Friday, October 28, 2011

Fighting for Sara

Something happened to me tonight that rocked me to my core.  I stood, on the sidewalk, shaking and near tears for a good two minutes before I managed to plant one foot in front of the other in order to keep moving.

Let me back up a bit.  Today was a day where I took care of Birdie all day and then rushed home to walk Rupert before heading to another regular babysitting gig that takes me about thirty minutes to walk to (it's a tight fit, getting out of work at 6 and trying to make it here by 7).  I was booking it along, in the rapidly fading light of a New York sunset, when I looked up and locked eyes with a woman coming towards me on the sidewalk.  There were a good six other people surrounding both of us, walking in either direction, but our eyes caught, and without even a millisecond of conscious thought, my brain saw her and thought: eating disorder.  Her cheeks were sunken.  Her eyes were haunted.  She was clutching her coat around her in the chilly night air.  I saw myself in her, except she was much, much sicker.  Then, the unbelievable happened.  She stopped me.  She told me she needed help.  She said she was sorry, that she wasn't asking me for money, but that she needed help.  She had an eating disorder.  Today was her first day home from being in a residential facility in Florida.  She had gained forty pounds (she looked as if she weighed around 110).  Her OCD was out of control at the moment.  She had just eaten with a friend and had left the house so as to avoid purging and the door had locked behind her.  She was lost and didn't know what to do.  She didn't have a phone.  Could I please call her sister?

My mouth hung open in shock.  I ushered her over to the side of the sidewalk.  I told her in the calmest, quietest voice I could that everything was going to be okay.  I said I understood.  I said I have an eating disorder too.  I said that we would call her sister.  I dialed, and it went straight to voicemail.  She looked panic-stricken.  I asked her how far away her sister lived.  She said all the way down in Battery City and she started to shake.  Hey, I said.  It's okay.  Look at me.  It's okay.  I want you to take this money.  Go to the Duane Reede right here and get a Vitamin Water and drink it, okay?  And then get in a cab and tell them to take you to your sister's house.  Take a deep breath.  You're going to be okay.  Everything will be okay.  She looked at me and insisted that she couldn't take the money without having a way to reimburse me.  Please, I said.  Please just take it.  I want you to be okay.  I know you can do this.  You can get through this.  You can fight this, even though right now, it feels so, so hard.  We can fight together, okay?  Her dark eyes locked with mine and she bravely asked me: You said you had an eating disorder too.  Are you better?

I took a deep breath.  I'm getting there, I said.  I'm getting there.  And so are you.

I will never see Sara again.  I will never see that money again.  I could give two hoots about the money, never mind the fact that I'm dirt poor right now and I desperately needed that money.  She needed it more.  She needed so much more than I could give her.  But I'm sitting here tonight, and I am hoping with everything in me that she is okay.  That she made it to her sister's.  That she is safe.  That she believed me, even if only the tiniest bit, when I told her she would be okay.

Everyone you meet is fighting demons.  Sometimes you glimpse those demons and you try like hell to help.  Please pray for Sara tonight.  Tonight, I am fighting my eating disorder for her.  I hope she is still fighting too.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What This Blog is Not

Who wants their blog to be depressing?  Come on, let's see a show of hands!   No, really, no one?  Shocker.  Me neither.  Problem is...I've been really depressed lately.  Like, can't-get-out-of-bed-without-help kind of depressed.  Like sitting-in-the-shower-for-an-hour kind of depressed.  But the best advice I've gotten (yay for my therapist!) is that - and I swear I have heard this countless times and yet I need to hear this a gazillion more times before it gets through my thick, thick skull - the best thing to do when you're depressed and all you want to do is lay in bed all day is to go through the motions.  Get up.  Shower.  Put on clothes.  Go to work.  Do it all, even if you're miserable while you're doing it.  Because it's only going to be a hell of a lot more miserable, lying in bed all day crying.

So.  Going through the motions also equals writing, even when I don't feel like it, because writing is as therapeutic for me as is well, going to therapy.  I've been trying for days to think of something to write about that does not turn my blog into a Debbie Downer, even if that's how I feel, so here are a few happy things.

1.  I wrote a short essay for my Yale application today about my volunteering experience.  I was (and am) proud of the essay, and it made me think and remember and be grateful for the two years I spent volunteering at the Northampton Interfaith Homeless Shelter.  My life was changed by the experience, and I am grateful that I had the chance to be a part of so many lives even in such little ways as playing cards, serving dinner, and hearing the guests' stories.  I will always remember them.
2.  I got to see my amazing mother this past weekend.  She listened to me, she talked with me, she helped me clean, she helped me pack, she took care of Rupert - she was my wonderful, sweet, supportive, loving mama.  I am lucky to have her and I am grateful every day for her.
3.  My mom and I had the following conversation after I returned from the pharmacy:

Me: What does it mean if a guy pharmacist tells me he likes my scarf?  Does it mean he's hitting on me, or he's gay?
My mother: I think it means he likes your scarf.

