Pain

The last few days have not been good.

I don’t know what it is.  I would love to be able to point and say that such-and-such is making me anxious and out of sorts, but I can’t.  Hormonal flux?  Rough week at work?  I don’t know.  The last few days at work have been exercises in “how many ways can I screw up.”  I am feeling full of failure although I recognise that this isn’t accurate, either.

I’ve come out to my mother’s house to housesit while she’s gone for the weekend.  I will go home today but I haven’t yet.  I’m feeling a bit paralysed with anxiety.  Paced a bunch in the kitchen before I could bring myself to eat, and I must eat, since I need to have food in my stomach for the cipralex.  I ought to take a seroquel, maybe, but with a twenty minute drive into town I’m hesitant to take it for fear of being dopey on the drive.

I did some housesitting for both my parents earlier this month. watching animals, and it really hit home for me just how much I miss having animals around.  I can’t have pets where I live, at least not cats or dogs.  Not that it would be fair to keep a dog where I live — we don’t have a proper fence — and Audrey, who owns the house, feels cats are too destructive.  I think this is nonsense, really.   Nevertheless, she was firm on it.

But I managed to face bringing up the subject with her, and we discussed things, and we met a compromise: I was granted permission for a small caged animal, a rodent.

I latched immediately onto a very old idea, one I’d dismissed for several reasons, and ended up getting a pair of rats.

This is the best idea I’ve had in ages.

They’re still getting used to me and the new situation, but they’re also genuinely engaging.  They’re inquisitive, and affectionate, and we spend the evening snuggled down all three of us after we play a little.  It’s ridiculously comforting to be curled up with one rat on my shoulder and the other settled in my lap or next to me.  Yes, I get peed on a little, but I lay out what I’ve termed the Rat Blanket (an old blanket which I never really liked) and I wear old clothes, and the smell is pretty inoffensive, actually.

One is fairly fearless.  Her sister is, I think, the runt of the litter, and is timid and afraid of everything, although she is certainly warming up to me, which is nice.  It’s strange to see that terror in a rat, because it mirrors my own.  Is that strange to say?  Unreasoning fear that goes beyond the healthy sense of caution any small animal must have.

I worried about the larger, bolder rat picking on her runty sister, or monopolising the food, but luckily neither of these seem to be the case, and the most trouble they have together is when the bigger of the pair wants to play and the little one would rather sleep.  But they snuggle, and they get along, and it’s wonderful.

They’re a ridiculous source of joy for me right now.  I get up in the morning, looking forward to a rat kiss, a friendly nose-touch through the cage.  I love the feeling of one of them snuggling down under my chin, that sort of warmth and trust.

I am looking forward to seeing them this afternoon when I go home.  I want to be able to coax the little one out of her fear, although I know all too well that likely she’ll always be timid, and prefer napping.  And that’s okay.  I love them both as they are.  They accept me as I am.

And that’s strange.  My mother is horrified by rodents in general; my father is interested but I doubt he would expect that sort of affection from a rodent.

Audrey loves them almost as much I do.  Rats really are good pets.

I feel better thinking about them, actually.  That’s how good it is to have animals in your life.

I Has Snow

I am struggling along.  I seem to have hit some sort of valley in between the rush of the clonazepam and the effectiveness of the cipralax.  The last few days are a struggle.  My boss has been gone this week but the temporary replacement, the old manager (who I sort of replaced when she left and who comes back on occasion as a favour) coincidentally also has anxiety issues, and is also taking cipralax, and we’ve compared a few notes on medication.

She’s perfectly happy to be on drugs for the rest of her life.  I’m not.  But I think, too, that her issues were always more centered around severe panic attacks (she told me her first one had her in the ER, because she was sure she was having a heart attack) and mine seem to be more around consistently high levels of anxiety with occasional peaks into panic attacks (which I have always, always had, although I was probably about twenty before I could identify them as anything other than periods in which I felt awful and ill and suicidally despairing and certain I was losing my mind).

It did mean, though, that the other day when she ran out for an errand, called to check up on me, and I, in a state of high anxiety and near a panic attack told her I was freaking out, that she returned immediately, and allowed me to go for a short walk.  It was -15 C or so, didn’t bother with my coat (I have a warm sweater, working partly outdoors) but grabbed my gloves and walked to the other side of the parking lot to calm myself down.

The parking lot ends in a high slope next to a radio station, almost a cliff, that overlooks an industrial area and railway tracks and cutbanks over the distant river.  There are trees.  It was quieter than inside.  I ended up sitting down in the snow, and then lying down with my eyes closed for a little while until I felt better.

I told a friend of mine about this, and she immediately thought of this:

I am okay with that, I think.

I am very anxious today.  I have to go out.  I don’t wish to.  It will be for my own good.  I have managed to shower and dress, I have taken my meds.  When I am out I have my counselling at 3:15 (weird time), which will be good.  I have to pick up groceries, since I’m out of the meal replacement bars I’ve been living off of when I need to but can’t eat and also had to borrow some of Audrey’s margarine last night.

I am not eating well.  I know I’m not.  It’s not a lot, and it’s not balanced, being mostly carbs.  My boss believes, I think, that I have an eating disorder, combined with my doctor-recommended three weeks off and my continued weight loss.  I am trying but food is hard to face.  I have to eat breakfast because the cipralax makes me very nauseous if I take it on an empty stomach, and we’re having meal bars for lunch, but besides that… all bets are off.

So I continue to lose weight.  In April, I weighed 200 lbs.  I don’t mind saying that.  Apparently I carried the weight “well,” whatever that means, but I was aware that I was eating extremely poorly, with the occasional tendency to binge eat, and that bothered me more than my weight.  I made a lifestyle change, a vow to eat healthy without dieting, not to starve myself but to not make bad decisions constantly.  I said to myself that if I lost twenty pounds it’d be great, thirty would thrill me, and then I just sort of kept losing the weight.  I’m at… well, somewhere between 130 lbs and 135 lbs.  I’ve gone from a size 14-ish to a size…. I’m not even sure, actually.  Size 3 or 4?  All my clothes are too big.  I haven’t bought more in some time.  Buying new clothes makes me, well, anxious, like everything else.

I was stable at 140 lbs for a while, and I was okay with that, but I’m not stable now, and I’m still losing weight.  I haven’t discussed that with anyone, because I don’t know what to say about it.  It’s a perfectly healthy weight for my height — I’m 5’5 1/2″, with a large frame, broad hips and broad shoulders, big hands and feet.  My family has joked that if I hit the point where I’m as thin as the Mongoose, they’ll intervene.  My youngest sister is one of those people who is just very thin by nature, much like my father is, with a speedy metabolism and a hyperactive nature, who never stops moving and naturally tends to graze constantly rather than eat heavy meals.  She’s only thirteen now, and still growing (though she’s only a couple of inches shy of me, now, and I’m the tallest of my sisters, and I suspect she’ll outpace me soon enough), but she’s never succeeded in packing on more than the smallest amount of body fat.  One summer she sprouted six inches over the course of about two or three months.  She looked almost skeletal, although she ate like a horse that whole time.  A thought, about the media’s influence on body image: she has a body many girls strive for, now, thin and lanky but becoming decidedly more feminine and curvy all the time, although still with overlarge hands and feet that suggest she’s got more growing to do (although we’ve all got big hands and feet).  The Mongoose, however, has confessed to me that she worries she’s too thin, and wishes she could gain just a little bit of fat.

I worry that that intervention will be necessary, though, because as I said, my weight is still dropping.  Slowly, but it is.