Every Day the Same

Low, low moments in time for Rosa.  It boggles my mind that I can have such great support and still feel such a wreck.  It boggles my mind that I can feel such a wreck and not let it show.  Sometimes I almost convince myself I feel fine, when I am in the heat of the moment, caught up in things.  It is when I am alone, when the lights are off and the sun has set, that the depression wriggles it’s way back into my brain.

I thought about blogging in the morning, because maybe then I could get a sense of how I feel fresh and new and ok, if just for that little bit.  DSB and I have our coffee, and I am ok.  My house is not a disaster and I don’t have laundry piled up and I have great plans for the day.  I’m gonna ___ and ___ and ___.  And then when I’m done, I’m g0nna write the blog post that will save the world in the most amazing way.

It’s laughable, really, how wide of a spectrum my mood travels during the course of a day.  Happy mornings, irritable mid-days, anxious afternoons, sometimes an easy evening, and then darkness, in the darkness.  It’s actually quite exhausting, and, come to think of it, am probably not getting enough sleep.

I have been staying up reading, addictively, on my new Paperwhite (sorry, I have probably only mentioned it 503 times since Christmas).  It is not holding a charge very well, but I think that  might be because I am using it far more than the 30 minutes a day it mentions when it mentions a “several week” battery charge.  I also leave the Wi-Fi on so I can download books at a moments notice and get updates.  That slows it down, too.  Moving on, no more Kindle drivel.

I know I haven’t mentioned it lately, but I am still not smoking.  I have some incredible stats to brag about:

One month, two weeks, two days, 12 hours, 0 minutes and 54 seconds. 2790 cigarettes not smoked, saving $354.33. Life saved: 1 week, 2 days, 16 hours, 30 minutes.

Yep, I’d say that’s pretty good.  Still with a few slip-ups, mostly one puff that leads to gagging and coughing and saying, “What the FUCK was I thinking?!?”  But I’m not gonna lie.  I miss smoking.  I miss the way it used to make me feel, the way I could hold it in my hand, the way it was a shared habit between me and people I care about.  And now I’m on the outside.  It’s actually pretty hard, more-so over the last several days.

Ok, now I’ve gotten off course.  Or maybe I haven’t.  This blog can be like my mood…up and down and all around.  I think I probably lost people after the first little bit and then they scan through the rest looking for something interesting.  Or, that could be my in-the-hole self-esteem talking.  I don’t know and at this very moment in time, I’m gonna go crawl into bed with my not-fully-charged Kindle and read.  And read and read and read, until it’s not so scary to go to sleep.

Good night and light me a candle when you get a minute.

 

A Plan of Little Things

Yesterday’s post was pretty bleak, and that is how I have been feeling.  I have had an okay day so far today, namely because I have just been hanging out with DSB and not doing much else.  It’s midday now, and I plan to get my kitchen cleaned up (God bless dishwashers), do a little laundry (maybe), go to the grocery store for a few things DSB needs, and buy dog food (essential).  I am hoping these tasks don’t stress me out too much.  It seems like every time I leave the house, I get overwhelmed by this and that.

There are little, small, tiny things that improve my mood.  I know this from previous depressive episodes and I did a little investigating through past blog entries to come up with some of these tiny things.  And that is the best reason for this blog…so I can remind myself and do a little first-aid when things hit the fan.  And even though a combination of little things doesn’t cure anything, at least I can feel better for five minutes or an hour, or even seconds.  When you feel this bad, even a few seconds of pleasure are cherished, held close, until that depression comes and devours those pleasant feelings.

First and foremost, DSB and I have come up with a plan for how I can come home and not immediately pick a fight.  When I come home from doing whatever, I am going to go in, give DSB a kiss and tell him I love him, and then go do some distracting or cathartic activity.  My guess is it will be blogging, reading other blogs, or some combination of the two.  I need my “alone” time and DSB is a person that doesn’t.  He somewhat takes offense to me needing “alone” time, but he has learned that he will just have to deal with it because things are so unpleasant otherwise.

Other things I will be doing to improve my mood, in no particular order, include:

  • Keeping my surroundings clean and clutter-free
  • Coloring (yes, as in colored pencils and a coloring book)
  • Cooking
  • Blogging regularly and reading other blogs
  • Reading books on my Kindle
  • Getting back into watching my favorite three shows (that I am so far behind on) — The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy, and Downton Abbey
  • Showering regularly (as hard as it is to make myself do, it always makes me feel better)
  • Using my sunlamp

That doesn’t seem like much, and it really isn’t, but if I can do those things, I know in time I can feel better.  I don’t feel as helpless today as I did yesterday.  It really helped to go back and read posts from when I was feeling severely depressed and to think, “Hey, things might not be as bad as they were then, and you made it through it before.”

