Tuesday, January 30, 2007

While you're waiting for the other shoe to drop...

Well, at least my blood & urine are fine. Very healthy sugar & cholesterol levels.

Have you ever had an EKG before?



My EKG shows that I have an irregular heart beat. Until that gets checked out by a doctor, I'm ineligible for the study.

I told the psychiatrist, "Well that figures. My luck has been shitty in nearly every other aspect. Why would this be different?"

Lynne's coming over Saturday to help me find some free/low cost medical help.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

For Placement Only

(You designer folk know what that term means.)

There's some crazy stuff that's happened in the past few weeks that I haven't written about yet. I still need to get a few things straightened out. But so far, I've been in a situation where the beginning was like winning the lottery, and the end was like getting nuked from the inside out. Check back at the end of the week.

It just keeps getting worse.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Second face to face interview

I got up shortly after the ass-crack of dawn, skipped breakfast (ugh) and made my way back up to 168th Street/Haven Avenue. I was greeted by...well, let me put it this way:

Dear Anxiety Clinic,

Please do not send me to see the woman who looks like Liv Tyler & Audrey Tatou had a love child with long dark tresses, a subdued fashion sense, thick rimmed glasses and a light French accent. I don't know how much more of it I can bear.

But I'm willing to find out.

Anyway, we talked about my dad, Eric, and more recent events. I started to break down when it came to Eric, and she quietly apologized.

That lasted about a half hour. Then came the fun stuff.

I was led to another room by another woman for a short medical exam. Blood pressure (126/70-something), pulse (68 bpm, would be lower if I wasn't conscious of it), three vials of blood taken, EKG, and please pee in this cup, the bathroom's around the corner.

The results of the bodily fluids & EKG will be in by Monday. I go back next Tuesday for a three hour examination. The first hour is spent with another shrink, who can prescribe meds on the spot. The other one I saw on Friday, the one I was comfortable with, isn't able to do so. We also go over the release forms and make sure I understand all the risks & benefits. They keep telling me "next time" I'll get this stuff done. I wonder if that's part of the experiment.

Then I go see the Tyler/Tatou hybrid for more evaluation of my state of mind, I guess.

And then I spend an hour on the computer for some sort of test. I'm told it shouldn't take more than a half hour, but you never know.

After all of that, I have half-hour sessions weekly (or biweekly) to see how I'm responding to the treatment. If I'm not doing well, they may put me on another drug.

One thing I like about all this (aside from the amazingly beautiful bespectacled brunette) is a couple of the questions they keep asking me.

Do you see or hear things that others don't?

Look, I know I'm not right in the head, but I'm not crazy.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Retail Therapy

I left the house a few minutes later than I should have and missed a train. The doctor checked the office, saw that I wasn't there, and then went to another meeting.

I made my way through the maze that is the hospital. The gentleman at the desk made every effort to contact the doc, and went out looking for him. The CD player was playing Led Zeppelin, but not nearly as loud as it should have been.

The click-clack of high heels echoed down the hallway.

While the guy was out looking for the doc, he showed up. We went to his office and talked for a while. I was pretty comfortable with him, despite the note-taking. I wanted to say, "here, just read my blog," but that probably wouldn't work.

I talked about my family history of fucked-up-ness, dating history (what history?), social irrelevance (parties, etc), suicide attempts (I was 14). He was shocked to learn that I had never been in therapy before.

He said I "definitely" qualify for the research study. I have to go back on Monday morning (ugh) for a full diagnostic and blood work. And I have to skip breakfast (double ugh).

As I've noted before, they'll prescribe Paxil. It's traditionally used as an anti-depressant, but it's been shown to affect social anxiety as well. After 12 or so weeks, they'll put me in one of two groups. Group A continues the Paxil treatment. Group B does the same, but also gets 12 weeks of cognitive-behavioral therapy. After the six months they'll try to put me in a therapy program, but that's not guaranteed.

Afterwards, I rolled down to 23rd Street to see Carlos, Bowie, & Lynne for five minutes to give them an update. Carlos hadn't seen me since his wedding, so he got his first view of the new look.

I had time to kill, so I visited the Barnes & Noble at Union Square.

*We interrupt your regular broadcast for a public service announcement. Barnes & Noble has a Buy One, Get One Free sale on all television DVD boxed sets. Sale ends January 30th.*

I staked out a bunch of stuff to pick up later, and headed down to the Starbucks at Astor Place to meet up with my teacher/friend Louis, who I haven't seen in over a year.

*We interrupt your regular broadcast for another public service announcement. Starbucks' Caramel Apple Cider is heavenly. Get some. I had two large ones today.*

We talked about work, life, the universe, and everything, as well as the recent developments in my life, and how I'm starting to get help.

Louis' most insightful comment was how grounded and kept together I seem. He would never have guessed that I was having anxiety attacks, that I was feeling so low. He asked, semi-rhetorically, how I managed it.

It may be that I spend so much time thinking & writing about everything. Or it could be that I keep myself distracted enough to not worry about it 24/7.

