Title: Not In the Right State of Mind
Disclaimer: I own none, all belong to Joss Whedon
Comments: Always welcomed!
Summary: Xander has bipolar and has to learn how to deal with it.
Plot Bunny by:Lady Q: Xander has depression
Note: All the symptoms mentioned are actual symptoms to depression/bipolar.
Beta'd by: Dragonfly_64
Xander woke up like every other morning. He'd look at his clock and groan when he saw that it was noon and roll onto his back and stared at the ceiling. What was the point of getting up? His friends were too busy with college life for him, and he had no girlfriend. He was off work due to the site being closed for an investigation after a support beam that was not secured properly fell on a crewmember that ended up with a concussion and a dislocated shoulder.
He felt bad for the guy; he was nice enough and all, but he couldn't help but feel relieved that he didn't have to go into work for awhile. He had enough money that he didn't need to worry about not being able to pay the bills; he was actually pretty well off thanks to Willow who helped him do some investing.
The phone rang and Xander let it; he was in no mood to be annoyed by anyone, friends included. All he wanted to do was watch sad movies where the guy didn't get the girl or where the main character was terminally ill and died while he stuffed himself with Ben and Jerry ice cream. Now all he needed was the energy to actually get out of bed. That seemed to be harder and harder these days. He ignored the thought of something being actually wrong with him and blamed it on the hell mouth.
It took him an hour to actually get out of bed and that was only because he had to pee. He thought about taking a shower but vetoed that idea because it seemed like too much work, maybe later. So now he was on the couch with a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough™ ice cream. He still had Mint Chocolate Cookie™, Peanut Butter Cup™, Turtle Soup™ and Vanilla Fudge Brownie™ in the freezer. When he bought them all, he ignored the questionable looks the cashier gave him; he didn't need to explain anything to her.
Xander was now curled up on the couch, a blanket thoroughly tucked around him as he watched "Pay It Forward". Nothing sadder than a boy who tried to change the world for the better only to be killed by a school bully. The song 'Calling All Angels' always made him a little misty-eyed. He blamed the girls for that. At least this way he actually had a reason to cry instead no reason at all which seemed to be happening a lot lately.
Before Xander knew it, it was quarter to six. He stood and stretched his body cramping from just sitting around. With a sigh he went to the kitchen to whip something together for dinner. He pulled out a frozen dinner, no work there, toss it into the microwave, punch in a few numbers and boom...done.
After he was finished eating, he checked the message that he ignored earlier. Surprise, surprise a new demon. He shrugged they didn't need him; the only thing he was good for was fetching the food and being bait. Someone else could be bait for awhile; he wasn't interested. Pressing the erase button he settled back onto the couch wishing that he had a different life.
Spike grumbled as he walked up to Xander's apartment. The man hadn't shown up for patrol which ended up worrying the others. If they were so worried, why did they pay Spike off to check up on him? Some friends, Spike snorted in disgust.
He knew something was off with Xander, he didn't know what though. The last few months he had been off. He'd always zone in and out when Giles went on and on about a demon when in reality he could explain it in maybe five sentences. Things changed though, Xander started zoning while on patrol, nearly getting himself killed more often than not.
Knocking on the door he waited not so patiently for Xander to open the door. When the door did open, he had to take a step back. Xander stunk; he hadn't showered in more than just a couple days. "Bloody hell, did your water get turned off?"
"No," Xander said leaning against the doorway, more to prop himself up than to prevent Spike from coming in. "What do you want, Spike?"
"You didn't show up for patrol," Spike informed him.
"I'm aware of that," Xander replied. "Anything else?"
Spike raised an eyebrow, Xander obviously wasn't concerned that he didn't inform his little friends that he would be a no show, "Any specific as to why?"
Xander shrugged, "Didn't feel like it."
"You didn't feel like preventing a demon from killing some innocent person?" Spike questioned with skepticism.
"Yes, I didn't feel like it," Xander told me him annoyed. "Look I know the guys sent you over here. You can go back and tell them I'm fine."
"You want me to lie to them," Spike stated.
"Why not? I'm sure you have no problem lying to them." Xander indicated before yawning.
Spike looked Xander over; not including the offensive odor Xander looked like shit. "When was the last time you slept?"
