Monday, July 15, 2013

It's Funny How Some People Just Won't Accept Change, As If Nature Itself, They'd Prefer Rearranged.

"The Light That Has Lighted The World"

By George Harrison

Take One

My older brother was almost killed on May 1st in a motorcycle accident that rocked the family dynamic something fierce. We nearly lost him. 

His recovery has been nothing short of miraculous and for that we're grateful to God. His recovery and rehabilitation have been one of the family's focal points since May.

That didn't stop some friends of mine from getting angry and discontented with me for my shift of focus, which, please, my school barely understood. I heard a lot of "Sorry your brother got hurt, but...."

"My brother got hurt?"

He didn't stub his toe.

That was the least of the heart-sinking sensations which engulfed me when I walked into the ICU in Rockford for the first time, the day after the accident. This is what I walked in to:

Steve's shattered arm had 2 large rods in it holding it in place before the upper extremity surgeon could reconstruct it. His right leg was weighted down with 3, 5-lb weights to hold it in place before the lower extremity surgeon could rebuild his leg and shattered pelvis. He got "hurt?" He had a bulging disc in his neck upon which it was decided not to operate.

This is about a month and a half later. Praise! Over the weekend, he walked with a crutch down to the basement and played his drums for the first time since the accident. That was all he kept telling the surgeons: "I'm a drummer. I need to be able to drum."

The cast has since been removed and he can bear 100% weight on the reconstructed arm and pelvis/leg.

Over the weekend, he danced on his feet (shuffling) at a wedding. He is a HERO.

In the meantime, I've invested close to $200,000 in the last year plus to graduate study in psychology, which I have to pay back to the government when I graduate. Deep depressive episodes and impossible manic episodes have marred my academic progression and I'm consequently a semester behind all of my cohorts. Every day is a struggle between either sleeping 2 hours a night or 20 hours a day. I've extended extensions beyond what the school find reasonable and I'm still pulling straight A's. The "deadlines" aren't simply ones of urgency...there are grades and money depending on them. They set the stage for the rest of my graduate career. Though anyone who knows me well knows that at the eleventh hour, I'll rally my creativity and brain juices and pull it all together, because that's just how I roll. A woman of extremes, that translates down to my school work as well.

I've been accused of--I can't remember the exact word--"romanticizing," something, bipolar disorder because MY symptoms don't present in the same fashion as others people have known who also have had bipolar. I wasn't nearly as sick in college as I am now. "I seemed normal" in college. I wasn't. It was the onset of the illness.

No, I don't run down the street manic yielding knives and utterly non-functional, bound for an institution at any given moment (though it feels that way sometimes). No, I haven't lost my sense of humor, though one doctor (who's not my doctor) insists that the truly mentally ill lose their senses of humor. The truth is, drugs have advanced and changed. Go back to the blog "The Gift of Bipolar Disorder." Stephen Fry resists treatment by lithium specifically because it DOES sap one of one's personality. It's for that reason I refuse to try that as a mood stabilizer and choose to take second generation, less side-effective drugs.

I don't experience bipolar the same way as Fry, or as (also mentioned in that blog) Carrie Fisher, or Richard Dreyfuss, or Sting, or Van Gogh, or Winston Churchill. Brain biochemistry is not like a case of chicken pox, with obvious signs, symptoms and cures.

I grappled earlier this spring with a quarter of my family assuming my father shot himself to death and didn't die of alcoholism, which wasn't true, but hit me like a ton of bricks, and I believe was a catalyst in the deep depressive episode that followed, out of which I'm still crawling. 

My mother and I spar and I often feel treated as young as my 13 year old son, though I'm 41. I have a verifiable history of making poor decisions, largely (but not blamed upon) my mental illness and addictions. Yet who was it who scraped herself on the cement outside to pick my limp, Valium-doped frame off the patio on Friday night after I landed on the cement and then squished her garden? Who Neosporined and bandaged my wounds? Who takes care of me? Who provides me a household in which I can concentrate on my studies as best I can? My mom.  I won't deny that things get tense. I'm a handful. But she has my best intentions at heart, even when we're both cranky. Without her assistance and support, I'd be far less functional.

