Removing the Option to Quit

Today is the first day that we have had actual Autumn-like weather.  It is dreary out, the days of sunshine prior are slowly erasing themselves from my memory, until it feels like every day for the past ten years has been this way.  This removal of hope that happens to me from time to time, it’s happening, and like I sometimes (but not always) do, this time I am refusing to give myself the option to quit on myself.

I have too much going for me to give up.  I can’t promise that the thoughts won’t sneak in, but for this moment and for at least today, I will not quit on myself.  I will keep plodding, one foot in front of the other, and I will come out victorious in the Spring, surviving and possibly even conquering this beast in my brain that seems to be so loud and demanding through the colder months.

Continuing on from my last post, that strategy of hunkering down and just slogging through it will remain, will keep on.  I am not going to detail the daily woes of life, because that gets me nowhere.  I accept that I am depressed, moving through a mixed cycle, cycling, paranoid, racing thoughts, nightmares, feeling unsafe, and avoiding most people, most places, most interactions.  I acknowledge and then I move forward.  Maybe tomorrow will be better, I really have no way of knowing for sure, but I can work my hardest to keep shuffling toward days filled with more sunlight and green carpets of grass and natural warmth on my skin.  I will not let today’s troubles swallow me whole, spitting me out to be useless and lying still on the carpet all day.

I will do the things I need to do, I will follow the lists, I will cherish my blessings, and I will persevere, because there is really no other acceptable answer.  Above all, remember that a simple kindness can be the push that gets a person through a hard day.  Don’t be shy, throw a pebble at my window.  I will likely be both surprised and grateful, and will almost certainly return the favor.

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Emotion MishMash Equals Anger, Rage, Panic

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Sad, angry, happy, irritable, hostile, giddy, appearing stable, sad, lonely, panicked, giddy, irritable, hostile.

Mad, sad, crying, hysterical, eerie calm, thankfulness, slow descent back to an impressive depression, then just a big solid block of sadness, quickly surpassed by feelings of irritation at every spoken word, movement, gesture, genuinely baffled by how ugly people can be.

All of this turning into genuine anger, first directed at the self, stabbing words into my skin as if with a knife, getting myself so unsettled again that I go through crying, more anger, hostility, to anger at other people/things/objects/ideas, and again circling back to hating everything about myself and secure in the knowledge that I am ruining the life of myself and everyone in it.

This gets old and it gets tiresome and it gets lonely.  My feelings all are over the place, some of which I am accustomed to, but the anger, the hostility, the sharp tongue — I never get used to that.  I never get used to the piece of me that can and will tear another down with words, hurling just the right ones in the most sensitive spots for maximum damage.  The difference between before and now, is that I am depressed enough, I don’t really care that I am hurting other people.  That is not good.  Every jab looks to land a mat-dropping blow.

I can control it to an extent, but there are times when I feel so bad, that I don’t control it and I let my mouth run wild and I hurt people.  For the most part, it is brushed off because the other person knows it isn’t really the Rosa inside who is saying these things.  Sometimes it doesn’t get fixed that easily.

I deleted over thirty people from my Facebook over the last week, because I am convinced someone is leaking information about me to my ex step-father.  To be clear, I am done, done, DONE with that relationship and any relationship I may  have ever had with that ENTIRE side of the family.  It’s a shame, because there was one or two people that were somewhat decent, but for the sake of my mental health, I can have NO contact.  I want him to forget I exist.  Let him think I went to Alaska to can salmon or something.  Rosa, disappeared from his world, never ever again going back.  I have my reasons, many reasons which are really not worth spelling out here, because I don’t care to embarrass anyone, but done, just done.  Goodbye.  Again.  Stay gone.

I started this post shaking with anger, and that was after I wrote a long, ranting email to a friend of mine.  I need a way to get over this anger, to make it stop, to do something productive with it, if it isn’t just going to go away nicely.  Suggestions, as always, are welcome in the comments.  And even if I get mad about a comment, I won’t attack anyone, and that is a promise (that I feel that I can keep right now at 9:45PM on a Friday night).  That’s the best I can do for now.

