Daily Archives: February 25, 2014
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
Bleeding Heart Flowers!
Shout out and big thank yous to: Debbie Kirk, Nelly N., Abigail Green, The Girl, Sally K Witt and Heather Thompson for following Frankie's freaked out faux-pas festival, or dropping by and commenting!
Peace, love, hope, and BP,
F L Jones
We all have fears that can range from borderline silly to crippling and debilitating. The trouble is, that friend of yours that is terrified of cats, doesn’t see it as silly. Perhaps something happened in her life to change her and make her believe cats can really hurt her. Is it our right to judge the seriousness of someone else’s problems?
I have some very deep rooted fears. I am afraid of heights, claustrophobic, and agoraphobic just to name a few. I am certain that there are people out there that find these fears silly. Go for it. Just remember to be perfect for the rest of your life.
These fears have become the cornerstone of my life at times. I get invited out and I can’t go. I may be faced with a harrowing ride in an elevator with far too many people in it. I have even had panic attacks watching people go into small spaces on TV.
So it begs the questions, how do we fix it? Can we fix it?
The hardest part about fear is that the older you get, and the longer you go without addressing them, the worse they get. I have experienced months of isolation in my own home because of my fear of open spaces with too many people. There have been times when driving, I will get an image in my head of all of the other cars coming at me hitting me. It’s completely terrifying.
There are ways to cope. Obviously you need to talk to a professional about it, there’s just no way around that. Take someone that you trust to the appointment with you as well. I NEVER go to a doctor appointment without someone, because in my opinion, if you have someone there to back you up, they are ever so slightly less likely to tell you, “It’s all in your head”. Well of course it is, it’s MENTAL ILLNESS.
It’s a rather overused and stereotypical term, but all I can say is baby steps. For me, it started with being able to walk to the mailbox at the end of our driveway. I still kept my keys in my hand even though I unlocked all of the locks.
Even writing it, and knowing I lived it makes it appear silly. I understand why people just don’t get it, I just wish they would try.
This past weekend, I had a minor depressed episode. I spent most of my two days off in bed. I’d eventually stumble out to get some food or go to the bathroom, but I spent too much time between my sheets. My energy was low. I had a hard time accomplishing anything. All I wanted to do was sleep. The inertia of depression is powerful! By Sunday afternoon, I had had enough. There was work to be done, and goals to be accomplished. Here’s what I did:
Get some light. Turn on the lights, open the blinds, get that vitamin D. It is very hard to get out of bed when you’re in the dark.
Just get out of bed. Easier said than done, I understand. But as soon as you get one foot on the floor, the other will follow.
Make the bed. You will be less likely to crawl back under the covers if the bed is made.
Clean up. Take a shower, wash your face, put on a little makeup if you want to. Get presentable, even if you’re not going anywhere.
Get dressed. Again, even if you are staying home, put on some pants.
Eat. Fill up your belly with some protein, some carbs, and a little fat. If you need caffeine, get your fix.
Fight the urge. Look how far you’ve come! Don’t you dare get back in that bed!
Accomplish whatever you can. So maybe you’re not ready to conquer that huge essay, but can you do some other work? Are there simple tasks to be done? Can a big project be broken down into simple steps?
Reward yourself. I like to give myself fruit snacks when I do what I’m supposed to do. Find something small and sweet to keep you motivated. You can also give yourself five minutes of social media time, but make sure you stick to five minutes.
Exercise. Take a break to get your blood pumping. Take a 15-20 minute walk.
Get a pep talk. Call or text someone you care about.
Stay where you are. If you keep getting the urge to go back to bed, stay in your spot. Sit at your desk until the urge passes. Distract yourself by watching a quick YouTube video or reading a blog post. If you need to, get up and clean something. Do the dishes, put away your clothes, anything but get back in bed.
At the end of the day, reward yourself with a good night’s sleep. You earned it! You will sleep better at night if you don’t sleep all day, and you will wake up in the morning rested.
It’s very difficult to fight the desire to stay in bed. Sometimes we need some extra time under the covers, but it’s important to know when it’s becoming excessive. When we stay in bed too long, we lose control of other areas of our life like school and work, which only makes things worse. When we get out of bed, we are saying yes to ourselves and yes to our priorities. We are fighting depression!
