Tuesday, October 10, 2006

October is the cruelest month, actually...

So today was my day to visit Bellefield Towers, home of major studies of bipolar disorder. There are only 17 places in the nation that conduct what is called STEP-BD. (Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder) I was in the STEP-BD program for a while but now am in a different study, Bipolar patients of Western Pennsylvania (or something like that.) As a study participant, I see my social worker and psychiatrist at least every two months at which time I get asked questions about my sleep schedule, any anxiety, depression, etc. At each visit, I get a stack of questionaires: five pages to fill out before I leave their office and if it is a "two month check-up visit" I get another stack of about thirty pages for which I get paid $80 after I finish. Which is peanuts compared to how much this disorder has cost me in my life financially and in general over the past nine years of diagnosis and the approximately nine years I was undiagnosed.

Today my psychiatrist was late, so my social worker and I chatted about life in general. I told her how for me October is the worst month--summer in general is bad, but then September ship shapes everyone into order. But October--nothing. I suppose if I was a kid, Hallowe'en would be something to think about, but at this point in my life it doesn't carry much of a charge in the thrilling department. When I finally got in to talk to my psychiatrist (whom I adore: he is this blond Northern Italian man who is always cheerful and professional) around 2:30 instead of 2:00, he asked me how I was and I told him. This is actually the best October so far--for me. So I think that's why for the first time since I've seen him, he's divulged that all his other patients are doing pretty poorly and that October is one of the highest suicide months, up there with January and February. I backed up and said, don't think I'm doing perfectly--I cry and laugh every day when I take my walk, this is how I get through the days without thinking about how to end it all. (Although I am rarely, if ever, truly suicidal.) We talked about increasing my meds during my monthly hormone week. (This I think will be a true breakthrough.)

So if it seems that I have been posting A LOT, it's partly because to me, writing is living, and right now, I need to be living. If I am going to be grouchy, withdrawn, sobbing, laughing too loud, this is going to be one of the months it will happen. If I seem to be caught up on things that happened a long time ago or reacting excessively to things that didn't even catch a blip on anyone else's radar screen, it's because I am extremely close to the edge.

This is one of my favorite quotes. I haven't found the source, but I will, soon.

"Come to the edge," he said.
They said, "We are afraid."
"Come to the edge," he said again.
They came.
He pushed them...and they flew. (Guillame Appollinaire)

There are a lot of you out there lurking. That's fine. But don't be surprised if I am checking my sitemeter (gotta figure out how to add it back, now that my blog has switched over to the dark--I mean--beta side) to try to figure out who you are.

Today Beth Moore talked to us about tests. How God tested Abraham. He knew how Abraham would act, that he would pass the test. But God had to test Abraham so that Abraham would know how he would act, and never forget the experience. And that Abraham's test had his name on it, just like all of our tests have our names on ours. Which means it isn't a general exam for everyone and it means that we will never have to take anyone else's test. Which are both reliefs and not. Don't we always think, "If I had her situation, I'm sure I'd deal with it better/differently?" But no, we have our own homework, and peeking over to Peggy Sue's paper isn't going to help us with our particular quadratic equation.

Sitting there, thinking about tests, I remembered how it took six times before I passed my driver's test: in Maryland they test you on three point turns and parallel parking. I was maneuvering a standard shift VW station wagon--and I don't think it had power steering.

I remembered how it took three tries before I successfully rode a bike, and that was in my early twenties.

And as Beth talked about the sacrifice Abraham was being asked to make (give up Isaac, his son named for laughter), I thought about the sacrifices made by my family: my grandmother's parents when Anna Van Dine went to Brazil in 1924 to teach English at an Engineering School. She married her first husband there. She returned to the U.S., divorced. My mother's lesson in this was that "her first husband wasn't a Christian." My grandfather also had a failed starter marriage. (His first wife wasn't a Christian either.) They had already met before they went off and married other people, so when my grandmother returned from Brazil, they were reunited by help of a mutual friend and eventually married each other when they were 36. (In the 1930s, this was REALLY old to get married, and NO ONE divorced!!) My mom was born when Grandma was 40. (While that happens all the time in 2006, in 1943, it was pretty unusual.) Then my mom grew up and went off to Tehran, Iran, to teach at a Presbyterian mission school. It was like while Beth talked about her own daughter going to England, I could see the pain of my grandmother and grandfather, letting their youngest daughter go halfway across the world, in the days before email. And then when my mom married my dad, how it meant we were all always gone. My grandparents didn't get to come to school plays. We visited them in the summers that we got Home Leave (I can't remember if that was every year.)

I always knew I sacrificed a lot as a child, being carted from country to country, powerless to the changes. But I had never really thought about what a sacrifice it was for my grandparents. My parents just did it. They had the choice, I don't know that they thought of it as "a sacrifice." There were sacrifices along the way, but my father's job required the travel, and my mother enjoyed the travel. I'm just rambling. I suppose these are thoughts that I'll come back to again and again, as I puzzle out my place in my family, in this world, in Pittsburgh.

Thanks for reading! I'm listening to Really Rosie performed by Carole King right now. And now I'll finish cataloguing it...


Badger said...

I'm here! (waving!)

I'm having trouble commenting yesterday and today for some reason. Not just here, but all over.

And my Google mail account is (bad word).

But I am your loyal reader in Austin, Tejas.

Sarah Louise said...

Badg, you're so sweet! Thanks! Apparently a lot of folks are having trouble with blogger (or at least bb and BB are and one other person.)

I have got to go to bed--now that I've started fooling with fonts, and clicking on the "next blog"...

Amy A. said...

I adore October. The blue, blue sky, the brisk air, crunchy leaves, pumpkin pie, baking, sweater weather, hot beverages. Is any of this making you love it yet?

Here's what you will love... we had snow flurries today, you winter girl!

Hope you spend your $80 on something fun.

Sarah Louise said...

I don't not love October. It has its wonderful things, and soon (yes, soon) I will post photos to prove that fact.

But that Gerard Manley Hopkins poem keeps coming back..."it is Margaret you grieve for."

November, now, that's a month to sink your teeth into--I'll be 35! (Oh, and that culinary feast we celebrate with pumpkin pie...)

PJ said...

Write what ever you need to write how ever often you need to write it dear Sarah Louise.