Daily Archives: July 27, 2017

Low Blow

Welcome to cyclothymic bipolar disorder. I was hardly bouncing off walls the last two days but I wasn’t down or low functioning or well, depressed. This evening my mood has totally crashed with no real explanation except, nature of the beast. (Bipolar, not me, I am a sexy beast, it is not.)

Perhaps that is the mystery that stymies doctors and patients alike. WHERE do these abrupt mood crashes come from? So much chatter about “there has to be a trigger” but there simply was not one today. I suppose I could blame the gray rainy day as that is normally something that affects my mood but we’ve had so much heat and almost no rain for months I welcomed the wet and gloom. And it wasn’t until after supper, where I did battle to ‘be normal’ and sit at a table and share a meal with my child…she bolted for her fiends, er, friends, and my mood…I guess feeling ditched might explain a mood crash.

Or again, nature of the beast.

Plus side, my sanity seems stable. I am no longer viewing my family with quite as much hate, even took Spook to see my mom today. To mom’s credit, she didn’t get spawn the tablet, she showed me a little MP3 player thing but it plays videos, I guess. She’ll still be making catalog payments next year, long after my snowflake has destroyed it. I am so grateful I learned my lesson on all that crap. Rather have used shit and no payments.

Another plus, R installed a used Pioneer stereo in the car for me last night. Bad side, I had to listen to him lecture me on how I am wrong to identify more with democratic views than republican, I listen to fake news, I don’t read things properly, I am ignorant, blah blah blah. He’s become a politcal zealot and he NEVER used to be, at all. I never even knew if he voted, let alone that he is non partisan but favors Republicans when voting. It’s not something I am interested in. I said as much and he told me I am part of the problem. Guess that was the price for making my rusted bucket of bolts worth $100 more dollars. Least the stereo drowns out the lack of muffler. And it’s running better now so I won’t be trapped getting a ride to Bumfuck for my kid’s pony birthday party at my dad’s (So much crap, my kid likes the neon color plastic ponies, she’s not a horse fan, my stepmonster is the one into horses, so no brain needed to know whose idea this debacle was.) I will go, stay as long as my nerves will handle (my uncle and his crew will be there and two downers from dad’s side and the overbearing monster of step are gonna drive me to drink, even my sister is dreading the entire thing, that’s how awful these people we call family are for your mental health.)

Honestly, people who don’t even include the mom in the birthday are pretty awful, doncha think?

Just gotta make it through the next seven days being penniless and AGAIN running low on food. Least junk food, have actual food. Wish I had money for brake fluid, my car is low again thanks to the leak that is never gonna get fixed because I can’t afford a mechanic who will actually fix it rather than just promise to. (You get what you don’t pay for.) Then I gotta survive that hellish party in the sticks, another get together mom is having (Spook wants it at a park and I am allergic to everything outdoors so it will be misery for me, too, and sorry, I do not control allergens and histamines, it is what it is.) Then figure out what to do with her for her actual birthday. Dad’s takeover ruined the plans we’d made. Ass trash.

I thought venting might help me feel better but…nope. Low is low. And perfectly normal for bipolar. I had a good run. And yeah, 2 days without splat is a good run for me. Good ole cyclothymia. The sun’ll come out tomorrow and all that bullshit. New day, yada yada. Now to peel all the kittens off of me so I can go check on the marauding spawn.

Is it bedtime yet? Big fan of bedtime when splat hits. And who wouldn’t prefer sleep and even bad dreams to the frustration of trying to figure out why one minute you felt fine and the next, you wanted to assume the fetal position under Fort Blankie?

Not an Unsolved Mystery, preferring Mr. Sandman.


Crazy Talk: Why Do I Keep Making Myself Sad On Purpose?

Crazy Talk is an advice column powered by your donations on Patreon, written by Sam Dylan Finch (that’s me!), and hosted by your fave queer blog, Let’s Queer Things Up! While I’m not medical doctor, I am a card-carrying member of Club Crazy, living the good life with a mood disorder, anxiety, and complex PTSD (gotta catch ’em all!). We’re talking all things mental health — trauma, happy pills, mood episodes, and whatever else you tweet me about. I’m kicking the stigma where it hurts, one question at a time. Check out last week’s column here.

Hi Sam, 

I struggle with anxiety and depression and I have for years. I’ve noticed that sometimes, when I’m at a low point, I’ll get sucked into listening to sad music, revisiting sad memories, watching sad movies, and basically making myself worse. I know that it doesn’t help, but it’s almost like a compulsion. What’s wrong with me?

