Can’t Touch This

Up and down and all around, as you know if you’ve been reading.  The past two days, the depression has really stabilized, but I have been left with soul-crushing anxiety.  Anxiety that absolutely nothing touches — not a single DBT skill has gone untried, a PRN gone untested, a theory, a trick, an avoidance, nothing.  I don’t remember the last time I had such intractable anxiety.

Usually, there is something that will work.  I can fool my brain for long enough to fall asleep or sweep the unpleasantness far enough under the rug that it doesn’t peek out for a few hours.  I haven’t been able to do this lately, and the added near-unbearable irritability that has come with it…well, I just don’t know.  I just don’t know about anything right now.

Well, that’s not altogether true, I suppose.  I know I’m not ready to give up and I know I’m determined to not hurt the people around me who love me most with this irrational irritability and anxiety.  I’ll keep trying this and that because, all it takes is one thing to ease it for awhile, then maybe I can sleep for awhile, or at least rest, and then the irritability can go away.

The anxiety has been the worst in the mid-morning and the beginnings of the evening.  I keep find myself trying to find reason behind a most unreasonable emotion.  As if I am dissecting anxiety, and if I can figure out how it’s heart beats, then I can clip the right blood source and it will die.  I am far too rational, too logical, too black-and-white in my thinking.

Perhaps there is no what/when/why/whatever to this, and my trying to dissect it further makes it worse.  Perhaps that.  The thought that I am making this worse by all of my struggling seems to hit home, and I ponder to myself that maybe I need to rest and float upon these waves of anxiety, instead of trying to kick my legs and flail my arms in an attempt to stay above water.  You know, like JulieTwo always said, depression is an ocean, and if you float you survive, and if you fight, you die.

Food for thought, right there, and maybe QoB was right in suggesting that I spew it all out here on this blog.  Because, the fight or float thing makes sense to me, but I need to retrain myself to float.  Floating is hard, y’all.  Maybe this is also just like my most recent favorite gem — that it is so frustrating to watch someone flail in knee-deep water, believing they will drown, when all they need is to stand up.

I’m gonna try that.  I’m gonna float and I’m gonna stand up, and I will persevere in the end, mostly because I am too stubborn not to.

“Rosie’s Lullaby”

She walked by the ocean,
And waited for a star,
To carry her away.

Feelin’ so small,
At the bottom of the world,
Lookin’ up to God.

She tries to take deep breaths,
To smell the salty sea,
As it moves over her feet.

The water pulls so strong,
And no-one is around,
And the moon is looking down.

Sayin’,
Rosie – come with me,
Close your eyes – and dream.

The big ships are rollin’,
And lightin’ up the night,
And she calls out, but they just her pass by.

The waves are crashin’,
But not making a sound,
Just mouthing along.

Sayin’,
Rosie – come with me,
Close your eyes and dream,
Close your eyes and dream,
Close your eyes and dream.

Riding It Out

Another long overdue post.  I’d say I am emerging from the ECT fog fairly well.  Memories are coming back, some with a vengeance.  Some parts of my life are getting more stable, some are about the same, some are a bit worse.

After the ECT, I started to get manic, then mixed, with the removal of most of my medication (for the purposes of getting ECT).  I managed to get put back on Lithium a few weeks ago, and that has been helpful.  I go in tomorrow to draw labs and see if I am at a therapeutic dose.  It sure does take a long time to get into my system, but it helps greatly with mania and mixed episodes.

The past few weeks, I have been very angry.  I mean, fighting mad most of the time.  That is abating, but the recurrence of PTSD nightmares has remained.  I am sleeping about four or five interrupted hours a night, due to nightmares.  I am afraid to go to bed, afraid to stay in bed, just afraid.  I had hoped I would never be back here again, but I guess that is too much to ask.

I start a new DBT group next week.  I am hopeful about it.  I met the group leader last week and she reminds me of Goddess of Mindfulness, so that much at least is comforting.  I have been probably less than honest with my individual therapist about the troubles I have been having, but have plans to really work a bit harder in there because, with Medicaid, I could be without a therapist at any time.

And yes, I do still have issues to work on.  Lots of them.  I am hopeful that, with the addition of DBT, I’ll get back to some good coping skills and maybe start sleeping again and decrease the hysterical crying episodes.  Right now the nightmares and the crying episodes are still daily things.  So, while feeling much better than before, still not quite up to par.

