Tag Archives: stress

Peppermints and The Lights

An old lady is passing out peppermints.  

“Oh, I don’t think I can have that.”

“Oh, do you have a young child?”

“No, it’s just me.”

Silence.

I didn’t refuse my peppermint.  When I passed by the old lady, I saw the bag of peppermints. I glanced around furtively.  Was there staff nearby?  Was there someone who would see me?  Was I breaking the rules? 

She offered me a single peppermint.  I hesitated.  And then I snatched it up.  I tore open the wrapper and tossed that peppermint into my candy deprived mouth.  

Bliss. It had been four weeks since I’d so much as tasted candy.  I’d been fantasizing about it almost daily, dreaming of skittles and kit kats while longing for freedom.  And peppermints aren’t that great.  But that peppermint on that night was fucking delicious.  

We were on a rare outing — seeing the Christmas lights in the less-than-glorious town I’d landed myself in.  The peppermint fear was wide spread.  After passing the peppermint point, a group of us huddled together.  We were afraid to speak louder than a whisper.  The wrong person might hear.  Maybe we’d get in trouble, maybe we’d be forbidden from going on all outings.  Rehab makes you paranoid.  Trivial things are magnified and made scary.  That’s life when you’re living under a microscope.  

Some girls hadn’t been brave enough to take that peppermint.  The peppermints were a point of great concern.  People on the outside can’t fathom the power that a peppermint, a five cent candy, can formidably wield over paranoid and powerless patients.  

The staff member who was supervising us found out about the peppermints.  She didn’t give a fuck.

At least we could rest easily that night.  The peppermints had lost their power.  But we held on to our paranoia, we prisoners, sentenced to 90 days.  


Future Tripping

In rehab, there is this thing called “future tripping,” and it’s all I do these days.  First come the fantasies, followed closely by the anxieties.  I’m over a week into treatment and things are just getting harder as the days tick by.  90 days is a long time to put your life on hold.  

The fantasies: I fantasize about the stupidest, most mundane shit.  I miss the grocery store.  I miss skittles.  I miss kit kats.  I miss driving to work in the morning, I miss the bustle of the city, and I miss the fresh air.  I dream about how good it will feel to leave.  I long for the comfort of my bed.  

I fantasize about leaving but of course this isn’t an option.  I know I’m stuck here until the program runs its course.  Leaving early would be an egregious waste:  a waste of the money I’ve paid to be here, a waste of a summer of studying, a waste of a perfectly good law degree and the small fortune I’ve paid for it.  Leaving early means giving up the fight and admitting my powerlessness to the Bar.  And that’s why leaving is only a pretty fantasy, and future trip.

I picture packing my stuff and driving back to my parents house.  I think about seeing my dog.  I think about drinking as much coffee as I want, eating when I want, and regaining the control over my life that I’ve surrendered in rehab.  Most of all, I imagine what it would be like to simply be free.  

But the anxieties are part of the future trip.  Looming largest of all is my fear of relapse.  Part of the first step of AA is admitting your life has become unmanageable.  I don’t think my life was unmanageable, but I’m scared it will be.  I’m anxious about the days to come in rehab, and anxious that uglier days are in store and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to handle them. 

These are the things that keep me in my head, my future trips.  And until these fantasies become a reality I’ll be in my head, counting down the days to freedom.  


Live from Rehab

It’s official — I’ve checked into rehab.  Not necessarily my own choice, more at the insistence of the Bar Committee.  I don’t have access to my phone, the internet, or any meaningful technology.  Not to fear! One of my brothers was kind enough to maintain the blog while I sweat out 90 days in rehab.  We’ll be communicating via snail mail — me sending letters with post content, him typing up and posting.  So please excuse any delay in comment responses, we’re working under strained circumstances.  

Thanks for all your support during this rough and ugly time — it means a lot. 🙂  So stay tuned for the latest from rehab — albeit delayed, I can promise living color.  

Signing off

G. 