 

 

 

Contentment With a Side of Panic Attacks

Life is fairly good these days.  I’m attributing it to plenty of sunshine and DBT and working hard in therapy and having more structure to my days.  There are some big changes on the horizon, like moving, and QoB *finally* retiring (maybe), but those are good changes.  While my mood has been fairly neutral, I have been having some physical symptoms that have been giving me trouble.

Physical symptoms that I decided were lithium poisoning, because that is where the problem  usually is, but when that wasn’t the answer (after a blood test) and the urgent care provider sent me to the Emergency Room, I was stunned that I hadn’t thought of this:

I was having every single one of these issues, a minimum of three separate episodes each day.  So, apparently, my anxiety (that I *knew* was high, but, um, it always is!) is manifesting into more physical problems.  Also known as, multiple panic attacks a day with very high anxiety between attacks.

So while I thought that I was mentally very healthy, because I was not feeling extremely depressed or extremely elevated, and because I was not having more than my usual amount of generalized anxiety, I misdiagnosed myself as having lithium poisoning or something wrong with my heart because it has been so long since I have had full-blown panic attacks.  I should note that these attacks almost always additionally come with gasping, sobbing, and cursing on the side.

I beat myself up that I didn’t realize my anxiety was so out of control before having this little Emergency Room epiphany, but I think that I was just so grateful to not feel extremely depressed, that I decided everything else was “fine” and that I was just “physically ill.”

I still “don’t feel good” physically and am going to need to get in to see my psychiatrist this week, but I am really not looking forward to that.  I reported increased anxiety at my last appointment, and I do have a PRN for anxiety that generally works.  It is only when the anxiety gets really blown up and into a full-on attack that seemingly nothing makes me feel any better.

I am curious.  Have any of my readers ever had something like this blow up out of nowhere?  I mean, it probably isn’t really “nowhere” and I just can’t pinpoint where it started.  Thoughts, feelings of commiseration, home cures (hahahah!!!)?

 

(Escalation) — Trigger Warning

TRIGGER WARNING — mentioning of self-harm behaviors

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My anxiety level has been through the roof the last two days.  Yesterday, I went to a basketball game with my dad and LarBear, and totally lost my shit in front of an arena full of people.  I tried to calm down for awhile, sitting outside smoking a cigarette, and then sitting in a folding chair in the hallway.  I couldn’t calm down enough, with a combination of Klonopin PRN and talking to my mom and breathing exercises, and gave up and left the game mid-way through the second game.

I felt like a failure for not being able to go back into the game, but all I could say was, “I’m losing my shit” over and over.  I was shaking, my chest hurt, my mind raced ten times more than normal.  I was having a panic attack and nothing I did could make it subside.  Sometimes the only safe place is home.

And sometimes, home isn’t safe.  It’s been another day of high anxieties.  I noticed today that I have been using my gum floss pick to destroy my mouth.  And then sitting it down for five minutes, but having itchy fingers and picking it up over and over.  As I sat with anxiety higher than I could stand, I noticed my mouth was full of blood.

And so I picked away some more, because, DAMMIT, it felt good.  And bad.  And like SOMETHING, all at one time.

I did eventually point this out to LarBear, and he took them away, but my little secret is that I know where he hid them.  I’m not even thinking totally logically, because while I know its a bad idea, there is such a sense of relief.

I haven’t self-harmed in years, before this all started up again.  Its funny (oh except not-so-funny) how easy it is to fall back into old patterns.  Just the other day, I took all the skin off the pads of my fingers, just like I used to do in high school, because it was soothing.

That’s sick, people.  Removing skin from your body should not be soothing.  But it is.  Jabbing a sharp object into bleeding gums over and over should not be soothing, but it is.  I don’t want to devolve into some other self-harming behavior, namely bulimia, but I suppose anything is possible.

Life is so different than it used to be.  My support system is different, my day-to-day life is different, winter is different.  I have to adjust, I have to adapt.  I am having a hard time doing so.

I didn’t want to put this out there, this bit about self-harm, but I think if I am going to be truly honest (and I want to be), then I have to.

It’s something I’m going to bring up in my next therapy session and its something I will have to explain more to the LarBear.  Just because its happening doesn’t mean I need to go to the hospital.  I’m not at that level yet, and hopefully won’t get there.

