Dream-Lag

England Proof

£ £ £

1:30 AM.  I hobble out of bed and drop a couple of Airborne tablets into a glass of water. My back aches, my feet ache, and there’s a tell-tale scratchiness to my throat.  End-of-Summer cold, I grumble, gulping the fizzy water.  Crap.

Or is it from Airplane Air?

What?  I look at Henry who seems to be unusually clingy, sitting with his tale on my toes.  As my eyes focus, I see sacks on my kitchen counter.  A big, white plastic bag covered over by the Union Jack shouts “GLORIOUS BRITAIN—Gifts and Souvenirs.”  A midnight blue bag is quieter.  “Highclere Castle,” it tells me.

I look down at Henry, who is purring now.  Emmett is swirling around my ankles.  He never does that.

“Wait,” I tell them.  “I dreamed I was in England.”

They blink at me.

Reality slides.  Could it be true?

In the dream, Richard Armitage stands in rags and make-up to make him haggard and bloody, his face lifted up in profile to the stark spotlight as the audience applauds.  Then, he opens his arm to stage right and looks at me.  Because I’m only six feet away.  And I’m noisy.

In the dream, I sit on a trash bin in the fog of early morning, listening to the ticket-takers at the train station gate joke and tease each other.  Their thick country-British accents flow over me like music.  I sip my good latte from Costa, London’s equivalent to Starbuck’s, and watch the commuters zip into the car park.  Beemers, Volvos, even an elegant Chevy or two.  And they dash (all the Brits I’ve seen know one speed—dash) with satchels and iPhones, through the gate to the train.  I turn back to the little notebook I’m writing in and make a note.

In the dream, Evelyn and I sit on a wooden bench behind the manor house made famous by Downton Abbey.  We watch other tourists cross the square framed by the gift shoppe, offices, a cafe—buildings that used to be stables and workshops.  As Evelyn points out the current Lord Carnarvon and the Countess, indistinguishable from the tourists, we drop back into the stories of our lives.  We go deep, because we share the intimacy of bipolar disorder.  We’re like sisters who own the same family history, a language and context unique to us.  With the sun bright on the cask of purple and pink petunias beside us, we reinforce a gentle bond that started years ago on this blog.

In the dream, I follow Edward, Evelyn’s friend, out the back door to his garden.  Down a stone path past the drained pond (there are ridiculous laws about water safety everywhere), through the velvet Lamb’s Ear, to his herbs.  Sage, Thyme, Mint, more.  I reach and stroke them, bringing my hands to my face to smell.  I breathe in his County Cork accent as well, the sound of my own Irish heritage, and can feel my DNA perking up its ears.

In the dream, I sit stretched across two seats in an airplane, sun from the window cutting sharp across my lap.  My little notebook is open.  What happens now?  I write.  I think things will change.  I don’t know what.  I don’t know how.  This is a marker.

I look down at Henry as he yawns.  I’m holding clippings of sage, thyme and mint that are still green.  “Yeah,” I smile, “Let’s go back to bed.”

Snapping Out of It

Downton MaryEveryone I know is a little discombobulated.  The holidays, the bitter cold—they’ve taken the normal way of things and dumped them, head first, in a snow bank.  It helps knowing others are slip-sliding, too, even though my befuddlement includes coming back from bronchitis and depression.  Misery loves company, as they say, but it’s not helping me find my footing any easier.

I tried streaming the first episode of Downton Abbey’s fourth season last night and found it echoed my spastic and burpy fits and starts.  Oh, this will never do!  I’m counting on the PBS online site to watch the new BBC Sherlock episodes starting on the 19th.  Since I don’t have a TV anymore and don’t subscribe to Netflix or Hulu, my options are limited.  So, as I write this, I’ve got Downton streaming on another screen, hoping that a good night’s sleep will give it the strength to play past the niggles.

Why should I care so much?  It’s just a TV show.  But it has more to do with control and expectation.  I’m at a total loss to get my eating under control, and the cold has kept me away from the gym.  My routine is hibernating, and I can’t wake it up.  The least I should be able to do is watch Downton!

I haven’t spiked a fever in almost a week and seem to be hacking less, so in spite of the -8F temp outside this morning, I’m determined to get to the Y and my swim class.  Then, I’m crossing the street to HyVee, snagging a Vanilla Latte, and camping out do get some writing done on Technical Consultant.

As for my binge eating, well, it’s back to mindfulness and pushing against the compulsion.  My therapist told me about Pandora yesterday, a site where you can program your own “radio station.”  I set up a mindfulness “station” with lots of lovely meditative music.  My intention is to go there before I eat, sit for 7 minutes listening to something soothing and breathing into the agitation that is my compulsion.  It sounds lovely, but in the throes of compulsion the idea of pausing seems impossible.  We’ll see.  It’s a new tool, and I’ll try anything.

I’ve been at the mercy of my health and the environment for too long.  I need to use this break in my internal weather to get back on track.  And I see on the other screen that Downton is unfolding without a hitch.  I’ll take that as a good omen.

Well, That’s Different

We had a saying when I lived in Minnesota (Minnesotans being the masters of understatement).

Well, that’s different.

This declaration is reserved for things like two-headed chickens or grown men rollerblading down the sidewalk in neon-orange short-shorts.  It slipped out of my mouth today—a knee-jerk reaction, I guess.  My closet Scandahoovian jumps out at odd times.

And it has been an odd week in Lake Wobegon.  I was in trouble, and finally admitted it.  My illness had rolled over me, and I couldn’t cope by myself anymore.  So, on Monday I put a call into my therapist, saying it was time to check into the hospital—preferably the day program I attended three years ago.  I waited all day for her to call back, white-knuckling the panic and galloping moods.  For distraction, I rented the first season of Downton Abbey and watched it all.  By 8:00, I gave up and went to bed.

My therapist called while I slept.  Her message was breathy, fractured.  She said she’d call on Tuesday at 11:00.  Tuesday came and went.  So did Season Two of Downton Abbey.  I didn’t know what to think.  My clinic is usually prompt in responding to distress.  I decided it must have burned down or my therapist eaten by zombies.  It’s hard to be charitable while chewing the walls.

This morning I wondered if I could call the hospital myself.  Medical protocol is weird—referrals, chain of command, secrecy and double-sided red tape.  You need a law degree and fluent Klingon to really figure it out.  But, I thought it was worth a try.  The guy who answered at the Help Desk told me to come in.  No problem.

Huh.

I was proud of myself for bypassing the loud absence of my clinic, but also wondered why I had to do that.  I drove the hour to the hospital and gave an honest interview.  The nurse was friendly and concerned.  “You need to be here,” he said.

But I have to wait for the Day Program to call with an opening.  “Probably tomorrow,” the nurse told me.  But it’s 11:00 and still no call.  I’m beginning to think there’s an alien telephone virus infecting all mental health lines.  Or it’s a test.  Lay on the bed.  Breathe.  Wait.  And find a TV series to watch that’s longer than two seasons.

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