Let’s start with what I think is a pretty important disclaimer: Not knowing your particular history, I can’t say with any certainty what drives you to make particular choices. I’m crazy… but I’m not a mind reader! I can, however, remark on my own experiences and observations. Hopefully that will give you some food for thought. Bonus points if those thoughts are then shared with a therapist!

I want to validate this for you upfront: Emotional self-harm? It’s a thing.

I find this question to be really relevant, as I used to do this a lot myself. At my worst, you could find me listening to angsty music; reading old, despairing blog entries; or camped out on my couch watching really triggering shows on an endless loop. No matter how many times my friends told me to give it a rest, it kept pulling me back in.

But as you’ve noticed, it never helps. It only sustained the depression that I was already feeling, often making it worse than when I started. So why did I do it? I have some theories:

Depression is predictable. While depression isn’t an ideal state to be in, it’s not necessarily full of surprises, either. I had a therapist once tell me that people who are dealing with depression can sometimes feel drawn to it, even unconsciously, because its familiarity and predictability feels safe. It makes sense, then, that we might engage in activities that sustain our sadness or keep us numb; we might feel afraid of the unpredictability that comes with doing something differently (I touch on this in my article about self-sabotage as well!).

I had unresolved trauma. Sometimes we force ourselves to relive the pain we’ve experienced because it’s unresolved. For me, I found myself purposefully triggering myself because I hadn’t yet found a way to accept and release the trauma I’d been through. This is what eventually led to my diagnosis of complex PTSD (which I wrote about here and here).

We might make ourselves feel pain because we’re hoping that, by re-experiencing it, there might be a different outcome. We’re usually looking for some kind of epiphany or realization to help things feel more conclusive, but we’re seldom able to do this effectively without guidance. Our brains are saying, “Hey! We have unfinished business here!” And in a way, they’re pushing us to relive something, hoping we’ll actually resolve it this time — but we aren’t always equipped to do so.

If your strolls down memory lane have become compulsive, triggering, and intrusive, it might be best to seek out a therapist that can help you process your pain in a more productive way.

I needed to feel understood/seen. Everyone wants their pain to be recognized and affirmed. We might seek this out by looking for representation in music, television shows, movies. I used to watch every TV show that featured a PTSD survivor, because I wanted to know I wasn’t alone; I especially wanted to see someone “overcome” that struggle so I could live vicariously through them.

I mean, you’re reading this article now. And you might have had a moment already of, “Wow, this is so me.” It’s a validating feeling, right? It makes a lot of sense, then, that we might subject ourselves to content that’s triggering with the hopes that it’ll make us feel validated, even if that validation is accompanied by pain.

I didn’t have the tools that I needed. When we gravitate towards unhealthy coping mechanisms, we’re often doing this because we don’t have healthy alternatives in place. I was most likely to seek out my triggers when I was already vulnerable — when I didn’t have a team of clinicians in place, when I was isolated from my support systems, when my meds were out of whack, and when I didn’t have a real treatment plan in place.

So where do you start? I have a list of free mental health apps that have personally helped me pivot away from emotional self-harming, and it can offer pretty immediate relief. If you don’t have a clinical team already (a therapist or psychiatrist), consider looking for those as well.

Remember: Be gentle with yourself. In all likelihood, you’re not engaging in these behaviors because you enjoy being depressed (I have yet to meet someone who does). This behavior is indicative of a lack of effective coping skills and unresolved pain. Rather than treating it as something that’s “wrong” with you personally, look at it as a red flag. This is your brain’s weird way of letting you know that you need additional support.

I know it’s easy to slip into the whole, “What the hell is wrong with me?” mentality. But what I’ve found to be true is that there’s always some form of method to our madness — or in this case, sadness.

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How have I done?