The Quiet Crash and Burn

I am falling apart inside, and almost no one knows.  I don’t talk about it much, but I do cry a lot.  I find myself extremely anxious and irritable for no reason.  I find myself thinking negative things of myself and wondering why on Earth anyone would want to be in any kind of friendship or relationship with me.  I find myself worrying (unnecessarily, I am sure) that DSB is going to get tired of the winter depression and bolt.  But he did say it…every winter, here we go.

In insanely good news, I have my old therapist, Goddess of Mindfulness, back.  My previous therapist and I were not a good match, and I felt there was  more that I wanted to work on than what she wanted me to.  I saw her in early December, and she suggested that after another session or so, I wouldn’t need therapy at all anymore.  I thought on that, accepted that as fact, and then had to re-evaluate.  There is so much in my life that needs helping, correcting, tweaking, re-learning, growing through.  As long as I can afford it, and I need it, I’m going to find a way.

In terribly bad news, I have been significantly depressed since around Christmas, worsening around the New Year.  A lot of negativity, anxiety, irritability, sadness, crying spells, and three panic attacks.  I am not coping well.  I am just hanging on.

And it comes and it goes.  It’s the lovely ups and downs of bipolar disorder, those chaotic mood swings.  One minute I feel like I might be able to accomplish anything and the next, I can’t make myself take a shower or brush my teeth.  One minute, I’m cleaning the kitchen and then once I’m done, I’m sitting in my dining room crying my eyes out over some perceived slight.

This gets tiresome.  This year, after year, after year nonsense.  I should probably be using my sunlamp.  I have missed a few doses of Ritalin.  I should know what to do.  I should know exactly what to do.  It’s the doing of it that seems so impossible.  Get up and function, tough through it, stop being a whiner.  Just do it.

Is it really that simple?  Just do it?  Just get off your fat, lazy ass and do something about this terrible anxiety and depression that are pervading your life?  I think, well, no, it can’t be QUITE that simple, or I would have done it by now, 32 years later.  There are things I can do to make myself better, little things, and I am doing those little things.  Life is such, however, that all of those little things added together sometimes aren’t enough.

So you pick a fight with your boyfriend and sit and cry awhile at the dining room table.  And think about how he will probably leave you.  And think that you  have no one you can call.  So you cry some more.  And think about asking your boyfriend if he is going to leave you.  And hold your dog, it’s fur soaking up your tears, unconditional love if there ever was any.  And you calm yourself, clean your kitchen, and go to see if you can make a peace offering to your boyfriend.  And hope it works.

And for now, that’s all I have the power within to do.  Light that candle for me.

Blog For Mental Health 2014

As I did last year, I’ll be joining “Blog For Mental Health 2014” through A Canvas of the Minds.  The gist is that you vow to blog about mental health issues, promote awareness, and decrease stigma.

It isn’t really a conscious decision for me to blog ab0ut mental health.  It’s just something that I do, because, well, I have mental health issues and I use my blog to sort out my feelings, reminding myself of what has and hasn’t worked, and use it also to track my mood cycles.  So, the writing won’t change, there are no special prompts; it’s just blogging as usual.

In the original words of the founder:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

Anyone interested in joining, check out Canvas of the Mind and Blog for Mental Health links at the top of the page.bfmh14-copy-e1388959797718

Grief Anniversaries Compounding More Grief

I am so glad this weekend is over.  I’m glad DSB’s surgery is over and now everything is on the steady with that.  I’m glad I have the first round of inventory entered into the computer.  I beyond love love love my dishwasher for enabling me to keep a very clean kitchen at all times, although it was constantly being cooked in by a very messy DSB.  I am thankful for Klonopin, even though I get tired of taking it.  But mostly, I am just glad the first five days of 2014 are over, because I don’t think I could take much more.

I have spent more time today crying and boo-hooing and angsting and sobbing and catastrophizing today than I care to spend in about a month.  I mean, the waterworks will just not shut off.  The negative tapes were churning away in my head and I just felt so sad and hopeless.  And I couldn’t figure out why.

And I’m not saying this is the only reason, but it is likely a factor.  My grandmother died two years ago yesterday, and today would have been her birthday.  I wasn’t particularly close to my grandmother, but it was her death two years ago that sent me over the deep end.  I firmly believe that I probably wouldn’t have taken such a nosedive if that terrible timing hadn’t ended up the way it did.

