Choosing To Not Give In

It seems that I have had a string of not-so-great days.  It is odd, because my stress should actually be decreasing, instead of skyrocketing.  I now have hot water, a working septic, and central air conditioning…which I hadn’t had for about a month.  Those little “daily tasks” which were made so difficult by lack of those things, have been made much easier, but my mood has begun to plummet into darkish places, and I’m running in place, trying to stop that downward trend.

In other news that should be reducing my stress level, QoB has decided to stay put right where she’s at, no moving hours away, and one would think THAT would make me feel better.  It doesn’t.  To further decrease my stress level, we don’t have to move into a rental, but she is finding a house that we can afford to buy and I have great credit, such to the point that I can get a mortgage in my name.  Her goal is for us to save money from the point we are paying out right now, in the new place, and still own.  So, it sounds perfect, does it not?  It sounds like all of my really big, fat, ugly stress problems should be gone, doesn’t it?

I know.  Shit.  That’s just not the case.  If anything, my anxiety is more pronounced, and I hate to say this, but my mood is going downhill.  Towards depressed, with increasing agitation and annoyance and irritation and flustery-blustery-yuck.  I don’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone, deal with anyone.  I am able to handle LarBear and the dogs, and that’s about it, other than brief interludes here and there.

I have no desire to do anything for the 4th of July, and if I were going to be frank about it, I’d say that, really, actually, I can’t stand the 4th of July.  Everyone drinking, small fires and explosions everywhere, I hate being outside in the dark, heck, I don’t like being away from home when it is dark outside.  I am afraid of the dark, at 34 years old.  The whole holiday seems entirely too much about alcohol and blowing things up and eating picnic food.  No, thanks.  I am officially done pretending that I like anything about the 4th of July celebrations.  I don’t even want a freaking sparkler or those poppers that you throw on the ground.

In trying to pinpoint where this increase in depressive symptoms, anxiety, and irritability comes from, I have made little progress.  I talked about it with my therapist today, and we think it could just be a cute little bipolar cycle.  Ya know, bipolar, making it’s rounds, duck-duck-duck-GOOSE!  The fact that changes are ahead doesn’t help, but at least they are more manageable changes than what they were going to be.  I mean, yes, LB and I will be moving, but the circumstances are better.  Other than that, much else stays the same.

So, like I said at the beginning, a few bad days does not make a bad life, and a few bad days doesn’t even make a bad episode.  I’m a few days away from this being an actual episode, and maybe I can calm it with enough DBT and Klonopin and ice cream, that it keeps from becoming an actual episode.  I certainly hope so.  I think, what is most disappointing to me, is that I almost had myself convinced that I had this disease whupped, as in, permanently, as in recovery = permanence.

I will keep choosing, every minute if necessary, to not have this rule my life:

 

 

Throw a Bunch of Thoughts into the Pot

sunshine in three days

It has been a very up-and-down three days since I released from the residential crisis center.  To start with, the weather has been crap, or (to be more accurate) severe, and I am tired of rain, tired of thunder, and very tired of keeping up with two dogs who suffer from varying degrees of thunder and storm phobia.  I told my mom I was going to order them and myself a doggie thundershirt.  Yes, they really are driving me that crazy (ier???).

After reading a friend’s post about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I realized that some of my angst might be coming from a lack of sunlight, so I have my sunlamp blazing now, and I just pray it doesn’t throw me into a manic spiral.  It seems like the last month or so, I have experienced the true ick of rapid cycling, and to say it hasn’t been fun is an understatement.  Right now, this moment, I am desperate to feel just a little better, so in front of the sunlamp I will sit, until the bipolar devil on my left shoulder releases it’s talons from my flesh a bit.

I spoke with my peer mentor yesterday, and the conversation that I was worried about went just fine.  We are going to start meeting twice per week for 90 minutes each session, which is what I wanted.  She states that she never received any word that I was at the crisis house, including the Trust Quotes (9)voicemails I sent her and her unit secretary.  I don’t believe her.  I completely think she is lying, but it just shows that you can’t trust people.  Which is sad, because before all of that happened, I had been thinking about trusting her more than the average human being.  Now, I’m not so sure.  It isn’t easy for me to trust people in the first place, and my faith in people is easily lost.  What is different about me, is that I do give people many, many, many chances.  So, while I am not trusting her so much at the moment, she is going to get another chance.

Now that I have pushed through the suicidal ideation and self-harm thoughts of the past little while, I find I am stuck with huge spikes in my anxiety level.  I have spoken with a few people about it, and my therapist today even wanted me to go into the hospital.  I am not going into the hospital unless I am at a danger to harm myself, and I’m not, so therefore I will figure out the anxiety problem while I am living at home.

I’ve read a few interesting articles on evening anxiety, including this one because it talks directly about anxiety specifically in the evenings.  Every evening between four and five o’clock, I am having a very severe anxiety spike.  This has happened with regularity for over a week, since before I was in the crisis residence, and has happened at other times in my life as well.  I have a hard time when it gets dark outside, but its light at that time right now, although I do notice a further anxiety spike as the sun falls.  My mom and I jokingly have said for years that I have “sundowners,” which is a worsening of symptoms typical in Alzheimer’s patients at dusk.