Stars in her Hair

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Parasite

The Stress is my parasite, slowly consuming my body and mind.
 
My mind has become the victim of a hostile take over.  The Stress crowds my thoughts.  Just last week It killed off my concentration.    My resting heart rate has bounced from 75 to 90– and caffeine is not to blame.  These days I barely drink caffeine because the Stress keeps me wide awake.
 
The Parasite, the Stress, consumes my body.  Down 25 lbs since January, the last five have slipped off just these last two weeks.  The Stress eats my appetite,  kills my desire for food, and sabotages my ability to choke down even my unhealthiest favorites.  Now I’m 10 lbs skinnier than I was during the height of my drug bender days, those days when I’d go weekends without eating, subsisting on drugs, juice, and the occasional skittle.
 
Skinny, this kind of skinny, does not look good on me.  Naturally tall and thin, I didn’t need to lose those 25 lbs.  Now I imagine I look like a spider– long spindly limbs attached to an increasingly smaller body.  My angular nose has sharpened and narrowed.  My cheekbones, never prominent in the past, have started to jut out and add to the sharpness of my face.  My pale skin is taking on an unhealthy yellow undertone and the circles under my eyes are only getting darker.
 
No one likes to hear someone complain about getting skinny.   But skinny can be ugly.  A flat stomach’s not so glorious when it’s accented by bony, protruding hip bones.  Boobs start to shrink and the butt deflates.  The clothes that were flattering start to hang off, baggy and ugly.  A healthy weight is beautiful.  But no one looks better when they drop below that line and sink into the stagnant and shallow waters of the Underweight.
 
The Stress is an unwelcome and voracious parasite.  It slowly started feeding on me the moment I got the letter from the Bar Committee in late August.  It got bigger, uglier and gained power when they told me I had to do 90 days in rehab.  But It burst into Its current ugly, blood heavy weight when I learned that my insurance wouldn’t cover a single part of rehab’s overwhelming $40,000 price tag.
 
Already terrified that I have to spend 90 days locked away, the unbearable financial burden has dragged me to the edge of a cliff. I teeter uneasily as I vainly strive for balance.
 
My resources are tapped and escape seems nearly impossible.  Sober and staying that way, I can’t use my old crutches to escape from the Stress.  But the weight of the Stress strains my sobriety and pushes me towards relapse.  This ugly Parasite doesn’t want me to succeed.  Greedily, It feeds on my mind and body.  It laughs as I waste away and is ready to torture a new host.
 
But the Stress hasn’t killed me, not yet.  I’m slowing trying to poison it, to get it off my back and out of my system.  I’m fighting take back control.  The damage It’s done is not irreparable: my body can be taken back and my mind can be reclaimed.  I haven’t let It claim my sleep.  Trazadone is my armor, protecting me from the final ravages of the Stress– the deprivation of sleep that so often pulls you into madness.  The Stress is no match for Trazadone and every hour I spend asleep is an hour I get stronger.  The Stress is bending me but I refuse to break, to surrender to Its power, to lose all that I’ve fought for.
 
Soon I’ll be doing battle with the Bar, and a victory in that war would  surely kill the parasitic Stress.  I’ve got to fight for that moment– plugging my ears to the seductive call of the drugs, wrestling my mind from the Stress and concentrating on the moment I’m in, forcing down food to keep from wasting away, and allowing Trazadone to fight the battle for sleep for me.
 
I may be teetering on the edge but I will not fall.  I’ll fight for the balance that will weaken the Stress. I’ll reclaim my body and my mind.  I’ll prepare for the fight that’s coming.  And I’ll throw that Parasite, the Stress, from my back.  Because this is what I have to do, if I want to survive.
 
And that’s why I’m fighting, to survive.

Compulsive Doodling

With the bar getting closer and closer (Monday!!) my compulsive doodles are getting proportionately more detailed and trippy… Stay tuned for more posts.

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Red Eyes

Today I feel like crying.

