Are You There God? It's Me, Gidget

To Thy Own Self, Do Not Be Truest

It’s incredibly exhausting to be happy all the time.

People just don’t get it, and that means you end up in a state of performance for a good portion of your life.

“All the world’s a stage, and we are merely players.”

Showing off my Team in Training practice jerseyI get that.

I look back and recall Brian being upset because he didn’t get the same spunky Angie that others did. We shared the private intimate space of a couple, and thus he really knew me.

 

Why did I leave Microsoft?*

Because my manager was found guilty of sexual harassment on multiple accounts: one of which was harassing me, another was of harassing a girl who worked on our team after I had (in the end with the help of another female co-worker/manager on the team) shut him down.

* Edited to stop protecting the not so innocent. I’m sorry Mackenzie. I should have realized it wouldn’t have been just me.

Wayne Smith, Microsoft 2008

How did it happen?

Gump asked me to report to “The Brit” in the “new org”. Professionally, I found The Brit brilliant. But I told Gump I wouldn’t be comfortable, and kept my mouth shut about why. I don’t know why he waited so long to push for why, but for weeks the “new org” was held up apparently by me.

Eventually Gump pushes and I explain how he made me feel uncomfortable, which was tolerable as a peer, but I couldn’t report to him since it was already a problem. I recall mentioning how my mother would look at the situation, and then feeling embarrassed for raising my mother’s perspective in defense of my own.

That’s where Gump then explains to me about European culture set against our American (puritan) cultural backdrop. I was insulted. I had traveled to Europe, and I had already run from European rapists.

Gump said he’d send The Brit to “sensitivity” and “management” training classes, to make him U.S. Corporate Office ready, and let me work from Rome with UW over the summer.

You’ll find it ironic then that the man who then reported that The Brit was harassing me was also from the U.K.

My friend walked into my office and caught something on my screen in an email from The Brit.

Microsoft found The Brit guilty, but also, on the same report, found that his harassment did not affect my performance. How is that even possible?!—I’m not Super Woman.

That was that—just keep working and ignore the guy on the other side of your office wall.

I never asked for a raise at Microsoft.

“Angela left and went to Yahoo!”

My new manager told me it was SxSW or my job.

Bam. That was my first year at SxSW.

So I got a job, a raise, and left Microsoft and Seattle—Yahoo!

SXSWi08

And now you know the rest of the story.

Brian would have been the only person to see me slip from Angela, the “Spunky Gidget”, to one given to hypomanic states induced by psychoactive drugs, namely Clonazepam.

Unfortunately, he had a perspective of the unfairness. Like life was playing a cruel joke on him. They got the girl, and he got what was left over.

I left Microsoft, Seattle, and the great Pacific Northwest that I love for San Francisco.* More sunshine, more freedom, and a future. Unfortunately the bottle of Clonazepam and the few pills it held went with me.

10-10-10 photo booth

In San Francisco I enjoyed my new found freedom and lit up like a firefly to the light. I joined the nightly happy hours and brought my wardrobe up to snuff, relishing in eclectic pieces which finally did some justice to the style that was suffused in my cells but not on my palette. Oh, remember the white sailor girl dress, black boots (I coupled it with various pairs, the short retro looking bootie boots, the classic riding black boots, the pointy skin tight witches boots…) and white hat?

Digg Meetup SF

Oh how I loved to dress!

Jeez, do you guys know how you kill me day to day as I try to fit into this boring life you lead and love? The fantastic stories my clothes could tell you, era-by-era, multiple stories I could tell per day?

I’m a creative person, and I’m happy. Can you just get used to that idea?

Then I met Fabien. On our first date we met at a Luna Park, it was loud and his English wasn’t nearly as good as his French, and that did neither of us any good. I had left friends (some guy friend who I’d been having a blast with, but just a friend… was that Bill?) and was measuring the date against the moments I had left just before. Completely unfair, but a reality given the circumstances. I mean, I had been having tons of fun, and left it for what?… a date?! But I’d made plans, and I stuck to the plans. I don’t really recall what we talked about, or if there was even really any talk… between the loud music and his charming heavy accent, that is.

We stepped outside to the corner to part ways. We went to hug goodbye.

It was an embrace.

Wow. What was that?!

In that moment he won the second date.

Alas, while we shared a romantic convertible ride to wine country, a day written in someone else’s daydream between sparkling Chandon, strawberries, dinner at Angele, and a moonlight drive with music on the way home… it was a short lived romance in the pages of our overstuffed technology dayplanners. He was a CEO, and I had no interest in being the CEO’s wife.

giving up

We parted ways to remain friends. I later took him to New York for his birthday—tons of fun and drama between the serendipitous Fuerza Bruta: Look Up show, wine, cheese, dinner and dessert, with Rachel, at Pastis, dancing until we fell asleep at Cielo, the passionate fight wound through the sidewalks of a brisk and cold walk in Central Park, back to the Waldorf Astoria, into the cab, and onto the plane home to the cool grey city of Love.