Last week, I didn't lose just a member of my church. I, as his son-in-law Upe said, lost my buddy. My partner. My musical and spiritual brother. We took a band of 2 musicians and raised it to God's glory twice a month. We turned songs meant for a full band into reasonably beautiful drum and guitar riffs. This weekend is Jake's wake and funeral. Yes, it'll delay more of my school work, but my professors know about it. I'm the de facto leader of the contemporary band. I've supported Pastor Dave and my band family as best I can in what is an emergent and unexpected situation. I've recruited help in the form of Julia on piano. Mariah's doing better on guitar than she even thought she could.

This is my left arm/elbow. I have a huge gouge on my elbow, multiple bruises on my arm, and still managed to play the drums for 2 hours Friday night and again on Saturday. I'm left-handed. I rest my left arm to write, to type...and it hurts...a lot. It's by no means Steve's injury, but it's painful. I'm trying not to let it get infected.

I've been mad at Guy Friend since mid-May. He resurfaced this weekend via email. I see no use in holding onto anger against him. I may have said some harsh words, as did my friends, but they all just want me to be happy, and I miss him. He's my friend and I love him dearly, as I love all of my friends. Being around him makes me very happy. That being said, I felt abandoned by him and "unfriended" by him with no just cause.
We're working on rectifying that. In a lot of ways, I'm just like Guy. I can't be counted upon to keep promises (with my son, with my friends) and I fuck up. I'm human. I'm embroiled in a frantic lifestyle that unfortunately takes me away from things I'd rather do and luxuries I'd rather engage in. Each day, I'm learning a little more about what it's like to be on a schedule like Guy's. Yeah, he acted like a douche, but you all know what a pussycat I am and how deeply my affection runs. 

To my family and friends' chagrin, I have to put my son, my school work and my music first. Luke feels neglected, not to mention my friends. I'm hard to get a hold of, like Guy. It's insanely frustrating. I told Guy, before he boarded a plane to Canada to see his daughter this weekend, that yes, I had the support of a lot of people in my life, but I need him too. "I know," he said. And that's true. And other people need me, whom I've let down, and for that I'm deeply sorry.

I try to visit my brother every weekend, but that's not even always possible, given my work schedule. 

Don't think I haven't thought of checking into a mental facility during the course of my sabbatical in August. But I'm on Medicaid, and I'd receive sub par care. I just need a break. I need some mental rest. I'd like to reconnect with disconnected friends and see and talk to  those whom have fallen to the wayside because of my inattentiveness. That chiefly includes Kate, who's really mad at me know in much the same way I have been mad at Guy.

As a student of psychology, I'm doing my best to help those in need of my care and theoretical opinions, but I get things wrong. I don't think it's fair to cast blame on me because I'm in the midst of learning literally dozens of approaches to issues and I get things wrong. I'm not licensed. I'm not responsible for what happens to people who listen or don't listen to my opinions, which are just that. Opinions. I know a lot about drugs and medicine. I try and work out proper medications and dosages for others, while I stumble around doped up on Valium myself. My suggestions are conjecture. 

Have I changed? Yes. For the better? In a lot of ways, yes.  I've matured. I've learned responsibility and dedication towards furthering a life for my son and myself. I'm more educated. I'm more street smart. Am I still Annie? Oh my, yes. Ask anyone. Bat shit loony, scatter-brained, incapable of prioritizing, heavily medicated, in therapy, going crazy, but loving like there's no tomorrow, because it's something we can't count on. Just ask Jake, if he were here.

In a lot of ways, no. But I'm human.

Just just as I've forgiven Guy for the err of his ways, I ask forgiveness from those I've hurt or neglected. 

I'm pretty burned out and exhausted, so I'm wrapping up for the night. 
Again, I ask for mercy and forgiveness from those I've hurt, understanding and patience from those I've neglected.

