Daily Archives: January 4, 2014

The Tentacles

The darkness threatened to close around me.  I felt the tentacles stretching towards me, reaching, snaking their way through to my body and soul.  I could see them, slowly moving in, becoming stronger, increasingly darker as they approached.  The fogginess in my head deepened, making me feel ever more lethargic, fatigued…any effort to do anything was almost too much.  My spirit began to sink, interest in anything I enjoyed was slowly diminishing.  I wish I could say my feelings towards those I love was unaffected, but that would be a lie.  I knew that love was there, but it was becoming separated from me by the darkness.  That’s the way depression works.  It’s a wall between all that you love and enjoy and yourself.  In the end, when it’s at its worse, nothing exists but the darkness.

Sometimes that’s a relief.  Does that sound strange?  I know some of you understand.  Just to let the darkness have its way…to sink, curl up, sleep, and close out the world.  It hurts less. That twilight, in between state prevents enjoyment, but you’re still very much aware of all you cannot do, don’t want to do.  You don’t care about much, but somehow care that…you don’t care.  You’re supposed to care, and you know that. But the energy, the strength it takes to accomplish even the minutest task simply isn’t there.  And it’s frustrating, aggravating, demoralizing…here it is again.  At least with the full darkness everything is shut out.  That’s not to say full depression is a good thing.  It definitely isn’t.  I’ve spent more than my share of time curled up in a fetal position, blanket over my head, too tired to even cry, and just wanting it to stop.  In that in between, twilight state, though, is the belief that you should be able to carry on as if nothing was wrong.  As if you were walking in the light.  As if all was well in your world when there may only be enough energy present to take a shower, get dressed, and watch TV.  And sometimes there’s only energy to choose one from that list, like choosing dinner in a Chinese restaurant.

The tentacles have been stretching towards me since early October.  I woke up one morning and all my interests were simply no longer interesting.  I felt flat, emotionless, yet not depressed.  Slowly, little by little, I could feel the cold, misty-gray tentacles moving towards me, grasping me lightly, just enough to be aware.  The tentacles were getting stronger, darker, squeezing harder.  I managed to fake my way through Christmas and prepared a separate, second dinner on New Year’s Eve to celebrate with a son and daughter-in-law who had been out of town at Christmas.  I managed to get through, and was aware enough of having met the challenge to even give myself a little pat on the back.  “Good work. Success.”  The fact that I was in bed by 6:30 New Year’s Eve wasn’t important…I had accomplished what I had set out to do.

Then on New Year’s Day, somehow, for some reason I don’t want to even question, the tentacles’ strength lessened, they became a bit thinner, less dark.  I’m not yet back in the light, but I have managed to vacuum and mop my living room, dining room, and entryway, shop, run a couple of other errands, and still feel like writing this blog post.  That’s pretty good and I’ll take it as a sign that perhaps I’m moving towards the light instead of away from it. I feel I’m beginning to care again, and I take that as a good sign, too.  I had hoped I wasn’t experiencing a long, slow, spiraling decline into that dark place from which it is so very difficult to escape. 


I feel blessed to be able to say I appear to be climbing out of that hole.

The Tentacles

The darkness threatened to close around me.  I felt the tentacles stretching towards me, reaching, snaking their way through to my body and soul.  I could see them, slowly moving in, becoming stronger, increasingly darker as they approached.  The fogginess in my head deepened, making me feel ever more lethargic, fatigued…any effort to do anything was almost too much.  My spirit began to sink, interest in anything I enjoyed was slowly diminishing.  I wish I could say my feelings towards those I love was unaffected, but that would be a lie.  I knew that love was there, but it was becoming separated from me by the darkness.  That’s the way depression works.  It’s a wall between all that you love and enjoy and yourself.  In the end, when it’s at its worse, nothing exists but the darkness.