I know I’ll get there, eventually.  I have had great support from friends and family, and I just want to take a moment to say “thanks!” and also acknowledge that my significant other, LarBear, has been awesome overall.  There is a learning curve to each recovery period from a big fall, and I still feel like I am falling short of the curve.  At least at this point, I want to keep trying.

The Slip into Depression, Stagnating Uprise

4_seasons_30x65._2

From  Ms. Greene

 

It’s the turn of the seasons, and like clockwork, my mood shifted too.  Already going through a stressful time, the little neurochemicals in my brain started going extra haywire around the time change (which coincided with crap weather for my area) and I forgot and lost a grip on all I at one time treasured.  And maybe that’s really too charitable.

I had been losing a grip on the things I cared about for a long time.  Staying in more, doing less, hibernating, not talking to friends online or otherwise, not blogging, not keeping with other blogs, not reading, not watching TV, playing with the pups.  Literally, just doing nothing.  And not really caring.

Now, today, I can say I care a little bit, but it comes and it comes and it goes and for the last long while I have cared very little about much of anything, particularly not my own well-being.  Those feelings will come back, I know, maybe when I am done writing this post, or the hours where the sun sets, or tomorrow sometime.

For the meantime, I can pretend that I care about my life, my well-being, myself in general.  It will get me just so far.  I can go through the motions of things people say are supposed to make me feel better.  Maybe that will eventually get me stronger, get me more ready to take on the world everyday, so I  can not cry anytime someone other than a customer at work asks me how I am doing.

So I will try, in my head and my feet, my heart and spirit aren’t there yet.  Maybe a day soon upcoming.  I always come out of a depression slowly.  This one has been dragging on for a while and I know it will end at some point in time (deep in my head I know that, but my heart forgets) and I will plead to the Gods Of Bipolarity to not send me a mixed or manic episode, but to humor me with something close to stability.

Remembering as a Way to Start NaBloPoMo 2014 — Be a Pepper

The following post is actually a page on my blog that describes my journey with Bipolar I, PTSD, and Eating Disorder NOS.  At the start of NaBloPoMo, November 1st, I want myself and anyone reading to be reminded that mental health recovery is a life-long process.  I am currently going through a very difficult time, as indicated in the posts prior to and after this one will show.  And lately I have given a lot of thought to giving up, and then I read this and was reminded how far I have come.

The Story and the Stigma

Throughout grade school, middle school, and high school, I earned top grades.  I wasn’t the valedictorian, but I gave the high school commencement address, and I rocked it.  People on the outside saw a high-achieving, confident person.  Inside, I was fighting bipolar disorder, crushing anxiety, and an eating disorder.  No one knew, and I didn’t tell them.  I was afraid of what people would think.

When I went off to college, I went somewhere small, about an hour away from home, with the unsaid statement that I couldn’t go far away and succed; not without support.  Not without trips home every weekend.  I accepted it, and as time went on, I learned they were right.

I excelled at this small college, changing my major from pre-med to psychology after a horrific first semester in science classes that I couldn’t wrap my mind around.  I was depressed.  I had stopped taking my medication.  I think everyone knew that, and that summer, Mom tried to get me help again.

Every summer, actually, Mom would try to get me help again.  I would always participate, but then go off my meds as soon as I came back to school.  It was an ugly cycle, and it pains me to this day that I went through it.  But I didn’t want anyone to know what I was going through.  No one knew I had bipolar disorder, outside of my aunt who worked in the counseling center and my academic advisor, who was more like a surrogate mother.

My senior year, I was applying for Ph.D. programs that combined psychology and the law.  Forensic psychology, it was called.  I went on interviews.  Costly interviews.  They bore no fruit because I acted absolutely crazy when I went to these colleges.  They saw through me and saw that I was very ill.

After college and after failing to get into any kind of graduate program, I started working as a mental health technician on an Eating Disorders Unit (EDU) at a local hospital.  As a person living with bulimia, this was a bad choice.  I wasn’t on medication, I was drinking a lot, and I started to gain weight.  I was also working PRN at another hospital as a mental health tech.

I became manic.  Several days a week, I would work 7:30-4 at the EDU and then 5-12 at the other hospital.  A lot of the reason I did this was to stay away from Joe, my abusive boyfriend that I was living with.  All that working didn’t keep his hands off my body, or his reigns of terror on my psyche absent.  I became suicidal.

I moved out of Joe’s house and into my own apartment.  I picked up a boyfriend, almost literally off the streets, and continued to drink heavily and work many  hours.  Eventually, I completely cracked.  I quit drinking and I started seeing a psychiatrist.  When things didn’t level out quickly enough, my parents brought me back to live with them in the little city.

