Saturday, May 10, 2008

Notebook Leprosy

My days were seemingly falling off of each other into an undistinguished pool. Like they were falling off of a water wheel. Once the day fell into the swirled, foamy, depths it was lost. It fell and formed into the rest. Unintelligible became one to another.

Had I done that task yesterday, or week ago? Is that asparagus a bundle bought a few days ago or is the memory i had just sporadically salvaged from 2 weeks ago.

I always had a photographic memory. There were slight glitches in its application but overall I had a good memory. With impeccable reverence to detail. Now I was having trouble being able to place anything. Time had scrambled and I was housing memories inconsecutively. I brought it up to my doctor and he blamed my recently augmented dose of daily lithium. He didn't want to change doses again. He really felt we finally had broken the code of my mental illness. His only offering to make this feel manageable was "Start carrying a notebook."
I stared at him as blankly as he was staring at me. "A notebook?" It was a question, but the tone was flat.
"Yes. Keep it with you and date the pages. Write things down."
"I should write down what days I buy asparagus?!"
"Look. Write down the things that have been bothering you not to remember. The meds are obviously helping. They just aren't perfect. As far as side effects go this is not a bad one."

He scribbled this months dose onto a prescription pad handed to to me and told me to schedule next months appointment with the receptionist. He stood. Signaling to me that our time was over.

When I entered my car i was irritated. My jaw was tight and my brow furrowed. I felt like this was now my disability. Arising out of the treatment of my other tarnishing quality. I really liked my doctor. He had helped me more than anyone I had memory of. MEMORY. MEMORY. MEMORY. The word was taunting me. Remember. Remembrance. Memories. All of them creating a circle around me in my mind. Pointing and laughing. I had really hoped he could help with this. Like he had helped before when everyone else had thrown their hands in the air in defeat. Waving a white flag to my mental illness. I'll explain. Ever since I can remember I had been subject to severe sadness and nervousness. Some of my earliest memories are of being sad. I couldn't sleep much. My mind never quit. There were times when it was less of an issue and there were times when it was all I could do to keep through the motions. The unpredictable cycles were consistently there but the diagnosis was always changing. From being just a nervous child. To hormonal depression. To bipolar. In my adult life I was able to self manage the cycle with meticulous schedule keeping. Filling every second with a task. Easily done with a young child and a husband who was unable to handle a single task beyond those that were making him money. I did have occasional breakdowns that would leave me nervously bedridden for days. In a swirling, dizzy, confused, sleep deprived and brutal depression. The breakdowns always coincided with either a breakdown in my schedule or a particularly cold interaction with my husband.

After the marriage fell apart. I fell into the longest episode I had ever experienced. It lasted 8 months. I saw 5 different doctors. Including 3 psychiatrists. They tried to stick to the Bi-polar diagnosis, but since I hadn't had a single day of manic happiness, ever. They had a hard time with it. It wasn't just depression, because even in the days that I would not leave the soft safety of my bed I wouldn't sleep more than three to five hours. The diagnosis became mixed state bipolar disorder with sever anxiety. Even after that was tentatively established I was shuffled around to different people all with different med formations they thought would "At least take the edge off." No one was ever very confident. Offering to make it all just this side of agony.

The man whose office i had just left was the first person to acknowledge that it was obviously not okay to just get me functional. I was young and needed to be able to do things with my life. He found the right combination after a few tries and no guarantees. I was feeling better than I can ever remember. Now i was having trouble remembering and all he could offer me was a patch, a cane, a crutch, an enabling object! A notebook.

5 comments:

FreNeTic said...

I would be very suspicious if your therapist moonlighted as a tattoo artist.

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