Changes & Going Places

Just a quick note before this post begins. Longtime readers will notice several changes in the blog during the next week or so. I am going to be marking the “Chapters” of my posts. I’ve noticed I write in the exact same pattern for every post, and I have felt that my posts the past few months have been lacking in images and overall zest, so I figure ‘why not?’ Also, I may be changing the background, header and the way my posts are set up… In other words: change is coming, roll with it.

~Hannah-Elizabeth

We took turns taking bites of the world’s greatest quiche at The Cafe, breaking into personal and casual chats in between bites and sips of coffee.

Myself and a dear friend from my Kohl’s days (previously mentioned on my blog) by the name of Cali were in Downtown Keller for a few hours of antiquing. Cali Madame is one of those young ladies who can wear not a spot of make-up and still look beautiful. Her hair was braided on the side in a classic Cali style, and she wore a classic unusual-but-extremely-stylish outfit. In an odd way, I felt like being around her made everything simple and normal, in comparison to the rather hectic and stressful day-to-day routine I’ve fallen into. There was nothing to worry about or ruin a peaceful moment – there was just Cali, Keller and the kind folks of the stores surrounding us. Simple.

It reminded me how much I crave being around people who make things simple. No underlying dramatics or unresolved conflicts, just being present in the moment as it occurs.

Something I’ve noticed about Cali Madame’s presence, too, is that the simplicity of the conversation and her endlessly kind words and demeanor make her into sort of an instant, free-of-charge therapist. As if everything you say is safe and won’t be judged. Especially since Madame doesn’t build an emotional wall around herself and shares personal information, too. As a result, I found myself repeatedly opening up to her about the most personal moments and facts of my life. My struggles with my mother, my eating disorder, the whole Josh mess, my feelings of lack of support, ect., and, remarkably, she took it all in stride. Even when I ended up crying nearly bawling in her car, she immediately said, “Hey, you’re allowed to cry here. I have tissues in my purse if you need ’em.”

But, I’ve skipped quite a bit of yesterday’s story.

After the cafe we went to my favorite antique store in the potential multiverse, that I’ve mentioned millions of times in this blog. That’s right, say it with me: Whistle Stop Antique Mall. Madame bought a cute little white elephant key chain charm and oversized pink bow. After Whistle Stop we went to The Pecan, and then to a baseball game where I met a lovely human being by the name of Erin. Because of Madame’s persistence, I was talked into borrowing a pair of her shorts (I was wearing a red dress with lace tights and high heels with a grey cardigan) and changing into a brown blouse I had purchased at The Pecan. I’m convinced if I hadn’t changed I would have ended up dying of heat stroke, or worse – I would have ruined the dress and my shoes. It was my first time being at a ballgame in over eight years, and several times I actually reviewed my emotions to see if they matched up with what psychologists claim folks typically feel in the middle of a crowd at a ballgame – they didn’t, but I suppose the fact that I had no idea what was going on and the only emotional bias I had for a certain team was due to the fact that Madame’s boyfriend was in it (his parents were sitting behind us – very friendly, kind folks), so I suppose I’ll just have to learn more about sports and try again sometime. Or otherwise try to hush my inner psychologist more often.

_________________

After going to church this morning with Heather Madame, we went to Chili’s for a couple of hours of coffee and french fries. The place didn’t seem very busy for a Sunday afternoon so having a conversation wasn’t the challenge I had feared it would be. It was business as usual – equal parts what’s new with her and with me. We’ve gotten into a rather comfy weekly routine. Church, coffee, lingering at the park, Starbucks or a restaurant for an hour or so, and filling the time with talking about her wedding plans and my college plans. Mainly, how on earth I’m going to get to the college I’m going to (still top-secret for ya’ll, I’m planning to drop hints soon). As the scheduling figures at this point in time, I’ll have to leave right after her wedding to…well, that’s where it gets tricky. There’s the Amtrak, which is expensive. A plane, which is expensive. Or driving, extremely expensive. Not to mention the challenge of shipping my items to myself. It has been settled that about 90 percent of any money I make over the Summer is going into my savings account for the sole purpose of getting me from point A to point B.

______________

Now, let’s go on to the part where I tell you what I’ve figured out. I’ve noticed it has actually been a while since I’ve written in a post something that has completely changed my perspective.

While I was speaking to Cali, during the pleasant brunch at The Cafe, nibbling on scones and sipping on coffee, and while I was sitting in Madame’s car, crying and trying to explain myself in brief spurts of coherency, I discovered several things about myself that Cali Madame opened my eyes to.

