Thursday, December 01, 2011

How Gus and Shawn saved Christmas (so far): This Post includes an odd 'To Kill a Mockingbird" reference.

Jem and Scout hate their nearby neighbour, Mrs. Dubose, in To Kill A Mockingbird. She's crotchety and rocks on her porch flinging mean-spirited insults to the children. It takes their father, Atticus, and his southern gentlemanly ways to restrain their contempt. At one particularly sensitive moment in the novel, Jem has it at her award-winning hydrangeas.  As punishment, he is forced to return to her house every day after school and read to her as she sits in bed, white-haired and scowling as a mysterious time piece ticks every painful moment he and his sister impatiently sit near.

It is soon revealed that Mrs. Dubose is dying and in a lot of pain. Proud, she is, though, and through her pain she struggles to remove herself of her morphine addiction before her final breath.  Every time Jem reads to her, she focuses on the clock and not on his voice, slowly weaning herself off of her doses of medication.  Every second combatted is a small obstacle overcome.

I cannot say that I have the same experience with excruciating pain (thank heavens); but slowly, the zombie medication that had provided a tricky yet safe cloud of numbness and blurred security has been pulled from me.   My  "bridging" medications: those with the highest doses and numbing-action--the ones that allow me to nap and stop the tremor and the stutter and the panic were only meant to see me through the most intense ramifications of my heightened anxiety and bridge me, as it were, to a more stable medication that I will continue to use and become accustomed to. A medication that will stable my moods and anxiety in the long-term and become a regular part of my make-up.

The transition has been stupid and hard and weird and emotional.  I can no longer rely on the heavy doses that I initially felt.  The drowsiness and comfort of having a little bottle that you could count on should you need an extra dose or to see you through long nights.  So much of the treatment for anxiety and depression relies on you working hard: personally, mentally, physically.  It is the marriage of cognitive therapy and medication which will have the most positive effects in the long-term.  Unfortunately, the cognitive therapy is the hardest.  The self-talk and homework and exposures which, beyond medication, help you plant your feet on solid and untrembling ground are the ideal solutions....

But the changing and lessening of medication, to me, has been keenly felt.

I remember the first time I took one of the bridging meds. I slept through the night. Peacefully. Not waking once. It was magic.  I couldn't believe that the person who had woken up every-hour-on-the-hour in the throes of irrational fears and mental trajectories winding down a dark path (made darker by the hour) could actually rest peacefully. I was used to waking and silently, catatonically watching (watching is a strong word for staring while your mind races afraid of everything from tornadoes to homework you may not have submitted in high school ) late night movies before I would thankfully wake up. 

Medication was a sure-fire remedy.

Now, I am heaps better than when I started this journey two months ago and I trust my doctor and my path so deeply that I am slowly starting the rocky road to settling into my reformed self.

Unfortunately, with the Christmas crying ( see previous post this week) and the adjustment in medication, my sleep-patterns have been off.  Not to mention ( as also referenced) I returned to my hometown which is steeped full of nostalgia and heart-breakingly wonderful moments and memories that flood on overload.  The past two weeks have been difficult and I feel them most acutely when alone. Not to mention, waking up again automatically makes me sad: I think back to worse times.  Of course, the racing thoughts no longer steer to irrational fears and yet to Christmas and family and work ---- and how I am away from all of those things: mentally and physically.   Disembodied, as it were. 

Luckily, I have had a reprieve.   On my parent's couch last weekend, laptop on coffee table, earphones in,tea-in-hand, and through those awful wakeful moments, I have watched a heap-load of Psych. Often, I'll watch the same episode more than once if my mind is not completely with the plot.  And it makes me giggle. Really giggle. Jubilantly giggle. Because it is ridiculous.  But, on  another note, it is slowly re-instilling my creative recesses of energy and thought and imaginative-illumination.  For the past few months concentrating on anything of artistic depth was difficult.  I mentioned a fair number of sitcoms I watched. Reading has been especially hard ----partly because reading makes me want to write and edit and work on my own projects---something in (not-so-distant) periphery.  But Psych bounces vocabulary and alliteration and slight character deepening and twists in a fun and colourful way.... in a safe and pronounced way that doesn't require my full mental faculties: yet exercises and awakens some kernel of my literately fun self.

[Shawn and Gus really DO save Christmas]

In a way, and as cheesy as this sounds, Gus and Shawn have taken the place of medication.  I rely on them as stimulant. I know that I can re-visit them and count on a daily dosage.  I know that I can repeat-as-needed and maybe even take less in a day than needed if I am having a particularly strong day.  If I need to let me mind drift and just spend 43 minutes watching for the appearance of a pineapple (as hyper-intensively ridiculous as this sounds), it is enough to keep me going.   I have no previous connection with them and they don't remind me of anything.  There is no link in the show that will start a stream of consciousness to the past.  It is a strange and magnetic world that, blessedly, doesn't remind me of ...anything. I am not lost in the past and the maze of unknitted thought when visiting. Foreign to most; but very important to me.  Disassociation. 

Part of my homework is to be as open as possible and to expose as much as I possibly can in hopes of explaining some odd behaviours; but also, possibly, silently throwing a rope.   I don't enjoy talking in long epistles about how television (for a bookworm! SHOCKS! EGADS! ) has proven helpful; but it can be wonderful escapism and temporary medication.

Bridges are strange and scary--- medicinally and otherwise--- for those (like me) terrified of heights, they pose a strange and sudden sensation of impending doom --- or they can be calm and beautiful as you lean over them and stare into the water below--- or they can be long and seemingly endless (I'm thinking of you, Confederation Bridge to PEI) where just a small strip of land becomes larger and larger as you make out its red rim while driving from New Brunswick...

Sometimes bridges undergo construction. 

Sometimes they act as a metaphor as you band one part of your life to another.  I am bridge in this imagery and, luckily, things step in to help shove me over...

So, Shawn and Gus save Christmas.  I look forward to their Christmas episodes, I look forward to dissecting what nonsense and rhetorical goodness will seep from its insanity and pin-prick the goofy and vulnerable and giggly side of me that was temporarily on mute.

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