Daily Archives: March 17, 2013

In the Grip

I find it difficult to recognise when I’m feeling stressed out, and this can lead to all sorts of problems, as you can imagine.  Irritability, the inability to concentrate, my mind going into overdrive.  A whole host of troublesome feelings followed by actions I can regret at leisure. In contrast, I know when I’m feeling dangerously stressed out when I’m on my bike.  My hands begin to hurt from gripping the handlebars too tightly, my shoulders and neck become sore from poor posture.

I’m in the grip.

These signs register with me very quickly, and I adjust my position on the bike, and start adjust the way I’m thinking and feeling, too.  Off my bike it’s a different matter altogether.  Things start to get out of hand pretty quickly.

One of the ways I find very useful in understanding myself, recognising the way I ‘work’, is through a system called the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  Essentially, based on a questionnaire, it identifies a series of four ‘preferences’, beginning with an extraversion or introversion preference.  These ways of being identify where we get our energy from.  For example, extraversion (which like the intraversion type) differs somewhat from the everyday definition of the term, means ‘outward turning’.  Introversion in this scheme means ‘inward turning’.  People who tend towards extraversion draw their energy from action.  Essentially, people with this preference tend to act, then reflect, and then act further.  Inaction, for someone with is preference tends to mean their motivation tends to decline. In contrast, people who tend towards the introversion preference draw their energy from reflection.  In a nutshell, people with this preference tend to reflect, then act, then reflect once more.  To rekindle their energy people with this preference need time alone.

There are a further six types that identify other elements of one’s personality.  I don’t have the time, patince, or expertise to explain these here.  However, I have found that, having identified all these areas for myself, I have been able to understand myself (and others) a whole lot better.

You can take the test here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

To explore what your type means for you visit: http://www.personalitypage.com/

I am indebted to my good friend Maurice for opening my eyes to MBTI and sharing these online resources.  Any inaccuracies in my description of MBTI are down to me alone.  All the more reason to take the test yourself and find out more about this really useful tool.

What I have discovered recently – thanks to my friend - is that there is also an analysis of how these different personality types react under stress.  The phrase that is used is : ‘in the grip’.  I have been reading about what happens to me when I am ‘in the grip’.  Negativity, over – controlling, coldness, short-tempered, withdrawn, depressed, inefficient and scattered thinking.  It’s so true it’s, well, spooky.  But there are remedies; in my case they are also spookily accurate.  Talking things through with someone uninvolved, spending time alone, reflecting on my spiritual (in the broadest sense of the word) values and meanings, joining a support group (that is sooo me!) Taking a break, finding time to nurture myself (this often means spending time staring vacantly into space – a practice I highly recommend).

Having these kinds of behaviour patterns identified for me in the ontext of better understanding of what sort of things work well – and not so well – for me, is opening my eyes to new strategies of how to look after myself better.

I think that’s a good thing.

The Dirty Hand

My hand is dirty.

I must cut it off.

To wash it is pointless.

The water is putrid.

The soap is bad.

It won’t lather.

The hand is dirty.

It’s been dirty for years.

I used to keep it

out of sight,

in my pants pocket.

No one suspected a thing.

People came up to me,

Wanting to shake hands.

I would refuse

and the hidden hand,

like a dark slug,

would leave its imprint

on my thigh.

And then I realized

it was the same

if I used it or not.

Disgust was the same.

Ah! How many nights

in the depths of the house

I washed that hand,

scrubbed it, polished it,

dreamed it would turn

to diamond or crystal

or even, at last,

into a plain white hand,

the clean hand of a man,

that you could shake,

or kiss, or hold

in one of those moments

when two people confess

without saying a word…

Only to have

the incurable hand,

lethargic and crablike,

open its dirty fingers.

And the dirt was vile.

It was not mud or soot

or the caked filth

of an old scab

or the sweat

of a laborer’s shirt.

It was a sad dirt

made of sickness

and human anguish.

It was not black;

black is pure.

It was dull,

a dull grayish dirt.

It is impossible

to live with this

gross hand that lies

on the table.

Quick! Cut it off!

Chop it to pieces

and throw it

into the ocean.

With time, with hope

and its machinations,

another hand will come,

pure, transparent as glass,

and fasten itself to my arm.

Mark Strand (1934 – )


Shattered (in the British Sense)

Well, the sense of exhaustion, at least. I’m too wiped to be upset about anything. Today’s victory will be convincing myself to eat something for lunch; I’ve had absolutely no appetite for weeks now. It’s not doing me any good; there’s been a lot of dizziness.

*wanders downstairs to stare at the fridge*

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder AKA Irritable Bitch Syndrome

They give it this benign little name like “generalized anxiety”. This is like saying a basketball size tumor full of cancer cells is a “minor health issue”. Thus I am renaming my GAD with the less icky version of IBS- Irritable Bitch Syndrome.

I have little doubt the pms-y stuff plays a role.