In the end I found San Francisco to be the leftovers of what once was. It’s the mecca for artists and lovers and dreamers, to be sure. But it’s overrun with abundance, confusion and people. It’s not Kerouac’s city, and it wasn’t to remain mine. There’s something of an arrogance to just being there. As if residence is validation in and of itself of having arrived, of not just being alive but living. I found it to be a surface level dream with no depth. I was lost and lonely and couldn’t have had more friends if I tried.

Abuse of Power

Every holiday was an excuse for an escape.

My first July 4th took me on a road trip to L.A. to spend the weekend with my friend who makes dreams come true by making tools for Spielberg. He proudly peacocked the city of Angels knowing good and well I both enjoyed it and found it profoundly lacking. I’ll never forget our debate via Twitter regarding women’s rights and who’d get to drive. He knew all along that I long for an era back in the day where men loved to drive women, and women loved to look out the window to day dreams of ways to make more love.

Furry Critters make everything better

Halloween was a race to Los Angeles which was marked by my descent down the wrong escalator into the San Francisco Virgin America gates back when they were in the International Terminal… I turned to race up the escalator, was reminded of my silliness, and ended up on my knees, jeans shredded against the ridges of steel, my flesh fairing not much better. Stickel and I made it, but not on that flight, but we made it ultimately. You see I was the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding, Tara Brown to her Sean Bonner.

2008-10-31-12-11-48_2

Words are flowing out in endless… pools of sorrow, waves of joy, possessing and caressing me… nothing’s gonna change my world. Nothing’s gonna change my world.

2008-10-31-12-25-26

At the top of the Runyon Canyon I witnessed Tara and Sean exchange vows, officiated by none other than Optimus Prime. Just a little while later, I feel a tinge of guilt when I learn she’s pregnant. I know it wasn’t in their plan, though Tara had long held dreams of being a mother. She absolved me from my guilt, and I attended a baby shower in LA that confused every bit of my sense of reality.

2008-10-31-11-33-23

Tara had left, she’d found her love, her life. I’d left Microsoft, and Seattle for San Francisco, and she’d soon followed. I found Cindy in San Francisco, but now they’d both gone.

The city no longer seemed amusing, but cold and grey, dingy and dirty.

Oh, wait, but did I tell you about Memorial Day yet?

No, we save the best for last, and I’m perpetually amused at how America’s major holiday’s serve merely as markers for memories in my life.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

101010kcc

Jeez, what do I do when I know the matrix exists? The connections, the lack of coincidence? Divine, meddlesome, controlled, variables left tied up in neat little bows on packages that don’t seem to be the right presents. You made it right this time? Only if my mustang shows up, and heavy is limited to a state of mind and not a reference to my brother. He strolls in, and I wonder where are my hemp sandals? Black toe nail polish, blue on his fingers. A look as if death has washed over him, but he may yet be clean? I’m sorry what you see as my being stubborn is nothing but the exalted standards by which I deem myself deserving. Or maybe you could say I find myself divinely so. Oh, is it ironic or merely coincidence that the sun warms my keyboard for those few strokes, only to hide again at thought’s completion?

I’m beginning to love all the hidden tracks. Reel Big Fish, Gorillaz.

It’s enough to tempt a girl.

Art Show @ GRSF

In my play I’m happy and creative.

I want to day dream, write, sing, dance, make movies, and music. I want to fall in love and live forever in paradise.

In my play I get to write the ending.

Now, whether it’s God or Natasha Bedingfield, well, that’d be a debate I’d take up over a fine deep red wine and a beautiful bleu cheese and pears.

Spunky

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Neuroscience

Clonazepam Side Effects: Hypomania, a study from 48 people by eHealthMe.com

Found eHealthMe—”FDA and Social Media personalized”—with a report on Clonazepam and Hypomania.

“22,881 people reported to have side effects when taking Clonazepam. Among them, 48 people (0.21%) have Hypomania.”

