Breakdown Hangaround Hangover

Standard in late May, I was at the beginning of the worst neurotic episode of my life. I’ve only had three real, true events most people would call nervous breakdowns and this one took the cake. June is really hazy and July isn’t much better. Finally, around the first week of August, the skies started to clear a bit and I realized I was going to make it out of this black hole one more time. For eight weeks, it was touch and go. Budge worried herself sick and did the only thing she knew to do, which was collect all my guns and have a friend of ours put them away for safe keeping.

That’s a funny story in itself because he is NOT a gun person and I’ve got a good many guns so he was trying to collect them without Keaudee biting his face off or one of the bad nasty pistols shooting him in the foot. He managed, but just barely. Of course, I didn’t know anyone was collecting my guns and I’m pretty attached to them so when Budge told me they were all gone temporarily, I was angry. Well, a little more than angry, but that’s another story for probably not another time.

My therapist was worried too. He’s shepherded me through a few rough patches, including the immediate aftermath of Mama’s death, but this was a new look from me. He told me at one point he was considering calling my psychiatrist who was ALSO extremely concerned. I’ve been Dr. Stephens’ patient for around eight years now and he told me later I was hands down the absolute worst he’s ever seen me. Both of them said they really wanted me to get some inpatient treatment, but after my last stay in a psych ward, they both knew I would have exploded at the mention of checking myself in and that I was smart enough to fool anyone they tried to use to have me checked in involuntarily. They were right, of course, on all counts. I’ve made it clear to anyone who’ll listen that frost will form on the hinges of Hell before I ever lose my freedom like that again.

So, eight weeks went by in a daze that wasn’t a daze. Here’s the irony of being in the midst of a psychotic break — you feel perfectly normal while thinking everyone else around you is batshit crazy. I had ideas and made up plans that sounded perfectly sound in my head, I mean some way out in ionosphere stuff, and I’d get all bent out of shape . . . well, moreso I guess . . . when anyone tried to point out how bad of an idea I had really come up with. That’s tough on me, but even tougher on the people around me. You may not believe me, but under the right conditions, your own mind can turn on you and try pretty hard to kill you if it can.

I cried a bunch, too. Of course, Budge said the crying wasn’t nearly as unnerving as the laughing. Sometimes, I’d just start laughing this absolutely maniacal laugh and she would get really quiet and turn kind of pale. This was especially hard on her because it was the first time I’d gone completely off the reservation and she didn’t have anyone to turn to. Before, she could always count on Mama to help wrangle me back around to the right path, but she was on her own this go round. I think she did just fine. She found friends and resources she didn’t know were around and people stepped up to help HER.

See, I’m a master faker. It’s a talent I picked up long time ago to deal with difficult situations. I can make someone who doesn’t know me think I’m right as rain and fine as frog hair when I’m actually in the midst of a major suicidal downward spiral. However, it doesn’t work on a very select group of people. I never could fake out Mama. Cook, my college roommate, could always read me like a book — even between the lines, and of course, after almost 20 years, I can’t get anything past Budge. It draws her down though, dealing with me. That’s what I mean by she had people willing to step up and help look after her and give her strength. I’m thankful for them for doing what by right I should have been doing when I temporarily lost the capacity to do for myself.

Then, the sky turned blue and unicorns started farting rainbows all over the place. For two weeks, I was not just back to normal, I was on the verge of a manic spell, which is almost as bad as a psy-break, just in another way. But now, things are settling down and that is where what I call the post-breakdown hangover comes in.

For awhile, after the danger has passed and your mind lets you out of the trap, you get this sense that everything is actually going to be okay this time. You think you finally did it and the dragon is slain and you are going to be normal at long last. Unfortunately, that initial euphoria wears off. Something pricks your balloon and sends you back to earth with a jar instead of a full on crash. That’s where I am now.

Instead of being back to “normal,” I’m back to “my normal.” I’m having a little trouble sleeping again. I have to remember to take my newest (4th) anti-depressant because it comes at a different time of day. Mama’s still gone. All the old problems are still there, they’ve just allowed themselves to be stuffed back into their carrying cases for me to pick up and carry on with. That feeling hurts. For a brief shining moment you get a glimpse of a life without any kind of depression or anxiety or other issues. Just for a little while, the sky is a spotless, cloudless blue.

However, just like I finally managed to let myself be led out of the valley, I don’t get to sit on the summit either. I wish I did, but that’s not how it works. So, I’m back to being me and not the close acquaintance living in my head who desperately would like to kill me for whatever reason. That realization always comes with a hint of sorrow and makes the recovery from such a terrible episode taste faintly bitter, and not bittersweet either.

So, the dragon just fell unconscious, but he’s not dead. I’ve heard the black dogs howling over in the distance — I know they are just reminding me that they are still around so I don’t get too cocky. It was eight years between episodes this time and they get worse as they go, so I’m hoping against hope this was the last one. Each successive round takes a little out of your soul and leaves you a little less whole than you were before, but for now, it is enough.

Love y’all and keep your feet clean.

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