Daily Archives: June 8, 2015

Joy and Elation

joy

In the last three weeks, I have read three or so different posts on “joy”. Apparently it is a hot topic, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring.

I don’t want to talk about religious joy. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe. I attend church and a women’s religious support group. I read a devotional nearly every day. And I TRY to take advantage of opportunities that come along to discipleship. So I know that joy comes with God and all. I get that.

But I think there is joy here on earth. Like this little fellow in the image above. He is feeling joy.

I’m 56 on June 16th. Is that too old to feel joy? Probably not if you’re talking about a wedding or the birth of a grandchild….but what about everyday joy? Is it there?

My faithful readers know I have been depressed for several years. And that I am crawling and sliding my way back into recovery. I wonder…am I mistaking joy for mania?

Um, because, when I am manic I feel joy like no other. Things are clear and colorful. Everything is funny and worth a laugh. Relationships take on a cosmic meaning. The highest high can always go further. Joy is there.

And if you’re the sort that equates joy with accomplishing something, look no further than mania. Heck, I wrote a novel and several LONG stories when I was manic. It all just flowed. I was fixated on writing, writing, and living for writing. (This wasn’t too good for my family, however.)

My husband is a content sort of guy. I don’t see much elation there but he is nearly always fairly happy. Not weirdly happy, just moving along through life at a steady pace. Considering he is married to me and what he has been through with me, that is pretty darned good. But is that contentment what I want? I don’t think so.

I read an article somewhere a while ago and I am going to paraphrase here. Someone asked people on their death beds what they wished they had done more of. The two answers were: 1) spending more time and staying in contact with relatives and 2) doing things for other people. So do you get joy there?

I’ve thought about doing things for others. Tutoring kids? Teaching English to adults? Volunteering more at church? Being more of an advocate for mental health?

I’m in contact enough with my relatives. I’ll just have to regret that one on my death bed.

So let’s move on to “elation”. You’ll remember I just took a trip with my friend Pat up to a cabin. We were sitting outside and looking at the woods and she said “Now, this is elation! I need more of it in my life.” Her idea was to get a job up there with the Forest Service.

I don’t want to work for the Forest Service. (too many bugs). But I did like talking to Pat about elation and joy.She didn’t have any immediate answers, but the subject was up for discussion. Now Pat is single. I don’t know if she is hoping falling for some guy will bring her elation.

My best friend Sarah who just left from a nice visit was not too excited about elation and joy. I think she thinks that means MANIA. And she has suffered through mania. So it is not a party for her. She said she thinks elation is like an endorphin thing. That’s why you can focus and get so much done. You are excited. But that kind of feeling is not good for the rest of your life. (Why not?)

I don’t want to sit on the couch, cook dinner, read my devotional, and then die. I want  some joy. I want some elation. I want something secret in my life that is only for me.

So you bipolar people out there, do I want mania?

And you “normals”….what do you think?

Green Giant

I wish I had grown up more like the Jolly Green Giant. I grew up in a meat and potatoes kind of house. I don’t remember there being many vegetables on my plate that I was forced to choke down. Even with my grandparents. Vegetables just weren’t a side dish very often, certainly not daily, […]

Green Giant

I wish I had grown up more like the Jolly Green Giant. I grew up in a meat and potatoes...

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In A Darkened Mood

It’s not even 5 p.m. and I am at the end of my tether. My nerves are stretched to breaking point. My mood is in this dark murk that nothing seems to alleviate. I’ve been nagged by my kid from the word go, over every tiny thing. She’s sick, she needs a hospital, her stomach hurts, her ears hurt she’s bleeding (she ripped a hangnail off). Throw in five extra shrieking kids in my yard, a visit from my dad copping his “you need a better place to live” crap, a snotty text from R about, “Hope your mood improves soon and things work out for you.” (That’s a dismissal, god knows, I’ve had enough.) Ughhh. My brain feels like it’s had Uzi fire shot through it.

