of those ones who stick around, fill up those voids. I still get lonely from time to time but I think it’s another part of the human condition.

I’m not afraid of the future anymore. I still maintain, “[I] will rise to any challenge that faces [me] and conquer it . . . [I want] to succeed. [I] know that [I’m] capable of accomplishing anything that [my] heart desires. [I am] intelligent and interested in so many things.” And I, once again, have so much support that it doesn’t matter if I talk slow or stammer. People wait to hear what I have to say. Also, I’m just as forgetful as I ever was, if not more-so. I’m working on using my resources and tools to make things easier, memory-wise (See “Memory Lost, Memory Found, Repeat.” mariahrosesramblings.wordpress.com).

I still get nervous but I’m working on that too but my “babbling” and “fidgeting” has become part of my awkward charm. People who don’t appreciate it . . . well, ya know.

I’m still working on time-management. I’ll probably never get it right but I’ll always keep trying.

I’ve changed my mind about “settling in a house.” I don’t EVER want to be tied down. There’s no such thing as the perfect job, although tattooing comes wicked close, for me.

As far as love goes, there are no rules and it’s painful. With romantic love, comes stress, sex, insecurity, tests of trust, etc. I’ll probably never figure out that whole mess but what I do know is that I can’t worry about that right now anyway. I have too much on my plate. I feel that in order to truly be with someone, you BOTH have to be content with yourselves.

With that, I suggest making a list of what makes you content and if you’re not one thing . . . start.

My List:

My own space

Travel

Working out

Doing research

Reading

Writing

Yoga

Decompression time

Being creative

Feeling healthy

Being around people I love, who love me back

Mariah Rose’s Ramblings: youarenotalone138@gmail.com

E-mail me if you want to comment on my “ramblings” but aren’t comfortable doing it publicly. I’d ask you not to abuse this gesture. I WILL NOT respond to inappropriate inquiries and I WILL NOT give out my phone number.

This e-mail address is meant to help people, survivors and caregivers, alike.

I’m not a medical provider. I’m not a therapist of any kind. I’m just a survivor whose willing to share.

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