I was st my allergist's office, exploring the anxiety/allergy connection. His nurse came in and asked me about my medications, what supplements I take, etc. all the routine questions. I told her about Lithium, Seroquel and then said "You know I have bipolar disorder?" She just looked at me, then asked "How have you done with it?"
How have I done with it? Well for someone with bipolar disorder, I've done remarkably well. I have two advanced degrees, a husband, a son, a beautiful home, even a blog.
But compared to someone "normal," someone without any mental illnesses, I haven't done well at all. I fight anxiety, depression, dark thoughts, emotions so intense they can be dangerous, I have no career and I worry constantly about my son. I worry he's too much like me, ideally, he would only have an iota of me in him.
The latest thing is that my hair has started to fall out in bunches, which is a side effect of Lithium, possibly that's what's doing it. So now do I stop taking Lithium or lose all my hair? Also, I've been very clumsy lately, I have another concussion and broke my left pinky toe as a result of accidents. Clumsiness is also a side effect of Lithium. Again, do I keep having accidents or do I stop taking Lithium. Or lower the dose, which may not control my mood symptoms.
Everyday, something new, and not in a good way.
Feeling quite bad and overwhelmed. Bipolar or life? I suspect bipolar. Because I don't always have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, this urge to cry, emotions sometimes so intense, I want to scream, to give up.
The diary of a manic depressive, welcome my friends, thank your lucky stars you'll never have to live with this ghastly illness.
And yet, I won't give up. These are the cards I've been dealt, I will play them with flourish and panache. And I think if I didn't keep writing about it, no one might know what was going on inside my brain. So I keep giving myself away. But it is a release, it is therapeutic, to write. And if someone with cancer doesn't have to hide their diagnosis and symptoms, why do mentally ill people have to be ashamed of theirs?
Oh well, I think I'm rambling now, so I'll stop. I have no words of wisdom. I am no expert on anything. The only thing that keeps me going is my love for my son. And it is huge and it conquers all.


Paper Tea and Five Flavour Life Savers

One of my favourite relatives was my Mom’s Aunt Annie. She, along with her father, sister May, and my Mom’s Dad, Wilfred, came to Canada when Annie was in her early twenties. They all lived in a small house in … Continue reading

Gone Camping

forest flowers

I had one spectacular night away in the mountains and it reminded me about everything that is right in the world, like forests, and no phones, and singing birds, cheeping chipmunks, even a bobcat sprinting across the highway in front of us!!  It was so peaceful and beautiful and I temporarily forgot about the job search and money stress and everything else.  It was a great getaway with my sister.  We even took some hikes (she would just call them walks) and I got some good exercise, imagine that!!  And I didn’t smoke, even.  I slept like the dead for about twelve hours and it was heaven.  Unless I start a job next week, we are going again.  Well, my family will go, with or without me 😉 but hopefully I get to go for a little longer stay with the nieces and nephews.

I got home and checked my bank balance and all hell broke loose internally – down to my last $1,000 after paying rent.  I was at a super-low last night.  I don’t know what to say.  Financial insecurity and looking for a job that I don’t want has got me down to the edge.  I’m seeing my therapist today, good thing!!  I will see the dickhead Dr. Drugs on Monday and we will spar some more about how he is cutting my meds right and left.  Maybe I will punch him.  Not making any promises.

I saw Dr. Flaky today and she just handed me a blank check to write my own check.  She has written the check wrong so many times, she’s just leaving it to me now.  I guess that’s trust!!  I could have written it for a thousand bucks, that would have been nice, but whoa the circle of trust would have been broken forever so I guess it’s good I didn’t do that.  I told her I would write an ad for my job so she can fill it when I go and we both got sad.  I genuinely like Dr. Flaky, despite her flakiness!  She is still a good and kind person.  It will be tough to leave her.

Well I’m off to meet my sister and nieces and nephew for lunch.  My generous sister is going to give me some money ISN’T THAT NICE?!  She is a gem.  Hope all is well in your world.  Peach out, homie!


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar and Stress, Bipolar and Work, Bipolar Disorder, Mental Illness, Psychology, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Depression, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

Interview

So later today I talk to SOcial Security about getting my children’s benefits from my account.  Pray that it will go well and I can get them all the required documentation they need and it will go through quickly.

I also go to the school today to pick up my youngest one’s schedule and computer to use for class. The textbooks and all are supposed to be on it, etc.  I still think it’s a dumb idea to hand out practically free computers, but  that is the way of the world now. I go do that at 3 p.m.

Talked to the people at the college I want to work for in the HR end and they have all my transcripts and she said she would send it all over to the English department for them to act on,  I really hope this comes through for fall.

So now I’m just pretty much waiting on God to put his hand on all this and work it to what he wants it to be,  I know what  I want, but I know I have to submit to what  he wants first.

 

 

 

Unmanageable Binders

In therapy today, Sadie asked if I look through my DBT binder when I’m feeling distressed and can’t think of what skill to use. I said no, that the size of my binder had become overwhelming and I don’t even like to flip through it to find the week’s homework for group. I have both […]