Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bemoaning Bitterness. Boycotting Boring. Bonus: Biking.

What was I saying about not being a "poor me" type of person?

Well. It turns out that I wasn't rejected by the migraine medication trial because I had too many migraines (poor me!), after all.

It was actually because of the Wellbutrin. 

I have crossed voicemails with the liaison there a couple of times this week, so I don't have very detailed information, but I was told that the doctor I spoke to-- the one who thought I'd be a particularly good candidate for the study-- had been fighting to have me included despite my current course of Wellbutrin.

Apparently, he'd kept up the fight all month, but in the end, the people in charge refused to admit me. Which is why I wasn't told until the day I was supposed to schedule my infusion.

On one hand, I really appreciate the doctor's tenacity. It was cool of him to push on my behalf.

On the other hand, you can't tell people with a debilitating chronic illness that there is a 50/50 chance of them getting a life-changing drug that will make them better when there isn't. I never had a 50/50 chance, if the Wellbutrin was an issue from the beginning. 

It would have been nice to be a bit more emotionally prepared for a "no."

So anyway. I really latched on to that "too many migraines" theory because it was the only thing that made sense to me, and that was definitely me saying "poor me."

Not that I don't get to say that every once in a while, I guess, but I don't like to do that, and I really don't like feeling like I deluded myself a little bit. It doesn't serve a constructive purpose, complaining. It doesn't change the facts, and it doesn't help me feel anything more than victimized.

Which is dumb.

My inner Sherlock is appalled.

Oh well. Disappointment is one of my all-time least favorite feelings. Don't like to feel it, don't like others to feel it. This is at the root of a lot of my anxiety in the world, I think. I've built an entire avoidant personality around never being disappointed, and have spent a lot of time twisting myself into a shape that runs the least risk of disappointing others.

Talk about exhausting. Talk about bland as hell.

It's boring, being a person who never risks disappointment. Gotta do something about that.

Well, I've no idea where that came from, but there it is. I've turned my rejection from the migraine trial into a quest not to be boring.

That seems reasonable, no?

I do have to admit that whenever something major happens to me-- something with a big emotional impact, which happens so, so rarely-- there is always a tiny part of me that thinks, This is what real life feels like. This is what it feels like to be a real person.

Those moments, while often painful, are always a little bit exciting for that reason. I'm doing it, I think. I'm having a normal, reasonable, in-the-moment reaction. I am feeling my feelings right now, as I'm having them. I'm acting like a legitimate human.

On the other hand, the breathtaking rarity of these moments means that they tend to highlight how very unfamiliar I am with acting like a legitimate human. It's hard not to notice how completely foreign it feels.

Sherlock, you do your job well, my friend.

I told Dr. Oz the other night that I've been feeling very triggered lately, without knowing why. My skin feels all raw and crawly and I've been very on-edge.

During the course of the conversation, it clicked: I got a new bike and trailer for hauling my little girls around, and I've been riding it on the street, which is something I've not really done before, and I feel a bit unsafe.

I feel exposed on the bike. I feel vulnerable. And I feel it in a way that hits very, very close to home. I'm a cautious rider, and my hyper-vigilance is in full swing whenever I'm on the road, scanning for obstacles, threats, pedestrians, car doors, whatever. I am constantly braced for impending emergency. 

But it's the exact same situation that occurred to me after my car accident, magnified by a few degrees: you can be doing everything right, following all the rules, and still, something can happen to you. Accidents happen. When you're on a bike, an accident is even scarier, because you're not protected by a steel frame and a seatbelt.

Surprise, surprise: feeling physically unsafe while operating a vehicle on a street with other vehicles around me freaks me the fuck out. Or at least, it freaks my lizard brain out. The rest of me is working through it.

There are a few mitigating factors. I live on a smallish island, where there's not a lot of traffic and the speed limit is a strictly-enforced 25MPH. That's an enormous help. There are also bike lanes here and there. I wish there were more, but I'm grateful for the ones that are there.

I also used to ride a Honda Elite, so I'm familiar with the indifference car drivers often show to people on bikes and cycles. I'm glad I don't have to learn that on top of the rest of it right now. I feel prepared for that, although it certainly triggers the hyper-vigilance.

One thing that will help me with this is time. I'm a novice cyclist. I'd be a little uncomfortable until I learned the ropes under any circumstances. So I know that some of my unease will fade. There are free bike safety classes offered monthly in my community, and I'm going to take one.

<I just went and registered for it. August 8th. Done.>

Those things will help. Part of this reaction is normal. It's also normal to be extra-vigilant when you're on a bike, and to be safety-conscious.

That's what makes this kind of difficult to parse. I'm not sure where the line is. How much of what I'm feeling and doing is appropriate, and how much isn't? At what point does my lizard brain take over?

I don't want to put myself or my kids or anyone else in danger by riding a bike with forces beyond my direct control trying to take over my brain.

I'm keeping up with it, though. I'm working on the "time-and-familiarity" part. Practice makes perfect, right? And really, there are few urban areas more conducive to this little experiment than mine, so it's a great place to be doing this.

My goal is to stop driving my car on the island except during extreme weather. It's small enough here that this is absolutely doable. And even though the actual travel takes around twice as long on the bike, we're talking about 10 minutes instead of five to most of the places I go. It's only a 15-minute drive across the whole island, end to end.

So this whole bike thing has turned out to be a little bigger than I thought it would be. It's giving me more than just a physical workout, apparently. It's a good thing. I feel like I can work with that, even though it's a little scary, emotionally and physically. 

And even though it took me a couple of weeks to figure out what my lizard brain was up to.

In other news: I'm looking for a cool bike helmet that doesn't look like some sort of alien spaceship landed on my head. Does such a thing exist?

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