No, I did not die in the hurricane.

 

I haven’t updated this blog in quite awhile, and given my last entry, you’d be forgiven for thinking something terrible happened to me during Isaac.  Like maybe I stepped on a downed power line, or somehow managed to drown in seven centimetres of water (that’s about an inch, for those of you playing at home!).

But nay.  In truth, Isaac wasn’t so much a frightening display of nature’s majesty as it was a major irritation.  Around here, folks refer to such events as “a hurrication”.  But actually, after the second day without power it becomes substantially less of a novelty.

Little known fact about hurricanes: they make things look sorta blurry.

Fortunately I was lucky enough to hole up in my friend’s parents house, which had a generator (which meant we were able to run fans, the TV, the refrigerator and lights!).  My house mate decided to stay home and man the fort, which was probably decidedly less pleasant since we were without power for about five days.  I know that when I went home one afternoon to grab some clothes and books and do a bit of cleaning, I was pretty over it by about an hour after sunset.  It was dark, humid, hot and kinda stinky.  Turns out even if you empty your fridge, it still starts to smell funky after a few days without power.

The aftermath of Isaac kind of felt like a giant excuse for large corporations (I’m looking at you, Entergy) to fiddle about and take their sweet time getting things back in order.  After a few days of being holed up in houses together, in close quarters, without much power, food, gas, etc, people tend to get crotchetty with each other.  Suffice to say everyone was pretty over the hurricane by day three, and many people were still without power a subsequent three days later.  I spent the two weeks after the hurricane pretty much living at my friend’s house, simply because the power had come back on there before it came back at my apartment.  Plus he has a cat.  And cats are good.

Despite feeling like the damage hadn’t been too severe, there were still some eye-openers driving around the city in the wake of the storm.  Uptown, a lot of huge ass trees had been snapped in two.  There were a lot of downed power lines, including just down the road from my house.

Which probably explains why it took so long for the lights to come back on.

 

Regardless, this was not the reason for my absence.  In the wake of the storm, a lot of highly irritating things happened, including my laptop bursting into flames for no apparent reason (note: don’t buy a Sony Vaoi laptop), my moving company taking seven thousand years to ship my boxes to me (don’t use Wridgways for an international move), and then water getting spilled on the laptop I was renting (goodbye, $600).  Add to this the usual on and off homesickness, being busy with school, being monumentally stressed and having some up and down relationship crap, and I just didn’t really feel much like blogging.  I felt much more like sinking into my comfortable 1000 thread count sheets and blotting out my existence for a while.

I’ve been debating with myself how honest I want to be in this blog.  I don’t really want it to be a deeply personal record of my emotional highs and lows, but at the same time, I don’t think you can write decent creative non-fiction without including a bit of the blood and guts.  I don’t want this to be all hilarious observations about the many and varied delicacies available in Southern gas stations (stay tuned for that one – I do feel it warrants a mention, just not all the time).  In an effort to provide a realistic picture of what this move is like for me, I need to be honest.

So with that in mind, let me mention a few things: firstly, if you ever make an international move, do not limpet yourself to the first person who shows some sort of vague interest in you.

I am saying this partially to myself, as a reminder (because I guess I’m still mid-limpet).  It’s not entirely an un-mutual limpetting, I don’t think.  But still, it’s probably not advisable to spend just about all your time with one person when you move to a foreign country, no matter how lovely and friendly and accommodating they are.  I could delve into a deep self-analysis of why it is I feel more comfortable getting very close to one single person rather than branching out and embracing an exciting new social circle.  I could, but I won’t.  The fact of the matter is, sometimes I’m just not great around people.  That’s not excuse, it’s just a fact.  This is, of course, easier to manage when you’re living in a city you’ve grown up in.  You just sort of know a lot of people.  Some of whom you’ve known for a good long while.  And if you get too hermitty, those people know you well enough to know when to force you out of your comfort zone.  It’s also easier to risk being alone when you know you have 10 good friends you can call at a moment’s notice, who will be there with icecream and shitty movies.  You’re alone, but you’re not really alone.  It’s the pleasant illusion of solitude.

Because I’ve spent the last two and a half months spending almost all my time with one person, my time alone feels particularly lonely.  And it’s not that I don’t relish my quiet it – I actually really, really do.  But when you have a bit of a crisis during that alone time, and you realise you probably only have one or two people you’d feel comfortable calling – well, that’s a problem.