Touche, mom.

4.  I got to ride a horse on Monday for the first time in a couple of years.  Someday soon I'll write a post about how much riding means to me and how excited I am that it's back in my life.  Suffice to say now, settling into the saddle on Elvis's back felt like coming home.

There are big changes going on in my life right now.  Some good, some not so good.  But change, whether I like it or not, is inevitable and it's happening and there's nothing I can do about it.  So I'm just trying to hang on for the ride and go through the motions.  And limit my shower time to less than twenty minutes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Up, Up and Away!

You guys.

Something important happened this weekend.  Actually, several important things happened this weekend, but there will be an organized, itemized blog post describing them all once they have all been thoroughly sorted out and I can type with two hands instead of using one to knock on wood the entire time I type.


This weekend - I grew an inch.  Yes, that's right.  My entire life (well, since I was 14 and stopped growing), I have been 5'6".  Quite literally, every time in the past 4-5 years that someone has asked me how tall I am and I tell them, they say something along the lines of, "Wow, you don't look it, you look much taller!"  I smile and nod, and think something along the lines of, "My goodness, your eyes must be far more accurate than the measuring tool at my doctor's office."

So this weekend, my friend got fed up with the whole argument, lined me up barefoot against the wall, penciled a mark at the top of my head and I AM FIVE FEET AND SEVEN AND ONE QUARTER INCHES TALL.

(I think that quarter inch is just as exciting as the full inch before it, by the way.)

So, that was my exciting weekend.

Anyone else experience any recent bodily discoveries that blew them away?  (Let's keep this G-rated here, people.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Too Much

Yesterday and the day before, the internet in my apartment stopped working.  I at first assumed it was a problem with my dinosaur of my computer, but after restarting it three times and then taking it to Starbucks where it instantly connected problem-free to their wireless, I knew the problem lay deep within the mysterious cable box that sits on the TV stand.  Then, for kicks yesterday, I turned on the television.  "You have no cable," the screen helpfully announced.  I started to cry.  (Been doing that a lot these days.  Including, but not limited to: on the subway, on the sidewalk. over my painstakingly-eaten dinner, when Rupert wakes me up, when I only sleep two hours a night, when the coffee shop is cold, when I can't find anything to wear that doesn't make me look 239908908920 pounds, etc.)  I was definitely not crying over the lack of cable television.  Selfishly, I was a little peeved about the lack of internet, since it's how I blog and Skype with my best friend.  But mostly, I was crying because I just can't do this all alone anymore. 

I just cannot handle every single piece of mail that comes into the apartment, addressed to both me and Alix, some of them with bills, some of them with past-due notices, many from our respective insurance coverage denying coverage or demanding astronomical co-pays.  I cannot handle going to bed at 11 PM and waking up at 1 AM.  I cannot handle arranging dog walkers and pet-sitters in order that I might earn the paltry amount of money that my 2-3 day a week job is bringing in.  I cannot handle paying a rent that is easily three times what I can afford.  And I definitely cannot handle all of this while fighting two eating disorders with every fiber of my being.  I don't know when Alix is coming home.  It sure isn't anytime soon.

Which is why, at the end of this month, when my lease ends, I'll be moving.  Almost definitely to Boston.  It's closer to a support network that I desperately need and it's way more affordable.  The complications arise when I factor in that I'll still be trying to come to NY a few days a week in order to continue caring for Birdie, because, honestly, it's the happiest job I've ever had and happiness is in short supply these days.  I've also just recently found a therapist who gets me, who pushes me, who I finally feel like is in my corner and is going to help me fight these demons.  So...lots of bus trips back and forth!  The relief I feel about getting out of this place is at least equally matched, if not surpassed, by the additional stress that this all adds to my plate (no pun intended).  In the next 20ish days, I need to: write an application, get letters of recommendation, update my resume, pack up all of Alix's things and put them in storage, sort through my things and put some in storage, find a place to live in Boston, pack the rest of my stuff into a U-Haul, drive to Boston, move in, convince Birdie's parents to agree to the convoluted work schedule I'm going to offer them, find additional work in Boston, and, oh yeah, eat.  Pesky little thing, this eating-every-day idea.

I'm trying to stay positive about it all, I really am.  I'm trying to focus on the good things that are coming, but it's hard when ever-so-conveniently, my bipolar disorder has decided to crash and burn and become unresponsive to my meds, thus necessitating another (expensive) trip to the psychiatrist, in addition to my weekly visit to the psychologist that is keeping me sane enough that I feel I should offer her baked goods or wine in exchange for my weekly hour of tears and word-spewing. 

I know that if everyone in the world stood in a circle and tossed their problems into the middle, I'd probably be pretty damn quick to grab back my own.  After all, there are many, many others who have it a lot worse.  But right now, all I'm feeling is the kind of overwhelmed where your heart skips and your hands shake and your eyes are constantly brimming.

Can it be November 2nd?