I’m taking a break from the serial (look forward to the next serial post, which–insider preview– is about my first hospitalization). It may be summer outside but there’s no summer for me, and as the Fourth of July looms near I’m painfully reminded of this. I rarely leave the house: once a day if I’m lucky –and any more than that just adds to my stress.

I have visitors from the outside that stop by from time to time, always a welcome distraction. The sick thing is that soon enough I need a break for them, even though they are here to be a break for me.

I compulsively pick at my hair and my eyes. My fingers run through my strands, searching for the ones that aren’t uniform, that aren’t completely straight, like the rest of my hair. My fingers search for the strands with kinks, the ones that are for some reason coarser than the rest of my hair. I pull them out. I stare at my ends, grabbing them and bringing them up close to my eyes for inspection. Split or broken ends are worried about. I eventually fling all of my nearly-waist-length hair over my shoulders and try to get back to the task at hand, perpetual studying.

But there’s something in my eye. I rub and scratch at the eye, trying to pick out whatever speck of dust or allergen has landed there. I can’t find it but I can still feel it in my eye, I can see it as it clouds the peripheral vision of the affected eye. I rub, scratch, pick. I get off of the couch. I make my way to the big mirror in the bathroom and lean over the sink staring at my red eye, trying to find the irritant-culprit. I open my eyes wide, unblinking as I diligently search for the intruder, the cause of the irritation. I roll my eyes around, trying to find it. I rub them again. I poke around at my other eye, making sure nothing is in that one. More eye rubbing. At this point both of my eyes are swollen and completely red. The speck, eyelash, loose fiber, whatever, is nowhere to be found and is now certainly un-findable. If there ever really was anything in my eye at all.

I look at myself in the mirror. I look very bad. My eyes are swollen like I’ve been crying for days and red like I’ve been smoking for days. My long hair, my prized possession, hasn’t been washed in a week and is banished to a clip to mask its greasiness and to keep my picking fingers at bay. I’m probably in pajamas of some sort, even though it’s late in the afternoon. I’m as pale as ever because I never go outside. I’m supposed to be running but the combination of the intolerable heat and the paralysis of my anxiety has kept me shut in the house.

I put in some eye drops, give my eyes a last good rub, and then resolve to stop rubbing and picking at them. My compulsive eye rubbing has gotten better. At the beginning of the summer, my allergies were nearly unbearable, as was the itching in my eyes. At that point, it was nearly impossible for me to stop rubbing them once the itching started. I’d have to law down and place a wet washcloth over my eyes while laying on my hands, disarming them, to keep them from going after the itch again. At least now my eyes don’t really itch. Even though I still pick at and rub them like allergy season is in full swing. This concerns me. I know it has to be bad for my eyes on some level. But more importantly, I’m worried about what all this rubbing and picking will do to the sensitive, delicate skin around my eyes. I’m very worried about wrinkles. I usually take impeccable care of my skin and hair, trying to delay the aging process by being proactive. I have at least three or four different moisturizers for my face, all the same brand. Some are laden with SPF, for use during the day. Then I have my nighttime moisturizers, some with retinol to help repair damage to my skin, some without retinol- which can be harsh- for nights when my skin needs something gentle. I keep a small bottle of moisturizer in my purse for nights when I don’t come home. I have various anti-wrinkle serums, acid treatments for acne and pore imperfections, cleansing masks, toners, and blemish gels. All this to slow the inevitable, the wrinkles that are coming, deepening. These days, I usually forget to wash my face at night and so my skin goes un-moisturized, the serums go unused. Instead, I spend the day tearing at my eyes and roughly picking at the delicate skin surrounding them, the skin that I try so hard to preserve.

I wear a sports bra almost every day. I think I’m trying to make myself more likely to do the impossible, to go for a run. I’m technically not supposed be running because of my chronically injured back. But I want to run a marathon (not my first) in January. So I really should be running. But I haven’t managed to get myself out of the door in the past week. I have a schedule that I’m supposed to be following, each missed workout shows up in ugly red, which makes my stomach churn with guilt and anxiety. And then I get anxious about being anxious. I’ve tried getting up early to beat the heat but I haven’t had the self discipline to do anything more than shut off the alarm and go back to sleep.

