Tag Archives: masturbation

The Very Distracting Elephant Has All Of My Attention

I almost never think about this because I kind of don’t really care, but it comes up now and then, at which point I’m forced to think about it, which often leads me to the conclusion that I still don’t really care.

I have ADHD as well as bipolar, which is pretty common. I often forget I have ADHD even though I’ve been diagnosed with it twice and treated for it twice, and I feel like maybe there’s a joke hiding in the fact that I generally don’t remember that I have ADHD. I guess part of it is that my ADHD is really mild and treating it with meds ended up exacerbating my bipolar symptoms a whole lot more than it alleviated my ADHD symptoms, so it’s really not worth it. Most of the time (but not all of the time), the meds you get for ADHD are stimulants, usually methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) or amphetamine salts (Adderall). I tend to think of these drugs as “legal speed” much the same way that oxycodone is arguably “legal heroin,” because prescription stimulants can be a little intense and cause a person to behave in ways that are similar to their illicit, street-dwelling cousins.

Way back in April, 2006, a few months before she turned 19 and after an inexplicable plummet in academic performance at the beginning of college, Laura’s well-meaning dad brought her to a specialist to get tested for ADHD. Currently, Laura isn’t 100% sure why she’s speaking in the third person, but she’s gonna keep doing it for a sec, so deal. The nice doctor (he really was super nice) prescribed Laura 18mgs of long-acting methylphenidate a day. Upon beginning treatment with the methylphenidate, Laura did not sleep more than 4 hours a night for about 6 weeks (“night” meaning between the hours of 7:00 and 11:00 a.m., after the sun was up). During the day, Laura spent hours and hours playing guitar in her room and doing little else. She…fuck it, I’m done with the third person thing…I couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes while it was still dark out because I was afraid of this or that faceless, gloomy specter, likely a shifting amalgamation of horror movie previews, posters, photos, and fucked up memories. So, I was almost 19 and so afraid of the boogeyman that I kept every light in my room on all night and tried to keep blinking to a minimum. Once the sun came up and I heard my parents moving around the house, I felt Ok to close my eyes and get some sleep, but I still usually kept the lights on. The point is that I got bizarrely paranoid of shit I don’t and didn’t actually believe in (demons, ghosts, the remaining peppery flakes of my gothic-ass Catholic upbringing – side point: I posit that growing up Catholic predisposes nervous people to deeply intense but irrational fears, or at least that’s what happened to me).

So I was getting by on 4 hours of sleep, hyper-focused on creative projects, and immensely paranoid of the dark. It was a weird time. Through those long nights, I watched a lot of shitty romance movies and replayed the sex scenes over and over (bonus points If the DVD had a cache of scenes deleted from the film for being TOO HOT FOR THEATERS!), because, at 18, I had done most of the sex things I was then interested in doing, but not all of the sex things I was interested in doing, and I wanted to make sure my orgasming visage would be the right combination of sexy and cultivated* when said visage would smear itself all over my face.** Pro tip: don’t explore your own sexuality by watching adaptations of Nicholas Sparks books, you won’t have any fun. DO masturbate more.

Shit calmed down a lot after that first 6 weeks, but the paranoia stuck around, kinda shapeshifting. I felt I could sleep with the lights off, but I was convinced people were watching me from their windows when I walked around outside. It should go without saying that by “watching” I also mean “judging” which is a little funny to think about, when I root around in that notion a bit more and realize how important I must’ve felt. I went back to school for my sophomore year of college (which, for like a dozen reasons was a total blast, despite the really bad cockroach problem in my apartment), but over the course of that year, my paranoias got worse. In quiet elevators or train cars, I was never sure if I was talking or thinking, so my brain would go off the rails, whipping up waltzing cyclones of hateful language that I never use in real life, like just to fuck with me. Did I really just call that woman standing next to me a [blank-ity blank blank]??? I would never call a person that! She has to know I don’t think she or anyone is a [nope-ity nope nope]!!! So my solution to this was to bite my lips. Like real hard. ‘Cause if I was chomping down on my lips, I couldn’t be also using them to hurl obscene epithets at elevator strangers, right?

