Coping Mechanisms

As if life during quarantine wasn’t hard enough, I’ve decided to quit drinking. I hate to talk about such things because it usually sets me up for failure and then I feel like an ass mixing up a beautiful Brendarita on a happy festive afternoon. I’ve never thought I seriously had a drinking problem but I do have a problem *thinking about drinking* so I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, that is enough of a problem. I’m tired of feeling bad about it. Sober Brenda hates Drunk Brenda and Drunk Brenda hates Sober Brenda.  I know it’s controversial and lots of people drink without any problems. I drink without any problems too, except the self-hate the next morning. I don’t even get hangovers. I get guilt-overs.

I don’t know if I’ll be successful. I’ve tried lots of times before and never really lasted more than a few days. But it is what I want to do right now. I figure I don’t have much to lose blogging about it. You’ll still love me if I fail. And if I fail it doesn’t mean I’m a falling down drunk. I just want to practice self control and stop feeling bad in the mornings. It’s all part of the mental health journey, I guess.

Moving on to the worries: Will I be un-fun now? What will I do to pass the time when we are relaxing watching a show on tv at night? That is what Payam and I do. We sip and watch tv and talk. It’s one of our favorite things. So now I’ll sit and watch and drink tea and probably be way too high maintenance with my hamster brain worrying problem. I expect it to be hard. I’ve subscribed to some online programs. I think they will help me through the hard parts. What about camping without wine next week? That’s going to be a drag. Will I steep tea on the campfire? Just go to bed early all the time?

Depression

Things got so bad that I deleted my Facebook account. Not because I have any bad interactions on Facebook. I don’t really. I’m lucky. I only have a few outspoken politically-driven friends and they usually have a really grounded sense of humor about their loud opinions. It was more that I knew a whole bunch of lovely happy birthday messages were going to come in and no matter what anyone said, no matter how lovely or good intentioned the messages were, they were going to make me feel worse because I couldn’t respond correctly. How messed up is that?

I’ve been feeling like an empty box of nothing that continues to bash around making a mess of things. I mess up everyone around me who is trying so hard to make me feel better. My family suffers. It’s tiring and exhausting. I just want to stop existing when I feel like this. It’s selfish and it’s terrible but when it’s happening I have no idea how to stop feeling this way. It’s as if an evil spirit has taken over my brain and reprogrammed everything positive into negative. No matter what I do I cannot get a grip and force this evil spirit out of my body.

I know better too. I’ve dealt with these feelings since I was a kid.  I know this is not real. I know my brain lies to me. It’s just that when you are in the pit of despair nothing is logical. The pain centers in on your guts like a ball of ice and you can’t lift it off of yourself no matter what. You just want an off switch. I don’t want to kill myself and hurt my loved ones. I don’t want to make a mess. I just want to check myself into a hotel and cease to exist for two days or maybe two months or maybe two years.

This is not a good place to be when you don’t have insurance.

My insurance got cancelled last month because my books were doing too well and I made too much money to qualify for Medi-Cal anymore.  I know, what a problem! Pffff!  Except, I don’t even use Medi-Cal. I have Blue Shield through Covered California.  I only thought Bug was on Medi-Cal because back in the day when I was super poor, I did apply for it so that just in case if something bad happened we’d be doubly okay. She has her own insurance policy with Blue Cross as well that I pay for. It’s a pain in the butt to try and cancel Medi-Cal. (fax form xyq with your non-existent paystubs because you are a freelancer to your social worker who is not in the office etc etc…) So I kept it. But then come tax time, I keep getting fined for having it which makes sense. I mean, I can afford my own insurance, I shouldn’t be given a break from the government. So I called up California Covered, spent a whole afternoon being transferred from office to office and finally got Medi-Cal cancelled. Then a month later my doctor’s office called me to inform me that my regular insurance was cancelled too and my appointment to talk to my psychiatrist would have to be cancelled until I got new insurance.

That was a doozy. Thankfully, (amazingly) because of Covid-19 I was able to get a new insurance policy starting July 1. If it wasn’t for Covid I’d normally have to wait until November which is the usual enrollment period. It cost twice as much as my old California Covered plan but I figured the way I’m going, I’m just going to have to make it work. It’s amazing how when you start making more money your expenses seem to keep up and you really are at the same budget you always were. It’s not like when you start to make money you are rolling in extra money. But I can’t complain. It’s a good problem to have.

SO. I had to wait a whole month to talk to my doctor. Most of those days were fine. A few weren’t. After a few weeks of pretty low days I doubled my medication on my own, which is probably not smart but it seemed like the only thing to do. It turns out it was fine and I am now on that dosage prescribed by my doctor.

Can I just tell you how much I love my doctor? She has the kindest voice. I’m sad that she’s not a therapist and I’m not prescribed weekly hour-long sessions with her. But I have to remember that she is not my friend even though I would love her to be. She is just someone really kind who is trained to ask me specific questions that will allow her to assess my brain health.  She’s really smart like a scientist. She is a doctor after all and she trains other doctors. I’ve tried to ask her personal questions but the closest she’s ever allowed me to get is to tell me about her students and her dog. She has a dog. I love that she has a dog. One time I asked her if it was hard having a job where you had to talk to sad people all day and she said no. She loves helping people get better. It’s very rewarding, she said. Isn’t that cool?

On my darkest day, the day before my birthday when I was feeling at my lowest, I talked to Payam about it. I finally broke down and shared with Payam that I was feeling suicidal. I’m really lucky that Payam has also felt this way before and he takes me seriously. We spent hours talking, hugging and crying…  I would never be able to pull suicide off but the thoughts were there. Depression does this. It takes a perfectly good normal life and convinces you that it is all worthless. I know that makes no sense but it is what happens. It’s the natural progression. Lots of times I feel like I’m part of an experiment of too many rats in a cage and I’m that weak rat that starts chewing it own feet off.

The good news is that the depressions lifts just as mysteriously as it comes. It’s like a cloudy mist that sneaks in, hovers oppressively for a few days and then magically floats away again. It will come back. I’ve been prescribed something new to make sure I’m okay but I almost don’t want to take it because I feel so much better already. But I will. I trust my doctor.

Normally I wouldn’t share things like this but since I deactivated my Facebook account I don’t think that many people are going to see this. Things will be better now for a while. I’ll be back to my old self, creating, blogging, trying to be a good friend. I think I’ll keep my Facebook account deactivated for a while though. I’m really enjoying having more time not checking it and not falling down bad news rabbit holes. I should deactivate my instagram account too but you guys know how much I love instagram.

Thank you to those of you who left such lovely happy birthday messages on my instagram account. I wish I could respond to each message uniquely but you know that the little heart symbol means that. I bet so many of you go through this too.