Surviving the Extremes

friisey:

An awesome, honest, oh-my-god-me-too write-up on anxiety, depression, and dealing with all that daily shit that gets exacerbated by the two.

Originally posted on megeroberts:

I haven’t talked about the last two years of my life on the internet very much. After spending most of my teenage years sharing pretty much every aspect of my life
(“Mega crisis in the Roberts household: WE’VE RUN OUT OF DAIRYLEA!!!”, 13/08/11),
I suddenly lost the urge to announce to the world how I was feeling and what I was doing on a daily basis. My thoughts and experiences suddenly felt too self-absorbed, depressing and insignificant to record online, so I settled for quietly becoming obsessed with American TV shows and helplessly gazing into the middle-distance for long periods of time.

It’s taken a while, but I’ve started to realise that the internet isn’t just yet another place to fulfil the expectations of other people. It can be a hugely supportive place, full of people with similar experiences and helpful advice. After reading Scarlett Curtis’ wonderfully honest and insightful…

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Disruption, To Say the Least

So, one of the questions I’ve been asked by the driver-at-fault’s insurance company has to do with pain and suffering: “How has this accident and your injuries disrupted your daily life?”

How has it disrupted me? Let me count the ways.

I can’t walk; I can only limp.
I can’t hold anything more than a glass of water with my left hand; it’s too weak.
I can’t shower properly for the same reasons.
I can’t sneeze, laugh, cough, reach, carry, hold, move, stretch, adjust because of the pain in my chest.
I can’t kneel, cross my legs, crouch because of the pain in my knees.
I can hardly sleep because I can only sleep on my back – must keep foot elevated, chest flat, wrist straight.

I can’t drive because I don’t have a car. I can’t drive because I can’t put full weight on my right foot.

I can’t go anywhere because I don’t have a car. I can’t go anywhere unless someone is available to drive me. I can’t get groceries unless someone gets them for me.

I can’t go to the gym or run because I can’t walk. Or use my left hand/wrist. Or lift anything anyway.

I can’t apply for jobs because I don’t have a car.

I’ve essentially been in bed for two weeks.

I am paranoid.

I’m paranoid when anyone leaves my apartment – must text me when they get home, lest someone decide it’s a good idea to drive drunk.

I’m paranoid when someone calls me while driving – even through their car’s bluetooth. I’m just waiting to hear a loud crash and for the call to drop.

I’m paranoid when it’s the weekend – people will be out drinking/tailgating. Especially Saturday.

I’m paranoid about keeping my doors locked – yeah, the ones at my apartment. Someone physically hurt me and I am terrified that it’ll happen again. Especially when I wouldn’t be able to get away or fight back. I’ve already hobbled around my apartment twice with a flashlight after hearing a strange noise.

I’m paranoid every time I hear squealing tires – which is pretty fucking often, considering I live next to Dodge Street and by two roundabouts. I fell asleep to a movie and was so violently jolted awake by the sound of squealing tires that I probably hurt everything worse.

I’m paranoid when I get in a car with anyone – that night, driving home from the hospital, I wouldn’t even let my dad turn right on red. No, stay out of the intersection, just stay back, please, I’m sorry I’m being like this, but I can’t let you do it.

I’m paranoid about my injuries healing properly.

I’m paranoid when I think about getting behind the wheel again – will I be able to do it? I still had anxiety from when I was rear-ended in February, now what? What if I can never use a center turning lane again? How will I ever go visit my dad’s house again? Will I be able to be out driving past 9pm? Apparently, that was early enough to be wasted, so what’s my curfew?

I was a cautious driver before; what if I turn into a sniveling mess when I’m out and about? What if I have panic attacks? What if this affects me for the rest of my life? I’m not even 26.

So, I don’t know, how has this disrupted my life? Might be better to ask me how it hasn’t.

An Ode to MINI Cooper

An Ode to MINI Cooper

Dear MINI,

I apologize in advance for my verbosity and the lengthiness of this letter, but I think it’s true that when one is passionate about something, one can go on forever about that something. And this something is really something. Or something.

I grew up a huge fan of The Beatles and also VW Beetles. But then a teenier and unbearably cuter car rolled into view: The MINI Cooper. I was instantly enamored. My seventh grade boyfriend even got me a mini yellow MINI model for my church confirmation. I still have it yet today.

When I turned sixteen, my lovely Grammy gave me her ’96 Chrysler Concorde. It was a fair bit longer than a yacht. My parents used that as part of a trade-in for my younger brother’s first vehicle (still not over it), so I was left carless. As much as I begged and pleaded with my aunt, the designated coinpurse, I was not allowed to get my coveted MINI Cooper as they were “small and unsafe.”

