I, like many, hate feeling out of control of situations. Any situation. While I don't necessarily need to orchestrate every action, I like the feeling that I can settle anything should shit hit the fan for any reason.
Welcome to my life, which is the complete opposite of anything under control. I suppose most people can say this about their lives to some degree, but in the past few months, even years, I felt like mine was flying off into some outer region of weird.
I've been officially "crazy" for 13 years. Crazy meaning medicated so I don't cry all the time crazy. But when I really look back on it, only a few short instances following the initial diagnosis and subsequent transferring of schools were anything of any substance. Most of the time, for about 8 years, I was on the lowest dose of one antidepressant, just because I had a tendency towards depression and we wanted to just lock all the doors on it. I go to college, I graduate, I go to law school, I pass two bar exams, I have serious relationships (that are healthy and normal) with three guys. All of this on a minimal dose of antidepressants, and with minimal breakthroughs that lasted perhaps 3-5 days max.
I took the BAR EXAM. Anyone who remembers me during that time would say that I was probably more calm than anyone else in the same situation. Even though I hadn't taken 50% of the classes that would be on the test, I wasn't worried. I set up a schedule, hid myself in a sunny, unoccupied corner of the undergrad library, and learned the shit out of the law. I never once flipped out, I never once had a panic attack, and I never once cried about the bar. In fact, I was happy to have something to do, since once school ended I couldn't stand staying idle. I was TEN MINUTES LATE to the last day of the test. TEN. MINUTES. LATE. After approximately 12 minutes of insane freakout realizing I had woken up five minutes before the test began, I calmed down and realized I left the test 20 minutes early every day. I didn't need those ten minutes. I had 99 problems, but a bar ain't one.
2008, as I may have mentioned many a time, was the year that I've worked actively to forget. Within 72 hours I had gotten my first job, gotten dumped by the person I thought I was going to marry, and moved to another city, alone. Crisis, yes. Reason to flip out, yes. Probably didn't help that I was starting my brand new job in this mental state? Yes.
Anyone reading this knows about "the job." I worked there for almost exactly one year, which would have been less if my parents had been able to offer asylum in Missouri earlier than Christmas when I finally left. I have had recurring dreams about this job as recently as four months ago. I not only don't keep in contact with anyone from there, I actively eliminated them from my life by defriending on Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever. I have not set foot in the state of Texas in three years. The last time I did, I was with great friends and we had great fun, but my anxiety was so bad that after about 8 hours I was itching to get on a plane back to LA. I literally did not relax until I was sitting in the airplane seat and the plane pulled back from the gate. I want to see them again badly, but not unless they come to me.
While my stint in Missouri didn't go badly, it was very obviously a stepping stone to where I am right now. A necessary one, but a stepping stone nonetheless. I went into the job looking normal and professional on the outside, but inside I was an anxious, broken person. I thought I could conquer that, and to some extent I did, with my trial wins and work with the sex crimes unit. But towards the end, I was isolating, locking myself in my office where the door once was always open, sometimes crying at my desk for reasons I can't remember. It had to end, and it did, more mutually than my boss originally thought when he walked into my office that day. And when I walked out, instead of fear or sadness, I felt relief.
To be fair, the road I chose wasn't the easiest, and the last few years have been difficult financially and career-wise despite being the greatest choice I've ever made. But I reacted differently to things when they'd happen. I was constantly anxious about money, irritable to the point of bitchiness, and generally discontent.
A few months ago, my best friend sent me an article about the county I worked for in Texas, and the national scandal that they had gotten into for hiding evidence and putting an innocent man in prison for 25 years. It was probably 15 pages of online text, and I sat there and read the whole thing at once. And I lost it. I sobbed uncontrollably while I read it and afterwards for a week when I'd think of it. I was so angry. SO angry. I wanted everyone to know how horrible this place was. I reposted the article on my Facebook and Twitter, then subsequently followed up with any updates, not able to control the rage I felt. Why isn't everyone this angry about this? Why is no one shouting? Why is your only response "That's so sad"? It IS sad, but you should be ANGRY.
I had my first panic attack about accounting. A miniscule part of my grade in my business class that I couldn't seem to get, even with help, caused me to have to miss class because I wasn't sure if I was going to cry, vomit, break something, or all of the above. I had two more in the span of a month. One caused me to quit my internship. I wasn't sure why I was so anxious, but I knew that I was angry. Constantly angry, at whatever or whomever may have crossed my path that day. For weeks, all I wanted was to lock myself in a closet and not see a human. There was nowhere I could go that I didn't see people. I literally wanted to be in a sensory deprivation chamber. Daily.
I changed medications almost weekly, and nothing was working. This in itself frustrated me. Not knowing how to fix this problem made me even angrier. And last week I broke. Small things in one day piled up into an endless leaning tower of rage and it all came crashing down on my living room floor on the fetal position, sobbing and wanting so desperately to take some dishes outside and just break them on the pavement to hear the sound. Why, after seven years of relative sanity and minimal medication, was there a now highly medicated and seriously insane person on the floor considering voluntarily committing herself at the hospital?
After crying to my dad and my mom about the inane things that brought about this breakdown, I phoned my shrink and begged him for the first available appointment. Instead of just medication, I wanted a full hour of therapy. He needed to know what was going on. My irregular appointments for refills and checkups were only about my physical symptoms, my moods, how I was feeling day in and day out. He didn't know my life history, just my medical history. On Monday he finally got it, as much as I could spew, in the 55 minutes I had to save my own sanity.
He looked as if he had an epiphany. It all suddenly made sense. He knew why the other medications he had given me didn't work. And he suddenly knew that this was something that together, with therapy and meds, we could actually fix. PTSD. I never knew it was a condition outside of military personnel, why would I think of it? But it explained things. Why I could lay by the pool with a margarita while everyone else flipped out about the bar exam, but five years later why I started having panic attacks about a one page math homework. Likely why I have such an intense aversion, perhaps fear, of working in the real world after graduation. Why I isolated myself when I couldn't handle things. And why, when asked, I can't remember details about a place I worked for a year save some vague incidents when I know it was daily hell. I've forgotten people's names. I really don't remember much more than my office and the courtroom, while I remember many details from my Missouri job.
I left his office that day calmer than I've been in probably years. I wasn't suffering from some undiagnosable mental ailment that kept getting worse and requiring more medication. This wasn't my brain wiring, unfortunate genetics or a weakness. This wasn't my fault. This was done TO me. We have a plan. We have a direction. And we have, finally, some control over a situation that has been out of control for five and a half years. I'm not better yet, but I regained control of my life - and that fact in itself has changed my outlook in the span of a day. I'm going to be okay.