Ups and Downs

I was feeling calm, and reasonably stable, so I decided to give the mental health phone line another try. This time I had my insurance card and medical number at the ready. A call center agent answered right away- no more wading through a recorded menu- and she seemed like she might actually experience human emotions like compassion. She handed me off to the appropriate administrator who actually asked pertinent questions: Was I calling for therapy or medication?


What was I struggling with?


Was this location the most convenient?


She said I’d receive an authorization letter in the mail with the name of a therapist I could call to make an appointment, and I hung up the phone feeling relieved that the process was underway. I’d taken the first step.

At lunch, I stepped out of the office to donate blood. The towers where I work hold routine blood drives and I make an effort to sign up whenever I see the announcement. I like donating blood. I don’t know why: maybe because it’s easy and makes me feel useful. I’m young and healthy and not squeamish about needles; and there are snacks. And you can’t beat the convenience of having the Red Cross come right to your workplace to make a donation. For me, though, donating blood means a few weeks of loading up on iron supplements to get my blood iron levels high enough to donate.

I arrived at the appointed time- the only donor there. I’d already filled out the pertinent questionnaire and read the relevant readings. The phlebotomist took my temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and contact info, then set about the pin prick test for the blood iron.

Sorry, too low.

Can you test again? Sometimes a second test gets a higher reading.

A second phlebotomist performed a second test.

Higher, and in the healthy range, but still too low to donate. Sorry. Have a Game of Thrones poster.

So I didn’t get to donate. I picked up a poster, guiltily promising myself I’d arrange to donate at the center near my house to make up for it.

The afternoon was going fine until I glanced at my phone and discovered an email from USC.

Join us in celebrating the life and legacy of Norm Hollyn. It said.

That’s funny. I thought. They should check their wording- it makes him sound like he’s dead.

I opened the email. The message consisted of an image showing the familiar smiling face of the editing professor who had interviewed me for admission to the graduate production program back in 2013. My eye caught on the word “Memorial” wait, what? and I read it over several times struggling to make sense of what I was looking at.

I googled “Norm Hollyn”.

“Norm Hollyn death” populated automatically. March seventeenth. Yokahama Japan.

I had to step out of the office. I called the Curmudgeonly Lion: the relative calm I’d been feeling all day now folded in on itself and I felt like I was in freefall. Another mentor suddenly gone. Another major piece of news arriving to me late what did I think I could have done? thanks to my self-imposed social media blackout. Another friend gone while I wasn’t looking.

I struggled to take deep cleansing breaths. I struggled to breathe at all. I felt the urge to reach out to everybody I knew just to make sure they were all still alive, not sure I found really stand to find out if they weren’t. I ate chocolate. I had something warm to drink. I tried not to think too much.

So it’s been a hell of a day. I’m muddling through.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 18, 2019.

One Response to “Ups and Downs”

  1. You like donating depressed blood? 😛 Small joke. [But, I also wonder sometimes if we cannot pass on such things in our blood. Why does my brain think of such things? Who knows.]
    Personally, as much as I like helping people, I gotta draw the line at blood donation. Not my thing. Queasy about needles…and blood. Hate getting bloody noses as often as I do. Don’t want more surgery than necessary. And, frankly, I do worry what gets transmitted with all the blood being passed around…and if some vampires aren’t actually running these “drives” just to avoid hunting us like birds of prey.
    You know what’s just as easy as giving blood? Talking about your feelings with someone willing to listen. 😛 hehe
    Do NOT sell me on convenience…especially associated with anything that requires probing or taking from my body…gross. NNNO. I don’t care if they provide “dream loungers” and my favorite chocolate pudding. You get that close to me and talk about convenience before you tap my veins? I might as well be a heroine addict.
    ANd, that’s another factor! If you have to “load up on iron,” first, you’re already making yourself a cow that needs to be injected with something before they tap it for milk. You’re cattle. It’s not so convenient, then, is it? Not if you are not fit to give as you are. That’s like wanting to teach someone something you think you know only for someone to say you need to take a certification semester or two years of schooling to do. Granted, I get that if you’re trying to become a teacher at a school and be responsible for kids/teens/adults…even though people who do get certified are not immune to “weird behaviors” that later lead to trouble.
    Have a Game of Thrones poster?…as if, even if you’re not a fan, you may know someone who is and would like that? Wow. Talk about the lousy dentist office balloon. Sorry to be an ungrateful swag recipient…but, no thanks. Keep your poster so I don’t have to figure out who to give it to and have them add it to a pile before it gets tossed. 😛 I don’t know any fans that don’t already have their fill of posters. So, what fools printed these extras that are being handed out at a blood drive?…that’s just crazy talk.
    Mmmaybe that’s key to something. Your attachment to this mentor who passed. Maybe your “trigger” is death related…someone lost long ago which makes even the passing of a mentor seem more tragic than necessary (not making light; it’s just not personal and my “therapist way of processing”). Maybe you experienced a loss of someone that hits you like a bomb when you open your heart to such feelings. It definitely struck a chord, compared to just the average drift into depression you’ve blogged about.
    I know I’ve gone back to the deaths of my two grandfathers countless times, weighing the difference in emotion…how I grieved over one but not the other and why. I don’t know why those keep replaying for me, but they do. Maybe I’m meant to somehow make peace with those feelings and let both go. Maybe I haven’t properly grieved somehow, and one of their spirits still wants something.

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