‘Sputtering’ doesn’t begin to cover my reaction to those words. 

I ended up with a Dodge Caliber, which was… not a MINI. But I got a job at a car dealership in town and always kept an eye on the inventory.

One day, a co-worker told me that someone had just traded in a MINI Cooper hardtop to another location. I hadn’t even seen it, but I had it sent up. I’m pretty sure that was that salesman’s easiest, quickest sale to date.

I loved that MINI. It was black and had broad, red stripes up the bonnet, across the roof, and down the boot. I found blue ones online and had the red ones replaced. I bought ridiculously huge fog lamps for the grille and had a push-pull, choke-like knob installed to turn those on and off. I bought an S chrome gas cap to replace the non-S gastank door. It was a beauty, and, oh, it was so mine.

Then, as it happens, I got into (read: obsessed) the BBC show Sherlock. Shortly thereafter, and I don’t even know how I found this (read: I was probably google-searching any and all things Sherlock Holmes), I saw that MINI had a Baker Street Edition. 

Wat?(son)

I had to have it. 

I went straight to the local dealer, MINI of Omaha, met with the most perfect saleswoman and kindred spirit, Kim, and I probably had the Baker Street Edition ordered that same day.

Saying goodbye to my first MINI was tough. I got emotional right there in the parking lot. I knew it would be going to a good home and an excellent driver who would have even more fun with it than I did. I’ve yet to see it around town, but I’m still hoping to someday.

The Baker Street, though, woof. What a beauty. The Rooftop Grey paint, the dapper-cut bonnet stripes, the door sills, the door scuttles, the dash panel, the floor mats, the seat fabric and stitching, oh, God, I’m drooling just thinking about it. Utterly gorgeous. And don’t even get me started on the delivery process, oh, too late:

When one orders a MINI directly from Oxford, one gets to track their baby, and that’s not even my word, online. Like a package. Like a delightful bundle of joy. There is no stone left unturned by MINI. They literally think of everything and everything is bespoke and simply perfection. But yes, you get to watch your baby being ‘born’ and when it’s having its last check-up and when it’s making its way across the pond and when it reaches dry land.. It’s just a wonder to behold. 

Now I’m getting emotional again.

Anyway, that MINI was my pride and joy and I planned on having it until it couldn’t tick over any more miles.

That is, until, that feat was made impossible. 

One night in February of this year, I was driving to see my dad. His driveway leads out onto a busy street, so it’s sometimes nerve-wracking to park in it. This night, as with every night, I signaled my turn from at least two blocks away. As I was slowing and turning into his driveway, I looked up in my rear view mirror and saw headlights coming quickly right for me. I thought, “they’ll see me, they’ll see me, oh my God, they aren’t going to stop!” and I went to press the accelerator. The last thought I had as I stepped on the gas pedal was, “this’ll be a narrow miss.” 

It wasn’t.

If you’ve never been in a car accident, you won’t know what I’m talking about; and if you’ve seen one on TV or in a film, you still won’t know what I’m talking about; but there is a noise unlike any other. Louder than I can explain. I can still hear it if I think about it. 

A suburban rear-ended me going about 45mph which swiftly sent me skidding in the snow and T-boning into a utility pole in my dad’s yard. 

In my daze, I tried to open my door and it wouldn’t open. I then panicked a bit and shoved into it a few times. All of a sudden, it was like someone had reached in and lifted me over my gearshift, across the passenger seat, and out the door. To this day, I don’t remember how I got out so easily that way. 

I walked around to the driver’s side of my MINI and my heart absolutely broke. I couldn’t even feel any pain other than that, between the adrenaline, the shock, and the anger. When the driver of the suburban got out, a teenage girl, I yelled at her. “I am so fucking pissed off at you!” 

My MINI, my baby, which I was supposed to have forever, was gone. But I was alive. And I was alive because of my MINI. The curtain airbags kept my head from crashing right into the window, the seatbelt kept me from going anywhere. I was able to walk away. I sustained a bruised and very sore right side, a stiff neck, and anxiety. The MINI sustained quite a bit more.

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You can see how deeply the pole lodged. It still hurts to look at these.

It took a long time to get over, and I’m not particularly over it. It was a loss. It was also a loss of some of my confidence in driving. I’ve always loved driving. I go for drives to calm down or just for fun. After this accident, any time I would pull up to a stoplight or stopsign or anywhere someone would have to stop behind me, my eyes would be glued to my rear view mirror, pleading with everything I had that the person would see me and stop. Even in broad daylight. There were a few times I actually began to take evasive action and pull to the side because I thought, for sure, this person isn’t going to stop. 