I had one such crisis last week.  Let’s just shorthand it to: I had been having a very stressful couple of weeks, a few crappy things happened, and I was running low on ‘mommy’s little helper’ (say what you will about our overly-medicated society – I love my anxiety medication.  I love it with all my chemically dependent little heart).  I wound up in the counselor’s office.  Now, I primarily visited the counselor at my university to request a referral to someone who could procure me more of my prescribed medication.  However, having had a pretty shit day (and a pretty shit week before that), I ended up saying a few things that, in retrospect, I shouldn’t have.

Pro-tip for anyone finding themselves in the office of a medical practitioner (of any sort) in the United States: never tell them you’re even vaguely entertaining the idea of ending your life.  Not unless you want to be shipped off to a psychiatric hospital, anyway.

I thought I was pretty clear – I wasn’t actively about to run in front of traffic.  I just wouldn’t have cared much if I happened to have some sort of horrible freak accident.  We could delve deeper into this and note that, were I to have a freak accident that terminated my existence, I wouldn’t be around to care much about anything at all.  But let’s not get existential: I felt like crap.  Everything was extremely stressful, I felt vulnerable and unhappy and hurt, and I didn’t feel like I had much of a support network around me to help drag me onto my feet again.

Evidently my counselor thought this enough of a problem that she would only release me (into someone else’s custody, might I add) if I promised to go straight to the local hospital for an evaluation.

There’s nothing quite like being told (by a very apologetic, earnest young blonde woman) that if you can’t find someone to take you to the mental health ward, you’ll unfortunately have to go there handcuffed, in police custody.

The list of people I felt comfortable calling in this situation was pretty slim.  Frankly, I wasn’t comfortable calling anyone.  Nobody you’ve known less than six months ought to be your emergency “hee hee my head brain feels wonky today” pity call.  That’s a lot of responsibility – for anyone.  Over the years many people have struggled to help me through my wonky head brain times.  And these are people I’ve known for years, who love me unconditionally.  How fair is it to put that on someone you’ve known for less than three months?

But I really, really didn’t fancy being handcuffed.  That probably would have been the poop cherry on top of the turd cupcake of my crappy, crappy day.

In the end, I managed to rustle up three people I felt semi-okay about revealing my current mental state (and subsequent predicament) to.  Of those three, one didn’t answer, and two others had commitments which meant they weren’t realllllly free to sit around with me in a hospital waiting room.  One of those two was amazing and badass enough to delay her commitments and drive me to the hospital.  Which is more of a godsend than I can possibly convey in words, and definitely something she was in no way obliged to do.  I guess the silver lining to this situation is realising that there are people you can depend on, even if you would much, much rather not.

I assumed that just turning up at the hospital would be enough (well, I went there – ticked the box!  Cool, I can go home now!).  Unfortunately, it turns out that if you front onto hospital property with a note saying you’re x% likely to kill yourself, they are legally bound to evaluate you or call the police to stop you leaving.  The long arm of the law was still trying to cosy up to me, and I wasn’t keen on the idea.  So I submitted to evaluation.

Which of course turned out to concur that no, I did not, in fact, need to be admitted to a psych ward.  Did I need my medications sorted out?  Yes, undoubtedly.  Was I depressed and stress out?  Yes, understandably.  But it was clear to them (as it was to me) that I wasn’t about to go and jump off a bridge.  I was okay.  I was just really, really down – to the point of general apathy.

They suggested a week long intensive out patient course, which I would really have loved to do if it didn’t conflict with my work schedule.  As it was, my employer was already rankled by my apparently cavalier attitude toward my ongoing employment (it’s hard to say “I have a medical condition” when you’ve been being told, for years, by people in authority that “It’s all in your head” and you can probably “pull yourself together” if you just TRY hard enough) and besides, I didn’t have a car to get there.  Or the money, probably.  Once again, it was back to the old routine, trying to muddle through and manage my stress and anxiety with tea, lengthy naps and cat videos on YouTube.

Whilst the experience taught me a lot (for example, don’t see the school counselor – I kid), I find myself still gravitating to spending time with small groups of people (preferably one-on-one hangouts with people I already know or semi-know), and feeling super uncomfortable around larger groups, particularly if it’s out at a pub or a bar where people are enthusiastically drinking.  That’s just not really me anymore, and I never know what to say to people.  Small talk is tricky for me.  I’m afraid people won’t really find anything I have to say particularly interesting (which is why I started a blog, obviously).  I feel compelled to drink large amounts simply so that I’m more loquacious than usual.

What’s the solution to this?  I don’t know.  Probably forcing myself to leave the house even when I really truly definitely absolutely don’t want to.  That’s probably part of being an adult: doing things that are scary and kind of unpalatable.  But I was never really very good at that adult thing, anyway.

Next time I promise a cheerier update, with roughly 15% more kittens.

 

 

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