The internet has decided to fail this evening. Of course it happens on the night I decide I might allow myself to play some Splatoon since I’m sort of feeling okayish. The comic has to be loaded via the better connection my phone has. It’s not very good for much else, but it’s good for emergencies at least.
This morning I woke up feeling more or less normal, but had been having a dream. I generally regard remembering them as a sign of not sleeping properly. It was an unpleasant dream about zombies and bicycles. Earlier this month I remembered one about a scorpion. Scorpions are a creature I very much dislike. Dreams of this nature I suspect are manufactured deliberately to wake me up for whatever reason my body thinks I need to be awoken. After I realized I was awake I started having anxiety about nothing in particular. Just that general feeling of being afraid that has become all too common for me recently. I ended up taking a quick shower hoping that I would feel relaxed & it would abate but, alas, it did not. After that I laid down in my parent’s bed because my body seemed to be hurting from sleeping on the floor. The dogs refused to make room for me, so I ended up laying down on the corner in a very pitiful manner. As one does who is not the master of the beasts he lives with. I continued to try making myself feel less anxious by listening to a podcast. They used to be a sure fire way to make me feel better, but recently, as many of my old favorites have ended, or changed in some way, they haven’t been as effective.
The way I feel in my head is very unpleasant. At this point almost the only thing that makes me feel better reliably is having an actual person around me. Unfortunately I have been long trained to avoid bothering people with my problems, so I often don’t do anything until it’s too late to get any sort of help. Recently I’ve been existing in this sort of hyper aware, yet tired, mode that is exhausting in a variety of very unpleasant ways. I’ve gone back to never feeling sleepy, even when I’m up the entire day, and get the recommended levels of sunlight.
Tomorrow morning I finally have a doctor’s appointment. Honestly I’m not optimistic about it, but if I could just get some kind of help that doesn’t make me go mental that would be so wonderful I can hardly even articulate it. If this IS all in my head then they need to find something that will help me that doesn’t fuck with my brain. The most common, or perhaps popular, drugs I react very poorly to & the effects remain even days after I stop taking them. It also takes as little as a single dose to severely affect me. Obviously I’m no expert, but basically that means they will have to find something that addresses the physical symptoms so that I can repair the mental damage on my own. Maybe. Like I said, I’m not a medical professional. So far the only other course of treatment I’ve been offered is counseling, but I honestly don’t know how that’s supposed to help. I mean I’m open to the idea of it if they really think that’s the key to this shit, but it seems like a long shot to me. I’ve been voicing exactly what makes me afraid for years and it hasn’t changed anything. I just find it hard to accept that the addition of paying someone to listen is the panacea I’ve been missing in my life.
Of course I feel like I’ve got some kind of ear/jaw infection, possibly caused by my cpap mask, or maybe just from grinding my teeth in my sleep. I also know that there is at least some element of this that is caused by the near death of my grandmother, the actual death of one of our dogs,& the threatening of my livelihood on more than one occasion in the past two or three months. In addition to the general stress caused by the holidays, & our goddamn president running riot all over my idea of what America is and should stand for. The upheaval caused by the constant fuckery associated with the dismembering of the affordable care act, & the failings of the act itself, also deserves a share of the blame.
