Friday, July 28, 2006

Down to the wire…

The move is looming ever-closer. Four days from now, strangers will have loaded my belongings onto a huge truck and left my house. The house will be empty, quiet, and in need of a good dust bunny extermination. We have movers coming Tuesday, cleaning people coming Wednesday, and carpet cleaners coming Thursday. We plan to leave Tuesday, after the movers are done. Two cars, two adults, two kids and three dogs will hit the road on a one way road trip of 880 miles. I can hardly wait (sarcasm).

Melissa has been gone (in Arkansas, starting her new job) now 12 days. Each day has gotten easier, it seems, playing “single parent.” Maggie takes care of herself. I’m amazed at how independent and responsible an 11 year old can be. Mic is gone to school every day (except weekends) from 6:45 to 3:30. All I have to do with Mic is get him up at 6:15 and out the door and when he gets home I just do something with him for a few minutes, feed him, get him his medications, and put him to bed. Melissa has missed much of the packing, but there will be plenty to do in the two days between when she gets home and when the movers arrive. All of us are anxious to see her.

Mic and I spent all day Thursday at Six Flags Elitch Gardens (the Six Flags owned amusement park in Denver. Its situated downtown, which adds a really cool twist to the Denver skyline. When we moved here, 17 years ago, Elitch’s was this little independent amusement park located in the outskirts of Denver proper. Its grown up significantly, since, into a really nice park with five roller coasters and a host of other great rides. One coaster, The Mind Eraser (how ironic is that name?), is one of the three best coasters I’ve ever ridden (The Rock’n Rollercoaster at MGM in Orlando still takes top honors.) We rode The Mind Eraser 3 times. I figured, even if its name held true, what was the risk?

Back to packing tape and boxes. Live the day!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Moron being a “loser”

Just a silly play on words…sorry. In giving this new problem of losing things some thought, I might have come up with a reason why it happens (some, but maybe not all of the time.) Pre-ECT, I might be on my way to put something in its place and realize that there was something else I needed to do. For example, I might have a piece of paper regarding the sale of the house that needed to go in the “Home Sale” file and, on the way to the file, realized that I needed to turn a sprinkler in the backyard off. Before ECT, I would have made a mental note to turn that sprinkler off after I filed the paper, or I might have put the paper on the table, turned the sprinkler off, and then picked the paper up and filed it. Now, however, I think I am more inclined to do the sprinkler thing as I think of it, instead of after filing the paper, because I’m afraid that by the time I get to the file cabinet I will forget what it was I was going to do next (i.e. turn the sprinkler off.) My short term memory still leaves much to be desired. Now, I lay the paper down on the table, turn the sprinkler off, but FORGET to pick the paper back up and file it. It then gets swept into the “great-unknown place” where things not put in their rightful places go, and it never makes it to the “Home Sale” file. I sacrifice organization, unknowingly, to cover the deficit I suffer in short-term memory. Just a theory.

The rest of that theory is that, where before ECT I could put something in a place and then remember where I put it, now I put the thing somewhere and then just can’t remember where I put it. Also, before ECT, my personality and mental approach to things led me to put things in certain places which made sense, allowing me to later remember those places and find those items. My post-ECT personality and mental approach to things differs. This difference results in me putting things in places which make sense at the time, but which may not align very well with the places I look for those things later. Hmmm. Interesting stuff.

Friday, July 14, 2006

ECT has turned me into a “Loser.”

The former “me” was ultra-organized. I never "lost" anything. I knew where everything in my life was located. Need a receipt for that box fan we bought in May of 2002? Got it. Need that screw that fell out of the curtain rod in February? Got that too. I never lost anything or was at a loss for where anything was. Everything had a place, and it was in that place. Call it part of an OCD problem, but it was a useful part.

