A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Car and NAMI

I called the place where my car was towed on Monday but the phone was disconnected which surprised me because this is a place I've gone to since around 1990. So I found a local yellow pages and discovered a local shop. I called there and a man with a heavy Russian accent answered the phone (turns out he's from the Ukraine and his name is Yuri). I could only partially understand him which was a frustration but he seemed good tempered and patient. He towed my car to his place and studied it. Meanwhile I waited for him to call back. I had to cancel my library work till next Monday mainly because I didn't have a cell phone and I didn't go to Al-Anon. When he called back he said that I would need a rental (which he could provide luckily) because the car would be in the shop for a while. Not only was there something broken near the front right wheel but my tires needed to be replaced. The next day his son (who couldn't have been much more than 18) was sent to pick me up in the car I would be renting.

We went to the shop and Yuri began painstakingly explaining this and that about the car. He seemed to want to help me to save money. I felt embarrassed because I knew so little about cars and about money. The main thing I wanted was to have a safe car because I know my father has set aside some money to take care of this car so that I can hold onto it for as long as possible. Yuri kept mentioning insurance but I was pretty sure that my insurance didn't cover non accident related expenses. He pointed out a dent in my car on the same side as my flat tire. I told him I had bumped a deer a while ago. So he said "Why didn't you report it?" I had no good answer for him other than ignorance. "What do you like to throw away money?" Turns out you are supposed to report hitting a deer within 24 to 48 hours because the insurance will cover the cost to repair the damage. He even went so far as to say I should lie to the insurance company and say that I hit a deer recently to get them to pay to fix it. I said I didn't want to lie. Then he had me study the tires and tested me: "Which tire is in okay condition and which tire is not in good condition?" At first I didn't know but we studied them together again and then I could see which one was probably newer. He told me his regular customers get preferential treatment (like not having to pay a rental fee), "You, I don't know." So, in effect, he was both instructing me and checking me out. This made me nervous but he seemed good tempered and I needed to have my car fixed. I had mentionned talking to my father about the car before deciding when I first got on the phone with him. He assumed I was just a young woman and was obviously surprised and puzzled when he saw me. He asked me if I owned my car. I said yes. Later he asked me where I worked and I eventually told him I didn't. I felt ashamed and drove home a bit dazed. He wasn't really unkind just set in his ways. I told him I was "a bit strange" and almost told him that I suffered from schizophrenia but it was just too soon because I don't know him either and I guess I was checking him out too. He said I didn't seem strange and even tried to lift my spirits by complimenting me gently.

After I told my father about the car and what would need to be done, I felt relieved. Whereas Yuri, a hard working but poorer man than my father, is concerned about each dollar, my father's main concern was that the car be taken care of properly. But I knew full well that someday I will have to learn to handle money better because my father will not always be there. And I should know what my insurance does or does not cover and I should try to get the best deal. I've just let myself remain financially dependent on my father and now I'm way too ignorant, too soft. So now I need to get some files and start organizing important papers instead of throwing them in a particular drawer unsorted. I need to take a crash course in growing up. Despite moments of doubt I know I have come a long way. I'm starting to be well enough to look outside myself. I may have been somewhat uncomfortable with Yuri but I didn't shirk my small responsibility to talk with him and work out a deal. He showed me how small my world is but he also showed me that it doesn't have to be. Gradually I will take on more responsibility. I have strong hopes for progress in the next 12 months.

I saw my therapist today, the first time in over a month. She had major surgery on her foot and only returned to seeing her clients last week. Her foot was in a cast and she propped it up on a chair while we talked. After catching up on my story I talked to her again about starting a NAMI Affiliate on campus. I handed her a print out from NAMI on starting an affiliate and she read it. She gave me two names of people to contact at the university: the director of the counseling center and the vice president of students. She also said I could use the Office Of Special Academic Services as a resource. I sent an email to NAMI around the last time I saw J. but never received a reply that I was aware of, so I'm going to try again. My last resort is to actually call but I'm not good with the phone. I have to practice what to say before I say it and it takes me a while. Frustrating but doable once I set my mind to it. After I send the email I'm going to try and write a proposal to mail or email to the people from the university showing why having a NAMI Affiliate on campus is a good idea. J. said that the director of the counseling center had tried to set up some kind of support group but found that the students themselves were shy about coming forward, still afraid of the stigma attached to having any kind of mental illness. I said to J. that a support group could be small and still function quite well. Obviously if noone showed up for months at a time there would be no support given or received, just me in my lonely quest. But I have to give this a chance. It might really help someone (other than me) someday. The murders at Virginia Tech could have been avoided if there had been an active support system available. NAMI has a bunch of schools participating and I hope more join. I hope this university joins.

Monday and Tuesday I couldn't go online (only one phone line) because I had to wait for Yuri's call and so I got restless and started cleaning which felt very good. My vacuum cleaner was not working well so I unplugged it and went to work cleaning out the clogs in the machine. I'd clear one and it still wouldn't vacuum well. I'd discover another clog and then another and finally the vacuum was working very well indeed. It still amazes me how much that one appliance can do to improve the appearance of things. I feel proud of myself for working a mere two hours on my house. I decided to work on the back bedroom so that I would actually sleep there at night instead of sleeping on the living room couch which is in the process of falling apart. There's is much more work to do but just that I had the energy to do some of it at all makes an impression on me. Little depression and a basic amount of motivation, this is cause for happiness. : ) But I have also noticed in my reaction to Yuri and a bit of my reaction to seeing my therapist has made me feel self-conscious. It's a passing feeling but I'm more keen on paying attention to anything that feels out of whack. The sooner I'm aware of it, the sooner I can take some action and diffuse the situation.
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