I haven’t posted any blog entries about myself in like six weeks, partly because there’s not a whole lot going on. But I actually got a few emails as of late asking how I’d been so I thought I’d post something.
Here’s one thing that’s been in the works for quite awhile but which I haven’t mentioned on here before — unless something unexpected happens, Michael and I are going to visit Poland in the spring. I say “unless something unexpected happens” because something unexpected DID happen a month or so that nearly forced me to cancel the trip, and the plane tickets have not yet been purchased, so it’s still possible that we might not go. But we plan to go, are expecting to go, are preparing to go, so that’s that.
This is my trip, not Michael’s. We’re going on a tour of the great Holocaust sites of the country. He’s not all that keen on that sort of thing — very few people are — but I can’t travel without a babysitter. I tend to get in a world of guano when I try — remember in Nashville where I was almost thrown out of my own hotel at midnight due to a misunderstanding between me and management? And then there was that other thing, when I went to Washington DC? I tend to decompensate rapidly and dramatically while under stress, and I’ll be under that much more stress in a place that’s further from home than I’ve ever been, and where I don’t know anyone and most people don’t even speak English.
My dad has been FREAKING OUT for months, ever since I told him I was going on this trip last year. He told me he would not absolutely forbid me from going, but begged me to take caution. I had to bring a travel companion/babysitter (done), I had to get permission from my psychiatrist (done), and I had to maintain my mental health and not have any psychiatric crises for months before I went (done, so far).
The last one is the most difficult, because basically I’m doing everything I can do to keep my bipolar disorder under control but sometimes it’s just out of my hands and I develop a bad case of stark raving mad. Dad worries that something like that will happen while I’m in Poland and he won’t be able to help me — and what can I tell him? I can’t guarantee that won’t happen. The possibility is miniscule, but the consequences, if it does happen, are so catastrophic that I don’t blame him a bit for worrying. I refuse to worry about it myself because there’s nothing I can do to prevent it, besides what I’m doing already.
Dad feels somewhat better knowing Michael is going with me. And Michael and I have established a few ground rules for general safety, such as:
- Neither of us is going off anywhere on our own, not even for a short walk.
- No consumption of anything in the way of substances, not even alcohol. (Especially not alcohol.) An exception has been carved out for Antidol, which is the Polish equivalent of Tylenol 3 and is available over the counter there. Chances are our feet will be hurting a lot from all the walking we’ll be doing so I do want to snag some of that.
- No matter what happens, Michael is NOT going to seek out psychiatric care for me while we’re abroad. I don’t care if he has to tie me up and watch me 24 hours a day, if I have a mental breakdown I do NOT want to be stuck in a mental hospital in Eastern Europe.
I called up the Polish embassy to get the Polish words for “autism” and “bipolar disorder.” Michael and I are also studying the Polish language via DuoLingo but so far I’m only learning useless sentences like “The elephant is drinking milk.” The language is kind of terrifying to me. I’ve studied Romance languages like Spanish before and their words look close enough to English that you can sort of guess what they mean. Not so with Polish, usually.
So anyway, we plan to hit Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, possibly Lodz, and various Holocaust sites in Warsaw, as well as two non-Holocaust places: the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine museum/spa/hotel, the Katyn Museum (read about Katyn here) and this totally METAL Skull Chapel in the town of Czermna. I would have also liked to visit Sobibor, but their website says they’re “closed until further notice.” I might not have had time to go there in any case, though. Sobibor is quite a bit out of the way, hugging the Ukrainian border, the most remote of the four death camps. All of them were kind of in the middle of nowhere, for obvious reasons.
(The death camps I’m referring to are Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno and Sobibor. Auschwitz is often called a “death camp” but it actually wasn’t one, at least in my eyes.)
Other stuff: not much really. My grandpa — my mother’s stepfather, the only grandparent I have left at this point — was admitted to the hospital for the thousandth time, suffering from a condition called “being 86 years old”, and they think it will be the last time. We’ll see. In a way, I almost hope it is the last time. Grandpa has basically zero quality of life and has said he’s ready to die.