Now, I would literally lose my head if it wasn’t attached. I leave home without my wallet about 1 out of 3 times I leave (which I don’t discover until I get to the checkout at some store.) I never know where my keys or my cell phone might be. And I can’t keep up with paperwork. Everything might have a specific file into which it goes, but it may or not be there. Melissa won't let me keep important files anymore, or she watches me put things into those files if I refuse to relinquish control of them. Melissa referred me today as a “loser.” She said she has always been a "loser", Mic is a "loser" (Maggie is organized and rarely loses anything), but I have never been a loser until now. Another side effect of the dreaded ECT. At least I am now emotionally stable enough to find that which I have lost.

The quote of the day (no, I don’t have a quote every day, but I do have one for this particular day) is from Voltaire: “If God didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” I won’t get into my philosophy about the existence of God, but let it suffice to say that Voltaire hits a nail on the head. End of needless sidetrack.

A certain commentator made a point of telling me, some time ago, not to “assume any previous learning” in reference to my mention of scuba diving. That was, at the time, good advice, and I find it more meaningful the further from my ECT regimen I get. It seems that more recent learning is more fragmented than more distant learning, but I have found parts of things I learned some time ago to be gone or very hazy. And, certainly, beneath 100 feet of water is no place to discover that I don’t remember how to scuba dive.

Live today like it was your last.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

As the World Turns

In three weeks, three weeks from today to be exact, the moving truck will be at my house loading everything we own for the trip to Arkansas. Since our *vacation* to Arkansas, Melissa and I have been packing machines. We have a house in Arkansas now, a "destination." She has a job. The house is really beginning to feel like a home that is moving, like someone else's house. The garage is full of boxes and the walls are getting bare. I feel like I'm pacing myself: Getting enough packing done to be ready for the move August 1st, but not working so hard or so quickly that I run out of things to do before the big day. With all of the stress of the move and the fine mood balance I still work daily to maintain, staying busy is a critical skill.

Melissa leaves Monday to begin her job in Arkansas. That leaves me and the kids, without her, in a mostly packed house in Colorado for two weeks. Two weeks of packing and surviving (and two weeks of managing Mic on my own) and it scares the hell out of me. I'm not too macho or proud to admit it: I lean on Melissa a lot and I need her. As time goes on, I realize how much I don't know how to do anymore, how much I used to do that Melissa now handles, and how much I've forgotten. Today, for example, Melissa said something about going to the bank and getting some money out of our account. I had to ask "How do I do that?" We moved to the credit union we use while I was very ill, and Melissa has done all of the banking since then. I should be able to figure out how to extract some money from an account, but that sort of abstract thinking makes my head spin. I can't cash a check (because we are about out of checks and don't want to order more before the move), we have no debit cards, and I literally couldn't put together a plan (on the fly) for how to take money out of the bank. I'm sure, if I had to, I could sit down and figure it out on my own. But before depression, before ECT, it would have been something I didn't even have to think about (partly because I did most of the banking and was familiar with how things like that worked in our family, but mostly because my brain just worked a lot more fluidly than it does now.)

The new me that lives in the same old world continues to "re-learn" how to exist. I continue to find holes in my abilities and knowledge. I continue to be reminded of recent memory that is missing and older memory that is very blurry or spotty. I continue to try to figure out how much of the memory damage is from ECT and how much is from the depression preceding the ECT. I continue to wonder who I've disappointed and who is glad to have "this me" instead of no "me" at all. And I continue to be happy for myself that, despite the side effects and neccessary re-learning curve, I am alive to see my kids grow up and to grow old with Melissa.

Here's something straight from the heart of my personality. I've always thought it would be cool to have a nick-name. I've never had one, but I've always wanted one. I realized this weekend that, moving to a new place and meeting mostly all new people, I could just invent a nick-name for myself. My daughter and Melissa think I'm nuts (ok, bad word choice, but you know what I mean.) I could just introduce myself to new people as "Hi, I'm Mike, but my friends call me ______." Now, the hard part: Coming up with the nick-name. I have some possibilities in mind. Something that speaks to the transformation form thbe old me to the new woudl be ideal. Something simple. I would accept any help anyone cares to give (BE NICE.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Winds of Change

Its the 4th of July. Yahoo! (that was sarcastic.) This used to be one of my favorite holidays. Our neighborhood puts on this big party. They serve a big catered lunch always from the same bar-b-que joint (which is very good), there are midway-style games for the kids (which Maggie is now too old for, but Mic, who is two years older, still wants to play.) And then there are **Adult Games**, which is a team competition and involves silly little games at several stations for points. The over all points leader at the end is “the winner” (which sort of stinks because you have to host the games the next year.) Oh, and did I mention that this part of the day involves LOTS of beer?