Is the stress triggered? Yeah, definitely. The mood? If anything, I should be relieved.R basically dismissed me for being “unstable” and not having a sitter, that says more about him than me. I called his wife and we talked, so our friendship, and that of my kid with their granddaughter’s remain in tact. Even she said she doesn’t like the way he treats me but she tries to stay out of it.  (I’m NOT entirely nuts!!!) So I lose the stress without any benefit, get to keep the friends Spook and I care about, and yet my mood…is numb yet so very dark. I did predict this two days ago, I felt the darkness tugging, pulling me down. I’ve tried everything in my arsenal to fight it. I basically was handed a gift here, no more stress, just the fun stuff, and yet from my mood…It’s like my puppy died, I broke my leg, and found out my home has toxic mold and must be bulldozed. Shit, if that stuff had happened, I’d be entitled to feel low.

But for no real reason? This is the part I don’t get, never get it. That is wear depression becomes the baffler of mankind. Everything MUST have a trigger. Yet when there’s no trigger and something good actually happened yet the darkness remains…That’s some messed up shit.

I get the anxiety. I can only handle so much noise, so much complaining, being poked with the “mommy mommy mommy” stick…Five kids out in my yard bickering and shrieking, wanting to use my bathroom, demanding water (which would be no big deal except they all want cups, then they leave them outside, or smash them or dump the water on each other, then if you give them water, they want food and if I say no, they leave and then I have to hear my kid berate me for running her friends off…) I hate summer. Fucking hate it. I like not having to wear a thousand layers of clothes. I like being able to jot to the store in under a half hour since no coats and gloves are needed. I like yard sales (used to), I like the fact that much as I loathe sunshine, it DOES help keep my mood up. But all these fucking kids thinking I run a free daycare…My kid constantly stomping, screaming, whiny, complaining…I’ve channeled Satan (voice) at least three times, and once was in front of her friends. How long before I make it onto the neighborhood “keep your kids away from the crazy bitch” list.

I’m on the edge and with constant sticks being poked into me, the Xanax is useless. The flip side is to ban my kid from having friends, in which case she stays inside, sits on my footstool leaving me less than twelve inches of space, and she talks as loud as she can, complaining about everything she can. She wanted to go to the doctor. For stickers. I made her an appointment tomorrow. That’s not good enough because she doesn’t think she will be in a good mood tomorrow. FFS? Is it any wonder I am cracking up?

The first true burst of emotion bubbled up earlier. I actually felt myself tearing up. Not sure why, but there the moisture was. And bam, it was gone. Ten seconds of emotion that isn’t born of anger or frustration. Yet the doctor seems utterly unconcerned by this. I am hella concerned because it’s not getting any better.

Hell, I’ve even been having thoughts about calling the counseling place’s crisis line late at night, using a fake name, and see what they’d say about me coming back but getting some say in who my counselor is. I sadly know how that would turn out. Still…desperation has set in.

I’m not looking for sympathy. I accept that it is what it is. But I am doing everything I am supposed to do, pumping all these pills into my body every day, and nothing’s changing except I’ve become Numbo and have bad bad dreams. Last time I was feeling this way was on Lithium. Which of course the doctors said had nothing to do with Lithium. How am I not supposed to be frustrated? I see how people become alcoholics and drug addicted rather than face mental illness. Facing it has done little but harm me further between the counseling and the side effects and interactions.

But because I am a big girl…I am going to ride out this wave of darkness and hope it’s a byproduct of the med change. It’s all starting to seem pretty hopeless again and that’s the scary place I never want to get, yet end up in time and again. To add insult to injury, I’ve ever started feeling guilty for all my negative spewage in this blog because last thing I want is to alienate someone who’s doing better and doesn’t want to get dragged down by me.

Fuck if I know. Much longer like this and I may resort to ECT and turn myself into a complete vegetable. Mental health cures. Awesome.


r.e.m

When Change is the Trigger

The secret to change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. ~ Socrates

Picturephoto ~ pixabay.com

It’s difficult to see. My eyes are full of tears. My vision is blurry. The tears eventually escape and roll down my cheeks. My fingers slip on the keyboard. They’re wet from wiping the tears away. The more I wipe, the more they stream. It’s a challenge to speak. It’s difficult to form words without forming more tears. The tears continue to pour out of me. I feel the pressure behind my eyes and in my temples. That soon creates a migraine. I feel the tightness in my heart. That makes me sad. Things are changing. Change is hard.