"Depends, some times I sleep ten hours, others I get two hours if I'm lucky."
"You realize that isn't healthy right?" Spike asked how could Xander be able to run on only two hours sleep?
"Everyone has trouble sleeping; it's no big deal," Xander blew it off. He really didn't want to be getting into a discussion with Spike about his health.
Spike didn't buy it, but decided not to push. Why did he care anyways? He hated Xander right? He decided that he didn't want to even think about it. "Just be there tomorrow. I don't want to waste my time having to come and drag your arse there."
"Fine whatever," Xander said but panic filled his voice. Why all of a sudden did the thought of going to see his friends scare him? Without another word he shut the door on Spike.
Xander walked into the Magic Box a little late, but it was better than not showing up at all. He gave a small smile to everyone and settled into one of the vacant seats. "What?" Xander asked while everyone looked at him.
"You forgot the donuts," Willow told him. "Remember I phoned you fifteen minutes ago and asked you to pick some up?"
Xander sat there for a minute looking confused, before it came back to him, "Right. I guess I forgot."
"Are you alright, Xander?" Giles sat beside Xander looking extremely worried.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Xander tried for a reassuring smile but failed. "Just tired is all."
Willow bit her lip, "Spike told us you haven't been sleeping properly."
Xander shot Spike a dirty look, "It's no big thing."
"That's not all though," Buffy joined the conversation. "You seem distant lately and it's like you're not all here."
"I'm just a little off my game, I guess," Xander replied lamely.
"Xander, what other things have you noticed?" Giles asked grabbing a piece of paper and pen.
He sat there looking at everyone. Did they think he had a demon sickness or something? "I'm constantly tired even if I've slept ten hours; I've been forgetting things even things after a few minutes. I've been eating more, mostly ice cream, I've been craving it lately. I have absolutely no desire to do anything, the only reason I came today was because I didn't want Spike coming to annoy me again."
"Don't forget your lack of hygiene, bloody inconsiderate if you ask me." Spike added looking disgusted.
"Shut up, Spike, before I beat you to dust," Xander stood, like he was looking for a fight.
"Xander!" Willow positioned herself between him and Spike.
Spike glared at Xander. How dare he threaten him like that, "I'm off; don't give a shit what's wrong with the boy anyways."
"Spike…" Xander looked embarrassed and watched Spike storm out then stared at the table.
"We'll add irritable to the list," Giles commented and wrote it on the piece of paper. "Xander, if I may suggest something?"
Xander looked up from the table, "Sure."
"I think you may want to go see a doctor," Giles advised.
Buffy looked worried, "A doctor? What do you think is wrong with him?"
"I'm just guessing, but I think he may have depression," Giles informed all of them.
"He's depressed?" Buffy asked looking confused.
"Depression and being depressed are two separate things. Being depressed is just for a small amount of time; everyone can become depressed at one point or another. Depression however is a long term mental illness. Medication can help stabilize the symptoms." Giles enlightened them. "Therapy could also be helpful."
Xander frowned, how could he have depression? "Isn't it a genetic thing? I don't think anyone in my family has it."
"It's common for it to be passed through your family, but really it is a chemical imbalance. As I said medication can help with that." Giles ripped off a piece of the paper and wrote done a name and phone number. "Dr. Granger, he is a psychiatrist, he'll be able to help you figure out what is wrong with you."
"So what, I'm crazy?" Xander enquired, the hell mouth finally got to him.
"Of course not," Willow objected. "Mental illnesses are just as common as physical ones."
Xander rubbed his eyes, "If I pretend it doesn't, exist do I still have to go?"
"It's your decision, Xander," Giles told him. "But if you would like to feel like your old self, I suggest you go."
Deciding it wouldn't hurt to go see the doctor, Xander nodded. "I guess it's a good thing my health benefits are still available for the time being."
Xander took a deep breath before going into Spike's crypt; he knew he owed him an apology, "Spike?"
"What are you doing here, Whelp?" Spike asked from the old chair he sat on.
"I actually came to apologize," Xander said looking embarrassed. "You know for earlier. I didn't mean it."
Spike snorted in disgust, "What makes you think I give a toss about what you say to me?"