I have a lot of my grandparents’ furniture in my house.  I bought some new silverware yesterday, and I cried when I found some of my grandparents’ old silverware tucked underneath some more current items.  Cheap steak knives is what they are.  Except they don’t look cheap.  And are probably not.  They were Grandpa’s and thinking about him and those steak knives brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Isn’t it awful how grief compounds grief?  I’m over my grandmother being dead, and it’s only been a couple of years.  My grandpa is a whole ‘nother story.  He died in 2004 to be exact.  He died exactly 14 days after my 25th birthday.  I distinctly remember that I was on the Atkins diet at that time, and I heard the call right as I was starting to eat a steak dinner.  I couldn’t ever eat that particular blend of seasonings again.

There was a huge thunderstorm going on and I can remember the Big Dawg picking me up and taking me to the Assisted Living place where my grandparents had been living.  There was a big empty room, and Grandpa was on a stretcher, all wrapped up in white sheets.  And I totally lost it.

And I still do lose it, thinking of him.  I think of all the things I wish he had been able to see, to do.  I wish he had been able to meet DSB, to go fishing again, to make terrible soup, to hold his favorite dog, to see my sister get married and have her little boy.  He has so much to be proud of, and I can’t help but think that he absolutely MUST be up there looking over.  I don’t know how I would or could go on if at least some part of me didn’t believe that.

And maybe that’s strange to not know if there is a God, but to be certain there is a heaven.  I really don’t care.  I pray rarely, but I do talk to Grandpa, and the Bird Lady.  And I really do think sometimes they answer me back.  And I light a little candle and I send a thought, and that’s enough for me.  So that’s what I’m going to go do.  Light a candle.  Take a Klonopin.  Pray for dreamless sleep.

Amen.

Telling it Like it Is: The Big Five

Wowza.  I have not posted anything since Christmas Day, and I wasn’t really planning on taking a break, it just kinda happened.  The tagline on this blog is “telling it like it is.”  I have a few things I need to tell myself, keeping in the spirit of the tradition.

1) Klonopin will erase anxiety, but you’re supposed to use skills, too.

I have been having more than my fair share of anxious moments lately, and, really, I am a bit entitled.  DSB just had major surgery, I’ve been jam-packing my days with this and that, and one month and one week later, quitting smoking is still not the easiest thing that I do.  The smartest thing to do would be to use some self-soothe and sacred self skills, and while I have been trying, I also find myself lacking.  I have been showering a good bit more, and even putting on lotion, but the food I put into my body is disgusting.

2) There is nothing about a messy kitchen that a trash can, dishwasher, pantry, and refrigerator can’t take care of within 15 minutes.

DSB has been doing some cooking lately, and it would be putting it nicely to say he makes a bit of a mess.  Empty cans everywhere, flour, flour, flour all over the place, wet paper towels in the sink.  You get the idea.  Now that I have a dishwasher, I don’t mind so much, because it just GOES AWAY.  And it’s easy.  If you don’t have a dishwasher, you should get one, even if you cook fairly rarely.  They are a treasure and don’t let anyone tell you different.

3)  It’s ok to go to bed at 9:00pm if you are tired.  It doesn’t mean you are old.

No, it means that I require 10 to 11 hours of sleep to function optimally.  I don’t know if it’s the meds or the bipolar itself, but I can’t handle less than 10.  It is really, really not pretty when the number dips below ten.

4)  Ok, so  you didn’t do a New Year’s post.  Whoop-de-friggin-dah.

I read a few New Year’s posts, but to be honest, I mostly checked delete all and then emptied my trash.  I don’t need to hear about someone else’s resolutions so that I can compare them to my personal goals (not resolutions) and feel bad about myself.  I did appreciate a few Top Ten Books of 2013 posts, however.  Keep those coming.  In fact, anytime you read a good book, email me or post it in my comments section.  I got the Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and am just figuring out how to interface with my local library, and the results have been ahhhh-mazing.

5) No matter how tough it gets, I have a great support system.

I have a few people in my life that I can count on, time and time again, to drag me through the muck and get me up and running again.  Those people know who they are, and hopefully know how much I appreciate them.  DSB was whining on New Year’s Eve that 2013 had been a crap year.  My exact words to him:

“My life is infinitesimally better with you in it.  Every year will be a great year, and it will keep getting more and more so.”

