What I Know Here, Today, in the Now

My friend, Marilyn, often tells me I am doing better than what I think I am, struggling about the same as most people (sometimes a little less, even), and I often have a hard time wrapping my head around that little nugget of wisdom, although it is often very true.

I have “survived” a great deal in life, and here I am, still kicking almost 36 years into this great life that I have created.

I know what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what works and what doesn’t, and when I can keep these things at the front of my mind, I can exist in a state of fairly ok-ishness.  Of course, there are ups and downs in life, but everyone has ups and downs.  I think I just tend to experience mine a little more fully than some in the world.

There is very little in my life right now that is inherently “bad” or “negative.”  It has taken many years of therapy, but given enough time and the right support, I can usually get even the negative situations worked out fairly well.  When I am not in a full-on manic state or a full-on depressive state, I can say that I actually live a pretty full and happy life.  Of course, I have my moments, but I am beginning to learn and accept that everyone on this planet has their moments.

We all have certain things we struggle with more than others, whether our issue is bipolar disorder, some other mental illness, a physical issue, or just tough circumstances.  The point is to keep going, and to keep trying to make one’s life increasingly more peaceful, more happy, with more love.

I am currently dealing with some issues related to medications and a disruption in my routine.  It has thrown me for a loop, but I am dealing with it, how I know to deal with it.  In a week or so, I am going to be able to hit the exercise routine again, and in the meantime, I am getting the nutrition part of things under control.

I am crafting daily, have had some good sales at the gallery, and am working on some really beautiful new pieces for the gallery.  That makes me very happy; it is something I derive a great deal of pleasure from.

I have been getting back into my reading and am thinking about trying my hand about doing some shorter, yet still glowing,  book reviews….some that I had promised to do long ago, and some that no one has asked me to do, but that I feel the book is worthy of praise and is important for others to read.

So I am still that DBT girl, standing in front of my life, asking myself to keep trying, but to try a little harder, even though I am doing the best I can.  I will probably always be that girl, and that is fine by me.  It is progress, not perfection, that I am after.

 

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These Things Do Pass, Only With Time

It has been nearly a week before Thanksgiving that I last blogged, and I am working really hard on not being sorry about that.  So much has happened in that space of time, and so much has remained the same.  I have had some people suggest to me that I shut down this blog, just as people have in the past when I have gone walkabout for longer than a few weeks, and maybe, in all fairness to everyone else that might be the thing to do.  For me, however, I have decided time and time again that shutting this blog down is simply not an option.

Because this blog is for me.  It’s my place to vent and think things through and scratch that writing itch and have a record (for myself, for the future Rosa, something for me to ponder light years from now when I am old and grey, when I get this world figured out a little more).  I don’t think it hurts anyone for me to blog infrequently, although maybe it is an annoyance to others at times, but I can always be reached here.

So the blog will stay, and I might write often and I might not, and some weeks I might stay up on my reading and some weeks/months may go by before I show up around your blog.  Life is not so predictable, and I’m not sure anyone would really want it to be, even though I know sometimes we wish for things to be slightly more predictable.

The crippling depression that plagued most of 2016 has mostly lifted, mostly after I was chastised for not using my sun lamp by my medication provider and ended up with a new lamp because the older one was so outdated.  And, whew boy, did it ever provide some ramped up rays, because I was feeling amazing, in no time, and before you knew it I had tripped into a hypomanic state, well on my way to mania.

So, for the last few weeks, almost a month, I have been trying to quiet down my brain while stimulating it constantly, because that was the only thing that was comforting.  The hypomanic episode slid into me deciding to:

  1. Give up caffeine completely, cold-turkey
  2. Give up Xanax, cold-turkey
  3. Quit smoking, aided by nicotine patch
  4. Reorganize and de-clutter several areas of my house
  5. Drastically change my eating habits in an attempt to lose weight
  6. Move more, in general, than I have in the past year combined

So far, I have stuck with all six of these things.  I went through most of the last month feeling like I had a severe case of the flu or maybe lithium poisoning, but it turns out that it was just withdrawal.  It’s over for the most part now, but my body is still adjusting and every day is a new challenge.