  • There are some things (and people) that I haven’t moved on from. I’ve just mentally swept them under the rug and assumed that means they don’t exist. When truly, how could that sort of Descartes-esque justification of ignorance do me any good?
  • Just like when I lived in the mobile home and I used bulimia as an anchor when things felt out of control, I use vanity and false confidence to control how I look so I’ll feel like I still have something to hold onto in the face of lifeless support and extreme discouragement from the people I’ve come to rely on the most, instead of turning to God in the face of the discouragement.
  • I handle things that disturb and emotionally harm me by ignoring them or turning my back to them. And respond to negativity by shutting people out.
  • It is, indeed, possible to get a good picture of me outside (as long as Cali is the one holding the camera and telling me how to pose).

I’ve never mentioned this on my blog before, but every time I feel any amount of stress or sense any tension or negativity, even if I’m not going anywhere, I’ll spend a couple of hours doing my hair and make-up and dressing up. The feeling would just come over me to look pretty when things got ugly. I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection until yesterday.

So, just like with anything, now I must take it one day at a time and attempt to ‘rewire’ the way I think about myself and how I handle stress.

I heard once that it is impossible for a psychologist to heal themselves of mental malady, just like a doctor shouldn’t first attempt to diagnose their own illness. In a way I’ve come to think that my knowledge of human behavior would have torn down some of the one-way glass that is my perception of myself. That maybe knowing what makes people tick would help me to stop a bad habit in its tracks before it was too late. But it takes outside input to get the full view of anything. We’re all looking at the same box, just from different angles.

All of that to say, I may shut down The Last Classic for the Summer.

I would bring it back in August, in time to document Heather’s wedding and the trip to- well, you’ll find out. And I’ll just use the two other blogs I keep open in times of boredom, work on new readers and subscribers before returning to this one.

I suppose we shall see. But I will certainly inform all of you before I vanish.

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

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Fear of Being Afraid and Lack of Worry

It’s 5:14AM – I woke up around four with the usual suspicion that my days, hours and minutes of life were coming to an end. There comes a point where part of me understands what’s happening and is a tad annoyed, another part of me is just too tired to deal with it but has no choice, and then there is the part of me that is convinced I’ll die if I try to sleep in any other position except anatomical. Dare I say it? I’m tired.

I checked my pulse, finding some reason or other to be terrified, thinking about the rate being much too slow – and then much too fast, and then I was scared because I was starting to have a panic attack. I sat up, dissociated, read a chapter or two in my Bible, tried laying down, started to breathe normally. But then I felt a pain in my chest.

Oh, poo.

So now I really must be dying! Heaven help me I’m in my final moments! This is it! This is it! I’m going to die!

5 Minutes later

This is it! I’m going to die in horrid agony! Maybe it will be some rare form of atherosclerosis, or a teenage heart attack! Oh, goodness me! The chest pain! I must be having a heart attack! I’m going to die!

5 More minutes

Oh no! Early morning hunger pains! My systems must have gone cannibal by now – feeding off of my own adipose tissue for means of energy, destroying valuable insulation! I’m going to die from being eaten from the inside out!

If it sounds as though I’m making fun of my senses of impending doom – I am. I’m tired, I’m annoyed, I want this to stop. I am so completely worn out from being scared all the time, anxious about everything, cautious and worried and sensitive. I didn’t know it was even possible to be so logically aware of what is going on in my own head, and yet still fall victim to the absurd antics of my paranoid mind. But it is, and I do.

I considered calling or text-messaging Olga, I knew she wouldn’t mind at all, she would welcome it even. But I worried that as soon as I contacted her I wouldn’t be afraid anymore (ha – how do you like that, folks? I was afraid of not being afraid.) And then what? I knew I still would be concerned about my current state of, oh, say, living, but I still felt something hold me back. I can’t remember the last time I’ve reached out for someone in my fear. I often have dreams of having a protector of some sort. We’re often sitting in a train, looking out the window. It’s snowing and the sky is dark. The train and snow images are no doubt wish-fulfillment, my mom showed me a video she took from her train on the way to Paris and I longed to be there, it looked simply breathtaking. My protector is always wide awake, and I’m always lulling peacefully to sleep, not a care in the world because they will always be looking out for me, worrying for me. My head rests against the cold window and I watch the world pass by. And once I fall asleep I wake up to find myself very afraid. I worry sometimes of doing what my Aunt Carla did – she was lonely and had emotional issues, so she got married. So I wonder at times if I keep wishing for a real protector if I’ll end up rashly marrying the first guy that comes along with a ring and a bank account. Followed no doubt by an even more rash divorce. I don’t like the idea of having a large wedding. Honestly what I would love to do is grab several of my greatest friends and get hitched in a comfortable, simple dress with a bouquet of flowers picked out by my goddaughter (who has yet to be born – her name will be Chloe, and she will be Heather’s daughter.) And I’m doing that bit again where I just type up one thread of thought with another as they associate. But, I suppose, if you’re a new reader you should adapt – this happens frequently.

