The Diagnosis (Feb. 2006)

Yesterday had its high and low points. I started the day with a psychological evaluation, which is sick in and of itself, but even more so if you wanted them to do it. My freshman psychology professor, Victoria Schultz-Zwahr, used to hammer the point that you couldn’t just go on medication all by itself and expect to get better… but in effect, that’s what I’ve been doing since 2001 and I’m only starting to realize how relatively little of the time I actually feel like getting out of bed, getting dressed, and wanting to go do stuff. I know that part of not feeling well is physiological. I have really bad allergies and they’ve been dragging my immune system way down, so I could just go outside and five minutes later come home with a cold. Now I’m trying to figure out the mental health part of it, and my counselor has some interesting ideas.

Depression most often manifests itself with me physically- headaches, stomachaches, etc. I can also go for months without feeling relief from it, but then I’ll go up to a manageable level and then all of the sudden it’s like Christmas. I feel so good that I buzzsaw through things and get a lot accomplished in a very short time. So when I was describing all of my physical symptoms, my counselor said that I should talk to my psychiatrist because he thinks I’m on the wrong medication and that I could be bipolar.

At first when I heard that, I started to cry. He hadn’t even diagnosed me, just given a suggestion, and the images it brought to mind were disturbing. He gently told me that there are all kinds of bipolar disorder, and he doesn’t think that mine is the extreme, off-the-wall kind. I just need to be treated the right way so that my level of productivity doesn’t go so far down when I’m depressed and so far up when I’m not.

I left the office with my stomach in knots. I called Dana and said, “I don’t want to be Sally Field from ER!” She reminded me that if I was indeed bipolar, that getting the right medication would make me feel better, not worse. And in fact, my meds may not change much. I’m already on a medication used to treat bipolar disorder, so I may not have to take anything else. The thing that I wish medication could do for me (or at least, something could) is to harness the energy I feel when I’m up and bottle it for when I feel down.

After I got through with school and counseling, I went to the Stagg’s Head with Stacy, Shaneice, Lauren, and Madeleine. I sat and sipped Diet Coke while we talked about everything under the sun, including our friend Helena’s impending move to Libya. Shaneice was telling us that they don’t have vets in Libya, so everyone from Shell is going to pool their money and fly one over from London twice a year. We had a great time just shooting the breeze, and then I went over to Lindsay’s.

Lindsay and I ended up at Onion Creek with our friend from Constitutional Law, Jill. We had some great conversation because Jill had a new haircut, I had new nails (painted red with white hearts airbrushed over the top), and Lindsay didn’t have anything new but she didn’t have to because she’s funnier than Jill and me put together.

About an hour and a half into our evening, Jill looks over and says, “oh, here comes Angela!” My stomach hit my knees. She walked in with a friend of ours, Kathryn, and then headed for the bathroom. While Angela was in the bathroom, Kathryn asked me for my phone number and I gladly gave it to her because I didn’t know how to get in touch with her outside of Bayou City Women’s Chorus and I’m not singing with them this semester while my life is careening dangerously close to insane (as it were). As soon as Kat went to find a table, I sat down and said, “I will give each of you five dollars if we can leave RIGHT NOW.” Lindsay’s like, “Why?” And I said, “because Angela is here.” She stood up and started going toward the bar so she could pay our bill. Jill and I started to go out the door closest to the bathroom, but I saw Angela coming out of the bathroom and started running the other way. Need I remind you I’m 28? I am a grown ass woman, and I shouldn’t have to run from anybody, but I ran from her.

So when Lindsay’s at the bar, the bartender is watching me run out and he looks at Lindsay and says, “so is someone trying to kill you, too?” I felt like such a dumbass, but I really did not want any awkwardness, or confrontation, or even really to look at Angela any longer than I had to, because I am trying so hard to disconnect myself completely from that situation. I’m not angry, I’m not sad, I’m not scared. But what I know for sure is that I want a clean break, and if I socialized with Angela at this point, it would only bring up fond memories and emotional fuzziness for both of us.

So I ran like a retarded jackrabbit on acid, and if she saw my butt as I scooted out the door, I hope one day she’ll forgive me for it.

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