Now, with insurance and the rental car and having a job, I knew I couldn’t wait the month or so to replace my baby with another Baker Street, so I had to go for something else. Which was also very difficult. Part of me wanted desperately to just have it back. Go back to the way things were. Start fresh. But then part of me knew it wouldn’t be the same, even if it was physically the same down to the last V on the dash.

I’d only had her for a year. And in that year, she was kept in a garage for three months while I was living in London. I hated that I’d missed out on those three months of driving her. She was truly my dream car.

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When the Clubman came out years ago, I’d always loved the idea of the barn doors. They were adorable and fun, not to mention totally handy and perfect for when you’ve got your shopping and can’t manage a hatch. 

The Clubman came to mind when I had to look for a new car. And because I couldn’t possibly drive anything else, obviously, I was back at MINI of Omaha.

I also thought, sort of as an homage, I’d get it in British Racing Green. I’d actually painted my nails that color as I was in mourning. I warned you: passionate.

MINI of Omaha found me a 2014 British Racing Green Clubman, manual (because how could I do anything else), brand new, with leatherette heated seats, a panoramic moon roof; pretty much everything I wanted besides the black wheels and bonnet stripes. Which was fine, I could take care of those things later.

They got it in for me and it was beautiful. It was hard after the Baker Street, but I grew to love my new MINI, of course. Especially when I went in to order bonnet stripes and I noticed that I could get Baker Street Edition bonnet stripes… Ohhhh, boy. I couldn’t contain my excitement at the parts counter. And when they were installed? Wow. It was perfect. The perfect combination. 

I had a Black Jack rear view mirror cover and a Black Jack grille badge to match. I also installed another grille badge that had a quote from Sir Alec himself, “I don’t want bloody women driving my cars.” It was all coming together to be my little British Chappy.

Then this past Saturday, 30th of August, just hours after my mom’s wedding, I was driving to dad’s – this may sound familiar – and as I neared his driveway, I noticed that his friend had parked a bit crooked and if I parked behind him, I’d have to let him out eventually. For the sake of ease and laziness, I decided parking on the side street would be best. 

There was not another side street to the west until further south, so I moved over to get into the center turning lane to take a turn eastward. As I was slowing, downshifting, and moving into the center turn lane, no sooner had I done so that I heard loud, drawn-out screeching of tires. I couldn’t see anything, so I had no idea what was coming until it hit me head-on.

The impact was hard and loud, but luckily I had no time to react, otherwise I would have tensed up. When I came to a stop, I was facing the opposite direction on the opposite side of the street. My horn was blaring, the airbag had gone off and the windshield had shattered. I had glass and airbag residue in my mouth. I tried to open my driver’s door and it wouldn’t open. In my panic, I rolled down the window and was prepared to climb out. Thankfully, I didn’t even attempt it, and I crawled across the gearshift and passenger seat to get out that way. Even in my state, thinking, “this is harder than last time.”

I walked around the back of the car because the horn was just so loud. I couldn’t even look back at it. My left hand was bleeding and I could hardly walk, but I almost started to walk the couple houses to my dad’s before I thought better of it. Luckily, there were, what seemed like, about six witnesses who took care of calling the police and getting the driver’s license plate number and letting me phone my dad. I remember asking, “do you hear the horn? I was in an accident.” He half-shouted, what?! and I was so upset and furious that I wasn’t thinking clearly. I shouted back, “CAN’T YOU HEAR THE HORN? Just come down the street toward the horn!”

For the sake of things to come, I won’t go any further with the details, but I will repeat what the responding officer told me: When the tow truck came to pick up my car as I was taken to the hospital, the tow truck driver thought he was picking up a fatality. That told me exactly how bad it looked.

I mean, I knew it was bad. It was a head-on collision with a drunk driver. I couldn’t put weight on my right foot, I had a laceration requiring stitches on my left middle finger and couldn’t use my left arm – it took the airbag in less than a stride and my chest took the rest of it – I had cuts and glass all over me. Amazingly, the x-rays were negative for breaks in my foot, hand, and chest; I had no breaks anywhere else. I am, however, mottled with bruises and contusions, and in pain just about everywhere. 

But I’m alive.

I didn’t actually see photos of my car until the next day. Then not in person until I had to go to the impound lot to get my personal items.