Alright, it’s nearing 6:00AM, and I do believe I am at last exhausted enough to hopefully get back to sleep before my panicked study binge in time for Anatomy and Physiology in a few days.

Goodnight/Goodmorning,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Looking (My Fear Of) Death In The Face – Pt. 2

“Because I’ve felt since I was about eleven that I’m supposed to be different…I can feel that so strongly. Even when I most doubted myself, what never changed was that I knew that I was different. And I think, death-it, it means that I’m not as important as I think I am…Dying means that my raw ambition, and all of my dreams before they even come close to beginning, aren’t enough to keep me alive…”

(Click here for Part 1)

I stared down at the glass in my hands and turned it. “I’ve tried fixing myself on my own. I know getting past this is a process, and this fear is something I can’t handle by myself.” I felt myself choking up, and cleared my throat, “I’ve been trying ever since this started.”

She nodded, her eyes looking to the floor a moment in thought. “What have you tried to do to fix yourself?”

“Prayed.” I swallowed. “I’ve used a homeopathic calming spray.” I nodded to my purse. “Sometimes, most nights really, when it isn’t so bad I can just distract myself until I fall asleep, just not think about it. But then-” Clear my throat. “Some nights are worse than others. I distract myself until I’m tired enough to sleep.”

“This fear is at night before you sleep?”

“Yes.” I took another sip, “But it’s always with me, the fear. I’ve developed-” I fought of another lump, “A fear of dying. And now every night it hits me. And, and-” That did it. I gripped the glass with one hand and the bridge of my nose with another. My hand started shaking. I shook from gasps and sobs that I didn’t humor by opening my mouth.

“It’s alright.” Olga said soothingly, “Cry. Let yourself cry.”

I shook my head and fought the sobs off by digging my nails into my palm and focusing on what I was saying. Dangit, I had been holding it together since my last attack, why break down now?

“I’ve developed a fear of dying.” I said with as much dignity as I could muster.

Olga looked to my mom and back to me before she continued.

“You study psychology.” She said. I sat upright and leveled my chin defensively, I knew what was coming. “Some people who study these things, they can read about them and see themselves in the books. How did you decide on what you have?”

“How I diagnosed myself?” I clarified.

“Yes.”

I looked over to my mother with a fleeting emotion of betrayal before I spoke. “I had not read about anxiety disorders when I had my attack. When I had my first panic attack, I didn’t even know what it was, my mother was the first to suggest it. When it happened, I was so sure– I was convinced I was going to die, I was sure of it. Only when she suggested a panic attack did I know to look in the area of anxiety. I grabbed my DSM and found the anxiety disorders. My symptoms matched perfectly.” I looked Olga pointedly in the eye so I was clear, “I’ve heard of the ‘psychology student’s syndrome’, in which a psychology student will see themselves in every disorder and so diagnose themselves as such. I’ve done what I can to avoid this and I believe I have. I don’t match the criteria to a T, I’ve tried what I can to be objective in my diagnosis, that has always been a goal. I’ve diagnosed myself with mild specific agoraphobia because of my difficulties entering a church sanctuary, but I’ve never decided that I match enough criteria for an actual anxiety disorder, I just know enough to know I’m looking in the right place.” I took a deep breath and looked at her face. She looked surprisingly understanding, but, I hoped, not patronizing.

“And why do you think you have this fear?” She suddenly asked.

I didn’t expect my own response.

“Because…Because I’ve felt since I was about eleven that I’m supposed to be different. I can feel that I am going to fundamentally change psychology. I can feel that so strongly. Even when I most doubted myself, what never changed was that I knew that I was different. And I think, death-it, it means that I’m not as important as I think I am. That I’m just a pawn, I’m not a key player.” My make-up was ruined from tears, but I was coherent. “Dying means that my raw ambition, and all of my dreams before they even come close to beginning, aren’t enough to keep me alive. That my will and my goals and this inherent feeling that I’m someone who is going to change things doesn’t matter.”

I breathed in, and out. And told myself I was breathing in and out. I stared at Olga in a moment of shock. I had just realized in that moment where my fear of dying is rooted in. My prideful entitlement and fear of not having the universe on a string.