Changes, changes, changes.  All things must change, and this is another one of those things that’s gotta go.  I am giving myself an atta girl for recognizing the problem, and now just need to focus on ways to avoid these problem behaviors.

 

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Ten Things of Thankful: Coping Skills Edition

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Through living most of the last twenty years of my life with Bipolar Disorder and PTSD, I have picked up a trick or an idea or a method that works to help calm the pain inside my addled head.  Much of it is learned from DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), a lot of it is common sense, and so much more came to me through the process of trial and error.

Captain Jack is right — it is often how you think about a problem, and your attitude toward a “problem,” that is the issue.  While I don’t often think of these skills after the storm has passed, when I am in the thick, I am really thankful for the ten random things listed below that help me get through:

  1.  An extreme attempt to change body temperature.  From going and standing out in the winter air in shorts and a t-shirt, to a cold compress to the back of the neck, this is my number one go-to coping method.  It also works in the form of a super-hot shower, a super-cold shower, frozen bag of peas behind the knees.  I don’t know the science, but the temperature change trick almost always snaps me out of hysteria.
  2. Coloring or doodling.  I have several “adult” coloring books and a seriously large collection of markers, pens, colored pencils, crayons.  This is becoming a more popular choice among many anxious people, and has even turned into a big of a “fad.”  The thing about this “fad” is that is REALLY works.  If you can get yourself coloring or doodling, you will find that you can turn your mind over much more easily than if you are just sitting and angsting.
  3. Phone a friend.  Not just for “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”, this coping strategy works especially if you have one person in your life that can talk to you for five minutes and bring you outside yourself.  For me, this person is usually my dad and sometimes my mom.  They both know me well, and often five minutes after picking up the phone, I am mostly calmed down, or at least I have a plan to calm down.
  4. Get a hug.  A hug, or really any physical contact, can be helpful.  LarBear knows that if I am really upset and he rubs my neck or my back, that I can start to calm down.  There is something reassuring about human touch, something that makes us not feel so alone.  Sometimes I can calm down if LarBear simply sits and holds my hand for awhile, even if he says nothing.
  5. Get up and move.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  In the midst of hysterics, its tough to get up and do anything, but I find that if I can even get up and do a little pacing, or, even better, find a small area of the house to organize (like a drawer or a shelf…think small!), I can calm myself.
  6. Five senses meditation.  This is a great grounding exercise and it is exactly what it sounds like.  Out loud, name five things you can see, five things you can touch, five things you can taste, five things you can smell, five things you can hear, five things you can feel.
  7. Get it in writing.  Blogging is great for anxiety, but journaling or even free-writing can be helpful.  I have numerous written pages, where I have been extremely anxious, and have put pen to paper for a set amount of time (usually five minutes) and written down things as they flew through my brain.  It is an excellent way of letting thoughts go on down the road.
  8. Mind your breath.  After the temperature-change exercise, the thing I do most to calm down is to focus on my breath.  There are many ways to do it, but my favorite is to do a breath in to the count of five and a breath out to the count of seven.  You might have to play with it to see what works for you, but if you can put all attention on your breath, you may be able to calm yourself that way.
  9. Hug a tree.  No, seriously, I mean it.  Go outside and hug a tree.  Panicked, anxious, sobbing your eyes out?  Go hug a tree.  This is a very grounding exercise, and, similarly, sitting or laying in the grass can be almost as helpful.  Concentrate on the textures and feelings through your hands or on  your legs.
  10. PRN medication.  As an opportunity of last resort, after I have tried all of these things, or if I have tried several and none are working, I will take a teensy dose of Klonopin.  I don’t do it everyday anymore, or even every other day.  It is meant for short-term, very occasional use, and I really don’t think there is anything wrong with using that tool in my toolbox, as long as I am not abusing it.

Do you have any coping skills that you use, that I haven’t mentioned?  I would love to hear from you and have a blog post full of what works for everyone!  In the meantime, as a PLUS-1, maybe take a few minutes and put a Ten Things of Thankful list on your own blog.  ‘Till next time!

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