Daily Archives: January 9, 2014
Ever since I was young, I had big dreams for myself. I mentioned before I knew in third grade that I wanted to be a writer. Eventually I thought maybe I wanted to be a journalist, but taking 9th grade journalism cured me of that idea. I was definitely not a “get in your face and ask the tough questions” person. I was a “stand in the corner and hope nobody notices me” person. It was OK though, I still had my writing skills, especially in creative writing. I would get published, and become a success.
As I got older, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I cried far too much, and I was often sad for no reason. I lived in my fantasies. I wanted to be thin, I wanted to have a wonderful husband, I wanted a great job. I shut out reality. I was going nowhere fast. I lost job after job for no good reason, and I often dreaded leaving the house.
Into my mid 20’s, the only thing that helped me write was my sadness. My depression, now diagnosed, consumed me. I wasn’t in school, I didn’t have a boyfriend, hated any job that I could keep for more than a month, and spent a lot of time online. This is when the notion set in that I had failed at life. I was a failure. I could see it on my parents’ faces, every time I came home early after being let go from another job.
Why did I keep letting this happen? Yes, I suffer from depression, but is this the only life I can possibly lead?
The word FAILURE was written on my forehead. I carried it around with me everywhere I went. I never felt like I was good enough. My self-esteem hit an all-time low, and I felt lost. Friends and family didn’t understand. People were making a hasty exit from my life left and right. That was OK with me, I didn’t want anyone to witness how badly I had screwed up.
May of 2001, my life completely changed. People will tell you that when you have found your place in the world, or found the great love of your life, you will know it. It’s true, it really is. If you allow yourself to take down the walls you have put up around yourself, your whole view of life changes. Does it happen instantly? Nope. Do you automatically feel as if you have conquered your demons and you now lead a successful life? Nope. Is there hope? YES!
I often tell say that you can’t just take the medications you have been prescribed and sit and wait for your depression to get better. You have to do the work too. I am not trying to sell you on the concept that if you think positive your life will all of the sudden live up to your expectations. Most of us try to think positive, and it doesn’t help. This disease is far too strong for that. But, if you work at it, a little every day, and set small, realistic goals for yourself, you will start to feel that sense of accomplishment.
Are you in the same position as friends or people you went to school with? Probably not. Are they in your shoes? Most definitely not. So, why compare yourself to them? Maybe you didn’t lose all of the weight you wanted to lose, or get married before you turned whatever age, and you aren’t the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
What are you? A survivor. A warrior. You stood and looked your disease in the eye and said, NO MORE.
I am realizing that now that I have turned 40, maybe I am not as successful as some people I know. Does it make me a failure? Nope. It makes me a success in a totally different way. I have quite literally been to hell and back, and I am still here….fighting. To anyone that is reading this that has looked back on their life and thought, “I have failed”. Stop looking back. You can’t change any of that.
What you can do is stay the course. Keep moving. TRY. Try as hard as you can to keep your head up. If you have a bad day, or a bad week, even a bad month, tell yourself that it’s going to be OK. You’ve made it through worse, you can make it through this. Stop comparing yourself to other people. This is something that I have been desperately trying to teach myself, so I know how hard it is. Believe me. If you ever want to feel a sense of normalcy again, you will learn from your past mistakes.
Am I a failure? NO. Are you a failure? NO. Have we succeeded when we so badly had lost our way?
Be proud of yourself, for once. You did it.
This week is going by very very slowly. I guess I might have to accept that I’m going to have to sever a relationship I value. So be it, but fingers crossed that it doesn’t encroach on my birthday (Saturday). At least we’re back to work this week, so that’s helping me keep busy and avoid moping, as does the company in general. I think that’s been the most pleasant surprise of the week — usually, when I’m hurting, I want to be left very much alone. That I can do both at the same time (albeit without necessarily socializing with people, just being near them), well. It’s probably a good thing, I reckon.
