04 May 2007

Crazy Land And Group Therapy

"Our dependency makes slaves out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem. If you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make everybody your judge."~Fritz Perls (http://www.positivehealth.com/permit/Articles/Regular/litt34.htm)

I didn't get here early enough this morning to find out what was going on with Loathsome yesterday. I think I know. It involved sitting in Owner's office for 3 hours.

I stopped by Owner's office this morning to say hello and we ended up having a lengthy conversation about his kids, his brother and our young receptionist. Not all together, though. One at a time.

There's general office wide satisfaction that Golden State kicked the Mav's collective butts last night. I kept everyone's enthusiasm up by sending links from the Dallas newspaper sports section. There's nothing meaner than a disappointed Mavs fan. Especially if they're sports writers.

I've been mingling with office mates this morning. I'm already exhausted. They just take so much energy. Maybe it's just me. You know, I like to seem enthused. Sometimes I actually am enthused. Very, very tiring.

An online friend recently expressed some interest in my experiences with psychotherapy. Needless to say, I've kept some therapists in the high income bracket over the years. I was in group therapy for several years, against my will.

When I started therapy, I was young and didn't have much money. The state provided psychotherapy on a sliding fee scale. Turns out, the state wanted the most bang for its buck and virtually everyone, sooner or later, was moved from individual to group therapy. I can not tell you how many new problems that caused.

In my first group, one woman was afraid of me. She was afraid I was going to hit her. Why? Beats me. It might have had something to do with the high level of rage I was working through. Of course, on the other hand, she was afraid of her own (small) children. She was afraid to tell them what to do.

One guy wanted to date me. I was already seriously involved with the man who would eventually come to be known as Hubby. Apparently the therapist thought it would be a good idea if he asked me out while we were in group. I felt blindsided. When I was a young woman, it was not a good idea to make advances unless I had clearly indicated it would be okay. I had not so indicated. Did I mention my high level of rage? It was specifically directed towards men. (Oh just go read the archives if you want to know.) The sad thing is that, after I'd raged at him for about half an hour, in front of everyone, he still wanted to date me.

There was a woman who hated me. We were in therapy together over a long period of time and we had an interesting dynamic. She didn't think she was very attractive and, unfortunately, there were other problems, of course, Mean Girl wasn't well-liked, I guess, by anyone either in group or in the "real" world. I, on the other hand, though filled with free floating hostility, was very popular. In the way that I still am. People find me energetic, interesting, empathic, funny, passionate, intelligent. Especially the nuts. The nuts really think I'm great. Mean Girl is her own story and maybe I should tell it when I have lots more time on my hands. It is, after all, therapy day which means I get to go home early. (Doing a little happy dance in my head.)

Group also included a woman who wanted me to be her girlfriend. That didn't make me hostile because she wasn't a guy. We did not date, but I never yelled at her in group about her feelings.

I met a woman named Ramona with whom I actually had a friendship, of sorts. It was a relationship that stretched over about five years. Ramona needs her own post, too. Suffice it to say that the end of our relationship could have been predicted at the outset.

All of this occurred in the early 70's, during which time therapy was changing in nature from the strictly Freudian standard to a looser, R.D. Laing-Fritz Perls kind of groovy thing. Barriers were being broken. Some barriers should never, ever be broken because there will be unforeseeable, dire consequences if they are. The only relationship you're supposed to have with your therapist is a "therapeutic" one. It should not spill over into your personal lives.

You know how I am, though. Special. Intellectually above it all. Kinda groovy. Very persuasive. I somehow convinced my therapist that we should have a friendship. Therapist was a woman or I never would have even remotely considered it. I won't take all the responsibility, though, because she was the therapist. Here again, Barbara deserves her own post.

Ah the fun I've had, the people I've known. It positively makes my head swim. Crazy Land, in one form or another, as been a staple of my life since I was just a gleam in my parents' eyes. To this day, the last words I want to hear out of anyone's mouth is, "Who wants to work today?"

This has opened up a whole new storyline. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner. Group therapy. More to come. (That doesn't mean I'll abandon Loathsome, though.)