In addition to this, I have decided to actually start working on real issues in therapy, instead of the same crap every week.  I told my therapist last week that I thought maybe I was finally ready to do something about my PTSD, because it is giving me such trouble, increasingly so within the last few months.

I was referred almost a month ago into a medically supervised weight loss program, and yesterday had my initial meeting with the supervising doctor.  Just on my own, I have lost 18 pounds from December 15th of last year to now, and am excited (and slightly overwhelmed) about the plans for weight loss we made yesterday and will continue to work on.  I really like the doctor — she was very understanding and seemed quite empathetic.  She also at some point wants me to work on my emotional/mental issues with food and body image and exercise, and, as she says, I am not currently being treated by the mental health center for my eating disorder and I need to talk to someone about it if I am ever going to have sustained weight loss and a more healthy relationship with food.

I’ve honestly been doing quite a bit of ignoring everyone in my life except a few people, and that is  how I have been coping with all of the depression of last year and the mania recently, and because it is honestly just easier that way sometimes, but I have a feeling that once some of the PTSD issues are alleviated somewhat, that maybe I will be better about reconnecting with people, even though it has never been a strength of mine.

Change and more changes.  With the six things I mention earlier having been accomplished and/or continuing to work on, I finally feel like I have a chance at a much higher quality of life, and I haven’t felt that way for an extended period since long ago.

The Ten Things I Can’t Seem to Admit to in Therapy

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This will end up being a list post, but I want to first interject that it is hard as hell living with mental illness and every good day should be celebrated.  Don’t get me wrong, there HAVE been good days, and there will be more.  Right now, what I am trying to purge from my system is all the negative stuff that I can’t seem to talk about in the place where I need to the most:

1) My nightmares have come to the point again where I am terrified of sleep, terrified of bed.

2) The stuff of nightmares keeps me from wanting to leave the house…like, ever

3)  I have not seen the inside of any type of store, including even a convenience store, in over two months.  I have not even tried.  There are people in there, you realize.

4)  I have been hiding my crying spells.  From my therapist, my med doc, my art therapist, LarBear, my mom, my dad.  I know what crying spells mean, and I don’t want anyone to know it is happening at an alarming rate at this point in time.

5)  I absolutely cannot manage without Klonopin at scheduled times throughout the day.  I keep trying to skip it, and I keep having breakdowns and am told to take my Klonopin.

6)  I am stuck with my jewelry.  It’s not fun to make, to plan, to do.  I feel absolutely defeated by the lack of activity on my Facebook page for it, and I end up giving it away because I don’t think it is good enough, anyway, to sell, and neither, apparently, does anyone else.

7)  I am very close to giving up on some various people in my life.  I decided a while back to no longer be in contact with my ex-step-father.  I am very close to that in a few other relationships.  I am tired of caring and not getting caring back.

8)  I don’t feel like there is a safe place for me to go whenever (if) home begins to feel unsafe.  They use the crisis house as an overflow for social detox — the award for fuckhead of the year goes to whoever made that decision, because if I am sick enough to be there, I am too sick to not be taken advantage by one of those addicts.

9)  My weight is at an all-time high, and I am not sure what else to do.  Sure, I need to move more, but I eat quite healthfully and smaller-size portions, and Seroquel (my psychiatrists guess) or the tides of the moon or terrible chemistry makes me gain ten pounds if I so much as look at a cheeseburger.  I have completely stopped bingeing, and I am gaining weight.  There seems little fairness in that.

10)  I get tired of feeling depressed constantly, so I often put on that mask that says everything is fine.   Dear Mental Health Gods:  I am really, really tired of having to do that.  Most things in my life are going swimmingly right now, can I please catch a break?

Week in Review: Positivity and Thankfulness in the Face of Extreme Sleep Deprivation

I went from posting six times last week to not even touching this blog this week.  My thoughts have been super disorganized the past several days, due to a lack of sleep which is coming about thanks to problems with my CPAP machine (device that treates sleep my extra-severe sleep apnea).  So, while I HAVE been lying down for three or four hours at a time, I have been waking (according to the technician who downloaded my unit today) multiple times a night because I am, well, jeez, I’m just not breathing, consistently.