In a moment of clarity, I realized that the shit that was happening to me re: this paranoia nonsense and the things I was doing to cope with it were stupid and making my life needlessly stressful. So I called my doctor and told him I was gonna stop taking the methylphenidate and he said Ok. Fun thing (and my psychiatrist has told me this more than once): sometimes when you stop taking a medication, the side-effects you experienced when you were first taking it that went away after your body adjusted can come back. And mine did SO HARD. I became completely hypomanic (which I didn’t know was a thing at the time). I may have told this anecdote before but for like about 2 weeks, my poor, poor roommates had to deal with my assertion, nay, my insistence that the floor was a trampoline. Thusly, I would often start screaming, “THE FLOOR IS A TRAMPOLINE!” while jumping up and down in the living room (which should’ve scared the roaches at least a little, but totally didn’t, those fuckers are hardy as hell). I was bathed in awe, and the object of my awe was skyscrapers, which was pretty convenient since I live(d) in a major city. I haven’t had a hypomanic episode with that awe component in it for a really long time, but it’s not unusual for a person experiencing mania or hypomania to feel an intense reverence for X thing. People often land on stuff like trees or mountains or bodies of water, but it can really be almost anything. I considered skyscrapers to be these magnificent testaments to human ingenuity – from the minds of the architects who envisioned them to the hands of the workers who made their integrity incarnate. It was all very poetic, etc.

Then my dad died. I was reaching this unbelievable psychic climax when, without warning, my dad was felled in seconds by a faulty heart. I was still hypomanic during the first week or so of grieving my dad, which may be the most surreal thing that’s ever happened to me, if you don’t count psychedelics.

All this weirdness ’cause of some ADHD pills. When I returned to college post-graduation to study more Philosophy, I was put on Adderall, but this time, I was also taking mood stabilizers, so I didn’t have any significant episodes, none that I can readily recall, anyway.

So, it comes up in therapy now and then. The ADHD. My doc will occasionally remind me that I have it by suggesting it may have a minor role to play in such-and-such event/feeling/endeavor. My response is usually along the lines of, “Well, whatever,” and then I just move on. I don’t know exactly how to express the fact that I don’t really care whether or not I have ADHD…except, I guess, by saying that I don’t really care whether or not I have ADHD. But it’s probably fair enough to say that it has me sometimes, as in, by the short hairs but so what? Is it Ok to say “so what?” here? It doesn’t feel especially un-Ok. Plus, ADHD seems to fall into that category of Silver Lining Disorders where people who have it may experience some trouble, like in school maybe, but that trouble is often (sometimes tremendously) offset by the facets of the illness that are fucking great. People with ADHD are often more adventurous and creative than the average bear, and, I’ve been told, more easily think outside the box (sorry…) than their unaffected peers. There’s also a theory that ADHD may be the result of an evolutionary advantage re: hunting vs. farming, essentially making people with ADHD traits better suited to certain scenarios and more prone to hyperfocus, which, when aimed at the right target, can be really fucking fun. Look it up, it’s cool.

So, 1,500 words say that I have an illness about which I don’t really care. But maybe that I’m better than you (I am…on some days, on other days I’m less preferable than hemorrhoids, but this whole parenthetical is pretty typical of what I know and feel about myself as a person with bipolar, not as a person with ADHD). So, long story short, uh, comorbidity is a thing, it can lead you to some weird crossroads and…maybe not all disorders need treatment. I think I’m getting along Ok. The hand I drew doesn’t allow a ton of room for perfect, functional normalcy, so why try to force it? In this case, I insist for myself, that it’s better not to.

-LB

*This doesn’t exist. Humans, with little exception, look ridiculous when we come. That doesn’t make it any less hot, though.

**Yes, that phrasing was intentional, thanks for noticing!

God God Damnit Damnit

Well, there went June. I mean I was in California for half of it, and I’ve been pretty sad for the rest. My grandma died the evening following the previous post, so, like 5 weeks ago at this point. It got really ugly. The last few days she was in hospice, we were all kind of hoping she would just go. Watching her struggle to catch her breath and then feeling my stomach drop in between breaths as the pauses got longer and longer and I thought, this is it, she stopped breathing was pretty brutal. The last 2ish days she was really loaded on morphine and lorazepam so she wasn’t really even there, but there was a really brief window when she was still lucid and I got to say goodbye to her.

Fuck saying goodbye to your loved ones forever so hard. It’s the roughest thing I’ll ever be grateful for. At this point, I’ve lost 2 really important people in two different ways. My dad died without warning and the shock was unbelievable…and the regret and the guilt and the wondering if I had a hand in it and the accusing other people of having a hand in it, but not to their face because: You’re a fucking backbreaker who worked your husband into the ground (I’d say “literally” but my dad’s not buried in the ground, he’s in a mausoleum with mostly strangers and now my grandma)…is like maybe the quickest way destroy a relationship with someone. Probably. Not that it was great to begin with, but at the end of the day, we were all shellshocked and miserable and shitty to each other. I had to watch my grandma die. I saw her shut down piece by piece. I saw her fingers turn blue as she got less and less oxygen with each breath, I watched her chest heave reflexively in a morphine twilight, I saw tears of pain gather at the corners of her eyes that she didn’t even know were there.

I heard her whisper in Sicilian: Mama, I’m coming to be with you.

God god damnit damnit.