Sometimes that’s a relief.  Does that sound strange?  I know some of you understand.  Just to let the darkness have its way…to sink, curl up, sleep, and close out the world.  It hurts less. That twilight, in between state prevents enjoyment, but you’re still very much aware of all you cannot do, don’t want to do.  You don’t care about much, but somehow care that…you don’t care.  You’re supposed to care, and you know that. But the energy, the strength it takes to accomplish even the minutest task simply isn’t there.  And it’s frustrating, aggravating, demoralizing…here it is again.  At least with the full darkness everything is shut out.  That’s not to say full depression is a good thing.  It definitely isn’t.  I’ve spent more than my share of time curled up in a fetal position, blanket over my head, too tired to even cry, and just wanting it to stop.  In that in between, twilight state, though, is the belief that you should be able to carry on as if nothing was wrong.  As if you were walking in the light.  As if all was well in your world when there may only be enough energy present to take a shower, get dressed, and watch TV.  And sometimes there’s only energy to choose one from that list, like choosing dinner in a Chinese restaurant.

The tentacles have been stretching towards me since early October.  I woke up one morning and all my interests were simply no longer interesting.  I felt flat, emotionless, yet not depressed.  Slowly, little by little, I could feel the cold, misty-gray tentacles moving towards me, grasping me lightly, just enough to be aware.  The tentacles were getting stronger, darker, squeezing harder.  I managed to fake my way through Christmas and prepared a separate, second dinner on New Year’s Eve to celebrate with a son and daughter-in-law who had been out of town at Christmas.  I managed to get through, and was aware enough of having met the challenge to even give myself a little pat on the back.  “Good work. Success.”  The fact that I was in bed by 6:30 New Year’s Eve wasn’t important…I had accomplished what I had set out to do.

Then on New Year’s Day, somehow, for some reason I don’t want to even question, the tentacles’ strength lessened, they became a bit thinner, less dark.  I’m not yet back in the light, but I have managed to vacuum and mop my living room, dining room, and entryway, shop, run a couple of other errands, and still feel like writing this blog post.  That’s pretty good and I’ll take it as a sign that perhaps I’m moving towards the light instead of away from it. I feel I’m beginning to care again, and I take that as a good sign, too.  I had hoped I wasn’t experiencing a long, slow, spiraling decline into that dark place from which it is so very difficult to escape. 


I feel blessed to be able to say I appear to be climbing out of that hole.

Choices

As far back as I can remember, we have always been fed the same philosophy about life.  You grow up, go to college, meet the man (or woman) of your dreams, get married, move into a big house with a white picket fence, and have a whole gaggle of kids.  That’s what our parents did….or tried to do, so now it’s our turn.  What happens if life doesn’t go that way for you?  Have you failed at life?  In 2014, shouldn’t we have advanced in our thinking, so that the moment 2 people get married, we don’t instantly say, “So?  When are you having kids?”  I was lucky enough that my parents never said that to me, but I was honest from a very young age.  I knew in my teens that I did not want to have children, but I was still told, “Oh, it’s different when they are your own”.  Sure, it’s different.  Just not for me. 

The first time I ever went to a gynecologist in my teens, he told me that he suspected that I suffered from Endometriosis, and at that time you were told due to that you could not have kids.  Later, this same doctor also told me that I was showing signs of cervical cancer.  Well, here I am 20 years later, and I still don’t have cancer, but I also don’t have children.  His diagnosis of Endometriosis was never validated, although it would explain a lot.  I went on believing that it was the reason I went through such a horrible time every month. 

Once I turned 19 and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I felt as if I had finally been validated.  I made the right choice in not dreaming of a house filled with kids.  I could hardly take care of myself, who would ever think that I should attempt to care for a child?  Now, the big question came in…..would there ever be a guy who wanted to marry the “crazy, psycho chick who also couldn’t have kids”?

Let me be clear.  I do not have documented medical evidence that my body cannot create a child.  That possibility exists, so I am vigilant about making sure it doesn’t happen.  Mentally am I capable of creating a child?  A thousand times no.  Above all else, I would have to go off of my medications, and history has proven to me that doing that is a huge mistake that causes me and everyone around me a great deal of pain.  Suppose the day comes that I have a psychotic episode, and here I am home alone with a baby?  Or even a panic attack……or just overwhelming sadness?  Is it fair to subject a child to that?  I think not.  Is it fair to subject myself to that?  Again, I think not. 

After a long and painful journey through many failed relationships, I finally found the guy who loved the “crazy, psycho chick who also couldn’t have kids”.  I have been grateful every day since I met him, because it takes a strong man to hold your hand when all you want to do is die.  That is not an exaggeration, that is truth.  I know that he would have made an amazing father, and I do carry a sense of guilt for not being able to give that to him.  He makes sure to tell me consistently that it wasn’t only my decision, that he didn’t feel that he wanted children either, so I didn’t need to harbor that guilt. 

