tHe haPPy grOUch

tHe haPPy grOUch

Saturday, February 16, 2013

And most recently...


I share too much through blogging. Personal stuff. And I'm going to do it again.
Maybe so that someone, somewhere, can relate and have an "ah-ha" moment. Maybe because talk-therapy is essentially as effective as medications. Maybe because blatant honesty is liberating. Or maybe it's just because I'm impulsive. Or because I'm somehow both an introvert and an exhibitionist (I know, I'm a walking contradiction).
Or maybe it's just because I'm sick of seeing in everyone's eyes how lucky they think I am, how good they think I have it, how wonderful and pretty my life is.
I'm sick and tired of pretending to be normal.

I have a great husband. (Mostly) happy, and healthy children. A beautiful home. Good friends. A wonderful (close and extended) family. Some exceptional qualities. Some average qualities. A few hobbies. I have my health. I am, "normal". 
Although, I've always known that I'm not.
For about the last 20 years or so.

This is "my normal"...

It wasn't until 6 months ago that I seriously (and begrudgingly) sought help for being "my normal". I've recognized for probably 10 years or better that I should. But always claimed- I'm fine the way I am. I am content. I’m fine. Why bother.

Over the years, people (including myself) have always made jokes about it...
I'm such an ogre. I'm so difficult. I'm bitchy. I'm irritable. So moody. So stoic, so serious. Rarely smiling. Such a grouch. Mean, uncaring, cold, apathetic (I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard those words)...
And other jokes too...
You got ANOTHER dog? You got ANOTHER cat? You bought a new car AGAIN? You moved AGAIN? You're going back to school AGAIN? You changed jobs AGAIN? You've been married how many times? You changed your hair AGAIN? You're engaged ALREADY? You broke up with him AGAIN?
(Fun fact- My children are the only thing I've never traded-in, changed-up, returned, or walked away from.. god knows I've thought about it)

I want to have a baby. I don't want a baby. I want to look for a new home. I want to relocate. I want a job. I don’t want to work. I'll go back to school. I'll sell my house. I'll get a divorce. I'll go spend a hundred dollars on shit I don't need instead of paying the phone bill. I got a cat. And a dog. Then some fish. Bought a new bracelet. Got a hobby. Colored my hair. Got bored, found a new hobby. Sold a dog. Quit school. Spend another hundred bucks on useless shit instead of paying the electric bill. Got a new job. Another cat. Another dog. Cut my hair off. Traded in my car I just bought... and on, and on, and on...
Fill the void, fill the void, fill the void... But... WHAT void?

I wake unhappy most days. Although there's not really that much to be unhappy about. (Reference all the above claims that make me normal.. kids, husband, home, health, family...) But I am unhappy. Never satisfied.  Always wanting something more. Something different. And when I'm not irritable, or angry, or excitable, intolerant, sad, or exuberantly ecstatic, I'm simply flat. Complacent. Indifferent. And I was that way before I started medicating, so it's not the meds.

And those "flat" times are when I am most content... (Unfortunately they are also the most infrequent)..
No manic episodes... Of energy, compelling me to stay up all night working on crafts. Or of impulsivity, when I go shopping for a new car, another animal, or just a $100 of useless shit at the thrift store. Or of anger, wanting to just break something, having to hibernate because I can't stand to be around the people I supposedly love…  can't even stand to be around myself. Or of obsession, when I'll sit and research/read about something, ANYTHING, for hours and hours, literally. Or clean the house until my knuckles are bare and my blisters are bleeding (unfortunately, that particular obsessive behavior doesn't happen nearly enough). Or of depression, when I feel that no matter how "good" my life is, I'm a failure. No one sees me, accepts me, knows me, or loves me. Or of exhaustion, when I can't (or just won't) get out of my jammies and off the couch for days.
Don't get me wrong, I have happy manic moments too. Moments when there's absolutely nothing wrong with the world, and I'm so happy I could spew rainbows and butterflies and dance for hours. Those moments typically coexist with/manifest into the energetic moments, or the impulsive moments. Those are the moments where I’m so exuberant, excitable, and entertaining, that everyone at work jokes and sais- Crista must have remembered to take her meds today! Ha ha!