Louis had to leave & meet his wife, so we parted ways. I went back to B&N and began my indulgent retail therapy. I spent a lot of money, just over $200.


Saturday Night Live Season 1
Looney Tunes vol 4
The Boondocks Season 1
Dead Like Me Season 1


Edward Hopper's New York
Edward Hopper: Portraits of America
MC Escher: 29 Master Prints
In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists

There was considerably more that I wanted to get. If it weren't for that sale, the total would have been $300. I haven't spent like that in a long damn time.

Going over to Lynne's tomorrow (Saturday) to finish exchanging Christmas gifts. There were delays in shipment.

I'm not done with the side bar yet, but you've got a better idea. When I'm done, I'll explain it all.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pardon Our Appearance

With Blogger's new tools, I'm playing with the look of this place a little bit, and adding a fuckton of links. The Sidebar shall be more organized. I don't have to re-list all my posts anymore, thanks to the new archiving system (WAAAAY more convenient). It'll be chock full of crap to entertain you when you're bored at work, or bored at 3 AM.

I should have everything sorted by the weekend.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Repressed memory drop in 3...2...1...

Memory drop initiated. Commence mixed emotions. One part lamentation of past circumstances, one part amazement at survival of past circumstances.

I was recently talking to someone about our families' history of mental dysfunction. It (eventually) triggered a few memories.

When I was less than half my current age, my parents' marriage was on the rocks. Dad had taken to drinking again, which made the hair on the back of my neck stand up at all times.

I'd come home from school and take a few minutes to decompress from being on edge all day. 7th & 8th grade were the only years where I'd have the house to myself for a little while. Sis came home an hour later, and Dad didn't get in until after dark. Mom came home in the hour between sis & I.

Sometimes Mom would come home, sit down, and break down. Not knowing what else to do, I'd go over & hug her until she stopped crying.

If there's one thing I have in common with Bugs Bunny, it's that we can't stand seeing dames cry.

She started going to our pastor for help - yes, once upon a time I DID go to church - while Dad didn't seem to give a damn.

I never knew exactly what was going on. I just knew that I was scared of Dad a little more than usual. A few months later, we had a family meeting. Sis and I sat on the floor in front of our parents, sitting on opposite ends of the couch. Dad said something along the lines of:

"You both have probably noticed that your mother and I are having some problems. We don't know what's going to happen."

I think they went to all of three counselling sessions together, and then Dad stopped going. I don't think anything ever got better until my last year of college.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Okay Jeff, we're going to start off with a few demographic questions.




Between 30 & 40.


Let's go with "other."

Are you Hispanic?


Describe your ethnicity, please.


*chuckles* You mean, "white"?

Heh, yes.

*chuckles again* Okay, how did you find us?


Any particular advertisement?

No, just Googled "free social anxiety treatment."

Okay, now for more pertinent questions...

The interview went pretty well, I guess. I have an appointment to see a doctor next Friday at noon.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I stayed home today. I woke up at 7 AM, after 4 hours of sleep, to perform my best Mr Creosote impression.

Did a repeat performance at 9:30 AM.

It's a nasty stomach bug, but the worst is over. I stumbled over to the drug store around noon and got a bottle of Pepto. I'm on the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast), and so far, so good.

Tomorrow morning is the phone interview for the SADR Clinic.

My stomach feels a little tense; I may stay home tomorrow as well.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


So...here's a very rough sketch. I need to get a bit more reference, and play with the scale of the figure & bench (shrink) compared to the tree. Oh, better perspective would be good, too. The font is from my hand writing. Still have a bit to toy with.

Friday, January 05, 2007


I've gotten in touch with the clinic.

First, there's a phone interview to get a rough idea of how bonkers I am. Then they'll put me on Paxil for 12 weeks. Then there's an evaluation. Depending on how the treatment goes, they'll start doing some cognitive-therapy-something-or-other for free.

I've been going to the gym daily. It's helped to keep my mood up in the mean time.

However, my fingers are still too fat...

(Right-click and save link as)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I keep forgetting this one.

Thanks to Mike Pullmann for reminding me.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A little better

I spent a couple of hours at the gym last night, blasting Led Zeppelin to clear out the cobwebs. It helped.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

So, I've been in a funk lately...

...And now I'm going to tell you about it. Or at least, as much as I can without intruding on the privacy of others in this highly public forum. Some of you already know the details. If you don't know the details, please don't ask. I won't tell you about it.

A while back, I met someone. She's...well, awesome. Friendly, smart, funny, and a cutie. I didn't give it much thought at first because I didn't know her well enough.

Time passed and we hung out a bit. Got to know her better alone and in public. She proved herself to be a decent person. She treated me like I was a human being, like I wasn't just a bit of debris on the social playground.

I started to think, maybe I could open up to her.

As most of you know, opening up is extremely difficult for me. Decades of wrapping myself in solitude for just a hint of inner peace has crippled me socially. I can't read people very well. The external world is more confusing to me than an MC Escher drawing. I have to mentally retreat and become an observer, becoming lost and detached from my surroundings.