“I believe everyone has a telos,” I continued, “A purpose in life. And I feel like this purpose that I feel that I have means nothing because of death. That maybe my purpose is not what I’ve felt in my heart what it is. That in the end it makes no difference. It won’t keep me alive.”

The world can go on if Watson dies, but Sherlock? Maybe I’m not Sherlock after all, not even Watson, or Watson’s brother or brother’s son’s son. Maybe I’m so far off the periphery of the story that you’ll never even hear about me at all. And death once and for all would rip away the success of- no, I don’t care about the success as much as I do the pursuit. Death once and for all would rip away the possibility of the pursuit of my dreams and goals and ambitions. Maybe I’m not important enough, vital enough to the story to not be backspaced from the grand scheme of things.

How could I not have seen this sooner?

“You said you always feel this anxiety?” She asked.

Mom suddenly chimed in, “I had no idea that it was every night. I knew you had your bad days, but…” I didn’t look up at her. I tried clearing the lump in my throat and, for the most part, remained coherent. But my voice was shaking. I feared this would make it even more difficult for Olga to understand me. I wanted to be clear, because after all this time I was spilling everything out into the open.

“She doesn’t know what to do, so I don’t tell her. She doesn’t take me seriously when I tell her. So,” I had started gasping again, “I handle it on my own. But when it gets bad and I br-break down, she listens so I only-” I paused again to breathe and get a grip, “I only come to her when I break down. She only listens then. That’s why sh-she doesn’t know.” I had started taking small gasps involuntarily.

At this point Olga had leaned back with a contemplative look on her face. She leaned forward again and spoke in a tone that suggested sympathy with an odd mixture of admiration.

“I cannot help you.” She said.

I blinked, speechless.

“I cannot help you,” She repeated, “I cannot heal you. Only you can heal yourself. What you’re going through is a blessing, because once you help yourself, you, can help others like you.” She pointed to herself, “I don’t know what you’re going through. I can read a thousand books and will never be able to understand your pain and what it is like.” She turned the manicured nail to me, “But you do. And I don’t know what with heal you, only you will figure out what will heal, but I cannot do that.”

A confused part of me rejected following her logic, but I listened still.

“To heal yourself, you need what I call a key.” She used her right hand to motion turning a key in a lock, “We might have to try two keys, maybe ten. This process might take a few months, maybe a few years. But only you can find your key. Sometimes we will try one and have to say ‘No, it no work’ and try another and another until we find the right one.”

She paused, watching my face for several moments. I realized she must be waiting for a cue and nodded. She continued.

“For first key, I want you to get a notebook, and keep it by your bed.” She said, “This notebook will become most important book you will ever have. And every time you feel this fear and anxiety, I want you to get notebook and, not using it as journal, but to write a novel about yourself. I want you to step outside of yourself and write about yourself as you watch while you feel these things. This will make you objective. Because you cannot be objective about yourself, no one can. But stepping outside of yourself will help you be objective, and see yourself in a new light.” She leaned back in her seat, watching me still, she ended her monologue in a tone of finality. “This will be your first key.”

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Looking (My Fear Of) Death In The Face – Pt. 1

“What a beautiful bridge.” I commented, feeling like we were driving in the middle of a giant art sculpture. I realized how close we were to Batwoman’s studio apartment.

Addison, Texas is an odd place. It has seedy motels, homeless wanderers who bathe in the fountains, and skinny little white boys who seem to think by some stretch of the imagination that they are indeed, gangsters. But in the middle of the filth and poverty, is an area of artistic flair, youthful nightlife, and, oh, shall we say, sanitation. This area would be where Batwoman resides. And where me and my mom were headed Sunday night.

I should probably mention, her name isn’t really the female counterpart to the hero of Gotham City, her name is Olga.

We pulled up to the victorian-styled building and I wrestled with my purse at my feet for a moment, the darned strap was stuck to the bottom of the seat. Eventually I gave up and quickly unzipped it to whip out my make-up to touch up before grabbing my hat and jumping out of the car. The beautiful faded brick and white-iron railed balconies again captured the images from my daydreams. I love this street.

Mom’s iPhone suddenly dinged with a message from Olga, and I looked up to the balconies, expecting to see the familiar raven locks and light green eyes. But I saw no one. I looked expectantly to my mom while holding my hat down in conflict against a sudden breeze.

“She’s going to meet us at the entrance.” She was still staring at her phone. “Usually she just tosses the key down.”

