Posted by: Kate | October 4, 2010

O Ativan Where Art Thou?

Listen real close… press your ear right up against the monitor… and you just might here a vague, humming sort of vibration, apart from the normal clicks and hums and beeps of your computer doing its magic.  It’s the noise of every single one of my atoms jittering and bouncing up against every single other one, until my entire body is a cacophony of collisions and chaos.  (And, apparently, an allusion of alliteration.)

I’m just a tightly-wound bundle of anxiety today.  You probably wouldn’t know it, if you didn’t know me pretty well.  I’m not someone who – blogging aside – tends to put my emotions on public display.  I’ll throw endless words about all manner of feelings and thoughts and minutiae here, but if we were, say, standing in line at the grocery store or sharing a bench at a playground, you wouldn’t look at me and think, “Wow, she’s pretty tightly wound.”

(Which, actually, is kind of a fun game to play, when you’re stuck waiting at the DMV or you’re using the only open line in a grocery store the day before a New England blizzard: glance around, as surreptitiously as possible, and make some guesses as to which of the people around you have anxiety issues – watch their hands, that’s a common, clear giveaway, when they can’t keep their hands still, even when they’re not typing away on their blog – or depression, or even the more exciting hallucination/delusion sorts of issues.  One in five adults has an anxiety issue at any given point in  time, one in ten or so has depression, one in 20 has something on the schizophrenia spectrum.  If everyone around you looks pretty sane, take a quick peek at your own hands, do a mental tally of your dark and sad thoughts, double-check to see if that miniature pink poodle really is staring at you from the bag hanging off that woman’s shoulder… maybe they’re all subtly watching you instead.  See?  Fun!)

I know how to keep it together when I have an audience… the big change in me, since March, is that I have learned how not to keep it together when I don’t have to.  If I’m with someone that knows me well, someone I trust, I have learned to let the walls down and let them see me cry, or obsess, or vent, or whatever needs releasing at the time.  So I might not look like I’m all aflutter, but trust me.  It’s in there.  The butterflies took possession of my stomach several days ago, and this evening they have apparently grown thumbs, because how else would they be able to brandish medieval weaponry?

So, yeah, I have a dental appointment tomorrow.  I’m not as much of a wreck as I was in past years, and I do believe that the simple overwhelmingness and misery of March has sort of desensitized me to some of those lingering PTSD symptoms from my days of yore.  I have always been prone to very vivid, realistic nightmares, either reliving actual events or creating realistic situations that leave me confused and scared when I wake up, wondering whether that really happened.  So, prior to March, when my brain was feeling mad at itself, it would relive the sexual assault I survived at age 12.  Or it would show me a small coffin with a child inside, or let me watch the newsreel after leaving a child in the car on a hot day, or what it would feel like to sit at my husband’s bedside after a cardiac arrest… whatever scared me the most in the world (and there were times – many of them – when the dream would be so bad that I would refuse to put it into words after I was awake, out of a strange conviction that putting it into words would somehow make it happen.

Then March came and dropped a cosmic, hospital-sized piano on my head.  Between the lingering memory issues (I can often remember things when prompted, but I have lost a lot of the details – so I might remember a certain conversation but forget the actual words used, which is a huge and sad change for me, since I used to have a near-phonographic memory) and the new batch of traumas and fears that were handed over to me at the hospitals, my few remaining post-therapy post-medication post-just-living-again symptoms from that old assault faded out.  A good thing, sure, but they have been replaced with dreams about March, and about getting sick again but this time I wake up without my hands, and about Willem reaching his breaking point and just walking away from me… my brain, it is not always a sweet, supportive sort of creature.