03 May 2007

I Refuse To Play Crazy Land

There are new, potentially fascinating events afoot in Crazy Land today. Unfortunately it is of a delicate nature and I don't think I should go into it. More's the pity. I've gone to some great lengths to be anonymous, but you never really know, do you? So far, I don't think I've gone over the line with my Loathsome, Foot Lady, and Money Man posts. That remains to be seen, I guess.

The news I can share is that Loathsome has actually been allowed to visit the office today. Unfortunately for him, it is being spent in Owner's office with the door closed. He's been in there at least an hour and a half now. Wonder if Owner is reading him 2 months of creative emails. Oh god I hope so! Isn't that sad? I'm so easily amused.

Oh yeah. Another Crazy Land story that I instigated. You know, I had a co-worker who appeared to be shunning me (Oh thank you "The Office" for that word!). Then another co-worker told me he wasn't mad at me; he thought I was mad at him. Oh Jesus. That is so Crazy Land.

Well, I'd had enough. I started to write him an email when it suddenly dawned on me that I was adopting one of the most dysfunctional, but regularly used Crazy Land means of avoidance. I put on my Big Girl Panties and went down to his office. Of course, he wasn't there.

As luck would have it, he happened to be on the phone with Crazy Employee when I came upstairs. She told me she was talking to The Shunner (henceforth and forever known by that name). I asked if he was busy; she said he was just giving him a hard time. I said, "Let me talk to him when he gets through."

I started out the conversation noting the third-party communications about all of this. I told him I thought about sending an email, but decided I wanted to talk about it. I told him that I'm not angry. (I'm not and never was. That doesn't mean I don't think he's crazy, though.) I told him I'm not even irritated with him. (True again.)

I said, "You were a big support to me for the past 18 months while I was going my breast cancer treatment. I'm so grateful for that and I will always remember that. I can't be angry with you. I may disagree with you, but that doesn't mean I'm angry Besides, I tend not to get angry."

Now how can anyone be irate when I'm so disarming? I wasn't trying to be manipulative; I was saying what I truly feel. He commented that he should have come upstairs and talked to me a week ago. (Okay, yeah, I found that a little annoying. If you're upset or you think I am, let's be grownups and talk about it.) I have to admit I can be very pointed and utterly emotionless under those circumstances, but I'm generally willing to at least consider the other person's position. Even if it's batty. It's that dissociative technique of shutting down emotion and dealing with people on a purely intellectual lecture that people find alarming.

I made his day, cleared up the ongoing tension and lived up to my own expectations. In case there was ever any question, I am the most mature person in the office. I am not referring to my age; there are several people older than I. There's a lot to be said for growing up in an absolutely insane environment. In this instance, the bonus is that I recognize loony when I see it. I refuse to play Crazy Land.

Reconstruction, Phase 2

I finally got in touch with my plastic surgeon's nurse, Brenda. The last time I visited him, he told me Brenda would get in touch with me with a new surgery date. He thought it would be about four months down the road, but he cautioned me that he has an (outrageously) busy schedule.

I waited and waited and finally sent an email to Dr. K's scheduler. I just wanted to get the surgery date scheduled so I could attempt to put this out of my mind. It never does me any good to think about this stuff in advance. It's highly anxiety provoking, though not so much as my visits with my oncologist and surgical oncologist. There will be drains. That is one of the big reasons I need to put this out of my mind. Well, that and the pain.

My date is August 29, much sooner than expected. I immediately freaked out. Yes, it's good but no, it's not good at the same time. Let me just say it again: drains. My mother points out to me that I had drains for the mastectomy and they were very bearable. I'm not certain that didn't have more to do with the psychological trauma of having a breast removed than the lower pain level in having plastic inserted into your body. Maybe if I just get my beloved Dr. Ross to do it. Of course, Dr. R. is much better at cutting things off than at recreating them.

I probably won't be writing much more about this until the drop dead date (no Freudian slip here). I will be posting about the upcoming oncologist visit (the end of May) and my trip to see the wonderful Dr. Ross (sometime in June). I'm putting surgery out of my mind now.