I followed her as she walked down the sidewalk and made an abrupt right. I blinked rapidly for a moment as I realized there was a very narrow hallway in the wall that wasn’t even visible until one was directly upon it. I paused and looked around me. A busy street square to my left, more sidewalk to my right, and a beautiful fountain directly behind me across the street. I wanted to find a reason to savor the moment, but the quickening echo of my mom’s gold flip-flops snapping against her heels told me she wasn’t in a Kodak mood.

We came upon a large tan gate, I had never seen one before except in movies and felt a need to study it up close while I could. Suddenly rapid footsteps down a stairway inside the gate could be heard. I watched the visible landing for her shoes. Five seconds turned to ten, then fifteen before we saw Batwoman.

“Hey!” Mom said in greeting

“Hello there at last!” She exclaimed. ‘At last’ was my thought exactly, for two months now we had been trying to arrange a meeting.

She wore cork-wedge high-heeled shoes, dark green khakis, and an intricately rhinestone studded t-shirt.

I thanked her as she held open the gate. Even in heels she was about an inch shorter than me. After she closed the gate she greeted me again and hugged me in an awkward embrace. She was thinner than I had remembered.

Olga’s thick accent somewhat faded into the background as we worked our way up the steps- and I assure you, there were plenty of them. I looked around us with each landing, suddenly dissociating because of the new environment (a bit that’s part of my anxiety – dissociation is when you feel like you’re watching the world through a movie screen and not totally involved in the situation.) The walls were a light-grey, the door frames were painted gold. There were echoes everywhere from our footsteps and the conversation of my mother and our host.

Her apartment wasn’t as grandly decorated as I had anticipated. From what I had heard, Batwoman has a good deal of money and spends it on worthwhile items. The walls were a typical eggshell white. She had a decent-sized kitchen and large bathroom, the rest of the place being taken up in the largest room which contained a king bed, a 50-inch TV, two bookshelves and a desk and chair. I thought for a moment on what I could compliment her on, but doubted my own sincerity and remained silent.

“Well,” She said, leading us into her livingroom/bedroom/office/library, “Here we are. Please, have a seat, Hannah.” She motioned to a large, tan leather office chair behind me. I sat.

There was a moment of awkward silence as Batwoman contemplated her next move. She looked tired and slightly haggard. A large contrast to when I had last seen her on a chilly night in November. She suddenly walked into her kitchen, my mother following after a pause. I listened until heard the sound of glasses clinking a few seconds later. I stood and joined them in time to see Olga placing the business end of some odd little device into a pitcher of water. It looked like a beige colored remote with flat buttons and a wire that led to a metal tube, the little remote beeped several times and she dropped the tube into the pitcher. I looked over to my mom with a look of What is this wizardry? She inquired of the device and Olga attempted to explain through the language barrier (she speaks excellent english, but sometimes things get lost in translation). So, there we all stood around this pitcher emitting a muffled buzzing noise for several seconds. The little remote then beeped a cheerful little tune, to which Olga removed the metal tube and poured me and my mom glasses.

After I sat, Olga took the chair at her desk by me and, having nowhere else, my mom took a seat at the edge of the bed. A twinkle in her eye when we heard Olga insist I drink the water. Mom had warned me about the water and our host’s unorthodox means of filtering. I took a sip, fully prepared to fall into convulsions, a coma, followed by death. But, to my slight surprise, none occurred.

“So,” Olga said, leaning forward in her seat and watching me with her intense stare, “Why do you think you cannot fix yourself on your own?”

End Part One

(Don’t) Lie To Me

Intentionally blank pages at the end of a book.

Image via Wikipedia

TAKE BACK WHAT WAS TAKEN FROM ME

I stared at the furious scrawl before me, page after page, every margin and crevice had deep red, blue, and black ink expressing grief, rage, and a lust for revenge. This was a different Violet than the one who had been living with us the past ten days. Who I had laughed with over a roasting chicken and sang with while drinking tea to “Rolling in the Deep”

WORTHLESS, FAT, UGLY!

I winced. No, Violet, you’re not. I wanted to say.

I never wanted it!!! It wasn’t my fault!

I must let go of responsibility.

ANGER/RAGE

Terror cycle

I want TO HEAL

SHAME

manipulation

I was humiliated.

KILL KILL KILL!!!

I cringed and slapped the workbook shut. Self-disgust slapped me across the face as I realized exactly what I was reading. Her sexual abuse recovery workbook.

I was set with the grim duty of packing up Violet’s things. She was being kicked out and was currently wandering the streets of Texas looking for a CareNow clinic on foot carrying nothing but a wallet, her handbag, and a pack of cigarettes. I was going through her items one by one and packing them up as neatly as I could while utilizing what little space there was in her travel bag and shoebox.

