change of scenery

Vacation is like deodorant; it can cover up things that stink, but when you reach the end of the stick things start to stink again.

We really needed a vacation, and for a few days it was in doubt whether we would get to go at all due to Nicole’s mental health, but she improved to the point that we could realistically leave home for a week. She flew with my wife to North Carolina because she gets too anxious to be in the car for more than a few minutes. I drove the 10-hour trip with all our stuff and picked them up at the airport.

We spent a lot of the time sitting at the beach house, watching the endless waves, feeling the breeze, and doing very little. I checked work emails a couple of times, and I worried about the cats and the house, but otherwise our problems were left behind for a much needed break. The sound of the surf made me feel more calm and relaxed than I had for quite a while, and I could feel the stress melting away.

Oh well, at least we had a few days of relaxation before the next crisis appeared. Nicole caught an uncommon fungal skin virus from somewhere, and it took over the rest of our vacation. After a visit to an NC doctor and another doctor after returning home, hopefully the treatment will kill the fungus.

So we’re back at home now. The cats were fine and happy to see us, and I had to mow twice because the grass was several inches too tall, but nothing bad happened while we were away.

We’ll see what happens with everything that was going on before the trip. Will Nicole’s mental health improve or go backwards? Will my wife choose to see someone about anxiety, or just talk about it because she’s too stubborn to take meds? Will we need to replace our septic system at considerable expense? Will I walk away from my job? How long will it be before I say “fuck it all” and go on my own vacation?

Strangely for me, I didn’t spend a lot of time overthinking about everything during the drive to NC and back. I think I concentrated more on the act of driving, in part due to the rain and the traffic delays. I had lots of music, which always helps me stop thinking. Yes, I sing in the car, but very poorly and an octave lower; I also drum on the steering wheel. One time I lost a drumstick out of the car window, so I had to listen to Def Leppard. (I know, that’s bad.)

restless

Being restless is a life-long condition for me. My adoptive mom was a school bus driver, so there was a lot of motion when I was a kid. The daily route to school was the same, but there was always something new I never noticed before. Sometimes she would get to drive a class field trip on Saturdays, so of course I went along just to see something new.

Maybe when your home is a place of stress and abuse, you want to be anywhere but at home. I lived literally next door to national forest land, and I explored there as much as I possibly could. I knew all the dirt roads and made my own trails, whether on foot or bicycle. My innate sense of navigation meant I was never lost, even when I wandered further than a youngster should. When it was time to come home, my mom would signal me with a boater’s air horn. I never wanted to hear that sound, but by then I was hungry, so I would make my way back to the house.

When I was younger, I didn’t fit in very well at school, and I was frequently melancholy or sad. I can clearly remember sitting in my 3rd grade class one day, not listening to the teacher, looking outside at the blue sky and the clouds, and wishing I was alone in my forest instead of being trapped in a social world I wasn’t part of. Sometimes I would fake a headache or stomach ache just to get out of school. I didn’t really want to be at the bus garage with A-mom, but at least I could be away from the other kids. Sometimes I would sleep or read in her bus by myself, but sometimes she would take me to lunch and I felt miraculously better.

When I was older I was allowed to take the car by myself, and suddenly I could explore anywhere I wanted (within the limits of my gas money). I never took the same road home from work, going out of my way to see something new. But I lived in a small town, and I ran out of new roads too quickly.

When I became an adult I had more freedom, so sometimes I would drive miles and miles late into the night. One time I had a tough day at work, and I could see thunderstorms building over the Sierra Nevada, so on a whim I decided to drive to the mountains after work until I found the rain. Another time I drove through the farms in the valley in the middle of the summer night, windows down, smelling the soil and the crops and the water. Sometimes I would take a drive to Sacramento or San Francisco and explore; anything to get away from the place I was in.

Even now, I have an understanding with my wife that I can go on a drive when I need to clear my mind or when I just become too restless. She has been pretty understanding about it, even when I spend the night. As long as I come home, she is okay with it most of the time. I don’t like taking the time for myself, but I need to do it sometimes. When I’ve been out long enough, I get to come back home to a familiar place where I am loved. That’s a pretty good deal.

instability

I’m used to my brain throwing curveballs now and then, but since the most recent manic episode something seems to have permanently changed for the worse. I’ve lost whatever stability I had in the previous year, and it has been replaced by rapidly changing highs and lows.

Since quitting the Latuda, I have had significant OCD and anxiety problems (see this previous post). I started taking Klonopin a week ago, just a small dosage, and I don’t think it has helped very much. Most days I have been edgy and frazzled, like I am just barely in control of things.

I have slept okay some nights, then not so much on other nights. There have been a couple of days where I was so tired I was falling asleep at my desk (one benefit of working from home). I had to nap during my lunchtime to feel better. Then I wasn’t tired at bedtime, and I had to self-medicate with a little whiskey to fall asleep.

On two days this past week I have been so wound up at the end of the day that I have to get out of the house. I ended up driving about 2+ hours both times. Friday night I just had to get on the freeway and go fast; yesterday I wandered aimlessly through Amish country before finding a freeway and coming home.

Another thing wrong with my brain is my reaction to caffeine. Apparently I can only drink decaf coffee, because when I have regular coffee the tics and shakes increase within an hour. Soda seems to have a lesser effect, but I still feel it. It fucking sucks because I love coffee, and decaf usually tastes bad.

I’m glad I am dealing with this now and not at an office full of people (another benefit of working from home). I don’t have to hide my daily roller-coaster from everyone and pretend to be “fine”, whatever the fuck that is. My wife knows I am abby-normal right now, and she’s concerned, but is mostly just trying to stay out of my way. I have been telling her I’m not in any danger, which is true.

I don’t want to admit it, but maybe I should go back to the meds I was taking six months ago and see what happens. I was stable, I was sleeping, and I felt like I was mostly in control. However, I was depressed most of the time, so that wasn’t good. Now, I’m just feeling exhausted and hyperactive at the same time.

Sorry if this is rambling; I’m just spewing this out and not editing at all. Just like my thoughts right now. It’s bedtime, so I’ll see if I can get some sleep. Bye for now.