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My British Chap saved my life. MINI saved my life again.

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So, in ready conclusion, it is with my whole heart that I say: Thank you, MINI. I would not be here today if it weren’t for your brilliant engineering and attention to safety. There was a reason I was inexorably drawn to your little cars, what, with their bulldog stance and protective snarl. You better believe that as soon as I can physically and psychologically get behind the wheel again, I will be back, yet again, at MINI of Omaha. How could I possibly drive anything else.

Sincerely and loyally yours,

Christina Friis, MINI Owner.

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Rollercoaster

I’m very much looking forward to writing about mom’s wedding on Saturday.
It was a wonderful day and I was in a sated mood.
That is, until, I drove to dad’s around 9pm and was struck head-on by a drunk driver.
When I can use two hands to type, I’ll write about that, too. (I had a deep laceration on my left middle finger which required stitches, so I don’t have the best mobility at the moment).

In the mean time, for the love of God, PLEASE don’t fucking drink and drive. Too many people die as a result and I, very easily, could have been one of them.

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T-Minus Twelve Hours

So, in twelve-ish hours, my mom gets remarried.

I’ve been trying to tease out my emotions for a while now. Maybe lining them up would help me deal with each one. But I’m finding that I can’t, really.

I always cry at weddings. I’m a huge fan of happiness and love and I just get overcome. So there’s that. 

But this is my mom, you know?

My dad got remarried like, a year after my parents divorced, to a stranger (to me) in China, who still isn’t here due to immigration. He flew over on April Fools Day and stayed for three weeks. Sometime around Tax Day, he married her. He brought home a DVD of the wedding. I got to watch her get ready and him get ready and them saying their vows in Chinese and him playing Stairway to Heaven on an acoustic guitar. 

It was odd because I felt happiness for those two people getting married. Finding happiness. Finding love. It was like I was watching a documentary or a home video of two people having a foreign wedding. I couldn’t really connect to it being my own father. 

Tomorrow, I’ll be standing next to my mother as she gets remarried to a high school sweetheart of sorts, and I am wondering how I’ll feel. How I’ll react. Will I cry because it’s a wedding? Will I cry because it’s my mother? Will I feel like I’m watching from somewhere high above the ceremony, from someone else’s vantage point? Will I be sad?

I was a bit sad watching dad’s wedding DVD. Watching all of these family members be a part of this special day, but my brother and I not being there. Part of me was glad I was left out, but of course, it’s my dad; I wish I could have been included in some way.

Tomorrow, I am included, but I worry about how I’ll be. No, I’m not, I’ll do and say all the right things and it’s her special day and seeing her so happy will warm my heart. And yet, part of me thinks it’d be a bit easier to not witness it. 

I don’t know. Like I said, I’m having trouble teasing out my emotions. 

I’ve said it before, numerous times, but this is just something I never thought I’d be dealing with. My parents were married for twenty-five years, which was twenty-three years of my life. I’m twenty-six years old and I’m just now having to deal with a divorce and already remarriages. I’ll never be able to say which would have been better: them getting divorced when we were younger and we’d just be used to it by now, or doing it this way. I’ll probably always argue that it was harder for me this way. 

Of course, in the end, everything happens for a reason and everything happens when it should, as it should. How can I argue with that?

What’s even stranger is that dad’s wife has a son about my age, mom’s soon-to-be husband has a son just older than me and then two sons, seven and nine, I believe. 

I’m being very resistant to any ‘step-‘ terms. I have a mother and a father and a brother. I cannot call anyone a step-mother or step-father or step-brother at this age if no one has step-parented me or no one has been a step-sibling to me. I’m very possessive of my parents and brother. They’re mine and that’s it. 

But now they’re not. They’re other people’s, too. Perhaps I haven’t learnt to share quite yet.

I’m guessing most people who’ve gone through their parents getting divorced and remarried and doing the step- thing are wondering what I’m on about. I know. I’m an adult. I should have the tools to deal with this, I guess. Or at least be more open to these things. 

Maybe someday. 

I wish I could be a bit more like my brother in this case. He’s been very strong and ‘as long as they’re happy’ and ‘I’ve always wanted a large family/more siblings.’ I just haven’t, you know? I mean, sure, it would have been nice to have my cousins closer and whatnot, but Conor was just always enough sibling for me. I used to think having an older brother would have been nice, but Conor has the qualities of an older brother, so I get the best of both worlds. 

Now there are too many worlds, I think. 

