Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve regaled you with one of my self-diagnoses. My most recent one is so depressing, I hesitate to share it with you. But then I thought I should probably warn you about it because you might have it, too.
Most of my self-diagnoses are the result of in-depth internet research. But this one actually came about during an impromptu dinner date with my husband. Technically, it’s the waiter’s fault.
“Do you think he’s from Australia?” Cap’n Firepants asked me after the waiter left with our drink order.
“I’m not sure. It kind of sounds like it, but it’s not quite there,” I said. I am the authority in the family on accents because I am the only person who has traveled to three other countries – four if you include the time I watched fireworks in international waters between the U.S. and Canada. Of course, none of those countries has been Australia, but I did watch Crocodile Dundee and its abysmal sequel.
Throughout the meal, we kept whispering about the waiter’s accent. Finally, after he said, “Have a good evening, mates,” and after I had polished off a top-shelf margarita which made me feel completely unabashed about inquiring into our waiter’s private life, I said, “Are you from Australia?”
To which he replied, “No.” I grinned at the Cap’n. I’m always right.
“But I do have an Australian accent,” the waiter admitted.
He went on to explain that he is from Texas. And has no relatives from Australia. However, a few years ago, he was in a horrible car accident. And when he woke up, and finally started speaking again, he suddenly had this accent. And he’s had it ever since.
“It’s called Foreign Accent Syndrome,” he informed us.
“That. Is. So. Cool!” I exclaimed. Minus the injuries and hospital stay, of course.
Now, it’s quite possible, indeed almost certain, that our waiter was feeding us a pile of bull honkey. But it got me thinking about one of my own neurological problems.
Periodically, my Inner Voice speaks Jeff Foxworthy. It’s well-documented. I’ve been wondering about the cause of this, and now I know.
At some point, Jeff Foxworthy obviously clunked me hard on the head.
What’s depressing is that I didn’t get an Australian accent. And what’s even more depressing is that when I looked up Foreign Accent Syndrome on Wikipedia, it said this, “Thus, the perception of a foreign accent is likely a case of pareidolia on the part of the listener.”
Basically implying that the person who is listening (me) to the speaker (me) is off her rocker.
I guess that isn’t all that surprising.
I finally solved the mystery of what’s using up all of the RAM in my brain, rendering it completely useless for ordinary tasks like processing words and creating pointless bulleted lists of what I desperately need from the grocery store.
Someone has apparently messed with my system preferences and over-upgraded my anti-virus program resulting in my brain spending more time on defending me from highly contagious infections than reminding me to perform simple tasks – such as putting a memory stick into my camera before I take 200 pictures and realize that none have been saved.
I was thinking that getting older was the culprit, but a rare moment of self-awareness the other day revealed the true reason I can’t remember a darn thing anymore.
I was supervising recess, and a student came up, rubbed his palm on my arm, and asked me if he could go to the bathroom.
“Sure,” I said automatically.
What I was thinking was, “I need to douse my left arm in hand-sanitizer as soon as I get back to my classroom.”
About 2 minutes later, a parent walked up to me, introduced himself, and shook my hand.
“Hello,” I said automatically.
Thinking, of course, “And I will use my right hand that man just shook to spread the hand-sanitizer all over my left arm.”
And then someone asked me a question.
And a small bit of panic began to rise because I now had two things to remember and one thing to respond to all at the same time and apparently two is my max amount for multi-tasking and my brain completely freezes if required to perform three functions at the same exact time.
I don’t even remember the question. It was about that moment that a random window opened in my brain, informing me that this is exactly why I am a basket case while simultaneously debating whether the person who asked me the question got close enough that I would now need to sanitize my entire body just to be on the safe side.
Later that day, I informed my husband of my great revelation.
“I can’t remember anything because I’m too busy trying to remember which parts of my body need to be disinfected every time someone comes near me. I’m seriously creating little mental maps in my brain with place-markers on every spot that has been touched since the last time I expunged all of the germs.”
Despite the fact that I make astounding statements like this every single day, my husband seemed a bit concerned by the gravity of the situation.
“That’s weird,” he said. “You seriously need to stop watching those reruns of Monk.”
“Oh God,” I thought. “I never thought of that. CAN YOU IMAGINE ALL OF THE BACTERIA LIVING ON OUR REMOTE CONTROL?!!!”
It all comes from deciding not to go to the Goat Barbecue and Craft Fair.
I don’t know what got into me. I read the blurb for this amazing event in the Sunday newspaper, and thought, “That has got to be the coolest name for anything. Ever.” And I mean, anything. Like the name of the new band I’m going to start with Jon Stewart. Or the bookstore I’m going to open in my garage. If David Sedaris can explore diabetes with owls, I don’t see why I can’t spend an afternoon embroidering a lamp shade with a goat while eating some juicy ribs.
