It started while I was attempting to plunge the toilet this morning. Dang! It was 7:45 and I had slept late–7am. Was I capable of taking a shower? I guessed that I was. At worst, I would skip washing some body parts. Somehow, I managed, but Puzzle’s walk would have to wait. I sat and cried–just a little–thinking about Dr. M’s coping skills lists. she and I developed this list ourselves. On the top of this list is…what was it? I couldn’t remember. I now remember: PRN. I have a chapter in my book [This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness] about this list. Appropriately, the chapter is called, “Pro Re Nata.” I wrote in this notebook a little until It went away (I was behind). This time, It went away at 10am. I walked Puzzle. Then, another one started at 11:15. I believe this was while I was brushing my teeth. At around noon, I experienced something that, in my history, started in 1997: mental torture. It si during this phase of It that I am able to communicate but I am being tortured by It. This torture would not stop. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, I called my T. I told her I needed to speak with her right away. However, she didn’t call me right away. So I thought: What would she or my previous T say? What is on my current coping skills list? I do not have a list!
I was sitting on the couch. I called Puzzle. She came immediately. She put two paws in my lap. I began to pet her. And I cried, and cried, and cried. Soon, the mental torture was gone! Will this work again? I don’t know, but I immediately phoned my T again and told her that it was essential that I bring Puzzle to our sessions. I told her that I would explain this to her at some point. And because she will read this, she will know. The occurred at perhaps 12:30. Then, I went to the Psychiatric Service Dog Association website and sure enough, “tactile stimulation” is listed for every diagnosis. I must say, she worked MUCH better than Haldol. And instantly.
Later: It came back at around 2. I was hardly aware of It until I started having trouble doing absolutely everything including writing. The familiar head pressure was there, and tingling in my lips, but I had chosen to ignore it. Well, this was now a problem. I tried the petting solution again. I petted Puzzle and kissed her many times. It was a very intense experience. I think it took a full ten minutes, but it worked–again! Petting Puzzle seems to have helped with my eating as well. I ate two eggs, 1/2 slice bread with cream cheese, an apple, and a glass of milk. Oh, and I had soup for an appetizer, warmed in the microwave. Pretty good. Later, I had a cup of tea. That’s more than I’ve had in over a week.
In the laundry room last night I thought very intensely about this: How long will It last? What if It is permanent? What does this mean for me? It means my life will be very limited. It means there will be so many things–including running–that I can no longer do. It means I can never visit L again because I can’t navigate in an airport. It means being severely limited in my abilities. It means no National Novel Writing Month anymore. It means never seeing my mother again, never going to any of my knitting goups, never going to weddings or funerals. It means never setting foot in a classroom again (of course, there is always distance learning). It means having a very limited social life.
Well, isn’t the one I have the most daily contact with none other than It? It came three times today, for two hours each time. All week it’s been practically all day long, once it starts. My constant companion.
Isn’t Puzzle, too, always here? Why did I not think of Puzzle? Is it because Puzzle does not torture me, mess with my thoughts, render me completely disabled, and put me in dangerous situations? Is it because Puzzle is the quiet nurturere instead, who subtly heals, dries my tears, mends my soul? And why, why, do I so often take her for granted? Puzzle has been totally awesome since I got home, in ways I cannot begin to describe. And now, she heals in a new, brilliant way. Or at least she did twice today.
Like I said, it is not regular petting. I call it Intensive Petting. I looked it up on the Internet and found a dirty movie. Well, then, I guess I invented it. It is a special, intense way that I learned to pet Puzzle out of DIRE NECESSITY. words cannot describe how I do it. So tomorrow, I’ll try an experiment. I’ll pet Puzzle, Intensive Petting, every two hours. I will get my watch to beep every two hours. Puzzle will be thrilled.
Later: I just binged. I wasn’t bad quantity-wise. Just bad because bingeing is hell. You might ask why I did it. Well, I know why. It’s cuz I really, really, really want to go back to the hospital right now. I guess bingeing was the only thing I could do to convince myself that I am so fucked up that I need to go back. It’s obvious that I’m not likely to be able to manage well anytime in the near future…or ever.