See: Clonazepam Side Effects: Hypomania, a study from 48 people by eHealthMe.com

Hypomania (literally, below mania) is a mood state characterized by persistent and pervasive elevated or irritable mood, as well as thoughts and behaviors that are consistent with such a mood state. Individuals in a hypomanic state have a decreased need for sleep, are extremely outgoing and competitive, and have a great deal of energy. However, unlike with full mania, those with hypomanic systems are fully functioning, and are often actually more productive than usual. Specifically, hypomania is distinguished from mania by the absence of psychotic symptoms and by its lower degree of impact on functioning. Hypomania is a feature of bipolar II disorder and cyclothymia, but can also occur in schizoaffective disorder. Hypomania is sometimes credited with increasing creativity and productive energy. A significant number of people with creative talents have reportedly experienced hypomania or other symptoms of bipolar disorder and attribute their success to it. Classic symptoms of hypomania include mild euphoria, a flood of ideas, endless energy, and a desire and drive for success. A lesser form of hypomania is called hyperthymia.

Drug-induced hypomania is not invariably indicative of bipolar affective disorders.  Continue reading

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Health

Clonazepam

Benzodiazepines such as Clonazepam have a fast onset of action and high effectiveness rate and low toxicity in overdose but have drawbacks due to adverse reactions including paradoxical effects, drowsiness, and cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairments can persist for at least 6 months after withdrawal of clonazepam; it is unclear whether full recovery of memory functions occurs.

Clonazepam is primarily prescribed for epilepsy, but is also prescribed for panic and anxiety, which are indication of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

How it Works

In general, Clonazepam produces mild sedation by depressing activity in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). In particular, clonazepam appears to enhance the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a natural chemical that inhibits the firing of neurons and dampens the transmission of nerve signals, thus decreasing nervous excitation.

[blockquote align=”right”]Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT) is designed to improve neurocognitive abilities such as attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility and planning, and executive functioning which leads to improved social functioning. (See Clonazepam long term side effects on cognition.)[/blockquote]

Side Effects

Serious

Difficulty concentrating, outbursts of anger, other behavior problems, depression, hallucinations, low blood pressure (causing faintness or confusion), memory impairment, muscle weakness, skin rash or itching, sore throat, fever and chills, sores or ulcers in throat or mouth, unusual bruising or bleeding, extreme fatigue, yellowish tinge to eyes or skin.

Common

Drowsiness, loss of coordination, unsteady gait, dizziness, lightheadedness, slurred speech.

Less Common

Change in sexual desire or ability, constipation, false sense of well-being, nausea and vomiting, urinary problems, unusual fatigue.

Possible Interactions

Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals

Hawthorn may react antagonistically to clonazepam. Valerian and Kava Kava may interact additively (drowsiness): may exacerbate central nervous system depression (avoid this combination). Kola nut, Siberian ginseng, mate, and ma huang may blunt the benefits of this medicine. While St. John’s Wort is indicated for anxiety, it is also thought to increase (induce) cytochrome P450 enzymes and will tend to blunt clonazepam effectiveness.

Alcohol

Alcohol may increase the depressant effects of this medicament on the brain. It is advisable to avoid alcohol completely throughout the day and night-if it is necessary to drive or to engage in any hazardous activity.

Marijuana

Increased sedation and significant impairment of intellectual and physical performance.

Discontinuation

Do not stop clonazepam suddenly if it was controlling any type of seizure, or if it was taken for more than 4 weeks. Dosing should be slowly decreased (tapered) to prevent a withdrawal syndrome.

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Cannabis, Neuroscience

Diagnosis!

From: Angela M. Baxley
Date: May 18, 2011 1:19:46 AM EDT
To: BAY
Subject: Diagnosis!

I have a diagnosis: hyperthymic temperament with [drug induced episodes of] hypomania.

Talked to a doctor today (see below). We talked for a little more than an hour, over the phone. He ruled out epilepsy (if a concern, past as childhood) and manic/bipolar, depression.

He said there isn’t much a treatment. Continue Serofin, likely that can reduce “need” for effects of MJ. Should know in about 1 month.

Half-life for Clonazepam is extremely long and he was not at all surprised by any of my experiences.

Apparently I’ll just live with hypothymic [sic] temperament the same way Micheal just lives with dysphoria. I’m the euphoria to his dysphoria. No wonder I was so attracted to him. I always felt he gave me that other half of life perspective.

@ang @baxley

 


 

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Vishaal Mehra”
Date: May 16, 2011 3:56:03 PM PDT
To: “‘Angela M. Baxley'”
Subject: RE: Request

Hi Angela

Clonazepam (and other benzodiazepine medication) can have an atypical response in some individuals, such as disinhibition, mood changes, and activation—rather than the expected calming/sedation often seen with these types of meds.

Would you like to talk over the phone to discuss your symptoms further?

I have some availability this week

Let me know

Vishaal

Vishaal Mehra MD, CPI
CEO and Medical Director
Artemis Institute for Clinical Research
8787 Complex Dr, Ste 100
San Diego, CA 92123
Office: (858) ARTEMIS (278-3647)

 


 

From: Angela M. Baxley
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 3:35 PM
To: Vishaal Mehra
Subject: Re: Request

Hi Vishaal,

Thank you for helping. Matt is a great guy, and I appreciate all his help as well.