But yesterday I was just so minimally functional I told a beautiful lie,to match the one I live, which isn’t actually beautiful…But I did not have the mental or physical competence to go into the shop so I claimed my sitter had the flu. (Prophetic, because today, my mom actually did come down sicker than a dog with the flu Spook and I passed on.) I felt crappy, but the truth wouldn’t have done anything to impact R. He walks around in a coma, everyone else should be able to do the same. So I fib, and I feel shitty about it, but it is what it is. I get so sick of failing people, I get so sick of failing myself, and yet it seems I am the ONLY one who is able to admit my disorders put limitations on me.

Today..I woke up lethargic, unmotivated, and just blah.

Then…my kid began talking non stop about nothing, asking the same things over and over and over, and having tantrums any time I say the word “no” and my nerves were crackling like fire on kindling. I took Klonopin, but it did no good. The more she talked, the more cranky I got. I was not born with the virtue of patience. Lately, I am bankrupt on it. Being yapped at incessantly, while my nerve endings are clawing their way out from under my skin, just opens a big can of Bitch. I snap, I am too quick to raise my voice (although in all fairness, if I have asked nicely three times only to be blown off, I feel I am justified in bringing out the “channeling satan” tone.)

Two months ago, it wasn’t this bad. I looked forward to coming home, to being with my kid. I know because I read my past blog entries.

Six weeks ago, prior to the anti anxiety med change, I was having a bad day here and there, but I was managing without becoming a pea spewing head spinning monster. (I get so many time outs now, just so I can reign in all my anxiety and irritation, my kid probably thinks mommy doesn’t like her. But if I don’t take the ten minutes or so, is blowing up and screaming at her for no good reason the better alternative? I don’t think so, it was what my mom did to me and it was awful.)

I should NOT dread coming home to my kid. I should NOT dread being with my kid. I should NOT feel terrified to drive. I should NOT think people are out to take my kid away from me or take my home just because an unfamiliar car is parked nearby. Yet these are all of the newfound joys that have come with swapping a wonderfully effective med with one my body does not respond to.

So I have Pissy Little Bitch Syndrome.

I took another klonopin today.

Nada.

Finally, I began to do little tasks around the place since I can’t go anywhere with 45 cents to my name. (The kid is draining me on Pull ups, those things aren’t cheap!) Of course, every single task I attempted, she was right under my feet, with the questions and tantrums, and it felt like Freddy Krueger was trying to rip my veins out and make me his own little marionette. I was so disgusted and frustrated. I don’t get why I can’t clean a damn toilet without her hanging on my coat tails. I have watched many kids over the years, NONE of whom were that smothering. I would love to believe she just loves me that much.

But I am onto her game, and have been since it started around age 1. She is fine on her own as long as I sit and do nothing. No reading, no writing, no listening to music, watching tv, talking on the phone. NOTHING. If I sit like a lump and stare off into space, she wants nothing to do with me. If I say “come play with mommy” she has no interest.

I pick up a book or start to wash dishes…and she’s on my ankle like an ankle biting yappy dog.

It was frustrating before. Now it leaves me so irritable and pissed off and defeated, I don’t think I am fit for this mom gig, or this life gig, for that matter.

I wouldn’t call anxiety that consuming “generalized”.

On the plus side, I got some stuff done, even if it was start and stop with her under my feet.

On the negative side, R stopped by then my dad did,and the calls and visits had me so anxiety stricken, I had to take another pill. Which pissed me off because what is the point of taking this shit if it does nothing? I might as well try some herbal supplement. Oh, wait, I did that, they don’t worth, either.

I have a new anxiety induced habit. I barely looked out my windows for four years. Now I am looking out every five minutes, investigating every sound, paranoid to the nth degree. To call it nerve wracking is an understatement.

Truth be told, I am so high strung and bitchy, I don’t even like myself anymore.

It especially hurts when someone like R comments on how snappy I am or that I am “no fun” anymore. Or the best, “You were doing so well, what happened? This is like how you used to be.”

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

My mood is lifting, my energy is up, and yet I am so paranoid and panic enveloped, my functionality is heading toward the negatives. And I am having major panic attacks trying to figure out how to express myself to the shrink Wednesday in a way that just might reach her on how hard I have tried and how much I have come undone with this med change. I tend to get overly passionate about things that are important to me which results in me losing my cool and using a lot of expletives and acting quite like the madwoman. It is why I have so often opted to be silent and go with the flow.

One more thing to discuss with the counselor, provided no other catastrophes occur to keep me from going this week.

Yeah my anxiety is generalized just like my cyclothymic bipolar is “mild”.

If I found a lamp and a genie popped out…I would sentence each and every person on the planet to one day with a multitude of mental disorders and doctors who won’t listen to them and a society of those who will mock and judge them.

Nothing changes with most people until the shoe is on the other foot.

For once, I wish the shoe could be on the other foot in my case and I could know-if only for 24 hours- what it feels like to be panic free and have normal happy moods.