Guy, come home. I do need you. You may be 60 before I can blink, but I'll keep you young at heart.



Very Moon said...

I know how it goes, the seemingly eternal cycle of discontent and forgiveness. I think that's part of what makes us human. That, and music.

We're probably going to be renting a house. With any luck, we'll get a couch, and maybe even have a spare room, for a guest bed. Should that happen, you are TOTALLY welcome to come out to Tacoma sometime. It'd be awesome. Seriously.

Keepin' you in my thoughts lots!

Andrea Miklasz said...

Exactly. The mark of a true friend is being able to pick up right where you left off when you have the opportunity to reunite.

Luke's been DYING to go to WA state. The colder, gloomier and rainier the better, so when you set up camp and it gets really shitty outside, we'll be on our way! Until then, if you pass through Chicago, you know where to find me.


BMF said...

If there's one thing Annie's really, really good at, it's fretting, worrying and theorizing. We'd all kind of written Guy off the map, and she shared with me how sad he was that he hadn't been in contact with her, but life happens. We all speculated on what happened with Guy and we were all kind of wrong. He owed her courtesies he didn't pay, he owed her explanations he didn't provide. He owed her love he didn't repay.

That's not what Annie's been like with Kate, another story I know the entirety of. She's responded, she's not always around, and she HAS to get her work done first. I try and get a hold of her when I can and she's at church. Or she's working. Or she's tending to her first priority, Luke.

I can totally see where she's coming from in this blog in relation to how Guy approaches his friendships. But Guy, seriously. You're one of her rocks, I don't know why, and if I were there with her, maybe she wouldn't be as needy on you. And you were right in your message in that she is a wonderful person. You're not a moron, you're just kind of clueless. Annie wants and needs lots of hugs, which not a lot of us can give her.

Annie and I went YEARS without being together. There was nothing stopping either of us picking up a phone and calling one another except LIFE. I had my job and my family and I wasn't around a lot. We reconnected, and we were lucky. We'll always be lucky that happened.

But she told me that she told Guy that you have to MAKE TIME for the people you love, and that's true....but you can only do that once the obligations presented before you are accomplished. It's not so much "looking out for #1," but it's prioritizing. Annie's heart is huge and grateful and warm, and she's being really hard on herself right now, when riffs with friends are the last thing she needs.

I'VE needed to talk to her, many times, and she's been sleeping, so I don't disturb her. I'VE needed comfort and support and she'll say, "You know, I've got this paper due in 45 minutes, can I talk to you another time?" It's a courtesy I give Annie that she reciprocates. She tries her best. And that has to be good enough.

Annie, don't fret, sweetheart. We all still love you. It'll all work itself out. One thing you've never done, despite what other people say about you, is abandon your friends and family. Steve needed you. Your family needed you. Your mom needed you. Tell him I'm really proud of his recovery. Getting back on the drums will help him SO much, in mind and body.

You'll see Guy soon. He owes you hugs and kisses, yes. You'll reconnect with Kate ASAP. Until then, do your work when you can and rest when you have the chance. I sound like a broken record, but it'll all get done.

Don't worry, baby....

Very Moon said...

I like to say, don't worry too much about what you don't get done. There's not too much that will end in the world, if you don't finish something NOW. The world won't end. Very rarely will the universe collapse because a deadline didn't get met. Someone's patience might get tried, but why?

I'm totally itching to get back to Chicago. I always forget how flat it is. I've GOT to get this health stuff under control before I drive long distances, though.

BMF (which I totally always translate to "badass mo- fo" in my head) is right. It'll all get done. Things work out how they're supposed to. Which is not always how we want, but the way it needs to unfold.

BMF said...

I LIKE "Badass Mo'Fo'!"

When Annie gets her book deal, I vote we all get to pick out our own awesome names. Except Annie has to stay Annie.

"Any resemblance to individuals living or dead is completely on purpose, and not coincidental."

Andrea Miklasz said...

Very, how can you say Chicago is "flat" when I'm walking about with this rack? Puhleeze.