"You probably don't," Xander shrugged and continued. "But I owe you one anyways. After you left Giles suggested I go to see a psychiatrist, he thinks I may have some mental illness."
"Figured that out all on my own," Spike stood and walked over to Xander. "I've been around a long time, boy; seen plenty of different things in my day."
"Is that why you mentioned something to them?" Xander asked with curiosity. It didn't really make any sense to why Spike would tell them; obviously it would make them concerned.
Spike looked away and mumbled something. When Xander just stood there looking confused, he repeated it louder, "I miss the old Xander. So full of life taking anything that's thrown at him and he just keeps coming. You just don't care anymore."
"Figured you'd like the new me," Xander said quietly.
"I thought so, too," Spike admitted. "But turns out I enjoy the noise, must be from all those sodding years I spent with Dru."
"I guess I'll take that as a compliment," Xander said with a small smile. "I really am sorry about everything though."
Spike looked at Xander and saw how miserable he looked. "It's fine, pet, been threatened worse than that."
"I should go, let you get back to whatever I interrupted that you were doing," Xander opened the door.
"Let me know what the doc says," Spike called after him.
"Sure I can do that," Xander replied with a smile. He didn't know why but the fact that Spike seemed interested in his health gave him warm fuzzies.
Xander sat nervously in Dr. Granger's office. He had been sure it would take awhile to get into see him but apparently he was very good friends with Giles and able to squeeze him in. He jumped when the door opened and a pretty, brunette nurse came out.
"Dr. Granger can see you now, Mr. Harris," She gave him a warm smile.
"Thanks," Xander replied and it took him a minute to actually get off the chair and follow her. They entered the small office and she closed the door behind him.
An older man, probably a little older than Giles, stood and shook Xander's hand. "Alexander, it's so nice to meet you."
"You, too, Dr. Granger, and please call me Xander." Xander gave a tight smile obviously looking uncomfortable.
"Alright, Xander, please have a seat," Dr. Granger pointed to the chair before sitting down again. Once Xander made himself as comfortable as possible he spoke again. "I talked to Rupert; it was good of him to call for you."
Xander looked embarrassed he hadn't been able to make the call himself and Giles had taken pity on him and made the arrangements for him. "Giles is a good guy; he's like a father to me."
"Oh, I'm sorry, when did your father pass?" Dr. Granger asked.
"He's still alive," Xander told him. "He just isn't father material."
Dr. Granger nodded; he had plenty of patients who had parent problems. By the look on Xander's face it was something he wasn't ready to talk about. He scribbled down a reminder to bring it up at another time. "Rupert told me you haven't been feeling much like yourself lately. Could you tell me about it?"
"I don't really know when it started," Xander admitted. "First I started to lose interest in things I use to love. I mean I would spend everyday with my friends and then all of a sudden I didn't want to. My sleep has been off for awhile as well, when I do sleep I have nightmares. It probably has to do with the hell…" Xander's eyes widened when he realized what he just said. If he told the doctor about the hell mouth, he would no doubt be tossed into the loony bin.
"Xander, I am perfectly aware that Sunnydale is not like other towns," Dr. Granger assured him. "I also know about the slayer and Rupert being a watcher."
Xander sagged in relief, "That's good to know. I really don't want to be put in a straight jacket or something. I won't be, will I?"
"Of course not Xander," Dr. Granger reassured him. "Why don't you tell me about the other things that you have noticed? Have you been irritable more than usual?"
"Kind of, I'd like to think that I'm able to keep it out of control. I did have a minor thing with a friend I guess you could call him. I threatened him," Xander whispered, but Dr. Granger heard him. "I didn't mean it but all of a sudden I got pissed off and it just came out."
"We all say things we don't mean. It's a good thing that you didn't mean it, violence isn't the answer."
Xander snorted, "Doc, I help the slayer kill demons on a weekly bases. Violence is all around me."
"Do you kill a lot of demons?" Dr. Granger asked looking semi intrigued. He'd never met anyone besides Rupert that actually helped fight demons.
"I've killed a few over the last five years," Xander admitted. "Mostly I just get in the way."
Dr. Granger frowned at that statement, "I'm sure that's not true. Has someone told you that?"
"Not in so many ways. They usually tell me that it's too dangerous and send me home."