“Oh, I can’t imagine a fresh start, just me and the kids…”

Fresh start. Distance from the past. Now it made sense why those had been practically her catchphrases while she was here.

“Hannah, I know how crippling anxiety can be…”

I didn’t know how deep hers ran. I didn’t know what brand of paranoia she had been dealt. My stomach churned. I looked up to the dresser in the entrance we had been letting her use, and upon opening the second drawer on the right I saw her prescription bag. Impulsively I grabbed it and took out the papers inside, noting the absence of her medication.

Effexor XR. Venlafaxine. I had read about it once or twice in my studies on psychiatric medications. It’s an antidepressant but it can also be used for anxiety. It inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrene (the serotonergic theory of depression is sketchy from what I recall.) her dosage is double the typical prescription for depressed patients, and it’s extended release, meant to stay in her system all the live long day. Someone sure wanted to muzzle her demons. I looked at the date it was filled, the 20th. Merely 48 hours before she moved in. I went into my room and took out my miniature notepad, a little voice in my head shame, shame, shaming what I was doing. But after a moment of contemplation I knew it was a lost cause. I had to know more about Violet Herring. For five-hour blocks of time she spilled out her heart to me, and I had started to do the same. Maybe it was her experience as a therapist, her calm and sympathetic demeanor that made me open up. I didn’t know it when I had been speaking with her that she would go on to betray me with anything that I had shared. I walked back to the dresser and heard my brother’s door open upstairs. I scribbled her drug information and flipped the notepad shut before sliding both the pad and pen into my jacket pocket as Austin descended the stairs. I folded her articles of clothing patiently as he made his lunch and let the dogs out. As soon as I heard his door shut I was back to going through her items, her books, her notes. Guilt repeatedly punched me in the gut with every page I turned, but what I had was beyond curiosity, and for the moment my conscience couldn’t keep me in line as I always allow it to. Always, always, always do the right thing… By the time I had finished with her paper articles I felt like a dead battery from the guilt, halfway wishing that I never read them. But I continued scribbling the notes anyway. Justifying my violation of her hopes, dreams, shameful moments and regrets using some absurd reason or other.

I wanted to tell someone how I felt, what conclusion I had come to, who Violet really was. I had managed a profile of her in the two and a half hours I spent packing her things, it was choppy and filled with holes that I couldn’t fill unless I asked her personal questions up front, but it was enough that I felt I understood her beyond a decent degree. I had a sudden impulse to wash my hands (literally and metaphorically) and flicked on the light in the downstairs bathroom. I looked up at the mirror and saw dark circles under my eyes that were not existent a couple of hours ago.

I knew that I would be playing devil’s advocate again. Violet reminded my mother too much of my bipolar  Grandmother for her to see Violet in a more objective light. It’s why she was kicked out. During her brief stay she had come to enjoy one of my favorite books, Treasures of the North, so I packed the trilogy along with my dog-marked, over-tabbed pocket Bible and a handwritten letter along with her items. It felt right. I knew that once mom found out about the letter all hell would break loose, but I had to tell her a few things, and I knew no other way that seemed fitting.

On the 3rd of July, Watson (Heather Madame) and I went to Town Square for the fireworks. I had a persistent headache ever since the Violet fiasco but tried to sound upbeat and enjoy the night. Unfortunately, it was loud and crowded with obnoxious teenagers, deafening rock bands and overpriced slushies. More than once we sought solace in Barnes & Noble. Throughout the night my headache progressed from I-could-use-an-advil to please-kill-me-now status. But the fireworks were somewhat enjoyable except for how up close and personal we were, with every burst of light the ground thumped, and the sound was practically physical. Before the fireworks ended, though, we ventured back into Barnes and split a piece of cheesecake (since The Cheesecake Factory is neighbors with the bookstore, the Starbucks inside Barnes sells their cheesecake) and sipped frappicinos while trying to ignore the immature 15 year olds sitting behind Heather. My head was pounding and even chocolate did little to lessen it. Earlier when we were upstairs in the psychology section of the store I had gotten a text message from my mom:

I really wish you hadn’t left that note with Violet. She’s telling everyone you apologized and I’m crazy.

“Violet you fool. What are you doing?” I mumbled bitterly as I replied to my mom the truth: I never said what she was claiming. My back suddenly ached and my headache worsened. A feeling near betrayal made my heart sink into my stomach and blood rush to my face.

“What is it?” Heather asked, having heard my insult to the absent Violet. I explained the situation to Heather, but I kept it short, a lump was forming in my throat.

