In the last week, I've been starting to feel better, for the most part. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm through this thing by a long shot, but the sense of despair is starting the lighten a bit, and on a day to day basis I don't feel so much like packing it in and giving up. Dare I say it, I'm even starting to be a little bit optimistic that maybe, just maybe, the future isn't going to be as dire as things have been lately.
So I got a little bit brave and decided to try and stop taking the sleeping pills. I knew it would be rough, but these things are habit forming, not to mention the health center at my school has limits to what they will give me and staying on them for longer means that I would have to go see a doctor off campus, which is expensive. So on Sunday night, I tried for two hours to fall asleep, but to no avail, so I took half of one of the sleeping pills. It knocked me out finally, but I did not sleep well at all, and, Monday being a long day, by the time it was over I was dead tired and had an exam to study for.
Last night I was up until 3am studying for exam. Turns out I should have just gone to bed, but too late to change that now. Without being able to get at least 7 hours, I can't take the meds or else I'm just wasted the whole day. So again I lay there, trying fruitlessly, to fall asleep.
It's a hard situation, because it seems like whatever choices I make about my treatment require some sort of sacrifice. If I take the antidepressants, I don't feel so.... Eeyorish
all the time. I don't start thinking of escape plans all the time. I don't sit and just cry for hours on end. But the trade off, and I've heard this complaint from a lot of people who battle depression, is feeling like you've given in somehow. It's like you've admitted defeat. You feel like you've traded some of your genuine-ness, some of yourself, for the priveledge of functioning and acting just like everyone else. And no matter how much I tell myself this isn't my fault, or that it's a medical problem, or that my response to all of this stress is not abnormal, it's a feeling that's never quite gone away. I know
all of those things are true, but I still feel like a failure, just a little, each and every time I take one of those pills.
And there's no real reason not to take the sleeping pills. They knock me out, I fall asleep fast and I don't wake up until the morning, and it's great, but the fact remains that I just don't want to take them
. It feels like one more way I'm letting this whole thing beat me.
I lay there for the last few nights trying desperately to force the anxiety out of my head, playing imagined stories and fantasy scenes through my head, going back to old memories looking for something just to distract myself long enough for my brain to shut down.
I replayed a lot of things from my childhood last night. My dad has this cabin out in the mountains of Southern California. It's an old place, and it's cluttered and infested with mice and spiders and the other things that tend to resist walls out in the wilderness. And I sometimes hated going there when I was a kid, but when I look back on it now I have a lot of good memories there.
It was the first place I ever saw snow falling from the sky, or made a snow angel. I remember the path out back that my dad made, and how my step mother decorated it with her sculpted figurines and cute signs that made it seem like something sweet, fresh out of a disney kids movie. I remember her making potato cheese soup there when I was little, and how we would eat and drink out of these bright yellow plastic cups and bowls that had a little lip around the bottom, almost like skirts. I suspect they may have been left over from when my mom had been there back when her and my dad were still married, but I could be wrong. The place has a big, wood-burning stove, and food always tasted good there, the way it does when you're camping or just out in the middle of the woods. The bathroom had bottles with victorian labels that I wish I could find now, and I remember being sprayed liberally with avon skin-so-soft to keep the bugs away.
The road out there, at least then, was treacherous and rocky, and I remember being a kid in my dads old bronco (back when they were built like tanks and not fiberglas POS's like they were later). It's literally nothing but rugged wilderness for miles, a drive that seemed to take forever, and then just a patch of four of five private cabins out at the end of it, then the road ends and theres nothing but wilderness again. I was always a little bit afraid out there, of bugs, and rattle snakes, and especially of bears. I remember one time keeping everyone up all night because I was so convinced a bear was going to break into the cabin and eat me. I finally fell asleep, but woke up screaming shortly thereafter because my dad was snoring so loud I was convinced that the bear had finally arrived. It was terrifying then, but it makes me laugh to think of it now.
There were two bedrooms, or at least one big one divided by a partition. In the living room there is a big stone fireplace where my dad would build huge fires that always made my face feel hot at night, and I used to sleep on the fold out couch under fuzzy blankets with grizzly bears and stags on them. It always felt like it was just over the line dividing civilization from the rest of the world, and when I was a kid it was hard to understand the appeal of being so far away from television. There actually was a TV, a tiny, black and white TV with a huge antenna. I tried to watch it once and I remember seeing the animated, Edward Gorey animated introduction to Mystery on PBS. Now I would probably watch it, curled up on the couch, but when I was a kid the music freaked me out and I always somehow blamed the TV for it.
I had a lot of novel experiences out there. At the neighbors cabin, I had my first (and last) powdered milk, and I remember thinking I had really moved beyond civilization in horrifying ways. I shot a gun for the only time as well, and missed hitting a soda can because I was 12 and wasn't prepared for it to kick back. There was one cabin I never saw occupied. It was surrounded more closely by trees, and made all of rock so that, to my mind, it was like a medieval fortress. I was always curious about it, and I still am, I guess.
There used to be a swing in the back, near a pool my dad built out of rocks and mortar. My dad always was really skilled with building things like that. We used to swim in it when I was younger, but the water was always freezing, and one year, when it was empty I was being pushed on the swing and flew off and landed flat on the bottom of the pool. It had leaves and rocks in the bottom, so I got scratched up quite a bit. It seemed very traumatic at the time, but it's one of those things that makes for an interesting story when you get older.
When I got older and started having a more troubled relationship with my father, him and I went out to the cabin by ourselves to spend some quality time. It's the only time I ever saw my father cry, and I think that moment had a really profound impact on me. I remember thinking "holy shit, he does
love me a lot." It's taken me a lot of years for me to understand that more fully. My dad isn't as communicative in our relationship as my mom is, and I didn't get it when I was younger that maybe my dad just didn't know how to be the parent that I expected him to be, or even the parent that I think he wanted to be with me. I've seen glimpses of that side of him since we've resumed contact, and I learned to cherish those moments a lot. I think that time we spent at the cabin was the key to me keeping an open mind about it when I was older, the key to me coming around and learning to accept him for who he is and get closer to him now.
My mom told me in the last couple years that, just after the divorce, the babysitter told her that he would come over while I was there and just watch me sleep. I wish I had known about it when I was younger. I might have been less angry with him. I might have felt less like he didn't want to be my dad. I know it now, though, and, just like the snow angels or the heat from the fires he built, it's one of my happy thoughts, tucked away in the back of my mind all the time.
Labels: anxiety, history, life