And then I gave him a big wet sloppy kiss.  And cried.

 

Understanding the Severity of the Issue

I have been giving some thought to my most recent slip-slide toward depression, and have come up with again the article I referenced yesterday.  I want to expound a bit more upon it.  An excerpt from “The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned From Managing My Bipolar Disorder,” by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is as follows:

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to take bipolar disorder very seriously,” said Julie A. Fast, a bestselling author of books on bipolar disorder and professional coach who works with loved ones of people with the illness. Fast was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder II in 1995.

“It’s not like other illnesses. It’s sneaky and dangerous if you don’t watch it all of the time.” She compared it to type I diabetes. “People with diabetes one can’t mess around – ever. I can’t either.”

You can’t  mess around with bipolar disorder.  I hear that, I get that, and I forget it.  I get off my schedule, I stay up too late, socialize too much, put too many or not enough things on my to-do list, skip taking some meds, use my sunlamp too much or too little, and I am left picking up the pieces of what was once a really well held-together Rose.

I’ve been doing all of the above lately.   I need more down-time, and I know that’s a lot to ask around the holidays.  I need more time to just read or watch TV and decompress.  All of the social activity of the season drains me.  Just thinking of the two different Christmas celebrations that DSB and I will be going to makes me feel a bit faint of heart.  Do I want to go, yes.  Will I go, yes.  Will it take a Klonopin or three to get me there, probably.

Over the last few days, I have had to take Klonopin because of insurmountable anxiety.  When things are going well, I take a PRN maybe once a week, every other week.  When the anxiety bears down, it can be an everyday thing, until it’s not.  I know that I have that medication available to me to use when I need it, and I don’t feel that I use it when I don’t need it, but it still bothers me to have to regulate my emotions with a pill.  You would think I had become used to that over the years.  I sometimes see it as a personal failure that I am looking for my Klonopin bottle.

As the article references above, comparing bipolar to Type I Diabetes, you have to stay in constant check with it.  That is hard to do, and it’s even harder when you’re feeling better.  You want to forget that things were ever bad, or that they could head back that direction at the drop of a hat.  The desire to stay well has to be constantly pushed into action, by checking up on oneself.

Have I taken my meds correctly today?  Do I need to be kinder to myself?  Do I need more down time?  Am I getting enough sleep and eating properly?  These are all questions I should ask myself on a day-to-day basis, and I don’t.

Just like so many out there, I take the good times for granted and forget that things were ever bad.  It is only while quietly slipping into ambivalence and then apathy and then depression, that these things come up again.  And then we just hope it’s not too late.

Lingering Brain Fog

I have been off in LaLa Land all week and I really think it is how I am coping with the unreal stressors in my life right now.  I don’t do this often, but right now I can’t focus on anything;  I can’t hold up my end of a conversation;  everything I read runs in one ear and out the other; and forget about following any kind of instructions, whether it be a recipe or for driving somewhere.  I just feel lost and like I don’t know how to get back in touch with reality.  And deep down, I’m not sure I want to be in touch with the reality that is now.

I had been on a run of non-stop, every-day blog posting for over a month and then, all of a sudden, I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write, for even a few minutes.  I stopped blogging, I stopped journaling, I stopped keeping up with other blogs, I stopped keeping up with my online friends.  I just quit everything all at once.

I also stopped keeping my planner up-to-date, with tasks to do each day.  I’ve been rolling around aimlessly, just doing things as I see they need to be done, and a lot of time saying, “I feel like shit.  I’m  not doing anything today.”  I don’t think this is depression yet, more like ambivalence moving into apathy.  I don’t want to let it get into depression, so I know that I need to start doing what works for me to ward it off.

I wrote in my planner last night, a list of things for me to accomplish today.  It’s not an overly ambitious list, but it should keep me busy.  I’ve been working on laundry already while I’ve been trying to catch up on blogs and do a little blogging myself.  I’m also going to get the kitchen cleaned up, maybe clean bathrooms, and get a nice dinner set out for DSB.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but compared to what I have been doing the past few days, it really is.  I have just felt so overwhelmed and have felt like there was no where I could let it all out.  Now here I am, back at my blog, and I know I can let it out here.  All of the times I sat down to write in the last several days fade away, days where I couldn’t make the words work.  They may not be super-coherent, but there they are, words on the screen.  And that makes me happy.

And right now, I really think I need to do a lot more of what makes me happy.  A guy I admire very much, Bradley, put out his response to an article he had read about “The Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned in Managing My Bipolar Disorder.”  Go to his page, read his answers, and look at the original article.  That blog post couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  I know those lessons, but I have not been following them.