After we had dropped off Heather and made our way back home (Austin was a leader at a church camp so luckily he wasn’t present) mom started the interrogation. I voiced my innocence, but she suddenly had that tone in her voice that implies I’m lying.

“I just want to know if you might have said something to imply that you felt I was wrong.” She said calmly. But unfortunately, it didn’t take much for me to lose it.

I slammed my purse on the counter and faced her head-on, using a vocabulary I hadn’t practiced since my preteen years. “Have her send you the freaking letter, photocopy it even. But I did not say any of the bull she’s claiming I did. I was sympathizing with her but I’m on your side, mom. I have always been on your side. I did not say what she is telling everyone I said. And if you ask if I even hinted at it you’re calling me a liar and I did. Not. Lie.” My head was pounding to the point that I could hear each beat of my heart. The waterworks started up and I broke down in the middle of the kitchen. Suddenly her story changed. Of course she believed me, she said, she just wanted to know if I ever thought something like that.

I tried and failed to clear my throat before snatching my purse, I looked at her through the suspended rivers in my vision. “I’m sick of always having to plead my case to you.” I put my hand to my forehead, beads of sweat were already forming and my heart was going a mile a minute.

“You never have to plead your case, I believe you.”

I exhaled loudly, “If you believed me than you wouldn’t keep asking, if you thought I’d never say what she’s claiming than you wouldn’t have to ask.”

“I just want to know if you ever do feel that way, I do believe you.”

I looked to the clock on the stove, it was nearing midnight. I stumbled while making my way up the stairs and pain shot up my arm. I tested the damage and realized I wasn’t able to move it very much without wincing. I would return downstairs a few minutes later to get iced water and walk in on a conversation about how I must be fabricating my every explanation. I can honestly say it was one of the most miserable nights of my life. In the days following my family recieved anonmyous phone calls, though we all know who it is. Little by little the truth came out. Violet was a child abuser who lied about her husband being mentally ill and that she had been in at least six houses in the past two months. I still stick to my profile of the more vulnrable side of Violet, as much as my mom can only look at her name and see Charlene’s face (my grandmother). After looking up her medication in my pill books I was able to piece together a plausible theory of her behavior during her stay. She had told me during her stay that sometimes she will suddenly go off of her meds (and with a serotonin and reuptake inhibitor like Effexor, that is very, very bad) and I believe that 1-3 days before her arrival she did just that. The sudden rush of the neurotransmitters being blocked from reuptake made her happy and focused and manic, but once the hit wore off, she became irritable and depressed. I explained her behavior and the profile I had worked up to my mom and explained a possible explanation for Grandma Charlene’s mental illness as well. Cyclothymic disorder (a milder form of bipolar disorder). Her eyes widened as I explained two of the most off-their-rocker females in our family, she nodded and explained the most accurate parts of my points, sending the criteria for the disorder to her aunt, Charlene’s sister.

The headaches are still persistent, though for my general pain my mom took me to a chiropractor yesterday (I have a curvature of the spine which needs consistent adjustment) and a few days ago my mother purchased an air mattress, which is much more merciful than sleeping on a couch. Thankfully, I no longer have electric-current like pain everywhere, but I’m still quite sore from the adjustment yesterday and the headaches are still difficult to ignore.

I won’t be around very often unless a particular notion strikes, but today I very much felt that I had to write about this, lest I, too, join every single woman in my family and go a little crazy – my mother excluded. And that is the truth.

–Classic/Hannah-Elizabeth

P.S. As of July 6th, I am a 17-year old.

Talk Therapy

My life is currently surrounded by therapy. My father is in anger management, my mom is an aesthetician, and I am going to be a psychiatrist. Never placing aside the therapy of talking with Heather Madame, though when it comes to the role of patient and therapist the roles are comfortably constantly changing.

About a month or so ago I finally convinced my mom to let me see someone about my anxiety. The bad news is that the someone I was able to see wasn’t a therapist, it was a naturepathic doctor. I remember being impressed at first at the modern and professional appearance of the place from the outside, it looked like a stylish two-story office building. When we stepped in we were met with sparkling granite floors, light grey walls and complete and utter stillness in the air. Our steps echoed as we made our way to the doctor’s office. As we sat in the waiting room, I was convinced an attack would hit me (after a while one starts recognizing the signs from the room suddenly feeling distant and an indecisive heartbeat), I told my mom I had to use the ladies room and the receptionist directed me to one down the hall. I kept finding myself shaking my head, perhaps from denial, perhaps that little kid in me insisting I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go! I walked over to the sink and washed my hands longer than necessary, my every move, breath and step echoing. As I dried my hands I realized they were shaking. I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go… I felt like crying for a moment, but a quick glance in the mirror made me straighten up and toughen up. Funny how reflections do that. I’ve been furious and yelling before and one flick of the eyes to a mirror or reflective piece of glass and I was silenced. And we’ve all been crying when we have caught view of ourselves, fighting (and, for some of us, surrendering to) the impulse to throw or cover the surface, blinding ourselves of how others might see us.