Tomorrow is my last day on Seroquel for the foreseeable future. I feel that the draw-down has been going very well all in all, and my biggest concern at this point is my sleep. Those of you who have also taken Seroquel know that it’s a fantastic sleep aid, and I know that when I forget a dose, I’m up clear to morning (or near enough). I’ve also started having a glass of warm-ish milk at night, so I’m hoping the soporific affects of that will be of assistance in lieu of the meds. It will probably be a bit rough the first few nights, but I can also hope that having had a regular sleep schedule for months (I had to shift it when Lilbit went back to school in September, ’cause we were getting up an hour earlier — very rough!) will assist… I guess we’ll see, and I’ll report back on that as it goes.
I can’t think of anything else to add, so I won’t. Hope everyone is doing well.
Or anyway, the facts as I remember them. (Truth is a three-edged sword, and my memory is like Swiss cheese, because of a couple of factors I will discuss later. In fact, the alternate title for this post is/should be “To be discussed later.”)
I have been depressed since I was a child. I was diagnosed with depression (with anxiety) in my 20s. I am now in my 50s and my diagnosis is now bipolar disorder, type 2. I think it fits me better.
I live in Ohio with my husband of 30+ years, three cats, and a dog.
I have a psychiatrist (Dr. R) and a psychotherapist (Dr. B). I like to think of them as Drs. R&B.
Over the years, I have taken various prescribed psychotropic drugs and still do. I once narrowly avoided electroshock treatment. I have never been hospitalized for my mental problems.
I have had a number of “mental breakdowns” (or whatever they’re called now). I just call them “the times my brain broke.”
I can still do paid work from home as a freelancer.
Oh, and I have no insurance.
Since you’ve read this far, I’ll give you a little tidbit to tide you over until I can get back to those various topics (and more).
I’ll freely admit that my social skills are not the best. Small talk, introductions, and remembering people’s names and faces have never come easy to me. I used to go to lunch with an unthreatening coworker just to practice innocuous conversation. (Well, and eat lunch, too.) I never told her that was what I was doing, but I suspected that she suspected.
So I can totally sympathize with others who have difficulties in these areas. But over the years I’ve learned that some people have social skills even less developed than mine.
One time outside a pharmacy, a woman came up to me and asked, “Do you have mental problems?” Honestly, I had do say, “Yes, I guess I do.,” but all the while I was wondering, “Does it show? Is it written on my forehead? Do I give off tin-foil-hat vibrations?” (No, I was not wearing a tin foil hat.)
It turned out that she recognized me from the waiting room at my therapist’s office. I didn’t recognize her at all, thus proving my social skills still needed work. But I think I would have started with “You look familiar” or “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” or “By any chance do you go to Dr. L.? I think I’ve seen you in his waiting room” and gone on from there.
Another time I was at a function at my mother-in-law’s church. It was my in-laws’ anniversary, and I was nominally the hostess (and the caterer). I had to introduce myself to a number of people and explain what I was doing there. Most of this was fairly simple. “Hi, I’m Matilda and Herman’s daughter-in-law. I’m married to their youngest son. Please help yourself to refreshments.” I thought I had the routine down pat.
Then an older gentleman came up to me and I automatically put out my hand to shake. The first words out of his mouth were, “Are you the one there’s something wrong with?” Again, my first thought was “Does it show?” Then I rapidly dismissed any number of possible replies: “Yes, [shaking hands vigorously] I’m the one with leprosy” or (if I could burst into tears spontaneously, which I can’t) “Yes, but it’s too painful to talk about.” Or “Harriet wasn’t supposed to tell anyone” or “You’ll have to be more specific. There’s lots wrong with me.” Or “I married into this family, didn’t I?” Or even “No. Are you?”
Fortunately, my brain caught up with the conversation and I was able to explain that no, it was the other son’s wife who had a serious and largely untreatable condition.
I was proud of myself for figuring out what he meant and explaining the situation to him with a fair amount of tact. But to this day, I wish I had tried the leprosy line. Take that, social skills!