Conversations are dominated by others, to the point of boredom. I'm hardly interested in the topics. Or if I am, I don't know enough to say anything. Or if I do, it usually comes out garbled, so I don't say anything anyway. Further retreating.

This is part of Social Anxiety Disorder.

In these retreats, I do manage to pick up on small things. They don't occur to me until much later, after they've wormed about in my subconscious.

The more I thought about telling her, the more things didn't seem right. Something inside me said, "no, don't do it."

I still wanted to, but then life got in the way. Work, creative pursuits, illness. You sure as hell can't approach someone with a fever & snot dripping from your nose.

The Tuesday before Christmas it all clicked, with a more direct clue while I was at work. The first anxiety attack of the season kicked in. I ran to the bathroom before the tears came out. I breathed slowly, trying to calm my nerves, to slow my heartbeat. I felt, and continue to feel...


Lynne came to my aid Friday afternoon. My office was virtually empty, as almost everyone had left to be with their loved ones. We talked about everything, and she held me for a while.

On Saturday I confessed, and had my suspicions confirmed. She's already seeing someone else, someone I know and respect, for long enough to make how I felt about her irrelevant.

She was very kind about it, reinforcing why I think so highly of her. She asked if our friendship would remain intact.

As someone who's heard the "just friends" speech in every variation the English language has to offer, I said "yes." Why would this time be different?

We spoke for a few more minutes as blood rushed into my face, partially out of embarrassment, partially out of anger.

I was never angry at her, nor at him.

Just myself.

I'm angry because I barely understand what's going on inside this shell, let alone what's outside. I'm angry because everything I had to do to survive has made me more lonely than ever. I'm angry because I don't know how to connect with people. I'm angry that I didn't act on my thoughts sooner, even if she would have said no.

Christmas morning, after getting only five hours of sleep, I woke up with my heart pounding out of my chest. The dream I was going through was a confrontation of this situation.

I was at a gathering in my maternal grandparents' old house. No family members were present. The couple, a few friends, and other people I've never seen before were all there having a party.

I was very disoriented. That house represents abuse spanning two generations. It was built by a sick man who was never punished. I've only been in it once since the incident with my sister over ten years ago, after he died.

I was sitting on the floor, looking up at everyone. The gentleman of the couple gave me a note. It was written by at least three different people; each sentence by a new hand. I couldn't read it. The blue ink washed away before I could. He then told me something, but his voice was distorted. I knew it was a dream at this point, and my body took over, inducing the second attack of the season.

I sat up in bed, struggling to breathe.

I got up and eventually went to Lynne's for her little X-Mas party. I told her what happened. We sat on her bed and held each other for a while, which was highly therapeutic. I removed my glasses, closed my eyes, and nuzzled into her neck. Taking in her light scent of lavender baby powder, I tried to forget about everything.

Lynne asked, "Why do you feel so lonely?"

I pulled her closer, unable to verbalize an answer.

I walked home in the pouring rain that night. I thought, how perfectly fitting.

I had taken Tuesday off already, and just tried to cope. I spent the rest of the week at work, zombified. It was a slow three days. I didn't have much to distract me.

Since then, things have become more difficult. He doesn't seem to know that I know. And I know far too much than I'm comfortable with. Hell, I know what they had for dinner on New Years' Eve.

(No, I'm not stalking or spying. I'm fucked up, yes. Psychotic, no. Information was freely given.)

I suppose jealousy has reared it's ugly head, but it's not so much jealousy of him being with her (a little, yes), it's of the connection they have. And that jealousy is minuscule compared to the loneliness I feel around the holidays. Add that to the deluge of memories I'm recovering for my book...well, I've never felt so bad in my life.

I've looked into getting therapy. I simply can't afford it. My employer recently offered us insurance, but the monthly co-pay is far too expensive. Columbia University has a Social Anxiety Research Clinic. They have a self-assessment quiz, called the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. I scored 93.

Score 90 or higher SAD extremely probable
Scores in this range often are accompanied by great distress and difficulty in social functioning, and are also commonly seen in persons entering treatment for the generalized type of SAD.
I've sent the clinic an email outlining my problems. If I qualify (if I'm fucked up enough), I can get free, but experimental treatment. I hope to hear from them this week.

It's going to be a while before I can see her again, especially if they're out together. I don't know if I'd be able to stay calm. I have enough problems seeing an anonymous couple snogging away on the train.

I spent New Years' Eve alone, posting on CBR. With my current state of mind, I am probably the worst person to hang out with for the foreseeable future. Napoleon saying, "hey, let's invade Russia during the winter" is a better idea than "I wonder what Jeff's up to today." It's not like my phone rings more than twice a month anyway.

I want to make this, above all else, clear: I bear no ill will, no grudge to this couple. She has far more in common with him than she does with me. They are both good, honorable people, who deserve the best. I honestly hope it works out for them. In no way do I blame either of them for what I'm going through. It's nobody's fault but my own.

If that awesome woman is reading this, know that we will be okay. I just need a bit more time than I thought. Please don't give up on me.