Obviously I don’t have Alzheimer’s, but I have never been able to figure out why evenings are so difficult for me, other than maybe for trauma reasons.  I think it also has to do with my fear of the dark, which hasFear-of-the-Darkbecome more pronounced as I age for some reason.  Those little things that go “bump!” in the night…full body shiver.  I do believe all of that also relates to my issues with sleep and near-constant nightmares.  It is ALL related, I do believe.  I just have to figure out how to ease my unease.

 

image by listzblog.com

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.”

Better Living Through Telling the Truth

Change is happening.  I find that, when you tell the truth, the very real truth, about what you need and what you are going through, that people come through for you.  After talking to Goddess of Mindfulness on Friday, I had the direction and the support and guidance I had been looking for in relation to this problem with my current therapist.  Goddess of Mindfulness has always been such a solid person in my corner, and it’s really no surprise that she was of such help and comfort.  I wish I had confided in her sooner.

Her suggestion was to talk with my pdoc, who I finangled a same-day appointment with yesterday.  He was also very supportive and in agreement that I need to work on my trauma issues so that I can get some peace and decrease this building anxiety.  He made it all very simple and actually emailed the Director of Outpatient Therapy while I was there in his office.

I told him I didn’t want to do DBT anymore and that I wouldn’t go to group.  He actually agreed that he didn’t think group was a good fit for me.  Why hadn’t I talked with him about this sooner?  This guy is in my corner!  He said he thought I needed to do some serious trauma work and also to work on my anxiety, and he was going to help me find a therapist to help me with that.

The wheels turned more quickly than I could have imagined and I had a call from the Director of Outpatient Therapy today, telling me that I was being reassigned immediately and that I would be assigned to the therapist that Goddess of Mindfulness had recommended.  She asked me some questions about the problems I have been having and said she thought this new therapist would be an excellent fit.  It seems that anxiety disorders are her specialty and she is very kind and caring.  I need that, seriously.

So, I have my final appointment with my current therapist on Friday at 10:00 am.  I am going to tell her during that appointment that I am moving on to do trauma work in a non-DBT based therapy, and I hope she will be understanding and not flippant, like she is about so many things.  I just need for my time with her to be over and I think it is appropriate to give it closure, even though I would not necessarily be required to, as the Director of Outpatient Therapy had told me that she could just take care of it if I wanted.

I am nervous for the trauma work to begin, but I know I desperately need it.  I am starting to get in a pattern again where it is hard for me to go places like the grocery store or to buy gas.  I am finding myself taking a PRN Klonopin several times a week and I don’t want to have to do that.  I find myself having panic attacks and nightmares and recurring flashbacks.  When my mood is relatively stable, like it is now, it is very frustrating to be going through this.

I am ever mindful that Fall is coming, and, although I didn’t struggle so mightily last year, it and Winter have always been difficult for me.  I may need to use my sun lamp, I may not.  I do know that I can’t fixate on Fall coming, or things will fall apart.  It is what it is.  I just know that I need to get in there and really work on things, so I can feel better, and so I can be a little kinder to the people around me.

Radical Acceptance of Fear

My inner self-critic has been working overtime lately.  It has led to a lot of anxiety, leading to tummy problems, sleepless nights, crying spells.  Granted, life has been a bit stressful lately, but DAMN.  I hate feeling this way.

Of course, I need to start doing something about this — panic attacks are just no fun at all.  I saw Goddess of Mindfulness last night after work and she suggested that I need to be practicing mindfulness.  We talked about my “all or nothing/black and white” thinking and how this creates a chain of anxiety that doesn’t end and is hard to interrupt. 

I spend so much time obsessing about life, wanting to CONTROL my life and experiences, instead of just experiencing it.  I have recently acknowledged that I need to start living life, taking risks, stepping outside my comfort zone, accepting friendship and happiness that is being extended to me.  Life is about more than survival, a lesson that Dr. Love is trying to teach me. 

My thinking can be so rigid sometimes.  If even small things don’t go the way I want them to, I panic and have extreme anxiety.  Sometimes it gets to the point where I can’t leave the house because when I leave, I know things will be out of my control.  The unexpected, the uncertain terrifies me.  I have let small anxieties about life turn into major phobias — friendships, spontanaity, anything that is out of my control is completely out of the question. 

This turns into an issue at times with Dr. Love.  He hates to plan anything, likes to do things at the last minute — and I just don’t roll like that.  I have come a long long way as far as being less rigid in my thinking and having the even momentary ability to accept change for what it is, but I’m nowhere close to being able to really LIVE my life.  I am having absolutely no fun at all, I’m just surviving. 

The pity is that this is what I’m comfortable with.  I avoid happiness and things that I enjoy like the plague, because it means that I might have to relinquish control over my feelings and my circumstances.  I have a specific protocol for almost everything in life, and when circumstances vary from how I think it should be, I freak out.  And I don’t mean a little bit.  I freak THE HELL OUT. 

So what this all comes down to is that I need to practice mindfulness and living in the moment.  In my mind, everything is very much not okay if things aren’t perfect.  I let every little thing get to me and then I obsess about it, leading to anxiety, leading to panic attacks, leading to an inability to function — when really, everything in the bigger picture is just fine. 

And now I think I should post this because my inner self-critic is telling me that this post is a piece of crap, that it rambles and rambles, is uninteresting.  I wish I could leave myself alone, cut myself a break, give myself the benefit of the doubt.