Last night was a kicker. For two weeks of my kid’s winter vacation, I was asleep before 10 pm most nights. Night before she goes back and I have to be up at the crack of ass…I get energetic mentally and cant sleep. Then she woke up and it was nearly 2am before she went back down. Another hour for me. Got up at 6:30 am….and after two weeks of dragging my ass up by 9..I leapt up today instead of hitting snooze ten times. None of this is enthusiasm or will, mind you. This is anxiety. Just like when I worked. The only time I slept was days off when I knew I didn’t have to be tied to a schedule. Now I am back on her schedule and it’s making me nervous enough to fuck with my sleep schedule. Yay. My neuroses knows no bounds.
Today was better,mood wise. I was a little hypomanic even. Grocery shopping, dishes, picking up around the place, writing. I showered. I even wore a bra today. Sad that the donning of said undergarment is how I gauge whether I am actually functional on any given day.
The problem today was unadulterated anxiety. The snowstorm left a lot of people in the trailer park without phone or satellite or their pipes froze…so it’s been a hub of activity with people all around fixing stuff. And they park outside my place and walk through my yard and I just get so damned freaked out. Yes, I know it’s asinine. No, logic doesn’t change a thing. This has been an issue for me for many years and it’s never really gotten better.I try to approach it with a different attitude but it doesn’t help. Maybe it’s a form of psychosis.
At the risk of tempting the fates…I am going to dare to say I am grateful that I won the winter lottery this week. My pipes did not freeze, my furnace did not go out, and my car started without a problem. Seeing those around me who did not fare so well makes me feel like I should at least say thanks to whatever force is working in my favor. That being said, the balance in the universe probably has something really nasty in store for me.
Oh, well. Back to routine. My kid;s routine. Which means I am going to have trouble sleeping. I am going to have anxiety attacks when I take her to and from the bus stop. I am going to be completely tapped out by 9 pm yet too wired on stress to sleep. Toss in all the random mood swings and the subfunctional depressive days…Yeah, life’s a fucking joy.
Though…My kid climbed in bed with me last night, put an arm over me, and seranaded me with Patsy Kline’s “Walking After Midnight.” Which is the song I’ve sang to calm her since she was a newborn. It was so sweet it made me smile. I guess it’s those moments that make the rest of the shit so irrelevant.
Just wish I got more of those sweet moments to balance out all the ass trash moments. I’m greedy that way.
We’re always hearing about things that come in sevens: Sinbad sailed the Seven Seas, the Pleiades is a constellation of seven stars, also known as the Seven Sisters; when we are ecstatic we are in Seventh Heaven; Jacob worked for his evil father-in law for seven years to pay for Rachel, but got Leah instead, then had to work another seven for Rachel again. And don’t forget the Seven Dwarves! And for some reason or other, there are Seven days in a week. Who thought that up??? Why not eight, nine, or ten??? I mean, there’s no law that says there have to be seven days in a week, is there? Seems strange.
In Inner Torah Judaism, there are Seven layers of Heaven. There are also Seven levels of Hell! And you have to go through each one of them, getting your soul cleaned out like a giant washing machine. No thanks.
So what’s the big deal with the number Seven?
A cube. It has four sides all around, one on the top, and one on the bottom. That makes six sides. Hold that thought.
If you have a cube, then it must contain something, right? What does it contain? Wood? Plastic? Air? Who cares? It contains the seventh element. The seventh element is The Inner Space. Or if you prefer, the seventh element of a cube could be a point in the center of the cube. The Six is on the Outside, and the Seven is on the Inside.
Now let’s return to Six. What has six? A week has six. “Sheshit yamim ta’avod ve’ta’aseh kol melachechah….” Six days you will work and do all the things you have to do….” A Hebrew week has six days. The work week starts on Saturday night (yup!) and goes until just before sundown on Friday evening. At that point, in an Orthodox Jewish home, every kind of work stops: no cooking, cleaning, yard work, painting, no kindling of fires of any sort including the use of electricity (lights go on timers), no TV, video games, music, iPhone, iPad, iAnything. No driving, horseback riding, cattle rustling or rounding up bison on ATVs.
It is the Seventh Day.