It’s time to start doing better at managing my bipolar, rather than forgetting I have it and skipping out on all of the things I know help me to stay well.  I am not ready to go down the path of depression, and I know it will take some hard work to reverse the direction I am headed now.  There’s nothing quite like having bipolar disorder and being in denial, now is there?  😀

Whining Ahead

After posting 30 days straight in November, and several days in December, I’ve been on blog-vacation for the past two days.  It felt strange not to blog both of those days, because I had really become accustomed to blogging each day, but looking back my time was much needed elsewhere.  Blogging can take up a lot of time, especially when one follows many, many other blogs and feels the need to comment on each one.

Speaking of which, I have missed a few posts from some of my favorite people during the last few days, because I did the ol’ “select all, then delete” function on my email notifications.  I mean, 75 email notifications in a less than 24 hour period, just from blog stuff is ridiculous.  I don’t do the “select all, then delete” thing very often, and I feel a little guilty when I do, but sometimes you have to say enough is enough.

The past two days, I have mostly been spending QT with DSB.  Neither one of us has had much luck lately in the health department, and within the past two days, we have both been scheduled for surgeries within the next month.

My visit to the ENT (I know, finally…thank you to everyone who urged me to go in the comments section) did not go as planned.  I thought I would drop in and they would say, “oh, no biggie” and then I would be on my merry way with maybe some prescription ear drops or something.  The audiologist informed me that the hearing in my right ear was “borderline” affected and my left ear was “moderately” affected.  She thought that if the fluid was removed, I would get my hearing back.

I then saw the doctor.  He went on ahead and put tubes in both ears (extremely painful procedure).  He then did a scope through my nose to look at my eustachian tubes (where the fluid drains from your ears) and there is some sort of “tissue blockage” there.  He said it could be my adenoids or it could be something else.  He wasn’t sure but said it needed to be addressed right away.  I am going into surgery next Monday to have it removed and will know pathology results on Wednesday.  Oh yay.

DSB and I went to see a general surgeon about his kidney surgery complications on Monday.  Consensus is that DSB will need surgery to remove bad tissue and put in wound vac.  Not pleasant.

The last two days have left me wanting to do nothing more than hang out.  I barely checked my email other than to “select all, delete” a few times.  I just haven’t been up to much more.  I’m not feeling very Christmas-y, either.  My mom just called and it sounds like she is going to come over later and do decorations.

The Internet says I should be in a minimal amount of pain from having the tubes put in, but I’m feeling really lousy.  Dizzy, in pain, stuffed up.  Just blah.  I’d like to come back to the computer later and do my Reverb prompts.  We’ll see.

Landing the Right Job

Today’s Day Eight Reverb13 prompt is as follows:reverb13 - 400px

What went right in 2013?  Maybe you didn’t quit smoking or lose those pounds or go to Paris, but something did work, did happen, and/or was realized. What was it?

In 2013, a lot of things went right.  A few things went wrong, and a lot more fell through the cracks, in between.  They just “went.”  As DSB says, “it is what it is.”  He actually says that so much it is annoying, but I think after reflecting upon this past year, there is some truth to it.

Sometimes we have to accept our circumstances for what they are.  And I have had to do a lot of accepting over the past year.  This coming April will be two years that I have not worked a “regular, full-time” job.  I have been working 15 hours each week for my parents in a very low-stress, flexible way.  I didn’t work much last year (2012) because I was struggling so much with my mental health, but I worked the full season this year, and I think that is definitely something that has “gone right.”

My little job gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel like I am helping my parents out, which is especially a good feeling, because they do so much for me above and beyond.  My little job gives me structure, too.  Three days a week, I know where I will be and what I will be doing.  It isn’t a glamorous job, but it is rewarding and easy.  I get to interact with people, use my brain a little, and get out of the house.  That may not sound like much, but I think it is a lot of what is helping me keep it together.

Unlike any other job I have had, I have never called-in last minute, never faked sick, never walked off.  I’m not sure I’ve even had a sick day, although I did miss a couple of days when I broke my foot early 2013 and missed a few days when I did my last group therapy session.  That is a new record for me.  I think most of it has to do with the fact that I have a lot of respect for my parents and I don’t want to put them in a bind.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, job-wise.  I know I can’t return to the stress of working in the mental health field, and I probably can’t manage full-time employment.  Hopefully I can keep going on working for my parents for some time to come.