"How does that make you feel?" Dr. Granger asked. Anyone who helped keep the world safe deserved to be treated as an equal.
Xander shrugged feeling like a little kid, "Bad. I mean I try to help as much as I can even though I don't have any super powers. But I've staked my share of vampires."
"Have you talked to your friends about this?" Dr. Granger questioned.
"I'm afraid they'll tell me they don't need me," Xander answered looking so lost. If he didn't have his friends, he wouldn't have anything.
"You need to be depended on. You want to know that someone needs you."
Xander nodded, "I want to feel needed."
"You are very much needed," Dr. Grander told him truthfully. "May I suggest something?"
"Sure, anything that can help," Xander replied feeling a little better that he had someone to talk to that he wasn't afraid would judge him.
"Maybe you should get a pet? That will give you something to take care of and pets have been known to help with mental illnesses. They have a way of calming nerves."
"I live in an apartment that has a no pet rule," Xander looked disappointed, "So I do have depression?"
"I am thinking it is more likely you are bipolar," Dr. Granger informed him. "Bipolar is similar to depression but it is severe. I have one more question for you." Xander nodded for him to continue, "Have you ever thought of killing yourself?"
Xander turned his head away tears forming in his eyes. "Yeah, more recently though."
Dr. Granger handed Xander a box of tissues, "It's nothing to be ashamed of, Xander. There are millions of people just in America alone that suffer from mental illnesses. Bipolar disorder is not the fault of the person suffering from it and is not the result of a "weak" or unstable personality."
"What happens now?" Xander asked afraid that the doctor changed his mind and would admit him into the hospital after admitting that he had thought of suicide. It would b easy enough, just let the next demon take him out. No one would even really know it was suicide just Xander's time after fighting evil for the five years.
"I am going to prescribe you some medications to help you," Dr. Granger told him and grabbed his prescription pad. "I'm going to put you on two hundred milligrams of Carbamaz for your bipolar and point five milligrams of Alpraz for your anxiety. I want you to take the Carbamaz every morning and the Alpraz when you start feeling anxious alright?"
Xander nodded and accepted the slip of paper, "Any side effects I should know about?"
"There are unfortunately quite a few. A few common ones would be dizziness, drowsiness and lightheadedness. Some less common effects are loss of hair and increased sensitivity of skin to sunlight. If blurred or double vision, chest pains, fainting or visual hallucinations happen I want you to contact me right away. When you pick up your prescriptions there will be a pamphlet with all the information you need. I would also recommend going onto the internet. You would be surprised at just how many chat rooms are for mental illnesses." Dr. Granger let Xander know. "Do you live alone?"
"Yeah," Xander replied. He didn't even have the energy to make a joke about the sensitivity to sunlight.
Dr. Granger nodded, "I would feel more comfortable if you maybe had a room mate for a little while in case any of the more serious side effects occur."
"Alright, I'll ask a friend. Maybe he'll be willing to stay with me for a bit," Xander responded. Spike seemed genuinely concerned for him maybe he would do it.
Xander found himself at the magic Box the following night. He called off patrol the previous night wanting to wrap his head around what was happening to him. He couldn't help but feel his life was over. His life changed drastically in just a few months. The fact that he had his friends to help him made it a little better.
"So Dr. Granger thinks you should have a roommate?" Willow asked. She was happy that Xander was going to be getting the help he needed to get him back to his old self.
"Yeah, it's just a precaution though." Xander explained. "I was actually kind of hoping Spike would move in."
Buffy looked completely surprised by his statement, "Why Spike?"
"You and Willow are living in the dorm and have classes and Giles is working hard to get the shop up and running. Spike is up during the night so if anything happens during the night he'd be able to sense it." Xander told them.
"Don't suppose I get a vote?" Spike asked obviously annoyed. He hated being talked about like he wasn't in the room.
Xander turned dark circled eyes to Spike. "Would you please move in? It'll just be temporary, I promise. I won't take up a lot of your time. I'll even buy your blood for you while you stay with me."
Everyone looked at Spike waiting for his answer, "Bloody hell, fine I'll stay with him."
"Thank you," Xander said sincerely.
"Take care of him or I'll beat you with my shovel, got it, buster?" Willow warned Spike trying to look menacing.