02 May 2007

Latest Bulletin From Crazy Land

My bookmark utility hasn't been working for a couple of days now, so I haven't been able to check in on anyone; that's tremendously frustrating. Oh. Wait. Cutter told me to email them to myself and I think I actually did that. Must investigate.

Yesterday I just wasn't in the mood. I've been having pain for several days now (that's what the whole "pamper-ggirl" thing was about) and it's made me doubt my ability to judge what the hell I'm writing. I give up. I'm writing anyway. If this is incoherent raving, please disregard and refer to "Loathsome Sends an Email."

The source of the pain is withdrawal from an antidepressant I've been taking for several years now. I knew it was causing some unusual synapse surges (or something like that), but I didn't have a clue that it was also causing colon pain until I talked with my doctor. That's why they always tell you on pharmaceutical commercials to talk to your doctor, I suppose. Actually, when you check the website, the pharmaceutical company does not refer to what I'm having as "withdrawal." I think they just call it "inconvenience" due to stopping.

We've been stepping down the dosage for about a month now, but I clearly need to step it down a bit more because it's not going well. So that's what we're doing. In the meantime, I'm still in pain but having a lot fewer synapse issues. The brain is much happier. The colon will be happier when serotonin levels rise a bit more.

Okay. On the Crazy Land front, Crazy Employee believes getting carpets cleaned and setting up pest inspections (for the rats running out of the field and sewer into the nightmare of Crazy Land) entitles her to a raise. Or at the very least a bonus. Can you hear me laughing?

One of the co-workers who was giving me the silent treatment was only shunning me because he thought I wasn't speaking to him. More hysterical laughter here. Why would I spurn him just because he's crazy? That's absolutely correct--no reason at all. That's what makes it fun to work here.

Everyone is mad at Owner because yesterday he sent out an email rant about the potential for theft by carpet cleaners. That actually did happen here about 15 years ago. The rest of these folks weren't here then. That wasn't really why they were angry anyway. Don't confuse us with the facts.

Bulletin. Crazy Employee just announced over speaker phone that no one is allowed to go into Building B. That's where I keep the kitty food. Crazy and I discussed this yesterday and I made alternative kitty feeding plans. Nonetheless, the announcement was clearly directed at me, since I'm the only one who ever goes over there. Owner followed up with his own announcement that no one was going to, but send everyone an email, anyway. Do not for one moment think that I'm not contemplating my own announcement. I'm in exactly that kind of mood today. Wouldn't that make me crazy, though? Yes. Yes, it would.

Several years ago, I forced several coworkers to start watching televised basketball games. I relentlessly made them listen to my play-by-play reports of March Madness and every single NBA game available on cable. A couple finally gave in and started watching, probably just to shut me up. The hoop-head fever has spread, unfortunately, so I'm greeted every morning with some very upset people because their team was disappointingly sucky in the play-off game the previous night. Today there's rampant disapproval of Golden State for losing to the Mavericks. What the hell was I thinking? By the way, why does everyone hate the Mavs? (Except for their colossal stupidity in letting Steve Nash and Michael Findley go play for other teams.)

I'm sure there's more fodder for fun around here somewhere, but I'd have to venture out of my office to hear it. No. Sorry. Not even for you. I'm going to stay in my office where I can wax hysterical whenever I wish. But thanks for listening. I feel better now. Even if what I just spent the last 20 minutes writing is utter nonsense, written by a woman being temporarily inconvenienced by unpredictable serotonin supplies.

Loathsome Sends An Email

Boys and girls, I am getting ready to do the unthinkable. I am going to reproduce an exchange of emails between Owner and Loathsome. I'd sit down if I were you.

Loathsome email:

Owner...not sure you will get this followup OR daily report...not letting me send for some reason. Will call you tomorrow and can rewrite.

Owner response:

Loathsome...received daily report just now. Sent ITBoy there. Will work on computer. Will try to fix. Got rewrite. Send insurance info to Money Man. Will pass along to insurer. May pay. May not pay. Will see. Big money. Hope delay not damaging.