That kind of sleep deprivation is something of the worst kind, because while you *think* you are sleeping, you aren’t getting even close to any sort of sleep that is restful.  This leaves one with disorganized thoughts, gaps in time and memory, and a feeling that some sort of slow-growing mold is encasing the brain, rendering the little electrical impulses normally found there to be quite subdued.

To all of the bloggers I follow, I’m sorry to say that I just deleted my inbox full of notifications, feeling that I had to give myself a “re-do” for this week, and that I couldn’t do that with all of those unread posts making me feel guilty.  So, I’ve missed some of what y’all had to say this week…my bad, but sometimes it can’t be helped.  I *am* going to go back and answer comments on my last two posts here in the next day or so, but I thought it was prudent to throw a post up here so that anyone who noticed I was *back* last wouldn’t think I’ve totally dropped off again.  Just not the case, at all.

Some really great things happened this week, and remain unmarred (mostly) by the trials and tribulations of sleep deprivation.  I had a really good therapy appointment this week, and I also made peace with my peer support specialist.  It is amazing what can happen when you just ASK for what you NEED, and when you are also communicative about what your expectations are and just very HONEST about every single thing you can think of.

My schedule has now straightened itself out to the point where it is the exact same every week.  There will be no more panicked thoughts (I hope) in the middle of the night, thinking there is somewhere I am supposed to be at such-and-such time the next day.  Now, everything has been set up to repeat, and I can just roll with it (and hope it *mostly* stays that way).

This is a huge relief, because it was one of the things I have been so bent out of shape about.  I also found a great place to meet in the community with my peer support person…a small cafe that is very empty midday, has very comfortable furniture, is bright and full of windows, and lacks the dark and trendy feelings of most coffee shops.  I love it so much, I might hang out there sometimes, even when we are not meeting.  They also have really inexpensive drinks and desserts, a plus, no doubt.

I have further cleared things up with my peer support person (who really needs a blog nickname, what I have so far is The Trucker’s Wife, what do you think?) by using F.A.S.T. (a DBT skill in which you ask for something but keep your self-respect, as in no over-apologizing or the like) and just good ol’ common sense.  I have decided to give her another chance, and would probably actually give her many more, because, while she is not the best at returning phone calls, she IS good at returning emails (yay, a way to communicate!!) and she does appear to care, and she is quite kind and understanding, and is letting me do the self-help book more on my own.  It appears that this will all be working out, quite well.

I have several other things, which I am quite grateful for at this present moment, and which I’m going to list-post, because, yeah, I know that no one really wants this post to go past 700 words (least of all me):

  1.   Celebrating good use of DBT skills this week in interacting with others.  A few arguments were avoided, my anxiety was calmed more than once, and things just feel more level, even *with* the sleep deprivation.
  2. I do have the insurance to monitor and fix this sleep deprivation problem.  The problem right now is getting in to be seen at the sleep center, because they are so backed up.  I do have an appointment on Tuesday, and my medical supply store RT offered to help me on Monday, if I need it.
  3. People can be really decent to you when you treat them with more respect than what they are expecting to get.
  4. The relationship between LarBear and I gets better by the minute.  We have laughed our butt’s off this week at many different things, as well as spent a lot of good quality time, several productive discussions, and he is really just everything I ever wanted out of a significant other, and always thought that I could never get.
  5. Thinking about what I might do post-DBT…maybe become a peer support for the group.  Just throwing that out there as a wild and crazy idea, and that is also way down the road (about a year), but I think it might be really cool.

