My friend received a crazy note on her car yesterday.
She had not done the best parking job. She works in a high rise building in the downtown area of Chicago. The garage where she parks is only ever around half full. She woke up late and was hustling to work. By the time she made it to the parking garage she was flustered. She parked the car in a half-assed manner and ran to the elevator. Because of all the empty space she didn’t think twice about it.
When she left work later that day she found a note attached to her windshield. It read:
Dear Shithead – Learn how to park your car better or the next time I’m going to hit your door even harder. I don’t give a shit because this is a company car.
I could write a 2000-word essay on what’s amazing about that letter. I’ll skip ahead and tell you what she did. She took a photo of the license plate and sent it to her brother, a police officer. He’ll run the plate and tell her to whom the car is registered. She’ll then call the company and ask which employee drives XYZ car. Then, she’ll call his boss (has to be a him), and send over the letter. He’ll be fired.
It got me to think about my own inability to hold it together at times. How I can go from sane to crazy in a matter of seconds should the right stimulus present itself.
My psychiatrist put me on a drug a few years ago. I can’t tell you what neurotransmitters it affects, but the way it was explained to me is this – the medicine allows me a few seconds of rational thought before I go into fight or flight. In other words, it provides sanity when I most need it.
I have one of those brains that flips out at the drop of a hat. If you drop and break a plate I’ll jump two feet in the air. I’ll also let out a scream. I’m high-strung and always have been. When I was younger it was named “sensitive” by adults. The kids at school would call it a “spaz.” Thankfully I learned how to internalize my freakouts and keep them hidden from the world. Nobody wants to be the class spaz.
I’m to a point now where I wonder how much of the behaviors I’d like to change are medical vs. psychological. I mean, if someone drops a plate, I don’t have much choice other than to freak out. It’s automatic. Wake me up in the middle of the night and I’ll begin yelling at you before I’m even conscious. With this med, however, I have more control.
I’m also in a therapist’s office once a week to work on my issues. The struggle for me is knowing what I have the ability to change and what just doesn’t work right with my physiology. Is the sadness I feel just a normal reaction to life or because my dopaminergic receptors don’t have the right uptake process? It’s confusing.
So, what do I work on and what do I surrender to meds? The science isn’t yet perfected on figuring out mental health.
What seems to be a true north for me are feelings. To fully feel a tough emotion when it comes up, and learning to trust that it will lead somewhere useful. As a guy, however, I was not taught to indulge in my sadness, fear, anger, or shame. Even after years of practice the process is new to me.
However, I’ve never left a nasty note on someone’s car and dented their door. I’m not far off the charts, thank God.
So for me the formula seems to be something like this:
acceptance of how I currently am + meds for how I currently am + therapy for how I’d like to be + feeling tough stuff
Or maybe I should just keep freaking out and writing about it. It does make for great stories. Like how, to soothe myself today, I bought a huge amount of beef jerky and stunk up my office gnawing on the worst parts of a cow. Then I stunk up my office in a whole other way. It was awesome.