I have to admit, though, that I was a bit confused about the goat’s part in all of this. Is the goat doing the barbecuing and the crafting? Or are the goats being barbecued? If so, is that before or after they make a craft? And, most importantly, how do you train a goat to make the Alamo out of Popsicle sticks without the goat actually consuming it?
I could have discovered the answers to all of these riveting questions if I had chosen to make an actual appearance at the Goat Barbecue and Craft Fair. But, as tempting as it sounded, I couldn’t convince myself that anything was better than hanging around the house morbidly depressed. Even the “cow patty plop” didn’t persuade me. Though it did bring up more questions…
So, instead, I stayed home. My daughter, who was bored, got herself invited to a friend’s neighborhood pool. The friend’s mom decided not to make an appearance at the pool, so I waited for her with our bulldog, Wonderbutt, in tow. Not surprisingly, Wonderbutt fell in the pool and almost drowned because, stupidly, I had not brought his life jacket along on what I assumed to be a Drop-Off-And-Drive-Away situation.
Now, if you would have asked me who would be more resentful about this whole experience, I would have laid odds on the daughter, who got yanked back home when her friend’s mother took too long to return to three unchaperoned girls at an unlifeguarded pool. Instead, it’s Wonderbutt who isn’t speaking to me.
Being spurned by an obese bulldog is even more depressing than the thought of eating barbecued goat.
This was the chain of events I began to relate to my doctor the next day as evidence that he probably needed to change my medication – again.
He stopped me at “cow patty.”
It’s kind of scary how little convincing was needed to persuade him to write out a new prescription.
Until I can find the tangible evidence that my doctor hates my hair stylist, thus giving him the perfect motive to tank my thyroid test, I have decided to blame my depression on The Sequester. I mean, if my problems aren’t the result of thyroid dysfunction, they clearly must have some external cause. And this whole sequester thing is definitely stressing me out.
First of all, I’m totally bummed that “Sequester” has a completely different meaning than the one I’ve known all of these years. Until now, a sequester was something I could only dream about – having the government pay for me to stay in a hotel with maid service, room service, and all of the books I could ever want to read since I wouldn’t be allowed access to any media in case Nancy Grace might somehow manage to cajole me into nailing Jodi Arias to the wall.
When the news outlets started warning about an oncoming sequester in Congress, I pictured the whole muddle of them being locked inside the Capitol until they knocked each other off and one person became the victor – kind of like a mix between Twelve Angry Men, Fight Club, and the cardinals in the Vatican conclave. I was sorely disappointed to find out that this was not the case.
I was even more alarmed by rumors that this whole sequester thing might delay my tax refund. After all, I use my tax refund to pay my psychiatrist, so if I don’t get my refund, I don’t…well, you get the picture.
Of course, I should be completely straight with you, and admit that we have received an unexpected endowment from the county recently. Although, to be honest, I don’t think it would pay for the gas to take the check to the bank, much less thirty seconds with my psychiatrist.
In fact, I find it depressing that the county actually paid for a stamp to send this check to us.
And then Hugo Chavez died. The only person more paranoid than me. The person who said, “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?”
Remember? I’m the one who said terrorists are poisoning our food. And now I’m depressed. Hugo said there are mad scientists spreading cancer – and he died of cancer.
I think the connections are pretty obvious.
If my doctor had just said, “Your thyroid is wonky, and that’s why you’re depressed,” we wouldn’t be in this big mess.
It’s too late for me, but maybe you can save yourselves. If you have any kind of leanings toward depression, you might want to re-think going to see Les Miserables. I am not sure what illogical portion of my brain took control when I made the decision to fork out bucks to go see that movie, but I think my blind adoration of Hugh Jackman may have had something to do with it. You would think that the fact that it is titled Les Miserables (you don’t even have to speak French to translate that) would have clued me in. Or, perhaps, my experience watching the musical on-stage a few years ago… in addition to the repeated viewings of the anniversary celebration on PBS… and then on my treasured DVD. But, no, I just had to see the movie.
Many people would find it up-lifting. Parts of it were. But other parts were mind-searingly tragic. Especially trying to watch Russell Crowe sing. Unfortunately, despite Inspector Javert’s forgettable solo performances, I could not get the rest of the darn soundtrack out of my head.
And then I returned to work today. I was so completely busy that I had no time to mentally replay the musically accompanied deaths of a dozen horribly abused and mistreated characters.
My reprieve lasted until about 6:30 tonight. I brought Dimples to dance practice and sat in the lobby, listening to mothers chatting. One of them was lecturing another mother on her lost ATM card. She finished her advice by saying, “And at the end of the day, the bank is liable.”