Va’yachulu ha’shamayim ve’ha’aretz ve’kol tzeva’am
And the Heavens and the Earth were finished, and all of their hosts
Va’ya’chal Elo-him ba’yom ha’shevi’i melachto asher asah
And G-d finished making the labors that He made
Va’yishbot Elo-him ba’yom ha’shevi’i mi kol melachto asher asah
And G-d rested on the Seventh Day from all the labors that He made
Va’yevorech Elo-him et yom hashevi’i va’yekadesh otoh
And G-d blessed the Seventh Day and separated it
Ki voh shavat mi’kol melachto asher bara Elo-him la’asot
For He rested upon It from all the works that He created to do.
What is the secret of Seven? It is the Sabbath. As we are created in the image of G-d, so do we follow His example. If G-d rested on the Seventh Day, it makes a lot of sense that we should too. It’s a time of pulling back, introspection, recharging of batteries. It’s a time of celebration, eating and drinking, singing songs and telling stories, hanging out with family and friends, traveling (before Shabbat) to other families to share in their Shabbat. It’s a complete separation from the workweek and all of the things that one does during the week.
In Hebrew, the days start on the evening before. They are called First Day, Second Day, etc., until we get to the Seventh Day, which is called Shabbat. Why do we call it Shabbat? Because it’s derived from a Hebrew word “to rest.” It’s in the text above: “Ki voh shavat mi kol…” “For on It He rested from all…” In fact, if you look closely and listen with soft eyes to the word “shavat” you will hear the Hebrew word “shevah,” Seven. Shevah. Seven. Hmmmm.
Speaking of the text above: what is it and why did I write it here?
It’s a part of the prayer that’s sung at the Shabbat dinner table in the evening, sung standing, holding a full cup of wine. It’s a prayer that celebrates entering sacred space, where we will remain for 25 hours before being spit back out into the world. It’s the heralding of a haven: an island in time. The Seventh Day.
In Kabbalistic space-time, it also heralds the Messianic Era, which is known as The Great Shabbat. In it, we will no longer know war, strife, hunger, or suffer any of the evils of our present world. We will be able to turn our attention to eating, drinking, singing, dancing, studying delicious Sacred texts, and who knows what because we haven’t been there yet: but–we get a taste of it on Shabbat.
Six days of the week, like the sides of our cube, are openly visible, without any secrets. The Seventh Day, the Shabbat, is laden with secrets.
The Seventh Day, the Shabbat, is the Inner aspect of the week. In it hide the secrets of the Great Shabbat, and true liberation!
Today was a good day. Or, at least, it was a manic day (but not a Manic Monday, to be sure). I was manic enough to actually want to get out of the house, to go with my fiance and son to a restaurant and grocery store, to not only survive a visit from my mom but actually talk through most of it and to not be thoroughly exhausted after all of that social interaction. Not even one little itsy bitsy panic attack. Furthermore, I was manic enough to have three long phone conversations with my daughters (I wonder if they were manic too) and to not lose my temper much (compared to usual) with my son as he poured cereal all over the kitchen, climbed up on the desk and dumped all my pens out, and threw his toys all over the house a grand total of 22 times.
Moral of story: Mania was in my favor today. It made the day good. I didn’t even mind the racing thoughts, and my fiance didn’t seem to mind me interrupting him (because I couldn’t wait to tell him something until he finished what he was saying because I might forget, and you know the tragedy of that!)
I just really couldn’t ask for a better day. I don’t think hypomania would have covered it. I know depression would not have. And my “balanced, normal, regular” self…who the hell is she?? I really can’t remember. And I don’t even want to at the moment, because I’m sure she’s boring. I’m sure she is appalling. I’m sure she never refers to herself in third person. What a drag.
In closing (maybe), I will say that there are parts, little snidbits as I call them (much to the dictionary’s dismay) of bipolarhood that I don’t mind, and sometimes even crave. And this is one of them, this whole day. This whole wonderful day full of brightness and wonder and brilliance and everything magical that one mind could possibly -or impossibly- contain -or not contain, so watch out for exploding heads. I can’t stop it and I don’t even want to. I’m not even afraid of the too-high or the huge crash that is just around the corner. It’s just absolutely wonderful to be ME. Today.