Tough Times

i know a lot of people who get pets and then suddenly realize they know nothing about the pet.  At this point, said individual either takes training, gets someone to train the pet (can you train an iguana?) or “frees” the pet.

Look.  i wish i could tell you i was a great role model about animal niceness and that sort of thing, but with eight kids, i became a little ruthless.  “Yes, little (fill in the blank) is now in either 1) pet heaven or 2) running free in nature, where it belongs.  We will discuss invasive species in one of my gardening blogs.

i remember a guy i who was some kind of “expert” at training dogs.  The quote marks are not meant to disparage his talents, only that i never did see a certificate or anything.  As with anything else i tell you, dear readers, take it “with a grain of salt”.

This guy was terrific with dogs and amazed many of us with his training skills.  I asked him for advice one time and he said, “You have to own the dog.  Show the dog who is in charge.”

We were out for a walk one day, and i do not know what was going on, but his dog- always obedient- was not responding as usual.  I made some kind of smart-ass remark about how the “master trainer” seemed to have lost his touch.  He looked at me with all seriousness and said, “Most days, you own the dog.  Some days the dog owns you.”

i have been reminded of this the past few days as Bella and i go for our walks.  Most times she responds to my call immediately, but there are “those times” when she has found something which demands a little disobedience.  I totally understand that perspective.

It has struck (strucked? strucken? strikeded?) me that this is also true of my illness.  Most days i do my Recovery stuff and i am careful about how i deal with the daily issues of life.  And most of my days have been very good.  A little anxiety is tolerable, after all, everyone has stress, right?

“Norms” deal with stress differently.  For we of the “a little more out there” group, stress is a BIIIIIIIIIG thing.  What seems to be a “manageable stress” to others can be a major event for us and therein. i think, lies much of the misunderstanding about mental illness.

Something will happen- a rather insignificant event by other people’s standards- and it will send a mentally ill person over the proverbial edge.  So the “Norms” look at the mentally ill person and think, “holy extremism!” or (fill in the blank).  The average citizen, it seems to me, does not understand our world.  Quite frankly, this is a good thing.  Not sure about you, but my world is not for general consumption.  A lot of weird shit going on in there.  Wow!

I digress.

One reason the mentally ill person may react out of proportion (i feel like i am whispering now, like they do in nature films or golf tournaments) to the scale of the event is simple…most of we “specially brained” (or “SB’s” as we like to be called) live on a razor’s edge.

We SB’s deal with complex fluctuations in our emotions due to a variety of factors.  Ask a woman why she is having a hot flash and the answer may be abrupt and seem excessive.

i totally get it.  The same thing happens to me.  Something triggers feelings and i react.  Sometimes stuff just happens.  I am better at control and recovery than i used to be, but the feelings are there and real.

Many of we SB’s deal with a constant bombardment of ideas or emotions we know are false.  But it takes energy to sort out reality from illusion and it is easy to become weary.

We SB’s regularly take medications in doses that would knock most people out cold (or worse).  i am not kidding.  My main meds were moved to the evening  because i was so groggy during the day, i could not function.  And missing a dose can have fairly dramatic effects.  If i miss my morning meds, my faee goes numb.  If i miss my nighttime meds, it is disastrous.  No, i will not tell you what i take for meds, just trust me on this.

i had something done once and needed percs for pain, meds i usually avoid, as they screw with my bowels.  On top of the percs, i was drinking heavily, etc (never ask about “etc”).  Sarah and i retired for the evening and i asked her, “Are there heads floating over the wardrobe?”

“No,” Sarah replies in all seriousness.  “Nope.  No floating heads.”

“Ok.  Thanks.  Just thought i should check.”  Both of us just accept this as a normal interaction.

Swear to God, if you are a “norm” living with “one of us” (see the black and white film, “Freaks” to totally love this reference) i hope you are blessed in some way.  Not if you are a dick.  No special blessings for dicks.

All that to say that SB’s experience a lot of daily stress due to circumstances and medications.  In addition to regular, making a living kind of things everyone has to manage.  Keeping on top of my illness is important to me, but even following a Recovery plan faithfully does not make mental illness magically disappear.

i have been doing terrific, but the last couple of days have not been great emotionally.  To make a long story short, two days in a row i had invited people over for dinner, and both nights- due to no fault of my good friends- the evenings needed to be cancelled.

It is a lot of work to prepare a meal for guests and i get pretty excited.  And Sarah is not here, so social interaction is important.  Two nights in a row was a toughie.  But that is real life…right?

i have had trouble since i got home picking up where i left off.  i was organizing things and some jobs are partially done and i am a little confused as to where to begin.  So a kind of mental paralysis sets in.  Usually i just bake something (bread). It helps me unravel some of the confusion and gets me moving in a positive direction outside of my head.

My thoughts are jumbled and i find myself anxious more often right now.  But i am sticking to my Recovery plan and that gives me direction and focus.  i am really looking forward to Sarah’s return home, as it feels lonely without her here.

All that to say that some days the dog owns me.  Not every day.  Just some days.  You SB’s know what i’m talking about.

John

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