Once I established that being child free was my only option, once again came the peanut gallery.  Well, can’t you adopt?  No.  I can’t.  What adoption agency is going to hand over a baby to a woman with 4 psychiatric hospitalizations?  But, you can’t really go about just telling anyone and everyone that little tidbit.  So, I keep my fingers crossed that now that I have hit age 40, that the questions will stop.  Most people that know me well know that while I don’t hate children per se, I am also not especially comfortable around them.  There have been a few kids in my life that I have really enjoyed being around, but enjoyed it even more when our visit ended.  Not necessarily due to the kid(s), but due to the level of anxiety I feel when they are around. 

So, while at a very early age, I suspected that children would not be in my future, it took a major diagnosis to make it “OK” to say I couldn’t have them.  Which, in my opinion is a sad commentary on our times.  Should you be of sound mind and body and simply decide that children are not your cup of tea, I feel as if you have just as much right to that option as people who want 5 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cars, and a summer home. 

It’s OK to decide that you don’t want to have children, should you suffer from depression or not.  If more people made that wise decision, perhaps we wouldn’t have as many screwed up kids.  That’s just my opinion……but yes, I am sticking to it. 


Time Is Up

Time is up.  No more entries accepted for the Name My Blog contest. Thank you to everyone who solicited ideas. I’m overwhelmed that I received well over 100 ideas. This is going to be difficult because I would have an idea in my head of what I wanted and then I’d read a couple of … Continue reading »

I’m Not That Woman Anymore

The other cool thing that happened Friday was stopping by my old workplace to surprise my 22-year-old son and say hello to my former co-workers (and maybe even a resident or two). Now, up until about three months ago, I got palpitations whenever I even thought about going there—hell, just taking the exit gave me the heebie-jeebies—but I finally got over it when, flush with the success of a good job interview and more than a little hypomanic energy, I decided to pop in.

The response had been exactly what I needed to put what happened there to rest. No more nightmares, no more humiliating memories. It was great! So when I decided to drop in yesterday, I didn’t even hesitate to march right through the front door, just like I did in the old days when I actually belonged there.

This time was different, however. People were like “hey, how ya doin’?” as if I’d never left. The same staff members I’d worked with were all sitting around in the break room while my son and the other medication aide were preparing the residents’ dinnertime meds, and even though eight months have passed since my departure, it was just like old times as we chatted and joked around.

And then I went to the restroom.

It wasn’t two seconds after I closed and locked the door behind me that the flashbacks started. You see, during the last few months before I left, I spent an awful lot of time in that bathroom, hiding from the residents and the ringing phones and the families who always wanted a piece of me at the worst possible times. It was the place to which I would escape when I desperately needed to gather my fleeting, disjointed thoughts and take big gulps of quiet to try to steady myself in the midst of utter chaos. It was also where I’d stare down at the floor tiles and see faces, animals, and all sort of things in the patterns.

The latter was most noticeable when I was manic, and it was weirder than THAT when I was mixed, which was pretty much all of the time by the end of my employment. I’d sit there in the dim fluorescent light, listening to the muffled sounds of walker wheels going up and down the hall, and watch the patterns morph into Indian heads, ladies in hoop skirts, hound dogs with floppy ears……

I guess you could say I went crazy in there back in those dark days. Then yesterday, as I roosted for another moment or two, I was suddenly engulfed in sorrow for the sick, frightened woman who used to work in that building—the one who looked like me and wore my clothes and sat at my desk.

And then it struck me: I am not that woman anymore.

Thank God.

I haven’t walked in her shoes in some time, actually. Through all the mood swings, Will’s cancer diagnosis, financial ruin and other unfortunate events I’ve experienced over the past eight months, I’ve never again been crazy like I was then. No, not even when I hallucinated during that last manic wing-ding in October. I’ve changed a great deal, learned a lot of things, taken more than a few lumps, and survived it all. I’m not as scared and broken as I used to be. There are still some areas where I need help, but that’s true of all of us. And I realize, at long last, that the time I spent rebuilding my life after I left that place has been a time of healing and growth, not one of stagnation and decline as I’d feared.