I’ve managed, somehow, to keep posting the comic through all of this, from ER visits, to at least one total mental breakdown, but I know there has to be a limit to what I can take. Just because I keep not finding it is no reason not to try and fix things before it’s too late. I worry that it might be, but who knows? Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s an easy fix, maybe I have a condition that will affect me for the rest of my life. There’s not a history of that sort of thing in my family on my mother’s side, but on the other I’m not sure. There is a history of extreme anxiety. Bipolar disorder, or whatever they call it now. It’s practically a given that I have that, even though I’ve managed it pretty well over the last decade or so. In my youth I was much, MUCH, more polar. With swings severe enough to make a person motion sick. Over time I learned not to let my brain wallow in grief, to the point that now I can’t grieve properly. It comes in fits if it comes at all, and that sort of thing festers in you if you can’t deal with it. It’s not like I’m trying to suppress it though. It’s just that some part of me feels like it’s silly, & burdensome to others. I know that people will say they want to help, but I KNOW they don’t understand the magnitude of what that entails. The pure unyielding force of trying to help me breaks people. So I try not to let people attempt it. Generally, reality keeps most people who would try far enough away that they can’t get dragged down. Distance, or money, or whatever, is enough of a barrier to protect them. In spite of most of that there are still a handful of truly dedicated people who try valiantly to do something, anything, to help in any way they can. I appreciate them, and years ago I would have tried to stop them, but you kind of need to let people who want to try, try. Not for your sake, but theirs. It’s cruel to rebuff truly sincere efforts. It damages the pure good inside people that have it when it gets rebuked. I actually made letting people help in certain ways a rule for myself. In circumstances where I would have returned money, or gifts, now I just accept them as graciously as I can. I was raised to resist charity, and to some extent help of any kind, but over time I decided that it was harmful to both parties. I got no help, and the helper got a metaphorical slap in the face for trying to indulge the very best attributes in humanity. The capacity for giving some of you guys have shown is inspiring, & humbling. I rarely feel like these stories I tell are worthy of the gestures, but it’s also sort of ridiculous to think that, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. When people tell me I helped them get through a bad depression, or the comic resonated with them at just the right time in their life, I struggle to accept that on some level, but it’s also exactly what I hoped I would do. I wrote this story, and continue to write it, because it’s the story I wanted someone to tell me when I was feeling lost. The story that, ultimately, everything will be okay. A story where even the worst person can be loved & appreciated for who they are. The story that even someone like me is worth saving.
Unsolicited Advice Time! With the caveat that I am a dropout Psych student who narrowly missed the family curse of a cornucopia of fun mental illness adventures, from schizophrenia to depression. So, I’m biased.
” I’ve been voicing exactly what makes me afraid for years and it hasn’t changed anything. I just find it hard to accept that the addition of paying someone to listen is the panacea I’ve been missing in my life.”
A good psychologist (this may or may not apply to therapists, where I come from they are different and have different skills) does more than listen. They can help you find out why you feel the way you do, change your thought processes to prevent harmful thoughts, etc. Talking to a pro is a lot different than talking to a rando-no matter how well meaning said rando is.
In many cases it’s beneficial to have both therapy and medication, but as you’ve said, it isn’t an option for you at this time.
There’s a book “house of cards” about how little difference there actually is between talking to a pro and talking to a random person off the street.
Hello, having suffered from severe anxiety and depression all of my life, and having been through 15 different medications at this point, I felt very much the same about counseling that you do, so imagine my surprise when it actually helped. The counseling took place 3 years ago and is one of the major factors why i am still alive.
I would strongly suggest trying counseling, it certainly wont make things worse.
I wish I could win the lotto so I could help you out Jackie. Hell, I wish I was in a position to give you any money to make your life easier.
Your work got me through some dark times, And I suspect a lot of other people too. Just keep working just be patient something will change wish I had better advice. But know this no matter what has happened in life you have created something that brings Jo to many people. You’re an artist no one can take that away
Indeed, it does bring Jo to many people, and that is something to be grateful for.
Look at it this way: You’re already telling us about your issues, it’s just that most of us don’t have the training to do anything for you with that information. Telling someone who is qualified to help you won’t be that much different. Heck, ask the therapist if they wouldn’t mind just doing an archive dive on your blog posts. Couldn’t hurt. Stay strong Jackie. We’re all rooting for ya!
Anytime you need to outpour your feelings jackie, go ahead, we are all here to listen and even doing that helps, i know from experience it has helped me when i have been feeling really low, as i suffer from depression and anxiety also low self esteem which is a fun threesome of mental health issues,anyways you could consider talking to a professional it couldnt hurt and it might have less after effects than medication.
I feel like I’m watching Wednesday and Pugsley: The College Years.
And I like it.
Have you ever tried meditation? “mindfulness based stress relief”, MBSR, is a training program which shows decent evidence of helping with anxiety.
Victoria is seriously rocking that up-do.
Glad you’ve got an appointment to see the doctors, Jackie. I hope they can help you out.
I hear ya
I wish you well, I do enjoy this coming
Regarding people who want to help, I think this would be a great topic for a Black Mirror episode.
Here’s hoping you feel better soon. Who knows, maybe the change is right around the corner for you!
This comic is one of the things that makes me happy. Those are few and far in between. I am starting to forget what it feels like, but this helps keep the memory fresh. So thank you, buddy. I hope you get the help you so rightfully deserve, for bringing a little joy into a shrivelled prune of a heart.
I’m amazed how well you’ve done with your comic despite your health, Jackie!