Change is difficult for many people—bipolar or not. But for those of us with bipolar disorder, change can bring about an episode—either of mania or depression. Key areas for controlling bipolar disorder and ensuring stability include managing stress and living with a strict daily routine. Change causes problems in both these areas which is why it can lead to a bipolar episode. In this situation, change is the trigger.

My son is in Europe—that’s half way around the world. That’s a big deal. He has finished working in Switzerland and has been joined by his girlfriend. They are now travelling together around Europe for a while. I know he’s having the time of his life. And I’m thrilled for him and so proud of the man he has become, but this has been a huge change in my life.

When he was home, he worked mostly evenings, leaving us alone together to fill the day. He’s a sports nut and mostly watched T.V., but my laptop and desk are just feet away. He was there to chat with, share T.V. shows with and sometimes sit together. But most importantly he was just there. I could count on him if I needed him. For example, to answer the door for me—a seemingly simple task, but one I don’t do easily. I desperately miss his company, and fear that I am no longer needed.

I guess this is what they call “empty-nest syndrome.” What to do with the time and companionship that we used to share. I know it’s important not to dwell on the negative. My bipolar education has taught me that. But when your first-born has stretched his wings so far, it’s difficult to choke back the tears.

Recognizing that I’m going through a big change is important. The knowledge of that will help me deal with my rising emotions. I will be diligent in maintaining my daily routine, practising self-care, and trying to focus on the good that is in this situation. Positive thinking is paramount in keeping away my bipolar demons. I have come so far. It is crucial that I don’t let this event spiral me into depression. I will do my best to embrace this change.


The Voices In Your Head That Aren’t Auditory Hallucinations

In mental health, the last thing you want to do if it’s not exactly precise is tell the professionals you “hear” voices but they’re not hallucinatory. I tried to explain it as having multiple radio stations coming on on the same frequency so I’m hearing all genres of music but it’s such a cacophony I can’t discern what’s what. The doctor, of course, always looks at me like I’m nuts. I can’t think of a better analogy. The voices aren’t hallucinations, but the voices of those around me, the things I read, watch, see. Those nagging little doubts called low self esteem when in fact, they’re more like this constant presence at the back of your mind and when your mental state is at its most fragile…They all come banging out of closet like skeletons in chains.

I think one of the biggest “lessons”, partly to my own detriment, learned in therapy, is to question my own judgment and beliefs. Because you know, it could be hubris, it could be a distortion of my mental issues. In some ways, I went from blissful ignorance, thinking nothing of what others thought of me, doing my own thing and feeling okay with it…Until these “professionals” started poking at my psyche with little shrimp forks, putting holes in my blissful ignorance, bringing out the self doubt and shaky confidence in myself. Am I really hurt by this person or am I just distorting it and they’re right and I am wrong? Do I really believe X or am I just not thinking right? Was I justified in saying Z or was it a manic notion of grandeur?

Round and round, over twenty years, the thoughts, the voices have been there, stalking me, haunting me. And to some extent, I realize bipolar disorder and anxiety attacks DO distort and taint my thoughts and perceptions. But to the extent where I can’t trust anything I feel or believe? Rather than securing self confidence, therapy just gave me more things to be neurotic about. Beyond self awareness, it became utter lack of faith in myself over time.

Do not get the mistaken idea I am against therapy or brought nothing positive out of it. I learned a few things that were self affirming and helpful. But I think too many years of counseling, because it was “for my own good”,  it metastasized into this psychological cancer. I truly don’t give a damn if people approve of my clothes, my hair, my choice in decor, my old car, my choice in music, movies, et al…Never did. That much has remained the same.

Before all the therapy…I didn’t think twice about bickering with my friends or family. I stood up for my beliefs, right or wrong. I never had to stop and think, “Oh, she’s using me and she stole my stuff, I don’t need friends that bad..But what if it’s just me and I deserve to be used and stolen from?” I had less problem discerning right from wrong and self validation when I was bullied teenager without a clue.

Therapy turned me into this self doubting low self esteem monster of negativity, in a way. I was fine with therapy until I saw a note in my file labeling me “schizotypal” and it was all based on my love of the color black, horror movies, loud angry music, and being “different”. At that point, being told everything that makes me happy is actually a symptom of my depression, I hit my wall. BULLSHIT. These are the things I’ve liked since I was 7 years old, prior to the worst of my psychological/psychiatric issues. It makes me HAPPY. On this one, I stick to my guns and the professionals can just add a new disorder to their precious DSM to cover people who are perfectly fine with who they are. To take the very things I enjoy and label them a disorder felt like the ultimate insult. No way am I going to get any help from people like that.

