Wednesday, April 02, 2014

This is me...then

My life is changing. A lot. Some by choice some by design but all for the better. I am trying to understand myself and those around me. Somedays are hard and these changes fit poorly and look matronly and sad. I will work it out eventually. The one thing I've learned is that everything is temporary. 

What is sticking in my craw is not being able to match communication with people. For instance, explaining the difference between anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds to someone who thinks Psychology is voodoo and all pills are a crutch is frustrating as fuck. So I am upset, and I feel unsupported because the person I love and want to marry is a complete clod about modern medicine.

It's the tried and true way of black folks. The majority believe that mental health services are akin to witch doctory. Well buddy, let me tell you about who I was before all that fancy chemical balancing medication I've been taking since the early 90's. It's the only thing standing between me and abject insanity. It's the reason I am able to live the life I have now, and most of the reason you tolerate me at all.

I am a profoundly depressed individual. Have been since adolescence. It's taken forever for me to get to the point where I can feel comfortable even taking the damn things much less tell folks that I do. So when I get pushback (for doing what A. Is smart and B. Is my chosen degree program) from someone who is also profoundly fucked up with years of latent anger and grief, drowned for 15 years in liquor to dull it, I get irritated.

So, while I probably won't tell him, let me tell you who the unmedicated Avin was. Avin, in her early 20's only had trash that clinked. She chain smoked and contemplated suicide daily. She indescriminatly fucked random guys from the internet and the office, spent an inordinate amount of time causing others problems and basically not giving a fuck. AT. ALL. This fucked up individual was someone's mother. A very small, very impressionable boy and though I never put him in the direct line of harm, I did make stupid shitty ass choices that could have turned into a real mess. One night after a high school friend turned stalker found my number and called 20 times in 3 hours I had a had enough. I found Paxil and a shrink after a nervous breakdown and my entire world changed.

Over the years I have changed meds and doctors but the fact remains the same without pills I am a wild card. I found that out the hard way this summer. My cash started running low and I couldn't afford my shrink because of the crapass insurance my former boss offered. So I started running out of meds at possibly the worst time imaginable. My fiancé almost killed himself in a drunken blackout car wreck and I started fretting about the future. My dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer...again, and my folks had to go to California for 6 weeks for his partial nephrectomy. Work got intense and without my trusty meds to bolster me, the depression crept back in and I started spiraling. I was either angry or crying every day. I stopped talking to friends, snapping at family and generally just being a jerk. My anxiety which goes and and hand with my depression started affecting my sleep. I called off the wedding. In fairness, I wasn't getting any help and I was out of money anyway. Then I stopped sleeping, and started trying to combat the insomnia with excersize.  It didn't work. Basically, I was a terror for 3 months, a living breathing monster having panic attacks constantly.

Then I spoke to my therapist who (god love her) let me come free of charge for a while till my money got right. Only then did the world come into focus again. By then I had a mess to clean up, my fiancé was accusing me of all sort of treachery, and my friends were like wtf. Needless to say, if I can avoid going off my meds I do.

So, when I got laid off in March, I was at least smart and lucky enough to reup and fast. I have enough to make it until my ACA healthcare kicks in. That and I had a chance encounter with a lady at my night job (henceforth referred to as my only job) who told a funny story about her cat who comes when she chants. She's Buddhist, and something in me volunteered that I have always had an interest in the practice. She invites me to their center and I take her card. That was the day before New Year's Eve and while I considered attending, my nerves got the better of me but I put her card in my purse. 

Fast forward to my being axed from a job I hated anyway by an awful man with no integrity on Fat Tuesday no less. As I clean out my desk in anger, blinking back tears, I find my Buddhist friend's card and I know immediately what I need to do. So I email her that day  and though I have no job and no prospects I am one thing and that is a practicing buddhist. I have always felt like one in my heart and I took to it like a duck to water. I chant every morning and evening and I fellowship with other Buddhists.

It to me was inevitable. The house full of Buddhas, the enormous tattoo on my back. Come on, I've always known and honestly so did my family. Friends have been super supportive and even the fiancé has been complementary. I feel better, hopeful, happy despite the obvious challenges of having no full time employment and a mortgage.

No matter, I chant the Daimoku and Gongyo with determination and it feels amazing. That said, positivity and purpose are wonderful, but I still have to take my meds. These things do not remove chemical imbalance. Facts are facts. So, that's who I am now but surely, things could be very different for me. I now understand that there are no accidents in Buddhism only cause and effect. Just like being laid off is the path that will lead me to something better, Zelda's card on my desk that day was no coincidence.

Everything is temporary, including this not having a job thing and I know because I chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I chant for my fiancé to understand that the medicine isn't a crutch, and I chant to stay focused and positive about new employment. I even chant for people who  most would feel don't deserve it, like my former boss. It's a daily reminder that I am working toward a better life for me and all those around me.