Buffy nodded in agreement, "Same goes for me except instead of a shovel it'll be a stake."
"Perhaps we shouldn't be threatening Spike? He is doing Xander a favor after all." Giles suggested with a raise of his eyebrow.
Both girls looked sheepish, "Sorry, Spike. It's just, he's my Xander." Willow apologized and tried to explain.
"It's fine, Red," Spike replied looking bored. He was actually relieved when Xander asked him to stay with him. Spike wanted to make sure that he was safe on the medication and if he had to sit in the bedroom and watch Xander sleep than that's what he would do.
"Xander, it's probably obvious but I'm going to say it anyways. Perhaps you shouldn't patrol for now," Giles said he wanted to make sure Xander was truly fine before asking him to them fight any kind of upcoming evil.
Xander already figured that but he couldn't help but feel disappointed, "I guess you don't need me around then, huh?"
"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked clearly perplexed by his statement. "Just because you can't patrol right now doesn't mean you have to stop coming by. You can help me not research." She grinned; she loved when she and Xander would goof off as the others actually worked.
Xander smiled at her, she always tried to make him feel better. "It's just you guys don't seem to need me. I get sleepy from research and I can't fight. I just seem to get in the way."
"You don't really think that, do you?" Willow enquired her green eyes wide.
"What do you lot expect?" Spike demanded to know. "You dismiss him for a patrol; you treat him like a kid. He's been helping you keep this bloody planet spinning for years and that seems to mean little to you." He then pointed to Giles accusingly, "And you, you can't show the boy some defensive moves? You have plenty of time for the slayer and witch, can't squeeze him into your busy schedule?"
"Spike," Xander place a hand on Spike's arm hoping to calm him down. He couldn't ignore the warm feeling that built up in his chest. "It's fine, calm down."
Buffy looked between both of them, "Oh my god, you guys are dating! Xander when did you become gay?"
"What?" Xander tried to figure out where that came from. "No, we're just friends… kind of."
"I'm not good enough for him?" Spike asked with a snarl. "I'll have you know he could do a lot worse than me!"
Everyone stared at him before Giles cleared his throat. "Xander, Spike is right. All this time I've been trying to protect you but I've done the complete opposite. Once you've got your medications sorted, why don't we start your training?" He offered, feeling horrible for his mistake.
"Forget it, if anyone is going to teach him, it'll be me." Spike said leaving no room for argument. "Now the boy needs to relax." He put his hands on Xander's waist and steered him out of the shop, leaving everyone gapping after them.
Instead of going straight home Spike took Xander to the Bronze for a quick game of pool. He told Xander he needed to make sure he still went out and didn't become a hermit. Spike sunk another ball and turned to see Xander staring at him, "What?"
"Why are you helping me?" Xander asked with a tilt of the head. He was thankful that the Bronze was all but dead… not literally of course. Being in a room full of people didn't appeal to him right now. "And why did you stick up for me?"
"They needed to know that they can't treat you like you're not important to the group. You're the heart of the group, remember? Without the heart the body dies." Spike said before sinking the black ball and winning the game. "Want to go home?"
Xander nodded and put his stick away and followed Spike out. "Thank you, Spike, for everything. You probably think I'm a complete nut case huh?"
"Course not," Spike answered looking at Xander. "Plenty of people have depression. Just got to remember you're not alone in this."
When they got back to the apartment Xander hung up his jacket, "Remind me to pick you up some blood or to give you some money to get some."
"I can do that," Spike opened up a window and lit up a smoke. "You should head off to bed. Look like you're about to drop any second."
"Bed sounds good," Xander agreed and stood there uncomfortably.
"You forget how to walk, mate?" Spike asked with a raise of his eyebrow.
Xander ducked his head, "No. It's just I don't like the nightmares."
Spike became somber, "How about if I notice any difference in your sleep I nudge you awake?"
"Yeah, that sounds good," Xander replied quietly. He felt like an idiot afraid of dreams. On the other hand, dreams could come true especially on the hell mouth. With a goodnight he closed the bedroom door behind him
When Spike heard Xander's heart beat slow indicating that he was asleep, he snuck into the bedroom and settled himself against the nightstand.