Last night, at my niece’s second birthday party, I started sobbing uncontrollably. For no apparent reason. I was so embarrassed. I tried to hide my tears, but I could not stop them. I had no idea why they were falling. I was an absolute mess. My poor husband was so confused.
I bawled for hours.
After I stopped crying, my tears turned to rage, so I went outside, tried to stomp off some of my anger, and when that didn’t work, I found a fallen tree branch and thwacked it against a tree trunk and broke it and broke it and broke it and broke it, and then I hurled what was left of it into the grove.
At this point, I was crying again, and my dog trotted over to lick the tears from my face.
I eventually cried myself to sleep, but sleep was useless. I found no rest there. I woke up at 3:00 with a throbbing headache and low blood sugar (my husband got me a bowl of cereal), and I had to write my feelings out of my head. I was up again at 5:00, then 7:00, then 8:00, and I finally just gave up on sleep altogether.
I usually write things in my blog that are uplifting. I am trying to have a good attitude about my situation, and I’m trying to learn from it and see the good in it, but that is not always the case.
Especially since I’ve been on this new drug, Vimpat.
The more I take, the more emotionally volatile I become. I’m not even taking half the dosage my doctor wants to shoot for, but I feel like I have lost my mind.
I am an emotional volcano.
At night, my dreams are full of horror: worst-case scenarios, deaths of dear friends, betrayals, tragedies. During the day, I am depressed and moody and cry about ridiculous things. (I cry when local restaurants close. I cry at commercials with dogs in them. I cry when the mail delivery takes too long. I cry when I can’t thread my sewing machine and when I can’t remember things or when appointments get cancelled or when I lose games of Scrabble or when people don’t text me back in a timely fashion or when I discover that I’m out of baking soda.) I’ve gained ten pounds, my skin looks terrible, and my blood sugar sinks like the Titanic—especially in the middle of the night. My memory (which used to be so strong) has become a sieve. Everything feels overwhelming and stressful and hard, and I have become bitter and angry and short-tempered. I lash out and hurt people. I grow more impatient by the day. The things that once made me happy feel like chores.
And in spite of all that, I am still having seizures.
I feel like I am taking poison. Like I’ve been prescribed poison.
I want to stop this medication. But I can’t just stop—that could kill me. I have to be weaned off of it, and I need my doctor’s approval.
As I slowly increase my dosage of this drug, I recognize myself less and less. And I hate what “I” am becoming.
If I’ve lashed out at you, if you’ve been around for one of my inexplicable crying fits, if I’ve ignored you or blown up at you or snapped at you for no reason, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.
This isn’t me, I swear.
It’s the Vimpat.
When I was almost four, a dog bit me in the face, so I have always approached dogs with a cautious attitude, even when they didn’t scare me. I even felt this way about our own dogs. But lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my dog, Ozzy, and I realized that I could learn a lot from him.
Ozzy was hit by a car a couple years ago, and he’s never fully recovered: he’s broken. He can’t control his bodily functions, so he’s always a mess. The turds sticking to his tail do not prevent him from trying to kiss new people, and even though many shy away from his overeager leaps, his inevitable urine spray, and his tongue like a soaked bath towel, he is still the only thing he knows how to be: himself.
And even though he is completely himself, he is also completely unaware of himself. (Unless he wants a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears.) But his main reason for being is simply this: to show how much he loves you whenever he sees you. He is blissfully unaware of his disability. These stray turds and pee dribbles do not make him shy.
And you know what? Because he’s himself, I love him back. In spite of the pee dribbles. In spite of the turds.
I need to be more like this. I need to become more unaware of my own disability. (I have become hyper-aware of it, which is not healthy.) I need to be more myself, in spite of the seizures. I need to let me shine through and live like my dog does, which means enjoying the boring stuff, which means just giving pure, unselfconscious love whenever I can.
The last year has been a pretty boring one for me: no driver’s license, no job and country life all add up to a pretty empty social calendar—especially during the weekdays. I love to be busy. I hate sitting still. With all of this forced down time, I’m finding out that I truly have no idea how to relax.
But my dog does.
He does not fret and moan about what his disability has stolen from him.
He does not mind the turds that cling to his legs or his crooked tail.
I don’t think my dog even knows how to worry.
Today, Ozzy sat in the same shady spot for over an hour and just watched birds. He doesn’t worry about how he looks or what people think of him. He eats when he’s hungry and he terrorizes squirrels when he wants to have fun. He is content to merely be next to me when I’m outside, and he goes berserk when I call him to join me on a walk.
I confess, I do a lot of fretting and moaning about what epilepsy has taken from me. And this anger, this frustration, does nothing but fuel my seizures. It causes them. And I know that, but I am so angry that I cannot always stop those thoughts, those worries, those hurts, those frustrations. I’m in therapy for it, but I am a long way from cured.
Perhaps spending more time with my dog is just the thing I need.