I looked down at the bathroom tiles one more time before leaving, and I smiled because this time, I didn’t see anything at all. :-)


Quote That Deserves Its Own Post

Never really liked Billy Joel much, but this lyric from “The Piano Man” is really poignant (imo) “….He said, “Son, can you play me a memory? I’m not really sure how it goes, but it’s sad and it’s sweet, and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man’s clothes…” ~ Billy Joel “The […]

Getting The Bird

If they gave out awards for Best Medical Provider Visit Ever, today’s appointment with Dr. Awesomesauce would win it hands-down.

Not only is he happy with how well I’m doing, he said he’s proud of me for sticking with my “curfew” and FINALLY realizing that mania—not depression—is my worst enemy. (I guess everyone else on the planet knew that long before I did, but what the hell…..better late than never, right?) I’m not sure exactly when I realized it, but now that I have, it makes all kinds of sense.

After all, mania is what ruined me at my last big job. Mania is what has caused endless friction between me and many other people in my life. Mania is also what gives me the idea that I can think, say, or do anything and everything I want with impunity, which has NEVER gone over well in social interactions, and in fact has made me look like an asshole on more than one occasion. In other words: mania is no bueno and I must do everything I can to prevent it…..or at the very least, put out the brushfires before they blow up into an inferno.

To this end, Dr. A advised me once again to be seriously protective of my sleep, even if it means—gasp!—waiting till the next morning to finish a post or write a report. I am also to take PRN Zyprexa if my sleep gets wonky and I lose more than an hour for more than a couple of nights in a row. Even when I’m out “in the field” as a surveyor. He agreed with me that playing the ‘disability’ card or disclosing my actual diagnosis probably won’t be necessary, but again, it all depends on my ability to tame the manic monster with sleep and meds. Or meds and sleep. Or meds, sleep, and a STAT call to him if the first two don’t work right away.

Of course, the subject of the Yellow Toucan Shirt came up again, as it always does during any discussion of mania. I asked him how the hell he can remember an individual patient’s little quirks when he has two practices and is starting a business on top of all of it; he just chuckled and said, ”I dunno, some are just more…..well…..memorable than others”. Obviously the toucan shirt story is one of them, for he then began to look around in his portable-office cart and produced a tiny wooden sculpture of—you guessed it—a toucan.

He handed it to me and said, “Merry Christmas”. Yes, it really happened: my doctor gave me the bird.

Well, I just about fell off the sofa laughing, because its bright colors perfectly matched those of the toucan on that horrid yellow tank top. But I knew why he’d given it to me: not only as a whimsical item to tickle the funny bone, but as a reminder to be ever vigilant against my sworn enemy.

So tonight, Toucan Sam is perched proudly atop my computer tower, from whence he will probably go to live on my new desk in my new cubicle at my new job. He’ll make a good conversation piece (although I’ll have to come up with a new story that won’t be anywhere near as cute as this one), but he’ll also serve as a symbol of all that I have to gain if I can stay on an even keel…..and all that I have to lose if I let my guard down.

Besides, he’s a lot better looking—and takes up a lot less space—than that crazy yellow shirt. Haha!


30 Minutes

I exercised today. For thirty minutes, I rode the stationary bike and watched American Pickers.

Sometimes I forget that I’m recovering from an eating disorder until I’m able to do things like this. It may seem like a stupid accomplishment, but for me, it signified a mini-victory. I didn’t ride until I threw up, I didn’t hurt myself, and I didn’t push too far. I didn’t picture Victoria’s Secret models and curse my body as I worked up a healthy sweat.

It’s too early to blare the sirens of success. I haven’t established a pattern; this is only my first time. But the inkling of hope will cheer me on as I attempt to ride again tomorrow.

Now I am not exercising for a smaller jean size or a slimmer waist. I am not trying to disappear.

I want to strengthen my muscles. Watch me light a fire within my body and lift my wings towards the sky.

2014 just might be the year of the woman.

up down all around

Yesterday I was minimally functional. Didn’t get dressed, didnt leave, didn’t bathe. Took care of my kid and cats. It dipped down to negative four degrees overnight, ensuring my safe enclosure in my mountain of blankets in bed. The clincher for this day of misery was when my kid crawled into my bed and puked on me. Awesome. Motherhood is glamorous.