Who says that?!!!!!!!! Who still says, “At the end of the day?” The whole friggin’ song washed over me in a second, and I thought, “I am never going to get away from the streets of 19th century France. Curse you, Hugh Jackman!”
So, I returned home, with the darn music playing in my head again, and I looked at Wonderbutt and realized that he is really a canine Javert, always alert and on the look-out for his quarry. And I am his quarry. Which would make me Jean Valjean.
And now life is very confusing, so I have decided to swear off all musicals except Grease. Because the only thing that ever depressed me about Grease was the worry about being a Beauty School Dropout. Since I am now 40 something and have a master’s degree in something completely unrelated to hair and makeup, that does not concern me so much anymore.
I can’t watch Grease 2, though, because I’m still bummed that we never had a graduation luau at my high school. Or Maxwell Caulfield. Or boys.
Before you read on, in my defense, I would just like to say that trying to fight depression during the Christmas season, especially when you are a teacher, takes Herculean strength and not a few brain cells. Plus, I was a bit pre-occupied with the world ending and a few other things.
One more party. Last night, we had one last Christmas party to attend. And I was so looking forward to being done with them all.
The entire Firepants family was invited to this one. I had inconveniently scheduled a hair appointment right before the party, but I had planned ahead to make sure we could head over there as soon as I was done. White Elephant gift bought and wrapped. Dessert prepared. Address Google mapped.
Before my appointment, I reminded Dimples that she needed to find a “dress-up” outfit and something to use to roast marshmallows before I returned home.
(If you are new to my blog, I must inform you that I have an overactive Dorfenbergerthalamus that overheats and explodes if I am late to anything. This may seem random, but it’s a pertinent fact.)
I arrived home 40 minutes before the party.
“Dimples, do you have your dress-up outfit chosen?”
“I thi-in-n-k so.” This took 5 minutes to sort out.
“What about the marshmallow roasters?”
“No. I told Daddy, but he hasn’t found anything yet.”
I strode to the pantry and grabbed some barbecue forks.
“O.K. It’s going to take about 15 minutes to get there. Is everyone going to be ready to leave in 10 minutes?”
Cap’n Firepants spoke up. “Yes, I’ll probably be ready. But we’re going to need to stop on the way to pick up some beer.”
“What?!!!!!!!!! You’ve been home for 2 and a half hours. Why didn’t you get beer earlier?”
“What was I supposed to do, take Dimples with me to pick up beer?”
“So, now you are going to take all of us to pick up beer?!”
5 minutes later – “Oh, I forgot I had some beer. So, we don’t need to stop for it.”
“Thank God!” This was not sarcasm. I was truly appreciative that we would not lose minutes picking up beer. My Dorfenbergerthalamus was beginning to smoke.
5 minutes later – “O.K., everyone. Let’s go.”
Wonderbutt is coaxed into the Kitchen Corral. Mrs. P.I.B. gives us the panicked look she gives every time we leave. Armed with our required and optional party supplies, the Firepants family exits stage right.
10 minutes later, as we are flying past the airport, a sudden realization hits.
“Oh, crap. I forgot the White Elephant gift!” I exclaim.
To his credit, Cap’n Firepants, instead of letting the expletives fly, says, “Do you want me to turn around?”
I won’t list all of the options that rattled through my brain, but they included stopping at a convenience store and grabbing a can of Pringles or wrapping up the marshmallow forks in a car mat.
“Yes-s-s,” I reluctantly whisper as I sink deep into the seat and wait for my Dorfenbergerthalamus to go nuclear.
“Don’t worry, Mommy,” Dimples assures me from the back seat. “According to my Girls’ Book of Glamour, it’s best to be fashionably late to a party. Twenty minutes is ideal.”
Yeah, tell that to my Dorfenbergerthalamus…
Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
I’ve been off the grid, mostly, for the last few days. Both electronically off the grid and mentally off the grid. I’m still working on getting my anti-depressant medication to sync with my physical hard drive, and I encountered a bit of an epic fail at the end of last week. Getting out of bed was completely unappealing – though I managed to avoid the need for any John Denver sing-alongs being conducted at the foot of my mattress. I’m not really sure the rest of the Firepants family actually knows any John Denver songs, so I might have had to settle for Dimples’ version of “Gangnam Style”, which would certainly put me over the edge.