My brain doesn't stop moving from one second to the next, but things don't always fire properly...   It moves too fast. I can't focus... Oh look, something shiny!  I can't finish projects (from a simple task to a college degree). I lose track of time. I can't remember things. Phone numbers, conversations, names,
places. In fact, most of my memories (from a year ago, or from 20 years ago) are generated by photographs, not actual events. Seriously. Imagine how that feels for a minute.
Add the "mood swings" (we'll just call them that for now) to all of that, and it's a recipe for a terribly confused mind.

I have a high level of anxiety. Which is a lot different from "I worry a lot", trust me.
I don't like driving long distances. I don't like being away from home for too long. I won't fly, I'm afraid I'll die. I won't go in a boat, I'm afraid I'll die.  I won't let my kid do anything fun (like wrestle, or ride four wheelers, or fire a rifle).. because, yup, you guessed it, I'm afraid he'll die.
I stress to the max whenever someone I love is doing any number of these things.. Yup, ‘cause I'm afraid they'll die. I constantly worry about my children when they're not right under my nose. (Sidenote, I affectionately call this particular problem my “mortality anxiety”).
In any “normal” situation, I (subconsciously) paint vivid, paranoid, and unrealistic pictures in my mind of what “might” happen, and cling to them with ferocity. Not willingly, of course! Who in their right mind would do that to themselves??
Yeah, it's a lot different than- "I worry a lot".
Add to this weird anxiety, something new (within the last several months).. I’m super “sensitive” (for lack of a more descriptive word) to sounds and noises. And I’m not talking about typical irritants like nails on a chalkboard, or a large noise that jumps the shit out of you...
A door closing, a child singing, people talking near you at the grocery store.. Hell, you could just say my name and I’ll become irritated and/or startled. I wish I could explain this better, but my vernacular fails me…
And heaven forbid you actually do alarm me (accidentally or not)… I’ll take your head off. Literally. Just ask my husband.

Speaking of husband, I'm on my third. Ha! That's so funny!
Seriously though... it's pretty goddamn difficult to form or maintain relationships when you feel like people don't (or can't) "get you". Or just can't accept you, once they start figuring it out…
I'm all too familiar with the whole- this isn't what I signed on for- mentality...


I didn't have a tumultuous childhood. My Mom was, and still is awesome. My Dad was, and still is, a raging alcoholic. But then again, so was I up until about 8-10 years ago. Thank god I smartened up. I don't do drugs, nor have I ever. I was never abused. There's no hidden trauma (as far as I know). There is however, a family history of depression and mood disorders. Most untreated. There's nothing for me to "blame" this on, other than perhaps genetics. Although at my initial therapy sessions as an adolescent (which led to years of off and on counseling through adulthood), I tried to blame it all on something. Anything.

Eventually I got older, and wise enough to know that there's nowhere to place the blame.. realized that I'm just wired differently. Not that that makes it any easier to understand or deal with... Most of the time it just makes it even more frustrating, and difficult to accept.
I've always said that the truly insane are a very fortunate group of people, mainly because they have no idea that they are insane.

I've seen several therapists over the years.  Over the years, my Doctor has tried a few different medications. She said then, and still says now; it's probably a mood disorder, probably bipolar. But she'd rather me have a psych eval to help figure it all out. She prescribed me anti-depressants a few years back. Unfortunately, they made me a bit crazy. Okay, maybe more than a bit. And so I quit them, and said- screw this. Fast forward a few years, and I'm trying some different "mood stabilizers". Which seem to work for a while, then I plateau, and eventually regress. Fall into the same "moods", confusion, anxiety, irritability, the same obsessive patterns.. Into "my normal".. She set me up for a psychiatric evaluation last year. I skipped it. We try another "mood stabilizer” recently. That one made me a bit crazy too. So we quit the meds and she sets me up for anther psych eval...
I guess I'll go.

I'm what normal looks like.