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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Avoiding Self-Sabotaging Behaviors in the Mindfield of Current Happiness

Things are good, y’all.  I mean, really, really good.  LarBear and I are all moved into a really nice new (to us) home, things are organized, tons of junk and clutter has been purged, it looks good, hell, it even smells good.  There is nothing I don’t absolutely love about this new house.

And other things are good, too.  I started a mini dose of an antidepressant two weeks ago, and have had no manic symptoms.  I am slowly weaning off another medication that my psychiatrist believes is leading to my mysterious weight gain.

Things are going great with LarBear, have actually never been better.  I am in the most stable and healthy romantic relationship of my life.  We are a team and we lean on each other and we care for each other and we just make each others’ lives so incredibly much better than they ever have been.

I haven’t heard word one from my ex-step-father or any of his side of the family, and I am superbly grateful for that, and believe that has also gone a long way in minimizing my anxiety and stress level.  Getting rid of all that toxic negativity, it just did me such good.

So really, the problem is that there ARE no problems.  I went to therapy this week, and the first thing my therapist asked me, was what was I going to do to not sabotage the happiness I am finding?  Because that is what I do, it is what I have always done.  Happiness or contentment or joy have always been so fleeting for me, and it is always me chasing them off my own porch with a broom.

The answer to that question lies in many things.  First of all, how am I going to KNOW that I am sabotaging my happiness?  Well, I can spout out a short little list of things from just today that I have done to sabotage my happiness that range from picking a really silly fight (very short lived) with the LarBear to deciding to experiment with my Klonopin (as in not taking it even though I know that I really, really need it) to not taking a shower and getting dressed this morning (daily hygiene fail) to letting myself get too worked up about other people’s problems.

How do I let myself feel, or how do I reassure myself that it really IS okay to be happy, to feel joy, contentment?  I’m still working on that.  What my head always tell me is the inevitable — that it won’t last, it never has before, and its not going to start now.  My head goes on to remind me that Fall is upon us, meaning Winter soon, and that always spells horrors for my stability.

Does it have to, though?  Is it possible that I could make it through Fall and Winter relatively unscathed?  That I could keep up with my daily tasks and my hygiene and meds and relationship-building and therapy and all of the other daily skills, and maybe slide just fine through to Spring?

Well sure, I suppose it’s possible.  I just have to avoid all of these tiny self-sabotaging behaviors that I engage in, and focus on the more positive, skill building behaviors that I have been concentrating on lately.

Gee, Rosa, is that all you ask from yourself?  You are such a loser.

You see, that voice is there, so loud and strong, criticizing my every move.  It will take massive determination on my part to ignore it, to turn the mind, to practice opposite to emotion.  But I think I can.  I’m pretty sure I can, anyway.  Or at least I’m going to try.

What self-sabotage pitfalls do you find yourself getting tripped up by?  How do you keep yourself on a more positive path?  Do share your secret cures for all that ails…

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This Week in Gratitude

I used to do a link-up that was a 10-things of thankful, and I did quite enjoy doing it every weekend.  The format has changed now, and I can’t find any linkups, so I decided that at the end of every week, I will go out on my own and do a gratitude post.  There are so many things out there to be thankful for, yet it is easy to not bring them to one’s consciousness in a mindful way.  SO, this is part DBT exercise, part because-I-wanna exercise, and mostly because I want to remember the good stuff, for when the time are NOT so good.

Without further adeiu:

  1.  This week, I am thankful for the four-cup coffee pot my mom purchased for me.  I had a huge coffeepot before, and the result was always that I would drink the entire contents every morning, which would leave me sick.  Ok, so yes, no self-control.  To remedy the situation, I gave up caffeine, but have started to miss it oh-so-much, so this is the solution.  The theory — the less coffee that is made, the less I will drink.
  2. LarBear has been a champ this week (well, every week), but especially this week, with helping me get a caffeine fix every morning even when there was no coffee pot.  I’m not sure why a large coffee at McDonald’s must cost $1.95, but it is clear we will be saving money now with brewing it at home.  Oh, and LarBear can avoid going out in 25 degree weather, all for the sake of a cup of coffee.  I think he will appreciate that!
  3. The very small mouse problem that started a couple weeks ago in my basement (this is what happens when you live in the country), is no more, after Mom’s boyfriend hooked us up with some poison.  I placed it carefully where the dogs couldn’t get to it and there has not been one sign of a mouse ever since.
  4. I am thankful that I have found it within myself to continue to work on giving second chances and third chances and fourth chances to people in my life who, well, may not deserve it (from the outside looking in).  It can be really hard to give up on someone who has been around your entire life, although not impossible.
  5. In a related thankfulness/gratitude moment, I am grateful that I can still see the good in most people, even when it is buried very deep below the surface.
  6. I am excited about Thanksgiving plans, getting to see the Big Dawg’s side of the family, and possibly going to see my maternal grandfather’s side of the family a few days after the big Turkey Day.
  7. Somewhat related, I am very grateful that I am *with it* enough to think about doing these things, and being around all of these people (that I am not used to).  Baby steps, Rosa.
  8. I am grateful basketball season is upon us, and I have already made it to two games at the local college.  Go Bods!
  9. I am thankful for interpersonal communication effectiveness skills learned in DBT, as it seems like LarBear and I get clearer with each other every day, and my other relationships continue to improve, as well.
  10. I am grateful/thankful/proud that I have cranked out almost one post every other day for over a week, and don’t feel any signs of slowing down yet.  I am grateful people still read, still comment, still like, and still listen, even after all this time.  Some of my favorite people are my online blog friends, and I am glad I didn’t mess that up too terribly with my extended absence.

What are you grateful for this week?  Making these lists may seem a bit mundane now, but they are very helpful to look back on in the future when things might not be so rosy.  I know they have helped me tremendously!

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.

 

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.

Difference of Wills

I have the will to survive.  I am not ready to die, even though I do think about it, the not-living.  Think about it obsessively, at times.  What I do not have, is the will to live.  To flesh out my meaningless existence into something worth having.  And I’m not sure it’s even the will that I’m lacking, but maybe the strength, or the desire, or the current ability.

I had another hard day yesterday and today, so far, hasn’t been much brighter.  I woke up with a chest full of anxiety and feel like I’m breathing through a straw.  I had already taken a PRN by 10:00 a.m., and that is quite rare for me.  I don’t know how to explain this feeling, but it’s more than just anxiety.  It’s anxiety, and it’s tension, and sadness, and hopelessness, depression, despair, agony, hurt, pain, confusion.

And anger.  There is so much anger.  I never thought of myself as an angry person, but I have been lately.  I have so much hatred, directed inward, that it is spilling out into hatred directed outward.  I am tense, I lose control at the slightest irritation, the voices in my head churn together to create a death-metal march of destruction.  I can’t take it.  What is it that I can’t take?  Anything.  The reality of the world rubs me raw and I just.can’t.take.it.  I feel lost and wounded, like I am limping through a forest of evil trees, waiting to be killed.  Kill or be killed.  Kill or be killed.  Kill or be killed.

Fall is coming.  Fall is almost here.  Bad things happen in the Fall.  Mood shifts, cycles, howling at the moon.  I wonder if I should use my sun lamp, but I feel like this might be a mixed episode and so I don’t.  But I want to.  Because that lamp brings me happiness, energy, joy.  Let’s face it.  That lamp could, does have the possibility, entirely possible that it could bring full-blown mania.  And I want that and I don’t, at the same time.  I’d be happy with some hypomania.  Maybe then I could get my house clean.  What I do know, however, is that it could really intensify this mixed episode I believe I am having.  And that would lead to more hurt, more despair, more anger.  I don’t really want that.  So I will wait, ride it out.  Because, really, what else can I do?

Weekend Snark

I’ve been feeling kinda funny around the edges here in the last few weeks off and on.  Sometimes, the day passes and all is well.  There have been more than a few days, however, that would likely have been better spent in bed, thereby protecting all those who interacted with me from my snark.  This weekend, I have been particularly snarky.

It seems that I am losing my ability to communicate effectively.  In that, words are tumbling out of my mouth so fast that people are asking me to repeat myself.  I hate that.  Hate when it gets like that.  Instead of concentrating on talking slower and more clearly, I get pissed.  I refuse to communicate.  I can barely stand to speak to anyone, nevertheless get around to enunciating.

It is times like this that I let shit slide.  And I mean, the shit has done slid here in this house.  There are dirty dishes in the kitchen, dog hair lining the hallways, used tissues piling up on the coffeetable, and plants dying of thirst.  And while it causes me anxiety that my surroundings are in such disarray, I can’t seem to make myself do anything about it.  Such is the dialectic here, people, ever-shifting…anxiety-provoking disorderliness, yet I just don’t give a shit.  I think I’ll sit here and stare out the window at the gosh durn snow.

Effing snow.  Effing cold weather.  Effing February.  Oh mother effer!  I should probably use my sun-lamp, but I’m afraid that I am on the fringe of a mixed episode and that would shoot me straight to the heart of one.  Ok, maybe not on the fringe, but on the fringe of the fringe.  Of the fringe.  Denial is so cute, isn’t it?

I’m starting to let this broken foot bullshit get me down.  And the prospects, according to the doctor, my physical therapist sister, my mother (who invented the Inernet), and everything I’ve read indicate that this is a very slow-healing break and it could be 3-4 months for it to heal, if it does heal, and maybe even then surgery will be necessary.  I feel effed six ways past Wednesday.  I am sick of this boot and sick of being off balance and not able to do the things I want to effing do.

And for today, I’ve said the effing “eff” word enough and I’m thinking of opening my back door and screaming “Mother Fucker!” to the effing snow.  Maybe that little release will keep me from eating DSB for dinner, and maybe I will practice a little radical acceptance around the fact that 8″-12″ of snow (and ice) is headed our way tomorrow and there is nothing I can do about it.  DBT can be a real bitch.