Thank you to Mark Walmsley of the Arts and Culture Network, which is really…
Sometimes you just feel alone in this world. Because sometimes there’s just too much of life going on and you can hardly keep up, much less remain whole, much less be there for everybody else the way you wish you could be.
I always hope I can be there for the people I love, but I had to kiss that ability goodbye at the end of April. I just ended up running out of whatever energy and abilities it took to do that.
April was my third round of TMS. Each cycle is 30 treatments.
So for thirty days, every weekday, I went to the hospital and received a TMS treatment. And then I came home and went back to work. So life could be as uninterrupted as possible while I was totally changing my brain.
But the thing is that you can’t expect life to be ‘as uninterrupted as possible’ when you are totally changing a key part of it.
No matter how much I tried to keep everything together, TMS was completely overwhelming. Even though it’s the best treatment I’ve ever had. And even though I’ll do it another ten times if I have to.
TMS is similar to ECT, but it does not require anesthesia because it does not cause a seizure. It goes just to the point before creating a seizure, if I understand it. I’m not sure I understand it yet. And I’ve had 90+ treatments. But it’s amazing. I know that.
And TMS does not have awful side effects. It has a few side effects, but they are minor and manageable so I can still work my day job, although I had to take off some time each day for extra sleeping because the experience was physically and mentally draining.
And TMS, for me, caused two major changes in my brain, besides eliminating recurrent thoughts of violence and harm (which was the actual goal).
TMS whirled up the creative activity in my brain and also brought back loads of memories, although they are in bits and pieces. So basically, my brain was on fire. But in the good way.
So yes, everything that was happening was good. But it was exhausting and isolating and lonely. And it wasn’t a situation that was easily fixed with any one thing like yoga or meditation or exercise or diet.
Getting your brain back to normal is just something that takes time.
And time just takes time. It’s true.
The problem is that while I was getting TMS, life was happening all around me, as life tends to do. During TMS, some really difficult stuff happened and I just wasn’t in the best condition to handle it. And the people around me were taxed because they were going through it too. Because that’s how it happens in life.
But I am hopeful that now, with my brain free of the TMS daily pounding, I can recover it to the point where I can relax and enjoy a productive day at work followed by some zone-inducing cartooning and time with besties. Throw in a few miles of exercise or a few hours of painting and life is really good. : )
My brain really wants that. And I really want that.
So I am putting all of my hope into the magic of May. The magic of a May spent mending the body and mind. I am hoping to make time for lunches and dinners outside with the people I love the most. And I am looking forward to getting back to being helpful – whether it’s as a lawyer, a cartoonist or a person who knows how feeling bad feels.
I made a mistake last weekend and I tried to do too much. And I failed. And I got upset about it. And then I got upset about getting upset.
It was actually simple. I was literally just exhausted. But I guess I thought I could beat exhaustion.
And I guess I couldn’t.
So instead, I resorted to old unhelpful habits and beat myself up about it. And my OCD brain immediately jumped into action, making all sorts of rules to guarantee I would never take on too much again so I would never let anyone down again.
Because letting people down is the biggest shame and fear of any condition. It doesn’t matter whether it’s mental illness, addiction, cancer, or something chronic.
We are all so proud of our accomplishments, our contributions, our gifts to others, our wins. We all want so much to be at our best and to do our best and to give others our best.
And then, when we are broken down into our disabled states of parts that just aren’t working together well, we are embarrassed at the fact that we are human.
We shrivel away from others because of our humanity when humanity, in theory, should bring us together.
What I really needed last week was the rooms of AA, but I’m not an addict. I needed a room I could drop by on the way home or on the way back to work. I needed a room where I could stop in and say “Boy, Life is turned up to an 11 today and I am really just blowing it.” And hopefully that room, as advertised, would have coffee and donuts. And hugs. With or without masks. Those hugs that say “Been there, done that, go ahead and cry. Then we’ll laugh.”
I spent a lot of years around AA and NA meetings because of my work in mental health. Those rooms are amazing. They make me wish I had a problem that qualified me for their meetings.
But all I’ve got is a messed up brain and too much of life happening now. My only addictions are habitual thinking that I try very hard to disable with tiresome-but-it-works CBT and mostly healthy living. Even though OCD feels and looks like an addiction a lot of the time, it’s not actually an addiction. Yes, it’s an area of study. : )
So I’m just doing what I can.
I’m getting my work done. And focusing on my cartoons. And making really yummy coffee.
And I’m making sure that May is all about getting back to people and laughing and letting things go unless there’s a really good reason to hold onto them.
And watching shows that make me smile. And taking extra dog walks. And getting to the Cathedral more now that the weather is so pretty.
And appreciating the little surprises along the way.
Like appreciating the fact that when I looked up my Google account password, it turned out to be a variation on “AmazingToMe” – which made me smile.
Yes, I have changed it since publishing it. I suspect I was listening to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir when I came up with that one. I love the BTC because they remind me to celebrate amazement and wonder.
And I was grateful that the password made me smile. Because sometimes it feels like I haven’t smiled in a long time. Even though I have little homework assignments that remind me to smile. Every day.
P.S. If you have any idea how to get me unlocked out of Google Groups, let me know. Google beats me every time so I am not about to try figuring it out.
So I hope your Sunday is wonderful and relaxing and possibly rejuvenating.
When you change your passwords, make them something that makes you smile. Who knows, maybe that will help you remember them better!
May this May Be Better Each Day.
Remember to Do Something Different.
And put more things in your path that remind you to smile. Even if they are just passwords.
xoxoxo, d and bella