After a few months, I had a job and I moved back out.  I was working as a case manager with the mentally ill.  My caseload was loaded with the sickest of the sick.  It was a very stressful job and I didn’t fare well.  I was written up numerous times for poor attendance and tardiness.  I eventually left that job, three  years later, on FMLA because I had really lost it and couldn’t work.

I did an intensive outpatient program and started to feel better.  After about a year, I was hired at the local prison to work with the mentally ill on things like obtaining disability and getting services set up in the community.  Here, I was constantly being written up and warned about my attendance and lack of punctuality.  I was very depressed, I was very manic, I was very anxious.  I was always very something.  I did good work, though, and even won awards.  My boss liked to say that I’d outwork anybody, as long as I came in that day.

Eventually pressure built up again and I was very ill.  I went on FMLA and had to resign because there was no way I could come back to work.  My mom saw a pattern in my work and educational history, and talked with my doctors and therapist about filing for SSDI.

I couldn’t see a life without work, but I filed anyway.  We applied April of 2012 and it was awarded June or July of the same year.  This quick answer, with no questions or rebuttals, confirmed to me that, while I might feel like I could work, the powers that be disagreed.  SSA, my parents, my doctors, my therapist all concurred — Rose can’t manage full-time employment.

So here I stand, at the bait shop.  SSDI checks coming in and working about 20 hours per week at an extremely low-stress job, so that I can function on a daily basis.  I moved from high-achieving college student, pursuing a Ph.D., to a cashier and bait slinger.  How far we fall, right?

What I can say now, however, is that I’m happy.  I am truly, genuinely living a life worth living.  It’s not always easy and there are many bad days.  Not enough sunlight or getting my sleep schedule thrown off can put me in a tailspin.  If I stick to my structure, to my routine, use my DBT skills, and employ my support system, I do pretty well.  I even like my job in the bait store, slinging bait, ringing people up, and keeping track of files and paperwork.

People who knew me way back when may not recognize or understand who I am now.  I generally don’t give them that luxury, either.  There is a very difficult stigma surrounding mental illness, and additionally surrounding young people being on SSDI.  I tell only those I trust, and only those who I think will have an either neutral or positive response.

What you see isn’t always what you get.  There is more to me than bipolar and depression and anxiety.  If I had high blood pressure and diabetes, you wouldn’t shame me, now would you?  The unfortunate truth is that you will likely never know who I am and what I go through.  I would rather you not know me than be shamed for having illnesses that came to me through no fault of my own.

Can’t Find the Beat

The blog experts say you’re not supposed to apologize or try to explain away absences.  I feel that I want to talk about it, because it seems to be a recurring problem that I don’t want to have.  And since my blog is where I talk about such things, the blog experts will just have to go criticize elsewhere.

I must say, I had felt pretty committed to blogging every day after my therapist had recommended it and QoB and a few friends seconded it.  I did ok for a couple days, and now have had this big dry spell again.  On the days I don’t blog, I do try to blog.  I sit in my chair and I type and I type and I absolutely hate everything I write.  Hate it to the point that not even I want to read it.

I do better when I blog every day, and I don’t exactly have a lack of things going on, but I feel like I am lacking in brain-power, if that makes sense.  There is a fog that has been cast over me, and things don’t add up, not inside my brain, not between my brain and my heart.  And I can’t find the right words.  And I find myself not being able to string any sort of sentences together.  It is very frustrating, and I am not going to post the three or four sentences that I do manage to get out, because, well, they don’t make sense!  At least not to me.

I think another major thing holding me back is this sadness that is currently cast over life right now.  It’s not something I will blog about because of privacy c0ncerns, but it is hitting me hard and is pervading all areas of my life.

I am not depressed and don’t feel like I am headed that direction.  I am having a lot of anxiety, and I am sad.  Both tend to immobilize me, but on many days I am still getting out and doing social things, going to work, taking care of Kizzie, and taking care of my health.  It is nearly a pattern that, on my days off, you would think I would work at being productive and spend time going to appointments and seeing people, but its the opposite.  On those days off, I have jampacked my days on so full, that I am wiped out.

It’s like I literally need my days off to recuperate from every event, party, dinner invitation, and lost night’s sleep.  I am over-doing.  Over-doing is increasing my sad and anxious feelings.  It is immobilizing my writing.  It is taking over my happiness and my good feelings.