I found this photo/word/thingie on FB, and thought it was just exactly how I feel about my life right now, so I wanted to share it with y’all.  It’s with this that I’m out, off to celebrate number 6, which was finding some really nice steaks in my freezer!

numinous

Rant-ish

***I almost didn’t publish this.  It is too ugly and ranty and paints me in a way that I don’t want others to think of me.  But this is real, this was my day, this was my evening, these are my thoughts.  I tire of apologizing for being who I am, for my feelings, for exposing the uglies in my brain to the outside air.  I’m not perfect and I don’t expect anyone else to be.

i wont apologize for who i am

I have spent over half my life in the care of mental health professionals.  Since age 16, to be exact, although I can recall being required to see school counselors as early as the second grade.  What was it that was so terribly *wrong* at such a young age, that I needed to see a school counselor?  I don’t remember exactly, and I really don’t want to hear the real answer, but I do remember that I have always struggled in relationships with my peers.

That hasn’t really changed.  My on-again, off-again personality pushes people away, as does my clingy-ness and rapid mood changes and social awkwardness and tendency to shut down completely for months on end.  I have a handful of online friends, that I do keep in close contact with, and I have LarBear.  Otherwise, I have family — QoB, my dad, the Big Dawg…all close to me in one manner or another, varying from one time to another.

For me, that’s enough, and it’s almost more than I can handle sometimes.  I have added peer support to my treatment mix, and it is one more person that I have to handle, and to be honest, I haven’t handled her well.  I cancelled our appointment today, fifteen minutes before I was supposed to be there.  There is no common courtesy in that at all, and I can imagine she is pissed, but I wasn’t able to make myself leave the house and go to that appointment.

I tried getting her on the phone several times, but that is mission impossible because I am not allowed to have a phone number for her that actually rings her line.  When my call is transferred from the front desk, it literally rings to a phone that is not in existence, and then goes to her voicemail.  Voicemail that she checks once a day, at best.  I have left her countless voicemails before, only to get a response fifteen minutes before our next scheduled appointment.  What kind of support is it, when I can only have access to her within the confines of my appointment?  I have better access to my med treater than that, for crying out loud, and this person is supposed to be “support.”

I suppose this is just me demonizing another person and blaming and complaining.  It’s what I would be told, and you know, frankly, I’m getting really tired of having my feelings invalidated.  It really is no wonder to me that I can’t get along with anyone worth a damn, and it has been this way so long, and so severely, that I really don’t see another way.

DBT helps.  Of course it helps.  Does my current therapist know DBT?  No.  What do we talk about?  I’m not sure.  I can’t really remember from appointment to appointment, which makes me feel as if I am having no gains in that department.  The lapses in my memory are frequent and significant, and I know it is because I am numbing myself and distracting away negative feelings.  I am not allowing myself to live my life, I am trying to just get through it.

And I am back around to that DBT saying, you’re trying hard enough, and you can try harder.  I want to put that on a billboard in my front yard, so I can look out my window every five minutes and see it flashing at me in bright red.  It is very frustrating to me, that I feel I am being written off by the mental health staff at the center, as someone whose problems are in her head.

I am still straightening out a few things and a lot of sentences in my head, and maybe tomorrow or the next I can post more about why I feel kicked to the curb by my treaters, but for now, I need to calm down or I will never sleep.  Sleep would be good, it would be helpful, it would make matters better.  One can only hope.

Tweaking the Crazy Recipe

According to the experts at WP, it has been 10 days since my last post.  Now, mind you, I have considered updating on several occasions, but have been extremely BUSY and IMPORTANT doing things like sleeping extra hours, watching copious amounts of basketball, doing everything I could to avoid getting dressed or showering, severely curtailing any limited contact I already had with the outside world, and backing out of every appointment and engagement possible.  BUSY, I tell you!  IMPORTANT, I’m saying!

selfish

Anytime something seemed remotely threatening to the tiny scrap of sanity I clutched in my sweaty palms this week, my answer was to retreat to my bed.  Phone ringing?  Bed.  Text message?  Bed.  Appointment?  Cancellation, then bed.  People wanting to swing by?  Ignore phone call, avoid with text message, go to bed.  Mess in the kitchen?  Bed.  Time to start thinking about a shower, or brushing my hair, or dragging a toothbrush across my mouth?  Bed.