About a minute after returning to my seat the doctor’s door opened and a tanned, large, rather round woman walked out wearing a lab coat.

“Sorry about the wait, please, come in. I’m Dr. Sanchez.”

After sitting down in her office she explained who she was and advertised an AM radio program she hosts. Her office smelled of B.O. She asked basic questions about my eating habits, repeatedly expressing approval at my homemade-dominated diet. She then had me fill out a piece of bright yellow paper entitled “Is It A Yeast Infection?” I kept waiting for the stepping onto the scale, the listening of the heart, the checking of blood pressure and the usual doctor looking me directly in the eye and talking to me because it was I, not my mother, who was the patient. But instead her and my mother spoke about the benefits of eating healthy and what a shame it is that America is going downhill. They chatted for a while, making the appointment go over by 30 minutes (to which the doctor said that she would ‘let us off’ without having to pay for the extra time used) she suggested a list of supplements and sent us off. Only once did they directly discuss my panic attacks, it was also the only time I was able to speak directly about my anxiety.

“Can you do it?” I surprised myself by asking my mom, “I don’t think I can talk about it without breaking down.”

She shrugged and looked uncomfortable, “I don’t remember that much.”

I cleared my throat, though I could feel a lump forming. For six months I had been waiting to tell someone who could help me exactly what happened. I explained the first attack in church and the one the following week, along with the dissociation and feelings of general anxiety, periods of agoraphobia and the nightly sense of impending doom. Within three minutes I had explained everything, though, as I expected, at the end the waterworks had started up. My mom joined in to give her side as to why she didn’t take me to the ER when I had my first attack. I had been sobbing and begging her to take me to a doctor that day to tell me what happened, but once I could breathe normally she became very irritated very fast, glancing around the foyer of the church as we stepped back inside, knowing that social appearances are too important to me to make a scene.

“I know she thinks I didn’t handle it the right way…” My mom explained, “But a doctor would just write a prescription and send us away, and it would cost a fortune-”

Cue sob.

Dr. Sanchez looked over, she too now entirely unsure of what to do. She started talking to my mom with clear intent of me hearing it, “You know, that is right, a doctor wouldn’t have been any good. Modern doctors now have forgotten the art of healing.” To which my mom added another bit and Sanchez had another turn. I had gotten out my handkerchief and tried in vain to make the detestable tears stop.

“Do you wish we hadn’t come?” My mom asked as we pushed through the double-glass doors to the outside world.

“It’s too late to do anything about it now.” I said, feeling drained, helpless and betrayed all over again after reviewing my attacks anew and due to the river I had just cried. She just stared at me as the car pulled up, uncharacteristically silent.

Heather Madame has an aunt that happens to be in the nurse profession. After sending her a timeline and a long list of my symptoms she confirmed what I had suspected this entire time. My mental problems began two years ago, in the first mobile home (also when bulimia made its first fierce comeback), and have simply sprouted and manifested in increasing ways ever since. My physical symptoms are all psychosomatic. I remember when I became rather desperate for a therapist, and my symptoms became more extreme. It was only when I thought about why my symptoms were suddenly worsening that I realized that something in me was reacting to my want to see a therapist, that I know I have things I want to talk about, to discuss with an actual doctor – at least the brand of doctor I know I need.

The reason for any of my blogs is so I can be completely honest and have this outlet for everything, because I have so desperately needed it. WordPress has become a safe haven. Blogging has helped me keep my head, writing and reading what strangers and friends have to say has given me new perspectives on my own life, and more than once has redirected a choice I was going to make. I want to remain honest here. That’s right, ya’ll, Classic is a bit of loon.

Yesterday I received my mineral supplements, and I’ve officially started on the regime. It can be slightly inconveniencing, and I tell you that a homeopathic cure is using a stick to unlock a door. I know it won’t work, because minerals cannot silence the past two years, and it can’t erase the fear, the anxiety and the helplessness felt the past two years. My plan at this point is to save up for a few therapy sessions on my own and go to whomever I need to. Heather Madame has stood by me and will provide any transportation I can’t get myself. Again I thank God for her; truly, everyday.

Here’s to the day of the talk and the cure.

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic