Love Me A Little Louder

Love me a little louder

Some days are better than others.  That is God’s honest truth, whether you have bipolar disorder or are perfectly mentally healthy.  When I was in therapy with Goddess of Mindfulness (and sometimes QoB does this), it gets said that not all of the struggle in life is because of mental illness.  Some rough stuff is just life.  Life for me, you, the gal down the street, everyone.  Having bipolar disorder doesn’t mean that I hold the monopoly on psychic pain.  Psychic pain is a HUMAN thing.

I feel very fortunate in my life that I have a fairly large support system.  Of course, I have LarBear, but I also have my mom and her significant other, my dad and his significant other, my sister, and the Big Dawg.  Add to that, a smattering of specialists, doctors, therapists, the members of my DBT group, and other interested parties, and there is generally someone that I can turn to at some point in my day, if things are going astray.

My first choice, and this is increasingly true as time goes on, is to seek out LarBear.  He is the person who is always there, always has time (or makes time), and I count on for the majority of matters dealing with me being any sort of upset or sad or depressed or crying or anxious.  The main reason I do that, is because he is most available — we live together, and he knows my comings and goings and the details of our life better than anyone.

The next reason I do that, is because I feel like he really, really *gets* it.  We work hard on our relationship, and none of it is taken for granted.  We both come from pasts where we have been screwed around quite a bit, and we spend a great deal of time working on the relationship that we do have.  Things aren’t perfect, but we learn together and grow together and I can honestly say that every day, things get stronger and better between us…and that is only because we keep talking to each other and working to make things better.

Although I have been feeling better overall for the past while, I still have my ups and downs.  The lack of sunshine and the time change have really messed with my sleep, and the last few days of rain and gloom have not helped matters.  I have found myself feeling somewhat down, or at least until I can motivate to get up and do something and get out.

When I noticed this slight struggle within myself about a week ago, I immediately talked to LarBear about it.  Yes, I talked to some other people too, but more about technical things like whether or not to break out my sun lamp (ya, probably should!) and that sort of thing.  With LarBear, it was simple, and that is part of the beauty of LarBear, is that he does simple like no one else can.

He doesn’t lecture me and he doesn’t use the words shouldn’t and should.  At times he reminds me of a bright-eyed child, so trusting and open and unspoilt.  So when I tell LarBear that I’m having a hard time, he says to me that he will give me more hugs and kisses and any kind of help I need.  He said, we will get through this, we always do.  He says, we’re a team, we help each other.  He gives all of himself to me, and I have never, ever had that.

And then, he follows through on what he had said (which is all too uncommon in my world, it seems), and he does hug me and kiss me more, and check on me more, and go far out of his way to do sweet things for me (just because he can, I guess), and most importantly, he reminds me that I’m going to be ok, just being who I am.

We have been together slightly less than a year, but in many ways, I do get the feeling that I could spend the rest of my life with LarBear and be perfectly happy.  I think he gets that feeling, too.  We don’t dwell on it and we operate day by day, but when I’ve had a hard day, when things are rough, he does love me a little louder, without me even having to ask.  I don’t think there is anything better in the world, than that.

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.

Figuring Things Out

So after a week’s worth, possibly more, of posts about depression, despair, hatred, anger, misery, so-on-and-so-forth, I’m on an upswing.  For the past two or three days, I have been feeling much more like the “alive” Rose.  I have been doing more, accomplishing more, taking enjoyment in everyday activities, doing things I like to do, and definitely (I think, anyway) being a more enjoyable person to be around.

So what does this all feel like?  Well, it feels like I’ve had a lot of caffeine, but in a good way.  I feel extremely, almost scarily clear and focused.  I feel like I can accomplish tasks that seemed insurmountable just days ago.  I am facing upcoming rainy, Fall weather, and I feel like I’ll get through it without a glitch.

I have had a lot of structure the last two to three days, and I know that helps.  I worked on Saturday and Sunday, and had several things going on today where I was busy all day.  I accomplished a lot at the store and feel really good about the direction the winter season will take for my job.  I will be learning QuickBooks (book-keeping software) and more about Excel, and am quite excited about that.  I am even more excited that, in learning these things, I will be able to help my mom more and I can do the rote work and she can focus on the more complicated tasks.  It boils down to me being the QuickBooks bitch, and I’m okay with that.

I have decided to keep going to group, for now, even though I was thinking of not doing it to save money (it’s about a 30 minute drive from here).  Group has been really helpful for me, and I really do enjoy it, so when I brought up the possibility of quitting with QoB, she suggested to me that I might occasionally be able to afford extra money for gas.  Problem solved!

I don’t know why I hadn’t asked her about it before.  I just keep trying to stretch my weekly money as far as it will go, and know that there are some things that I once considered essential or wouldn’t have batted an eyelash over buying are now just not in the cards.  I have come to accept my more limited budget (I know, it’s been over a year now, but it’s a lot to come to grips with!) and be more creative with my money.  I also get a lot of help from QoB and the Big Dawg, which I couldn’t be more grateful for, and, frankly, would be up shit creek without their assistance.  My dad helps, too, when he can, and that is also appreciated.  Every little bit helps.

I think the key to all of this happiness and clear-headedness and contentment is keeping to a schedule, staying structured, and getting things accomplished.  I know this group I have been doing has done wonders at getting me to achieve goals I didn’t think were possible two months ago, like showering semi-regularly (I know, gross, but huge accomplishment).  It also helps me to have a job, even if it is a bit of a cush job and very low-stress.  I think I need to keep on with the structure, throw in a bit of sunlamp, and I am going to have a very functional, quasi-happy Fall.

And hooray for Ritalin.  Just sayin’.

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?

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.