The aftermath is…the voices. The voices that make me doubt my every move, thought, emotion. They’re not hallucinations. They are the things said to me over the years, worming their way into my brain, into my subconscious. Things that often roll off me like I am coated in Teflon. Other times, during high anxiety or severe depression, those doubting voices are like machetes slicing away at my very sanity. They are amplified and I know that’s a distortion of the bipolar, but they’re a problem I didn’t have prior to having every aspect of my identity questioned and labeled with a disorder. Now I am haunted every minute of the day by the voices of negativity that permeate my world in voice, written word, through books, tv, movies, music, doctors, therapists.

“Your kid has lint on her clothes and her socks don’t match, you’re  a lazy mother.”

Your house is a pigsty and it’s in a bad area and you’re not providing a fit home for your kid.”

You’ve been on disability all these years, expecting a pill to cure you, you’re just too lazy to work.”

You bring it all on yourself with your negative attitude, you just don’t try hard enough.”

“Quit waiting for a magic pill and face that you’re the problem, nothing is wrong with your mind.

When are you going to realize all your relationships fail because you’re just a bad person?”

You can’t even get along with your own kid, what is wrong with you.”

Maybe your kid has no father because you were so awful he’d rather be away from you than with his kid.”

You’re always portraying yourself as a victim, people are not out to use you. You’re paranoid. You just want an excuse not to fit into society.”

This. Is. My. Life.

So in some ways I’m more damaged than before I went into counseling. I never had such self doubts, even as a 14 year old getting spit on and bullied in school. Right and wrong were clear concepts. There was no excuse to bully me, no right for people to determine how I should dress or what music I liked, there was no gray area. I was standing up for what I believed in. Mainly, me and my right to be who I am.

Now I am stuck with all these voices, questions, doubts,making me feel each day like I am going insane. Yet on the days when my psychiatric issues are on low volume…It doesn’t even touch me.

Those voices are real. They are not my imagination or some hallucination. They are the people around me, the ones who are supposed to love, accept, and be supportive of me. Yet daily they invade my brain and for every time I shake it off, there are ten times the doubts worm their way in and infect me. I have such a feisty fuck off attitude, I don’t see how I allow these people to put a dent in my stubborn psyche.

I didn’t before therapy.

Therapy helped. It also hurt. Like the meds. Psychiatry/psychology is an inexact science, sometimes doing as much harm as good. It’s okay to face that fact. It’s okay to have some self confidence and not doubt your every thought.

It’s okay to ignore those voices. It’s just not as easy some days as it is on others.

 


Meds Working Too Good?

I am wondering if my medications need to be adjusted down. I can’t seem to feel things as fully as I should.

I have lost my creativity. I have lost my emotions. I don’t like how this feels.

I am unable to grieve. I can’t cry. I got teary eyed the first few days but I haven’t actually been able to let go and just sob. I really need to. I can feel that at least.

I want to feel an interest in something. I want to feel joy at something. I want to feel grief. I want to feel.

I now understand why so many bipolars go off their meds. Lucky(?) for me the past depression has etched a scar that keeps me from doing that.

I wish Dani was here to talk to.


So Tired

I’m not sure what’s gong on .  Yesterday I woke up feeling like my legs were made of lead.   I could barely walk around.  I never really woke up, even after a drinking a coke at church.  Bob didn’t go because his allergies were acting up, so it was just me and the kids.  Which was fine, except I couldn’t keep up with them walking into the church after we parked.

I did do a few things around the house but felt very lethargic and sleepy all day.  I finally lay down and went to sleep around three and woke up around four-thirty  I didn’t feel any better for it.  ANd this morning I feel the same way.  I could afford to laze around yesterday, but not this morning.  I’ve got grocery shopping and laundry to do.  The younger girls are going o Vacation Bible school so they will be entertained.  And the oldest goes to work  around nine-thirty.  I’m hoping I can stay awake today   I hope it’s not the depression coming back.  I really don’t need that complicating my life right now.  Maybe I can stay vertical today and get stuff done.  I hope so.


hans zimmer