Westward Ho! Day 9

Roseburg, OR (9:30 AM) to Mill Valley, CA (7:00 PM). 462 miles
Notables: Fink’s Time and Distance.

I felt the depression move in like a thunderstorm this morning.  It took forever to sort through my clean clothes, get everything repacked and rearranged.  My body ached and the barometric pressure of my brain thickened like glue.

The night before, Doris and I talked a long time about chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and cannabis.  In Oregon, she’s able to grow and process pot for her own use, which is a complicated affair.  She makes “pot-butter,” an ingredient in therapeutic cookies.  And just like any drug, it took trial and error to determine the right dosage.

I thought about my friend, Duane, who suffers constant, chronic pain as a side effect of his AIDS medications.  He and his husband, Jim, supported the law to make medical marijuana legal in Minnesota.  It’s legal there now, but the process of qualifying, registering, and then paying $300-$500 per month makes it unobtainable.  I thought about Jim cooking up some “pot-butter” in their kitchen and how delicious his cookies would be.

I’ve never thought about trying marijuana for my own pain.  There have been nights on this trip when I could hardly hobble across a room.  I wasn’t thinking about pot before, but I’m thinking about it now.

As I hauled all my crap out to the car this morning, I asked Doris if I could buy some cookies from her.  I didn’t know it was illegal for her to sell it.  When Doris told me that, I felt like so un-street.  And weirdly like an undercover cop.

IMG_0458She pulled a Baggie out of the freezer.  “I’ll give you one, though.”

Then, she went through instructions like my pharmacist.  Only eat half of the cookie.  Don’t eat cookies while driving.  It could take two hours for the cookie to take effect.  Plus a list of possible outcomes.  And another list of cautions.

So, I had my half-cookie about two hours ago.  Feels like I might sleep better tonight.

Oh, yeah.  I also saw Mount Shasta today.

IMG_0436

 

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

As winter progresses, I watch this long spell of nearly-normal fade in the rear view mirror.  It’s a horrible feeling, watching that image of the real me shrink and shrink as the bipolar hitchhiker takes over the wheel.  I can feel the Vyvanse losing its grip and rolling under the tires.  I worry that I’ve forgotten how to do this—how to manage a life instead of living it.

Hello DarknessAnd, of course, all that is a story.  I’ve promised to guard against telling stories.

So, let’s just say it’s an adjustment.

There is more depression and distorted thinking, more fibromyalgia pain and insomnia, more compulsive eating and anxiety.  But, the truth is we all expected this, even while we hoped Vyvanse could beat back winter (we being my therapist, nurse practitioner/med provider, and me).

Miracle enough that an amphetamine meant to curb my eating disorder also managed to smooth out my moods for six months.  I don’t want to get greedy.  Six months of feeling joy and gratitude for my life, of sitting in the driver’s seat, can’t be minimized.  Ever.

And all is not lost yet.

Vyvanse acted like a screen door, keeping the bipolarness on the front porch.  But as soon as the drug flushed out of my system each day, the rapid cycling and mixed states poked their heads in and wanted coffee.  They’re just pushier now.  And obviously, they’ve been lifting weights this summer.

I couldn’t tell if V was helping at all the past few weeks.  I just knew I was miserable the moment I woke up and couldn’t discern any difference throughout the day.  So, I started taking V as soon as I got out of bed.  Now, by the time I finish at the Y, I can feel a lift.  The depression is still there, but quiet and more polite.  Again, this seems huge.

I’m trying to use these moderate shifts of mood to prepare for the hairier, meaner moods that will crash through the door.  I got groceries this morning and made two quiches (one to freeze).  If this pattern holds, I’ll bake a chicken/wild rice dish tomorrow and stick it in the freezer, too.  I can’t cook when I’m brain sick, so doing this feels smart and kind.  I am nurturing and being nurtured—like being my own grandma.

This is all new territory.  Mental illness tries to keep me from seeing that.  It tells me all is lost and will forever be lost.  But, that’s just a story.

The truth is—

—I’m on an Adventure.

Sinking into the Day

handmade greeting cards, collage art, RumiLost Days.  Bad Days.  I used to have all kinds of names for days like today.  Symptomatic.  Hard.  Dead.

It’s a day when all plans and lists get set aside, all hopes for how the day might be spent suspended.  It’s a day when the rapid cycling pulls me under into the darker waters.  Drowning can occur.

But not today.

Today, as I schlumped home from the Y, brain fog closed off any line of sight to the shoreline.  I was left adrift with the nattering and fussing it grinds out on days like today.  The fibromyalgia that comes with depression deposited rusty spurs in every joint.  I could hear my muscles creaking.

Okay, my brighter mind conceded, let’s just sink into the day.

At home, I ate breakfast, watched an episode of Fringe, took Advil, then went to bed.  If I’m exhausted and aching, this part of my mind reasoned, then rest.  I slept for hours—deep sleep punctuated by cats.    Up in the early afternoon, I set about making soup with whatever I had left in my pantry and fridge—a little of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grains and Beans Soup Mix, a can of corn, two little sweet potatoes, garlic, and half a bag of spinach.  I didn’t have any vegetable broth left, so surrendered my vegan status for the day and threw in a couple of chicken bouillon cubes.  Parsley, Garam Marsala, salt and pepper rounded it out.

While  my soup simmered, I spent the afternoon on Pinterest, looking at dreamy and beautiful images.  I went to the pinners I follow who gather their boards together with style and grace, then wandered off to experience some of their favorites.   Sinking into the beauty, sinking into the art, I let the images and words hold me like a raft on the dark waters.  I brought a bowl of soup back to my computer and sank deeper into the rhythm of the gentle pictures and soft colors, spooning a bite of sweet potato, a mingling of spice and savory.

Now, the day is almost done.  Henry is buzzing his little cat-snores behind me in the big chair.  The sun comes through the western windows, throwing squares of light on the floor for Emmet’s bath.  It’s quiet here.  No drowning.  Just sinking into what the day brought and resting there.

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