Anyway, so, I still have issues, but I can be grateful, I suppose, that… for the most part, anyway… my new issues have replaced my old issues, rather than just hopping along for the ride.  My dental phobia has lightened, a little bit.  To the point where I was able to get through a cleaning at the beginning of September, and I have agreed to try to get the necessary follow-up work done with IV sedation, which is still a big deal but far less of a big deal than the general anesthesia I used to request.  One more thing to thank the coma for: February, I had a cleaning, NO cavities… September, EIGHT cavities.  They asked how on earth I had managed that, was I just sleeping with my mouth full of soda?? I mentioned the coma and broad-spectrum antibiotics, and they gave the Ohhhhhhh, right, that’s why nod – it weakened my enamel at the same time that it was weakening the keratin in my fingernails and hair, not to mention the fact that they seemed to think it was more important to keep me on the ventilator during the coma than to yank that puppy out to brush my teeth every day, whatever.

I got through the past several days just fine, really.  Very rarely even thinking about the upcoming dental work, focusing my attention on planning our anniversary get-together, writing the vows for that ceremony, going out with Willem, planning and starting the kids’ Halloween costumes… just busy and normal and happy, really.

Until today.

Today, I have been buzzing all over the house, starting a dozen different little projects and finishing none of them.  Snapping at Willem when he didn’t deserve it because he hasn’t been privileged to head the self-doubts and worries in my head and so when he would voice an opinion that was in the least bit doubtful or negative I would immediately feel besieged and put-upon, because now I’m hearing these same concerns from both inside and outside of my head.  Setting the kids on huge household tasks (Emily had to clean out their toy room/closet thing, and I mean clean it OUT before I signed her up to appear on Hoarders, and Jacob then had to do all of the chores that Emily normally would do, plus he got a new fish and is out of his mind excited about that… a post I’ll write soon, but I just can’t do it justice right now).  Just running all over the place, and I can’t slow down.  I canceled plans to go to Jenny’s for the day because I’m just too revved up to be out in public, too much to do here, too tightly wound to be good company.  (Soon, hon, because I really need to spend time with you.  Soon.)

And when I sit still, I just sit here and vibrate on a molecular level, waiting for the next task to come along and seize my brain.  I want to go to sleep, but if I take Ambien my body stays awake and I appear to be functioning but my brain has gone to sleep, so I move around and interact but have no memory of such the next day, which I find deeply disturbing.  If I take Trazodone I have visual hallucinations, which aren’t scary and I know they’re not real (because what kind of hospital would install lawn ornaments in the patient’s rooms, really?), but it’s strange and, again, not sleeping.  If we had Benedryl I would give that a try (and am putting it on the list for tomorrow’s grocery store run), but it’s hit-or-miss, sometimes I sleep and other times I get jittery.  And I ran out of Ativan – I take it so rarely, a 30-pill script brought me from March to now, I only ever needed it during dressing changes – so I can’t use that to take several of the edges off.  (I do have a script and will be filling that tomorrow morning.)

Enough.  Why am I still sitting here writing this?  I’m tired and scared and I need to go to bed.  Wait – why are you still sitting here reading this?  Seriously, it’s just the deranged ramblings of a confused and vulnerable woman, how can this possibly be more interesting than the other stuff you could be reading?



  1. Well, it’s 4:35 am on Monday morning and I’m up reading it because I’ve been lying awake for over an hour and I finally had to get up to move my cramping leg and pee and stop worrying about all the stuff going on in MY head.

    So reading about your jitters distracted me from mine. Now it’s 4:37 and what shall I read next?

  2. You are always interesting to me. No matter what. Thinking of you today and looking forward to costume making in a few weeks!!!

  3. Two words: Medical Marijuana. You don’t have to smoke it. You can leach the THC out in butter then make space fudge with it. A little goes a long way and will absolutely enable you to sleep, relieve anxiety and alleviate depression.

  4. the mind is a strange and scary place. i hope you find some relief soon. the fudge idea sounds appealing…

  5. I like the medica marijuana idea! My fallbacks are really strong chammomile tea and something soothing on earphones (embarrassingly, an audio book with a British narrator works like a charm for me). Also celestial seasons has a “sleepy time plus” and a “relax” tea that pretty much knock me out.

  6. I have a great recipe for brownies that we used to make with a pure THC distillation (boyfriend was an organic chemist). Just kidding…sort of…

    From yet another truly dental-phobic person, my heart goes out to you. Good luck!

  7. I like the medica marijuana idea!

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