Since I decided in 2001 that alcohol is an evil which makes my depression spike, July 4th just hasn’t had the same luster. I remember, as a kid in Arkansas, buying fireworks and playing with them for the whole week around July 4th. These were REAL fireworks (bottle rockets, fire crackers, M80s, Roman candles, things that soar into the air and things that explode.) In Colorado, nothing that leaves the ground or explodes is legal (which leaves sparklers.)

Maybe it’s the stress of the move and packing and the disorder and chaos (all fueled by this obsessive NEED to get this damned move done), but I just don’t feel like being around people today. It’s a very people intensive day. All pf the neighborhood will be at this party today, and I'm just not in a "mingling" mood. Instead of eating the great bar-b-que, we are sharing lunch with some friends (because the bar-b-que tickets are too expensive.) Then, we are going to a cookout at some other peoples’ house tonight. I don’t know if I can put on my smiley face all day today. Plus, I know that everyone I talk to will ask me “Any nibbles on your house yet?” “NO! No one has bought our house yet!” Maybe I should have had a t-shirt made so I could avoid answering that damned question over and over. It is amazing how, just less than a week ago, i was consumed by the stress of this $100,000 lien against the house and, suddenly, with that stress resolved, the joy of that resolution has vanished and the stress of selling the house has come right back. I just want this chapter of life to be over, and to get out of Colorado and out from under the pressures and expectations (which I’m sure I create in my own head) that my community holds for me, and start over, fresh. Free from the big **Mental Illness** banner that I carry around, free to work in a liquor store or at Wal-mart or whatever without the people we used to consider friends (back when July 4th was a fun day) snickering behind my back that the once high flying lawyer is now working an hourly job. I look forward to the new context that the move should provide.

I noticed, again today, something about suicide. I’m not depressed. I don’t feel that desire to hide or the hopelessness and contempt for life that once filled every day. I’m not sad or feeling worthless or any of that. I’m stressed, and I’m tired of it. I’m like anyone would be with the constant stress of the last eight weeks surrounding this move and the changes it brings. Like other people would be, with an exception. Once you’ve allowed suicide to be an acceptable solution to the things that trouble you, once you’ve stood on that ledge and looked into the abyss, into the eyes of the Beast, and come to the conclusion that death was better than life, you are a changed person. The threshold at which suicide returns to mind as an option, even if not an option that I would consider at this point, is infinately lower. Melissa doesn't understand how anyone could consiuder suicide. I don't understand how anyone could NOT consider it in some situations. Now, when things get tough, the thought always crosses my mind. Since my last treatment, and for many weeks before that, I haven’t considered suicide as a viable option, but it always presents itself in times of even the slightest doubt. I’m pretty sure that that isn’t true for most people. I’m pretty sure that most people never even think of killing themselves when things get tough. Those of us that have been to that ledge have to walk the ledge carefully. Once you’ve been there, you never get very far from that ledge again, and the danger of falling in, even if jumping into the abyss isn’t your intent, is very great.

Beyond the philosophical bullshit, there have, at least, come some answers and solidifications to our life situation over the last couple of weeks. We have decided to rent a nice house in Arkansas for 6-9 months until we decide where we want to buy and what our current house will provide in the way of equity and while we establish an employment base and income base which will facilitate getting a mortgage (we know where to send the movers now.) The title issue has been resolved and the proper documents have been signed and filed to remove that nasty lien. Melissa has found a full-time, real job in Arkansas which, with a little help from me either through SSDI or part-time work, should (at minimum) make ends meet. And I have planted the seed in the mind of a guy for whom I would like to work (I’ll follow-up with him, a friend of the family, when we get moved.) Positives, positives…focus on the positives.

Happy Independence Day!