I really shouldn’t neglect my running. It helps stabilize my mood, is an outlet for stress, and would get me out of the house (which I desperately need to do and avoid doing with equal desperation). But inside I stay, sports bra and all. I only allow myself to run after 6:00 pm in the evenings because of the heat. I have to be back before the sun starts to go down because I’m very worried about safety in the city, no matter how rational or irrational this may be. This usually means that I have to be back by 7:30 pm. So if I wait too long after 6 to start my run I won’t go at all because I might get back too late. It’s an easy excuse. Sometimes I don’t go because it’s raining, or there’s a chance of rain, and so I stay inside, even after the threat of rain has passed. I really shouldn’t let the rain stop me; after all, it’s usually around 90 with a heat index nearing 100 with humidity. Some rain on the run would probably make the experience more enjoyable by cooling me down. Other days it’s because my back hurts too much. Or I’ve got plans for dinner that interfere with my brief running window. Or I have friends in town for the day (never mind the stress that that creates). And sometimes I just let myself stay inside because I’ve spent too much of the day agonizing over whether and when to run. So I give myself a break and let myself skip the workout because “I deserve a break”. I’m terribly self indulgent. Occasionally, I smoke too much before 6 and that completely precludes any sort of exercise.

Although I’m not exercising regularly I’m still losing weight. I don’t mind– who doesn’t like losing weight?– especially since it’s the result of zero effort on my part. Except I’m getting a little too skinny. I don’t want to have to buy new clothes. Right now everything, for the most part, fits splendidly. I don’t mind things being a little loose. But I’m starting to loose my boobs. Which I cannot allow. I’m trying to maintain my weight at 135 lb, a healthy enough weight for a 25 year old, 5’9″, female. But the scale keeps slipping past 135, closer to 130. Not really something to complain about, I know. It’s a problem I secretly like having.

I get nauseous every day around noon. I eat breakfast but after that I have no appetite. I drink a coke for the nausea. If it’s really bad I’ll take a few hits off my pipe (a small luxury afforded by my summer of unemployment). I’ve lost 20 pounds since January, essentially with no effort on my part. Until a few weeks ago, it had been at least 4 months since I’d worked out. I just never feel like eating. It could also be the Vyvanse I’m prescribed for ADD. Sometimes I have bubble tea for dinner, the chewy tapioca pearls are enough to fill me up. Worried that I’m not getting enough nutrients, I recently spent $70 on vitamins. Perhaps not the best use of my meager allowance. But now I take 10 vitamins in the morning and 4 at night. I’ve pared my meds down to 3 pills in the morning and at night, with lorazepam as needed. That makes for a total of 20 pills/vitamins a day. At a minimum. More pills if I’m anxious, my back hurts, I get a headache, or if my chronic heartburn (sexy, right?) flares up past tolerable levels.

I get overwhelmed and completely enveloped by stress at seemingly random times throughout the day. And when I’m overwhelmed I want to cry. A fairly normal response, I’m aware.

Today is the first day of July, which means the bar is three weeks away.

And so today I feel like crying. I want to cry because I’m stressed out, because I feel like I’m not preparing enough, because I’m wasting too much time. I want to cry because it’s summer and I never leave my house. I want to cry because I never want to leave my house, because of the anxiety, and I want to cry because leaving my own house makes me anxious. I want to cry because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t pass the bar, what I might do to myself. I want to cry because all I do is study and because I’m exhausted and because the end is still weeks away. Not every day is this bad. But today is. And I just want to cry.

But I don’t cry. I just don’t. Maybe I can’t. Maybe wanting to cry is as far as my body and my mind will let me go, maybe my body can’t spare the energy to produce tears and sobs. Maybe I don’t cry because I’m afraid that once I start I won’t be able to stop.


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