And mom having these little kids around now. It makes me a bit.. I don’t know.. I wanted the first little kids she was looking after to be my kids, her grandkids. She’s going to be doing the parenting thing all over again before I’m even doing it. 

I am really going to hate even posting this, but I’m being fatally honest. And maybe someone will stumble across this open-heart surgery and think, finally, someone gets it

I don’t know. I guess I should get some sleep before the big day.

Mom’s going to look so beautiful in her dress. 

Less Ice, More Bucket

(Excuse the awkward yelling – that damn boxer is so loud!)
My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with gratuitous slo-mo. I nominated Maren Jensen, Melanie Bird, Paul McCartney, and Warren Buffett – because friends, why the hell not, and Omaha.
I’m also going to donate $100 on http://www.alsa.org/ because they’ve gotten a ridiculous amount of money in such a short time and I want to continue that.
Thanks to Mary Nagel for filming and Conor for going through the difficult task of dumping a ton of ice water onto his sister’s head – your sacrifice was for a good cause.
Keep giving and keep freezing.

And thanks to Nora Shanno for the nomination :)

Six Degrees of Separation? Child’s Play

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Recently- not that this is anything novel or previously unexperienced, but- recently, and I mean, just this month, I’ve met or run into complete strangers who know all the same people I do. The fact that we’re still strangers is, frankly, odd.

Case #1: I am invited to a bachelorette party weekend at a cabin about fortyfive minutes west of Omaha. I know the bride and the bride’s best friend, and then there are six other girls I’ve never met. Upon arriving, two of the strangers (who aren’t strangers anymore, d’awwwwwww) are challenging each other. “I’ve got THE most hideous dress to show you.” “No, I have the most hideous dress to show you.” In the end, of course, it turned out to be the same dress on the same gal. 

Now, yeah, okay, that’s funny and ha-ha small world, BUT THERE’S MORE.

I want to see this hideous dress, naturally, so the laptop is turned toward me. Oh, hey, I know the guy in that photo. 

“How do you know him?” I went to pre-school and high school with him. 

“Well, I went to St Phil’s with him.” Well, I played soccer for St Phil’s.

“Then you must know _____.” Yep.

“And ______.” Yep.

(and so on).

I think at the end of that little discover, I’d learnt that we all had so many friends in common that it was a miracle that we’d not met before.

I took that opportunity to warn everyone: don’t talk shit about anyone at all ever because clearly, he or she will end up being someone’s brother or cousin or neighbor or postman.

Case #2: Went out to the bar and Kona for a friend’s birthday. This time I knew everyone, as they were all previous co-workers. Then another person shows up and one of my friends says, “Oh, I think you guys have a mutual friend.” I was like, “besides all of y’all?” (God, I’m funny). After raucous laughter, the stranger goes, “Yeah, Melanie?” 

I just looked at her.

“So, no?”

Um, no, the look is because I have literally known her my entire life and I’ll be in her wedding next year. (Different wedding).

“Oh! Well, I played softball with her for (however many) years!” And now this stranger (but not anymore, D’AWW) works for my former employer.

Weird. 

But, WAIT.

After our favorite bar, we popped over to Kona (because food) and we were talking about my friend’s birthday. All of a sudden, this guy slightly behind me goes, “Oh, who’s birthday is it?” Hers. “Ah, how old are you?” (First of all, wrong direction). She says: Guess. (Annnnnd there’s the trap). “Um, 31?” 

Shots fired.

Yeah, I’m 29, thanks. “Oh! I’m sorry, well, I’m 41, so I’m way old!” Yeah, right, let me see your ID.

(He gets out ID) How do you say your last name? “Like it’s spelled.” (Why haven’t I ever used that approach? Oh wait, because Friis).

She pronounces it quite Frenchly and he says, “no, it’s-” and without looking at the ID, I say it correctly.

“How’d you do that?” Well, do you have a younger brother named Justin who went to North?

“OMG YES! How did you know that?”

FFS.

Case #3: Not as strong of a case, I grant you, but still enough to be like, JFC. Talking to my friend who I’ve actually never met, but you know, it’s one of those social media things that I love; anyway, he asks me if I listen to 105.9 ever. I’m thinking, I didn’t know 105.9 was nationally syndicated (this friend lives in CA). 

“Oh, well, my friend, a comedian, just told me that he was on the 105.9 morning program this morning… in Omaha!”

Needless to say, I wasn’t up early enough for the morning program, but I googled this comedian and he happens to be coming to the Funny Bone just down the street in November.

I just know that when I go see his show and I tell him that we’ve got a mutual friend, he’ll say, “what a small world!”

 

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