This morning I did not want to get up. The kid dictated otherwise. But I sprang into action because we were out of everything and it was direct deposit day. Dug the car out of the snow, ran errand after errand, paid bill after bill. Blah. Mood was okay. Anxiety was off the charts. Traffic does not work for me.

They make a big fuss out of the hazard of talking on a cell phone while driving. I think texting while driving is the true danger, but phones can be too. BUT if they really want to avoid a severe hazard…They should ban driving with children in the car. Half of my driving stress is caused within the car because my kid never shuts up and never stops making demands without regard to the fact I am driving. I understand she is just a kid. I still think installing a mute button on her isn’t a bad idea for the safety of my driving.

My mood dipped a little but not too much. It’s more up tonight than it’s been in weeks, which is a good thing. I’ll take it. Functional is good. I did dishes, laundry (even folded it!), vacuumed (well attempted to clean the floor, I have no vacuum), I wiped counters….I even cooked supper. I bathed. Aside from my hands being cold, I am pretty content right now. My kid has dozed off, bringing me silence, sans the show I am watching. I can breathe, I can think.

I wish I could just stay in this frame of mind all the time. I am not needy or greedy, all I ask for is functional and not praying for death.

The moment of shame today was at the pharmacy. When they rang up EIGHT bottles of psych meds in front of everyone. Of course, no one but the employees know they are psych meds, but still, 8 bottles of pills is enough to scream I AM NOT WELL. It bugs me. Mind you, I am on two different strengths of Lamictal and Lithium so that accounts for four bottles. I just wish I didn’t need them. My proudest time was when I was pregnant and opened the cabinet, faced only with taking one prenatal vitamin. No pharmacy of anti crazy pills.

Except I’m not crazy, I’m troubled, which makes the illness even less legitimate in society’s eyes. I don’t hear voices, I don’t hallucinate, I can tell right from wrong and dress myself and I take care of a kid and cats. I don’t have dignity of being full blown insane. I am ‘unstable’. Such a comforting label to be saddled with, like I’m a step from grabbing a rifle and jumping into a clocktower. I have a mood disorder. Which to society says “She’s too weak to suck it up and pull herself up by the boot straps and get over herself.”

For the most part, I don’t care what people think about my clothes, my style, my likes, my dislikes, where I live, what I drive. But when your existence revolves around people giving you a chance for a job, relationship, outing- you become concerned with what they think. Because one misconception or biased opinion can sink your goals even if you or your illness don’t.

So much ass trash.

The neighbors had maintenance over most of the day fixing something outside. The noise had me on high paranoia and anxiety. Nothing to do with me but the sound of the truck, them getting in and out, walking through my yard to access the neighbor’s pipes…Argghhh. There’s a common misconception that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” That;s bullshit when your brain is sending the wrong signals. It’s not about hiding something. It’s about fearing the invasion of your safe space. It’s about deviation freaking you out. It’s about being so sensitive to noise that abnormal sounds create panic.

My dad asked me the other day why I sleep “so late” (7 a.m.) but go to bed so early (10pm ish) because I don’t work. Well, considering how little he did towards raising his own kids I guess it makes sense he doesn’t get it. Kids are exhausting. They are needy and demanding and require lots of energy. I’d love to return to my former life of sleeping all day and staying up all night. This daywalker thing blows. But my kid comes first, it’s as simple as that, and also simple is, she taps me out. If I don’t sleep at night, it won’t happen during the day. So my dad thinking I get too much sleep…I earn it. I spawned a battery bunny and she is a cruel master. Who projectile vomits on me.

Depression, anxiety, and vomit. Why wouldn’t I feel happy go lucky? :p

So..Decent mood, good functionality, but high anxiety today.

 


Are Some Humans Born to Bully? Born to Be Victims? Can It Be Changed?

Reblogged from Kristen Lamb's Blog:

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One of the reasons I am SO HAPPY you guys take the time to comment and share your thoughts is your insights often highlight areas I might not have thought to address.  A commenter Mr. Dandylion replied to my publishing predictions for 2014 with darker thoughts, which included this phrase:

“A new author will commit suicide after a sustained online bullying campaign, most likely stemming from Goodreads; it will cause major headlines and public anger.”

Read more… 2,591 more words

A case of mistaken identity has brought me lots of problems…