Ok.  Apparently everything was threatening to my sanity.  Figuring out meals was terrible.  I wasn’t ever hungry, and I can’t just feed anything to LarBear (who has Crohn’s disease), and he can’t cook.  Stress multiplied by three!  Multiply that by one more, because I couldn’t conceptualize food because it was too difficult to think of when I could barely think of how I was going to keep myself alive, going into the next hour.

Up until late last night, I was having very intense self-harm thoughts and urges.  I hadn’t had self-harm thoughts or urges in years, although suicidal ideation is always hovering near the surface for me.  But self-harm, like harming myself just to harm myself, just for the release?  Wow, it has really been awhile, and for the past couple of weeks it has been intense and it has been SURPRISING and nasty and terrible.  I have spent ridiculous amounts of time trying to remember how I “got over that shit the last time.”  Hahahah!  Sorry, that’s funny, if you’ve been there, you know that.

And the answer to that — “how did I get over that shit the last time?” is, well…I don’t remember.  It’s a myriad of things, I have decided, that “gets one over” it.  Because you’re not really “getting over” it.  You’re more tamping it down, so that you don’t see it or hear it (until next time, right?) anymore.  I don’t think this stuff is every going to REALLY go away.  Like, AWAY, away.  It gets buried under other stuff, prettier stuff, healthier stuff, better stuff…you know, until next time.  And hopefully, the next time is a really, really long time away.  I think that’s really all I can hope for.  That the next time isn’t, ya know, tomorrow or next week or even, say, March.

What I do know is that the first thing I must personally do in order to “get over” this stuff, is to be ACTIVE in my pursuit of other feelings.  The passive push-away does not work for me, in ridding myself of these bad thoughts.  So, today I sought out good feelings, and actively pushed away bad feelings.

And today, January 31st, was a better day.

I went to church and sang very loudly.

LarBear and I went for a long drive.

I ate good food that was also healthy.

I talked to a friend.

I set boundaries with someone I have been meaning to set.

I made positive plans for the future, near and far.

I am blogging.

I have set my mind against taking other people’s crap into my own mind.

I have promised myself to try and stay out of bed, as a coping mechanism.

These are the things I did today.  I have many more plans for the start of February, and definitely do expect that I *may* have some success, just as I expect I *may* have some setbacks.  Part of getting better is making a conscious decision to get better, and that is something that I CAN do, that I HAVE done, that I AM doing.

content with who i am prayer

 

 

 

 

Riding It Out

Another long overdue post.  I’d say I am emerging from the ECT fog fairly well.  Memories are coming back, some with a vengeance.  Some parts of my life are getting more stable, some are about the same, some are a bit worse.

After the ECT, I started to get manic, then mixed, with the removal of most of my medication (for the purposes of getting ECT).  I managed to get put back on Lithium a few weeks ago, and that has been helpful.  I go in tomorrow to draw labs and see if I am at a therapeutic dose.  It sure does take a long time to get into my system, but it helps greatly with mania and mixed episodes.

The past few weeks, I have been very angry.  I mean, fighting mad most of the time.  That is abating, but the recurrence of PTSD nightmares has remained.  I am sleeping about four or five interrupted hours a night, due to nightmares.  I am afraid to go to bed, afraid to stay in bed, just afraid.  I had hoped I would never be back here again, but I guess that is too much to ask.

I start a new DBT group next week.  I am hopeful about it.  I met the group leader last week and she reminds me of Goddess of Mindfulness, so that much at least is comforting.  I have been probably less than honest with my individual therapist about the troubles I have been having, but have plans to really work a bit harder in there because, with Medicaid, I could be without a therapist at any time.

And yes, I do still have issues to work on.  Lots of them.  I am hopeful that, with the addition of DBT, I’ll get back to some good coping skills and maybe start sleeping again and decrease the hysterical crying episodes.  Right now the nightmares and the crying episodes are still daily things.  So, while feeling much better than before, still not quite up to par.

I know I’ll get there, eventually.  I have had great support from friends and family, and I just want to take a moment to say “thanks!” and also acknowledge that my significant other, LarBear, has been awesome overall.  There is a learning curve to each recovery period from a big fall, and I still feel like I am falling short of the curve.  At least at this point, I want to keep trying.