Or can someone step in, rub my forehead, shush me quietly, and tell me that it will all be okay and that everything will get sorted out and that somehow, I don't know how, but somehow, I'll make it through this?

I even put my own name into the prayer box last night.  That was a first.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

GRE: Good RiddancE

Yale held up the hoop.  I jumped through it.  It's pretty much as simple as that.  (And I'm so glad it's over.)

I am a freak about not being late for things, and so I tend to arrive ridiculously early.  Cue Thursday morning, when I left the house at 6:05 AM for an 8:30 exam.  Yeah.  Like I said, a little ridiculous.  But it was all good, because after inspecting my ID, giving me a key to use the restroom, searching my bag, turning out my pockets, taking my picture, and waving a metal-detecting wand over my entire person, the very kind proctor let me start my exam early.  I wrote two essays, I picked out words to finish sentences, I read passages and answered questions, I scribbled math equations and figures and angles and oh dear god, the angles, but then, THEN - it. was. over.  And I said YES, and then YES, REALLY, I MEAN IT when the computer asked me if I'd like to submit my scores, and then it asked me one more time and I was like DEAR GOD JUST STOP ASKING ME AND SHOW ME WHAT I GOT.  And I looked, and I squealed (silently), because you guys, I did it, and it's over, and *knocking-so-hard-on-wood* I think it's good enough to get me in.  I think.  I'll find out my real scores in a few weeks, and I have the rest of the month to whip out some essays for the application and then November 1st will roll around and I'll have to hit SUBMIT and then YES, REALLY SUBMIT, and then probably again, DEAR GOD YES SUBMIT THIS APPLICATION NOW BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND.  And then, if nothing else, it will be out of my hands.

When the exam was over, and I was doing a happy dance in front of my locker, I had a moment.  I had a moment that all at once thrilled, terrified, and saddened me (mostly because it was gone in a matter of seconds).  For a moment, I felt like I was more than a number on the scale.  I felt like I was smart.  I felt like I had used my brain, my brain that I was given and of which I am sometimes proud, to learn and to study and to work hard and then to sit down and do the very best I could and it had meant something.  I had done something with my brain other than count calories.  I had done something that I was proud of other than lose weight.  And even though that moment was brief, it gave me the tiniest bit of hope that there will come a day when maybe, just maybe, I won't always feel like a failure.  Because then, right then, I felt like something more.  I felt like me again.
I hope.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Get Yourself Some Enemies

One day, someone who had something against me did something to Alix.  It was rude.  It was uncalled for.  It was degrading, immature, and embarrassing.  It was also, depending on how you look at it, maybe not that big of a deal.  To me, it was.  And I make no apologies for that.  It was an act of meanness against someone I love and it pissed me off.  I didn't let it go.  I found the person who did it, I raised a stink, and you can bet your sweet ass that I made an enemy out of it.  You know what?  Good for me.  I stood up for my girl.  And I'd rather have that to say for myself than be able to claim that I've walked through life without making any enemies.  I have a spitfire personality, I often speak without thinking, I jump, guns blazing, to defend those that I love, and the following words probably wouldn't spring to mind to describe me: Zen-like, easy-going, or anything that involves the metaphor of things rolling off of ducks' backs.  But you know what I am?  Loyal.  Loving.  Compassionate.  Empathetic.  Hard-working.  The picture I paint isn't always pretty.  But it's nothing if not authentic.  I'm not perfect, not by a long shot.  But I'd rather stand for something than fall for anything.

By the way, that quote is by Winston Churchill.  Cool guy.  Not a clue where the idea for this post came from, but yeah, here it is.  Off I go, guns blazing, into my test tomorrow.  But first!  To sleep!

Come onnnn, Friday

Yesterday, Birdie would. not. stop. crying.  I think she's teething.  Cold washcloths, pacifiers, and being carried around constantly were all only semi-effective.  In the light of this morning, I feel much more sympathy for her, but yesterday, much of my sympathy was directed at yours truly.

Yesterday, Rupert ripped open two trash bags and strewed their contents across the entire apartment.

Yesterday, I got started on a crying jag around 2 PM that didn't stop until I fell asleep.  No joke.  I was even sniffling as I said goodbye to Birdie's mom and met with Rupert's future dog-walker.

Today, my alarms (two of them) didn't go off and so I am up an hour later for studying (MY LAST DAY OF STUDYING BEFORE MY GRE HOLY SHIT HOW DID THIS HAPPEN) than I had planned to be.

Today, my studying will be interrupted to go buy an alarm clock.  Preferably one of those big honkin' black ones with red digital numbers that has an obnoxiously loud alarm.  Missing my test because I didn't wake up is NOT in my plans for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, my test (that will determine my entire, I am not the slightest bit dramatic or fatalistic or prone to blowing things wayyyy out of proportion) is at 8:30 AM.  This is during rush hour, which means all the trains will be running wonky, and cabs will be impossible.  I will most likely be leaving two hours early and showing up at the center by 7 AM.

Sooo....can this week be over now?  Please?