To end on a high note:

Two weeks, three days, 6 hours, 49 minutes and 42 seconds not smoking. 1037 cigarettes not smoked, saving $140.00. Life saved: 3 days, 14 hours, 25 minutes.

Hooray for that…that, I am still doing well on.

The Beauty of the Loving-Kindness Meditation

I have some good, and perhaps unexpected news tonight.  I, Rosa, have had a GOOD day here this 19th day of September.  Really an all-around good day.  Physically, I woke up feeling relatively fine and only had issues with some crazy awful nausea during the day.  I find that if I sit very very still, this helps.

In the not-too-distant future, I can see myself functioning again.  I can see it and I can believe it and I have taken that photograph with me in my mind’s eye, so that I can keep referring back.  When I meditated this morning, it was a sort-of loving-kindness meditation that I had adapted to do what I wanted it to (my favorite kind).

My words for myself were:

May my body heal.

May my soul straighten.

May my mind be free from other’s drama.

May I live my life today, easy and carefree.

My words for others were:

May you be at ease with your  pain and suffering

May a great joy come to you today.

May you realize I always forgive you.

May you be free from the pain of life, if just for a moment

 

You can really make a meditation into anything you want it to, save that it is helpful to you and/or someone else.  I like the loving-kindness meditations, because “to self” words always soothe.  You must pick them out as particular to you.  These words you are putting into the world, they find people and knock them down and pick them back up again and set everything on course because, well, you are using these words to express love to yourself, which will set everything else afire.

The “to others” words can be particularly strong and powerful, to someone else and to YOU.  The best thing I like to do when starting “to others” words, is to picture a person I don’t much care for, or, even better, one who has caused me pain.  You say these words over and over, to a flawed but perhaps, deep inside, tortured person.  Your words may never mean anything to them, but the words help you to see this person in a different light.

My apologies for interrupting the status update with a little note on mindfulness, meditation, and loving-kindness meditation.  I still have quite the fog circling my brain, but I think I am coming through it.

Moments of Willingness

namaste

 

We can choose to react to any one thing, any one person, any one task with either willingness or willfulness.  We can greet people, ideas, solutions with open arms, giving at least one first open-minded chance (as in willingness).  Or we can refuse to get up, refuse to examine our reality, and refusing mostly, well, for the sake of refusing.

There is generally little rhyme or reason to willfulness, and when you think you can put a reason or an explanation to it, it is still wrong and any explanation doesn’t “fix it.”  You are staying closed-off, staying silent (or being really loud), you are complaining instead of accepting your fate or listening to the advice that might make it better.  You are not giving anyone or anything (including yourself) a fair shake.

Having spent most of my life in a willful state, I had a huge breakthrough in an intensive DBT program.  I think this particular breakthrough was in the neighborhood of 2007, but I’m not sure — because DBT has saved my skin over and over, and there is always a new realization, it is difficult to keep track of the specific “when’s” which is really fine, because why and how matter much more than when, as it comes time to freeing yourself from negative coping patters and interjecting brand new ideas into your mind about how you could possibly cope, if you tried.

My particular breakthrough was simply this:  willfulness made my life dark and painful and difficult, and mindfulness set all that negativity free, made me a happier person.

Unfortunately, these lessons don’t always stay stuck in the brain, so every now and again, GoM gives a gentle nudge or QoB will say something or I will read something that sets my chest to loosening.  And I remember, just how much happier I, Rosa, am, when I set my heart and mind on being willing, becoming willing, practicing willingness.

Freeing myself from willfulness is perhaps as easy as just practicing.  It’s not hard, and now that I’ve been quite willful for the last several months, it is time to make that tiny adjustment, and tweak my mind and heart back to willingness, back to progress, back to believing that I can save my own emotional skin with the power of mindfulness, meditation, and for me, writing.

Yesterday’s goal, to blog every day no matter what, was validated by several  commenters and I really do appreciate that.  I think it will be helpful, and can actually already feel it helping.  If you can just get the awkwardness out of the way, and start to write what you believe in your mind, you can go places.

Having been heavy into not accomplishing and not working on goals lately, it struck me that I wasn’t listing anything that I personally felt was important.  They were the goals of other people.  From today forward, all new goals will ones that I personally desire to achieve.

In keeping with the necessity of mindfulness practice in DBT, and the importance of practicing practicing practicing, I am making the small goal of setting aside at least ten minutes every day for mindfulness exercise.  I know it will grow larger than that on its own, but it’s where I wanted to start.

cherry blossoms mindfulness