I’ve been ignoring how unsteady I’ve been since she died. I went back down to my normal dosage of meds because the extra olanzapine was making me really tired. I had a panic attack in San Diego. I cry when I think about this, so I don’t think about it a lot. I’m motivated to shower and drink gin and impulse buy shit off Etsy. I made a Pinterest board of things I wanna put on my back deck. I won’t ever actually put them there, but in my mind (and on the Internet), I have a killer back deck. I haven’t picked up a guitar since I borrowed one in Carmel like over 2 weeks ago. Sometimes, without provocation, my heart pounds real hard for several minutes and then goes back to normal. The last thing my grandma ever ate was a pancake and they had to stop feeding her when she started to choke on a piece. When I think about pancakes, I cry. That reality is 100% not workable.

I missed 3 MMA classes in a row, but the third time was to see Serengeti at one of my city’s myriad summer street festivals/glorified block parties with sponsors, which, at the time I decided was worth it, but I’m gonna be like, cursing his name at the gym on Sunday when I barf on the floor after 90 seconds of jump roping. I’ve been trying to work out at home. I’m not a self-motivator. I need my class. For many reasons. But live music is also a tonic, so it wasn’t a loss, really.

I’ve been smoking cigarettes kinda. I quit 2 years ago, but watching my grandma suffocate slowly warranted a number of cigarette breaks in the hospital parking lot with my sister. The cognitive dissonance was not lost on me. But I really needed some timeouts, so whatever. I have an e-cig. I have more than enough vanity to keep me from using it in public. Nobody looks cool smoking a e-cig. It’s not really the same anyway. I had intended to go home after the Serengeti set last weekend because I had no other reason to be at the festival. I hadn’t slept much so I wasn’t drinking because I didn’t wanna fall asleep in the grass. But I hung out for like an extra hour just to bum cigs off dudes which is really easy so I made the most of it. I bought a few packs in California – which were unnervingly inexpensive compared to here – but I purposely left them behind places so I would only smoke like 2 or maybe 3…which I guess means they were sorta, kinda way more expensive than they are here cause I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. I’m not real worried about it. What I am worried about is that I made my husband promise not to let my buy any more cigarettes but I very frequently want one. Like right now would be one of those times. I just feel like smoking a lot, which is generally indicative of: a) I’m drunk b) I’m anxious or c) I don’t know what to do with my hands right that sec. Thanks to all the weed in my life, I can have orgasms again and my husband has been out of the house a lot the last few evenings which are the only times I watch porn ’cause we don’t like the same kind of porn so “c” is not really a problem. (Trying super hard not to think too much about that last sentence, ’cause it’s just depressing.) So I’m sitting here puffing on my e-cig. I am unwashed and I do not look cool.

So, here’s something that’s fucked up and terrifying and one of the gifts you get when you come from a line of mildly inbred Italian hill people: my grandma died because her lungs shut down. She never smoked in her life and she never let my grandpa smoke in the house. She was rarely sedentary and spent a lot of time outdoors. She ate really well. She took care of herself. But she got a cold or something sometime this past spring and it triggered an autoimmune response that resulted in her lungs overproducing heavy mucus and basically strangling her from the inside out. The reason this is so scary to me is because so many people in my family are carriers of autoimmune disorders, including my mom who’s a type 1 diabetic. There’s actually this freaky subset of couplings among my grandma’s cousins wherein the children of those couples have a 1 in 4 chance of developing an autoimmune disease. 4 kids came out of that batch, one got diabetes, one got MS and one got scleroderma. I wanna say the 4th one is safe, but my grandma probably thought she was too until a fucking cold turned her lungs into rocks at 89, which is exactly my point: this shit could happen to me too. And, as with my grandma, I might not know until I have 2 weeks left to live. So from now on, I’m gonna be massively paranoid every time I get the sniffles ’cause they may be my last. Or something. I’m not a doctor. I could be wrong about all this. Paranoia is part of how I grieve.

I’ve been subject to this weird glut of deaths in the last 8 years and the thing we all keep telling each other is that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. It doesn’t matter how well I understand this concept or how threadbare that platitude has become by this point, I always think I’m fucking it up. My grandma lived a good life. She was happy and virtuous by her own measure. Unlike me, she was a person of faith, so she probably felt a brand of comfort and homecoming in her last days that I’ll never know. She was industrious, humble, sweet and nurturing. She always put herself last. When relatives came to the hospital to say their last goodbyes, they’d say, “I’m gonna pray for you.” My grandma would respond, “No, I’ll pray for you.” And she did. When she died, she was the most beautiful person at her funeral. She was buried in the dress she wore to my wedding. She was stunning.

