It had been nine years since I was last hospitalized in a psychiatric institution, but I ended up staying in one for most of my holiday break. I’m tired. Chris is making me a lot of tea to drink. I lie under warm blankets and do comforting things, and speak with comforting people.
music, again, by the wonderful haunting party
“i’ll be home for christmas”
december 24, 2011
At my doctor’s request, I had my valproic acid levels retested last night. She was having a hard time believing that without adjusting my medication, and without my performing the test incorrectly (10-12 hours after last dose), that my levels could have plummeted so severely with seemingly no explanation. I balked. I didn’t want to miss any more work than I had already missed for medical problems. But Chris was sweet enough to drive me to the clinic after work, and I showed up to work an hour and a half early, so I went and got the test done again. Thankfully, it seems that not many people go to the laboratory for bloodwork at 5:30 PM on a Tuesday late afternoon, so I was in and out of there relatively quickly.
The numbers came back at around 3:30 AM (I was, thankfully, asleep); I checked them as soon as I woke up. Had I been wrong? Had this whole months-long bout of insanity been a figment unrelated to organic causes? The result: 41. Still substantially below what it had ever been before, and still definitely below therapeutic levels. This is a relief in some ways, but I am also still very tired.
Unrelatedly, I’m also on Tylenol-3 now in combination with ibuprofen for my weird, rotated pelvis, and I’ve got physical therapy for that tomorrow. It hurts the worst in the morning and at night — I need to strengthen my core. I need to remember that I feel better when I eat. I need to remember that it gets better. I need to remember not to ask for too much.
It’s 6:48 AM. I got out of bed before 5. It’s pitch-black outside, the streetlamps are on, and I’ve got my light simulator blasting at me full-force. The book is on hold right now. I don’t have it in me. I somehow managed to get my holiday shopping done. I don’t have it in me to mail everything before the holidays. If you are reading this and expect a present from me, mea culpa.
I leave you with this:
Come back to us. However cold and raw, your feet
were always meant
to negotiate terms with bare cement.
Beyond this concrete wall is a wall of concrete
and barbed wire. Your only hope
is to come back. If sing you must, let your song
tell of treading your own dung,
let straw and dung give a spring to your step.
If we never live to see the day we leap
into our true domain,
lie down with us now and wrap
yourself in the soiled grey blanket of Irish rain
that will, one day, bleach itself white.
Lie down with us and wait.
from “Gathering Mushrooms,” Paul Muldoon
Team Es has really been holding me up over the last five months, but the last two weeks in particular have been especially rallying times for the team to get together, to have the hard conversations, to help me get help, to say, You can make it through this day, and in Chris’ case, to email me a Louis CK video (among a million other things). These are the days when talking about doing outpatient hospitalization instead of “doing Christmas” happens; these are the days when I cry and it doesn’t feel good; these are the days when I have to go to the doctors five times in one week and act like it ain’t no thang while stuff wraps up at work, and I get to hear, Thanks for all of your hard work.
I had bloodwork done on Friday and the mood stabilizer that’s been keeping me mostly okay for the last ten years is supposed to be between 50 and 150 to be therapeutic. The bloodwork has indicated that I’m at the merry old number of 38, and at least gives me an explanation as to why, as I joke, the meatloaf tastes like ash.
If you’re reading this and you’re a member of Team Esmé, I just wanna say that you’re amazing, really and truly amazing, and I am so grateful for you, during a holiday season when it’s important to remember how good I’ve got it, and how much people give.
Every morning the maple leaves.
Every morning another chapter where the hero shifts
from one foot to the other. Every morning the same big
and little words all spelling out desire, all spelling out
You will be alone always and then you will die.
excerpt, “Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out,” Richard Siken
& this is not about me. & if I have learned anything in the last two days, it’s that Team Esmé will do their damnedest to be there for me.