I have a new little pill that allows me to look at a pile of laundry without hyperventilating. But, of course, the new medicine has its own side-effect, namely Insomnia. I was kind of hoping it would just balance out my other pill, which induces drowsiness, since I am supposed to take them both at the same time. But Pill #1 surrendered to Pill #2 without even a whimper of complaint. Which I consider quite a betrayal considering how adamant Pill #1 has been that I sleep through my entire life up until now. Typical bully. So, I am now cheerfully awake at 3 in the morning instead of mournfully tired at 3 in the afternoon. Except I am tired because I was awake at 3 A.M. But my body says that’s just plain silly, and to go ahead and do the stuff I didn’t do for three days right now because I was feeling so overwhelmed, but now is probably even more overwhelming, but that’s okay because I took Pill #2. And then it will be bed time, at which time my body will say, “O.K. You can lay down, but you shall remain hyper alert like a jaguar in the jungle. You might as well just think about all of things you are going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next 50 years of your life, because we are going to have plenty of time to get everything all planned out since you are not a jaguar in the jungle and it is unlikely you will actually have to pounce on anything during the next 7 hours.”
So, anyway, this is my way of apologizing for not commenting on anyone’s blog recently. Please send your letters of complaint to Pill #1. And, if you notice that I have begun to comment on your blogs at odd hours of the night, then you can rest assured that Pill #2 is behind that and that I am not actually a stalker. Unless you live in Australia or New Zealand. In which case, I think my comments appear at odd hours of the night anyway, so it would be the normal time comments that you can blame on Pill #2. But I’m still not a stalker.
Do you ever have one of those days, you know, when you wake up and think, “This is going to be a great day!”, and then you start living your day, and then it starts sucking, and then it becomes progressively worse, and then you think, “I hate my life. Why did I even get out of bed this morning?”, and then you’re driving and a tire falls off the back end of your car and you almost flip your car over?
Well, that was not the kind of day I had today.
First of all – and let’s be clear about this in case you have some kind of distorted perception of my personality – I never wake up and think, “This is going to be a great day!” I pretty much greet each and every day with a groan and a prayer that 3 feet of snow accumulated outside during the course of the night, rendering the entire city helpless and making it impossible for me to go to work. Not because I don’t like my job. Just because I like sleep better. Than anything.
Since I live in San Antonio, Texas, and it has snowed about an inch here in the last 25 years, you can safely conclude that my hopes are dashed every morning.
So, already, after approximately 3 minutes of wake-itude, my day is pretty much ruined.
The up side of this is that my low expectations are nearly always met. If my life was a standardized test, I would meet my self-prescribed passing standard 7 days of the week. Not many people can say that.
Today was different. Oh, I began the day with my usual grumpiness, which was compounded by the sight of a parking lot full of cars and a median obliterated by hundreds of signs when I arrived at work.
Voting Day. At my work. A school. Which also happens to be my polling location.
Thanks to John Mayer and Donald Trump, I was not able to vote early last Friday. So, today would be my last chance. And my schedule was packed. And the line was already way out the door.
Grump. Grump. Grump. I walked past the line of people who do not have to be at work at 7:15, who do not have ant farms to maintain and students to entertain, who can vote at their leisure. And go home. And back to bed.
And then my day got better.
Everything went right. My ants didn’t die. My students were thrilled with everything I planned. I helped a teacher solve a technology problem. The Xerox machine did not make origami out of my copies.
And… I had time to vote. And they didn’t turn me away! And the touchscreen actually pretended to confirm my vote instead of saying, “You are obviously not from Texas. Go back to your own kind.”
It was a great day!
Now I’m worried…
Here’s a little cheat sheet for you just in case you find yourself face-to-face with a person suffering from depression. It’s always hard to know exactly what to say…
Are you okay? This should be said as soon as you lay eyes on the person, with incredible emotion, as though you just witnessed the person barely escape alive from a car accident, and her hair is on fire. Don’t worry; she won’t feel self-conscious at all about her appearance.
Exercise always makes me feel better. These are motivational words for anyone who is overwhelmed by the thought of getting out of bed to take a shower.
Whenever I’m sad, I always try to think about the good things in my life. Depressed people love to be reminded that we are too self-absorbed to realize that we should be grateful there isn’t a telethon named after us.
Maybe, you should stop drinking/eating so much Diet Coke/fill-in-the-blank. You are absolutely right. Depriving ourselves of the less destructive vices in life will definitely make us more cheerful.
Are you mad at me? Of course I’m mad at you. The fact that you feel the need to ask me this question proves that you are feeling guilty about some transgression against me. But, don’t worry, I’m more mad at myself. Partly for being mad at other people.
Do you really think medication is the best option? That’s a great question. I’m not sure. I mean, I haven’t tried anything else. As soon as I cried during my first ASPCA/Sarah McLachlan commercial, I said to myself, “I need to get a handle on this. I better start popping some pills.”
I looked everywhere on the internet, and on my new medication information, and nowhere does it say: Possible Side Effects – Increased Sarcasm. The FDA really needs to look into this…