No, I did not make that up. If only Loathsome had managed to work in incorrectly used "myself" and "cognizance," it would be perfect. Must go work on something else right now. Will write more later. Oh what the hell, there's no way I can be funnier than that.

30 April 2007

I Want My Phil Spector Trial

Great. My only interest in being here today is that I get Phil Spector, all day with no commercial interruptions. However, one of the attorneys is sick today and court won't be re-convened until Wednesday. Now what? Jesus. Don't they know I'm bored?

Monday At Crazy Land

It's Monday and I haven't ventured out of my office. I've sent one email to Owner and spoken with Crazy Employee over the intercom. Oh wait. Crazy Employee just spent twenty minutes in my office, telling me about Rat Cleanup Day. Just send me a memo, okay? Do not make me talk to you. It's Monday. I'm in my office. Isn't that enough?

I think my new antidepressants are finally kicking in and I have to say, last night the thought actually arose, "I'm back. Is that right? Am I really back?" I'm more animated (like I used to be). I'm funny and quick-witted (Only about funny things, though; not important things like where I put my keys.). Last night around 7;00 p.m., I started dreading having to come to Crazy Land today. Surely that's a sign of improved mental health. For a while, I actually wanted to be here. But that was during chemo. Then there was a bout of it right after that last surgery, when I wanted to be anywhere but sitting on a sofa, being despondent. I can be despondent so much better here.

I actually wrote something with paper and pen last night. I haven't done that since my beloved friend Becky died. It was something intellectual. Oh my God. The end must surely be near. I need to check that supermarket tabloid that warned me the end is imminent and find out if my name is listed under the "Who's Going to Live?" part of the article.

It could be that I'm just a tad manic today. It looks like rain outside my windows and I haven't started drifting downward into weather-induced melancholy. Yes, that's definitely a sign of tad-ish mania. So is making up words like "tad-ish."

My mom just called me to tell me she got one of those spaghetti cookers you see on tv. It's like a clear cylinder and you pour hot water over the spaghetti in it and--voila--fully, but not over cooked pasta. It was a short conversation because, as she rightly notes, she has to hurry over to my house so she can be there when Phil Spector gets going. I urged her to hang up and get on the road. Trial is due to start in about 13 minutes. See? Maybe I'm just a tiny bit manic.

There are important things I need to share with you, but I'll be damned if I can remember what they are. I've been having serious memory problems lately (that's probably the real reason I'm so chipper--has nothing to do with meds). Maybe I'm just not remembering I'm unhappy. I'm blaming the Tamoxifen. I don't always think as clearly as I once did. I have to hang onto the thought that the memory and thought processes will improve as time goes on.

Now I remember. I spent some time over the weekend thinking about breast cancer long term. I have an appointment with my oncologist later this month. We'll do the blood test that confirms there are no cancer cells. This is always an anxiety provoking event. There went that mania thing. Not feeling so frisky suddenly. It's good to face reality, but it's sobering to remember this is a disease for which we have no cure. Many things in my life will never ever be the same. I'm now severely lacking in pep.

I had "Take care of ggirl" day on Saturday and Sunday. I've never done that before (unless I was forced). I read, did some yoga (very gentle), took a bubble bath, laid down to rest for a couple of hours and just generally focused on things that would be soothing. I should probably mark my calendar because I think this is the first time I've ever devoted two days to making myself feel better. Do I feel better now? Well, no. It's Monday now, but that's not really the point.

I finished the Primo Levi biography and thought about the puzzle of why people choose to commit suicide. Thoughts on that will be available at my book site sometime soon. I started Wild Ivy, by Hakuin Ekaku. I'm taking a hiatus from depressing, intellectually demanding, concentration camp reading. Hakuin is intellectually demanding, but he also lifts my spirits and reminds me of the precious gift of this very moment.

More notes from Crazy Land tomorrow. Or maybe that tale I keep meaning to tell of the peculiar behavior by an old friend of mine. Either way, you win.