How do you fight the urge to stay in bed all day? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I survived the trip. We chose an alternate route that did not involve going through Atlanta, which greatly pleased me. Of course I was still petrified of riding anywhere outside of our regular errands, so before we left I dug out an old bottle of Klonopin that I had leftover from when I had a doctor to prescribe them to me and I had to take a few throughout the trip. But I survived. Panic attacks, paranoia and all. But I can’t say that I have been well since we returned home. The stress of everything really did a number on me, and I think the only reason I have felt halfway okay today is because dissociation is beginning to block out the overwhelming burden of reality. But it has yet to erase this nagging depression, this feeling that I am really, really not alright, as much as I try to pretend to be. Every part of my life has cracks in it that are getting way too big to ignore. And I think this trip made it all the more clear that something has to be done, and soon.
I have been off medications since October. Even now, with all the symptoms I am having, I can’t really say I was doing better on medication. I was just different. And truth be told, I didn’t like that version of myself any better than this one. Medicated Amy is a slightly more subdued form of me, but she is also burdened with side effects like constant fatigue, weight gain (despite diet and exercise), and -in most cases- even moodier (at least at a more rapid level than my usual rapid cycles: think seconds instead of minutes or hours). But Medicated Amy has less paranoia (most of the time), less hallucinations, and the highs and lows are usually not as high and low. Some medications calm down the OCD and/or other manifestations of anxiety. Some make it worse. Usually, whatever medication helps the OCD makes the bipolar worse, or the panic attacks worse, or the angry outbursts worse; likewise, if the medication improves the bipolar aspects of my illness, it often seems to irritate the anxiety. And of course, this is frustrating for me, for my doctors, and for the therapists that have to listen to my complaints of how I can’t concentrate and I can’t function and I can’t seem to feel okay on or off medication.
Since my doctor dismissed me in October (and the place she tried to refer me to wouldn’t take on another patient without insurance) I have tried very hard to keep myself within reasonable bounds of sanity. As much as I have feared that a hospital stay might be the only answer, I have tried to hide the worst parts of me, and have relied on my fiance to fill in as parent when I was raging or suicidal or any of the other Not a Good Mom Moments that have come up. We can’t afford for me to go to the hospital, not a good one anyway. And there’s no one to take care of my son if I am not home. My ex-husband would probably make it even harder to see my daughters if he knew I was struggling enough to be committed for any length of time. So my fiance and I have patched up the broken down spots as well as we could. I regret how hard I have made things for him. I regret bringing children into the world to witness a mother who is so not alright much of the time. I regret being alive most days, and I regret that I fear death too much to take that leap. Mainly, I regret not being whole. I am fragments of this and that, nothing that adds up to a person who can do things properly. And I know that sounds really melancholy and perhaps even ridiculous, but I don’t know how else to look at it.
I have great ideas sometimes, and I would be adequately intelligent, and I would most likely have the ability to focus and get things done, if it were not for all the uglies of mental illness. And that makes me mad. I actually get jealous of people who, despite their illness, go on to achieve highly functioning lives…how the hell do they do it?? And then there are others who are destined to a mental asylum for the rest of their lives, or a prison, or a halfway house, or at the very least 24/7 care from a guardian because they cannot attain a functional level regardless of the treatment options available. And then, there are people like me who are just barely keeping their heads above water; enough to not be a danger to society, enough to get a shower half the time and take care of most basic needs for survival, but everything else is so unbelievably hard. We’re stuck in the middle, where it could be worse, but it could be so much better. If only we could find the right doctor. The right therapist. The right medications. The right opportunities. We search and we try, and we are turned down so many, many times. Life just has a way of sticking us in the ground and sitting on us. After a while, it hurts too much to try. But it’s what we do, we can’t give up, even if we wanted to. So we keep trying to find a way out of the quicksand. I think, hey, maybe I am okay enough to start driving again. Maybe I can start working again. But then I have another major episode and all those dreams get reburied. I begin to think the only future for me is going to be in a state hospital, where the only thing to look forward to is that potential visit from my family each week. And then maybe those visits don’t ever happen. The fiance finds a well person to spend his life with. The kids grow up and have better things to do than spend time with a sad, lonely woman who tried her whole life and never got anywhere for it.
But, damn it, I am still fighting to make a better future for myself and the ones I love. I hope one day I will figure this all out. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to fail my family. What I do want is to be able to trust my own mind when it tells me something, and to be able to share my good characteristics with others without all the bad getting in the way. I want something to make sense for a change. I don’t know what it would feel like to walk through life without these bleeding colors and screeching sounds and fears and rules and clowns and devils all rushing in my brain nonstop. If there is a silence to be known, I wish to hear it. I want a quiet walk in a quiet town and the freedom to own my life and not feel like a prisoner. I will always work toward that, like many pay to win the lottery. I don’t know if I will ever accomplish it, but I have to keep aiming for it. In a way, it is the only thing that keeps me from losing myself completely.