I’m bothered that I’ve been able to keep as much together as I have, which isn’t to say I’ve been keeping it 100% together, obviously, as evidenced by the panic attacks and low motivation and nicotine cravings. But I still feel like I’m not giving my grandma the reverence she deserves. I asked my therapist what’s the weeping equivalent of a standing ovation. She said she didn’t know. But I hope I figure that one out because my grandma earned it.

-LB

I Talk About Poop On This Blog Way More Than I Thought I Would

So I do have irritable bowel syndrome (actually the way my doctor put it was, “you have an irritable bowel” which I normally would have found pretty funny, but I was having a lot of belly pain and nothing about that moment seemed especially humorous).

So I got a scrip for Bentyl which is just fucking fantastic because I totally want to take another pill. 3 times a day. I don’t even know if it’s working yet, I’ve only had 2 doses. My belly still hurts and pooping is still way less satisfying than it should be. I really, really just want to take a magnificently satisfying, gigantic dump and I totally can’t. Bentyl, you better be made of magic.

Comorbidity exists somewhat commonly between IBS and mental illness (see LBD: comorbidity). There’s also a link between IBS and migraines and IBS and a history of child abuse. I’m a fucking textbook. I have bipolar, I was abused a kid, I get migraines several times a month and now I have a misfiring gut (well, I always had it, but now I can curse its very name from the toilet while I’m pooping uncomfortably and know that I’m calling out the right demon). So great.

This is not a pity party, though. I have some really strong feelings about people who try one up another person’s suffering by detailing their own; more specifically, don’t fucking do that. Managing your suffering is at least 50% perspective. Yes, there are starving kids and mistreated dogs and people plagued by war and lifelong degradation. I read the damned news (which is depressing in its own right if for no other reason than the fact that most journalists have become consistently terrible at their job, I don’t know why I have a degree in this shit). Knowing that somebody (or most people) have it worse than I do does not actually work on a therapeutic level. That being said, perspective is still important and, for me at least, it’s sometimes helpful for me to take stock of my relatively good fortune, all things considered.

But screw perspective for a sec because I really need to bitch about this: What the actual fuck, Universe? Having a mental illness sucks on it’s own. So does having migraines. So does the party that’s happening in my intestines right now (like a really shitty party – yes, pun intended – where beer pong outlasts college and you need to take a bathmat nap because you drank the suicide juice while some total genius decided that life is not worth living unless it’s soundtracked by Jefferson Starship). But I get all 3 of these maladies – chronic illnesses that will never leave me alone.

I don’t believe in god(s) or destiny or even colluding, malevolent ether entities that have any sway over my fate. If it’s supernatural or superstitious, I don’t believe in it. However; if I believed that there was a god (any god, our species invented almost 3,000 deities over the last few millennia, look it up) I would have words with that dude(ette) for mashing 3 chronic conditions – all of which are very uncomfortable, one of which is hypothetically deadly because I think about killing myself more than most people probably do – into a single person. Great. Thanks, non-god. Thanks for designing a human that’s physically faulty to the point of requiring several medications to fix the bugs you left. Y’know, me.

But like I said, I don’t believe in god or creation, which really sucks in this instance because I have nobody to blame. And I’m pissed about my various conditions so I really wanna blame somebody for this bullshit, because, while I realize on an intellectual level that my issues were not inflicted on me by anyone or anything, I would appreciate the opportunity to tell god(s) that he’s being an asshole right now and needs to knock it off. I got shit to do. I literally have shit to do.

This isn’t even the whole picture. I also have remarkably bad eyesight and chronic shoulder pain from some accident or another. I mean, Ok, shit happens. Accidents happen and people are born with malfunctioning eyes. Fine. But, body, can you please just try to work with me? I’m pretty nice to you. I quit smoking and I masturbate plenty. What else do you want from me? A multivitamin? A nicer vibrator? Goulash? Goulash is delicious. I’ll get you some. Just fucking chill until I’m at least out of my 20’s.

Oh yeah, and the medicine I’m taking for IBS can potentially hinder the absorption of my Zyprexa (see LBD: antipsychotics) which could put me at a greater risk for hypomania, but my doctors think the benefits outweigh the risks and at this point I’ll just take the damned pills because my tummy hurts and my poops are bad.

I am both grateful and cranky when it comes to taking meds because, while successfully treating an illness with modern medicine is supremely great, popping a baker’s dozen of pills all throughout the day requires actual effort. I have to time things properly and I’m so bad at that.

But here we are at the triangulated malice of my illnesses. Best case scenario: the Bentyl works and I don’t become hypomanic and I can start wearing formfitting clothes again if the bloating goes away. I really should wear tight clothes. The form they’d be fitting is pretty excellent. I mean, I look great naked. If I wasn’t me, I’d try to get me naked. I’m glorious.

So send me your best toilet tidings and keep your fingers crossed that I might expel the greatest shit that ever shat tomorrow morning. I want this to be epic.

-LB