Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dealing With Existential Crisis Disorder

I spent most of the weekend at my parents’ house. They live in Virginia, so an easy commute. My mom is one of my favorite humans on the planet, and while my dad isn't easy, I love him, and he’s a very interesting character. Usually I have a really good time with them, although sometimes I go out there to hibernate and cry.

If I am crying hysterically, as I did for several months this spring and summer, then it’s best if my dad is not the first person I see. He gets mad. He wants to fix it. He lectures. He gives tips on how to turn it around. He has seriously talked at me until I got so hysterical I was hyperventilating, at which point he said he should probably get my mother. Betty is the person you want to see when you’re upset. She hugs you, she makes soothing noises, she sympathizes.

This weekend was a mix of up and down. Nice to see my parents, nice to hide out at home. Saturday night I watched (and I am not proud of this) eight episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. The thing that made me stop was not that I’d wasted nearly 8 hours of my life in a fictional place, nor that I’d cried most of the time (the old lady with liver cancer whose husband loves her so much, the nice train wreck people with the pole through them, the sweet Cystic Fibrosis guy), but rather the way McDreamy is treating is ex-wife. I don’t even like her. I root for Meredith. But the way he treats her, at least in the middle of Season Two, reminds me of how my old boyfriend, my Mr. Big treated me after I tried to get back together with him. He was cold and reserved, but he said he was trying. He wouldn’t let go of me, but he wouldn’t offer much. At some point you have to say enough is enough. That point was 2 am, when I went to bed.

This afternoon I tried to compose an email response to last week’s message from my Big, who I will just call B. It made me cry, so I went for a run. It’s impossible for me to run and cry, which is part of why I get skinny when I’m unhappy. I lose my appetite and I exercise like mad, trying to avoid crying. Actually, being fairly weight obsessed, I always see it as a side benefit of being devastated. I drop so much weight, I can fit in my skinniest jeans. If you focus on my ass instead of my teary swollen eyes and snotty red nose, I'm probably at my hottest when I’m down.

This spring I spent a lot of weekends at my parents’ house, particularly with the onslaught of my huge bout of Existential Crisis Disorder (or ECD). This is my friend's clinical term, and I love it. Sometimes I just refer to it as “losing my shit,” which really amuses my therapist. I started seeing her right after I lost it this spring, so the first time I saw her I said, “The reason I’m here is that I’ve just lost my shit completely.” Every once in a while, she will refer to it. When she says, “So when you (pause, small smile)…” I know she’s about to do the air quotes and then say “When you ‘lost your shit’…” I know this expression amuses her. She keeps a pretty good poker face, but actually, I think a lot of what I say amuses her. Not the really grim depressing stuff, of course. But things like wondering if I'm actually crazy and just don't know it because I surround myself with crazy people and so we all think we're more normal than we are...

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