I have had unusual symptoms from what I can recall around 15 or so up to today. I would like to see who might be able to professionally guide my search for understanding.

I recently had a panic attack with which I took 2 Clonazepam. That sent me into a rage. That sent me to Wikipedia, where I learned that much of what’s been “wrong” may all be due to the medication.

Please let me know what you need from me.

And once again,
Thank you.

Angela

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Are You There God? It's Me, Gidget, Health

Clonazepam

We were launching Microsoft Expression, and it was my job to bring together a group of people to be known as Microsoft User Experience Evangelists. I also worked with my friends to connect influencers with the right people inside Microsoft to get all kinds of good gooey goodness flowing in the community. I was so proud to work with Dave Shea, Molly Holzschlag, Eric Meyer, Tantek Çelik, Andy Clarke, Jeremy Keith, and Lynda Weinman (whom I’d met previously, and adored)—and then there’s Joe Clark—people who I had “grown up with” on the Internet: they were my idols, soon they were my friends… And then there were the legendary technology & design focused agencies AvenueA/RazorFish, Adaptive Path, Blue Flavor, IDEO, FrogDesign, Zaaz, Y&R (the rest of my Mad Men era I’d already taken care with Creative Services at the Bank)… I’m sure I’m forgetting people (and companies), it was a whirlwind and my memory has never been all that great,—wow—just talking about that year exhausts me.

San Francisco January 18, 2007

January 18, 2007

San Francisco. Snowing trying to catch a cab outside the Dogpatch Studios. Destination: The Clift Hotel to meet @t and @meyerweb.

I was kind of tired of not being tired, I was a little tired of not sleeping. I just wanted to chill out, I’d felt like I’d been running on adrenaline non-stop for the good portion of a year. I watched Tantek nod off, sitting next to me, while Eric and I caught up. Yes, I was working full time learning a new job as a product manager (I wanted to apply design to a different role, I’d been doing design for 10 years and just finished the user experience strategy for another entire Microsoft product lifecycle… time for a change!) going to school carrying more than a full course load  by cutting out of work early. Maybe doing it all wasn’t all I wanted to do right now. Little did I know I’d soon be the one falling asleep, only for me it was at the Playboy party as SxSW tucked away in a corner of the VIP room, a true disco nap, if I’ve ever had one!

January 25, 2007

Chicago. I don’t really remember anything about being here besides dinner. But I don’t remember eating, not even sure I was there. I just remember that steak house I wanted to go to. I think I showed up after everyone was done. Oh! and there was some fantastic pizza. Who ever’s is the most legendary deep dish Chicago style pizza—we ordered from there. I remember that was yummy!

From 2006 to 2007, there was Mix ’06, Microsoft Expression Sessions, designertopia, ReMix, Web Directions North, SxSW, along with the various ones I can’t quite remember, like dropping in on BarCamp—was it? with Tantek—and meeting Chris Messina, and Jina Bolton for the time—the conversations we all had.

These were the women who really got it done—Miwa and Tiffany, the dyna-duo behind Microsoft Expression.

Miwa & Tiffany, the dyna-duo behind Microsoft Expression

January 30th Corrina & Angela NYC

January 30th

New York. Corrina came to meet me in New York City, or maybe she was there for the Vista / Office launch? I can’t recall. I remember being up all night, coming back to grab my bag and catching a cab straight to the airport in the dark, leaving both her—and my running shoes!—behind in the dark. The hotel was lovely and mailed my shoes home for me, where they would be waiting for me on return. Truth be told, I wasn’t using them anyway.

February 1st

073

London. I was there for my European conference for the Microsoft Expression Launch : designertopia.

Angela & Pete at Web Directions North

February 8th

Vancouver, Canada. Web Directions North.

I remember I was only “home” for a few hours in Seattle for right around the middle of the Super Bowl, but even that was actually spent over at Flores’ Super Bowl party…

DSC_1929

So I gave up my hippy-natural-Momma ideals, and went in to see my doctor (who I came to adore) and she prescribed me Clonazepam for my jet lag/insomnia, and said that it would also calm me down. She warned me that they were highly addictive and were more for “symptom” use, but if it worked then we’d see what she could do long term. I also told her about the blue light therapy device, as all the travel had caught up with me—Zürich, London, Reading, Vancouver, Whistler, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York… did I forget any?—and the light seemed to work; it’d put me back on schedule, no matter what time zone I was in.

275

…to be continued.

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