Daily Archives: June 21, 2014

You can’t handle the truth.

Truth is, as I sit here finally actually at my computer, with the right page open, trying to end my avoidance, everything inside me is shaking and I can hear my heartbeat pounding in my throat.

Truth is, I haven’t been able to write in weeks. Either because I was too numb, too embarrassed, too sick, too well, but mainly too scared of not only being honest with myself but truly open to everyone who reads this – especially the people from “real life.”

Truth is, I’m writing from the most secluded table I could find at a local coffee shop – I can’t write from home, you see, because I haven’t had electricity in days.

Truth is, even when I’m at my best I have this weird extreme aversion to checking my mailbox – but I had my bill, and had the money to pay it, and was reminded several times to take care of it, and still just refused to allow the situation to penetrate my brain at all.

Truth is, I’m terrified of the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back – I see everything as symptoms, possibly ultimately leading to another total break with reality and (possibly protective) catatonic incapacitated state.

Truth is, there were a few days last week when I literally couldn’t make myself move from wherever I was – I could be on the couch, parked somewhere in the car, wherever.

Truth is, my therapist tells me if my greatest fear is that I’m going crazy, the only way to overcome is to be able to accept that I may go crazy at any moment and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done to totally prevent it – I started crying right in the middle of her sentence.

Truth is, my house is growing to be more and more of a disaster by the day, and I can’t bring myself to do a damn thing about it, even though I know in my head I can break it into small tasks, that I am capable of achieving them, that I can stop any time, that my environment affects my well being, that once even one thing is done I will be more relaxed and at ease – but none of that matters and now of course everything in the fridge is spoiled and I have that to deal with to boot – I refuse to let anyone in.

Truth is, I am ridiculously competent at my job, but as soon as I walk out the door I fall to pieces – it makes me resent only being allowed to work part time and at the same time realize how sick I am that there’s no way I could go back to my old schedule and responsibilities without rapidly deteriorating – and that dichotomy bounces back and forth in my head every day, constantly, until I want to scream and curl up in a ball crying all at once – but really I just sit stoically.

Truth is, even though I truly enjoy getting lost in the MOOC courses I’m taking, I avoid them like the plague for no reason whatsoever and a million reasons too – most recently even though I got myself to the library (to avoid my house) and got everything spread out and hooked up, I felt I had to copy course notes from the notebook I had been using into a new notebook that I went and purchased several off so that they would all match for each course – it took me 90 minutes and I was so tense while I was doing it I could barely move my body at all and by the end of it my writing hand felt broken and about to bleed.

Truth is, a few weeks ago I shaved my legs the whole way up (all in one go) for the first time in about 2 years in order to go swimming with my friend and her girls – I had declined every invitation for the same last summer due to the overwhelmingly daunting task – and felt proud and unashamed until it came time to keep up with it and I haven’t been able to jump that particular hurdle since – thankfully I wear scrubs everyday.

Truth is, as of ‘press time’ I’m totally out of clean scrubs though my collection is quite impressive – it seems that any time I was able to get myself moving I was too daunted by the consequent task of gathering and totally roadblocked by the realities of transporting the load to a second location for actual laundering – my car is filled to the brim with such a myriad of nonsense that the laundry basket would have no place.

Truth is, though I know a lot of people, I have very few real friends – and every single one of those few either lives hours away or has a family and children that divides their time – and I end up spending more time feeling lonely and (though logically unjustified) abandoned than I realized.

Truth is, sometimes I don’t pick up the phone when people do call/reach out because I’m somehow too afraid of having some sort of episode in the middle of the conversation or whatever activity I agree to and having to try to explain it to the other person and/or escape and then the person could decide I really am crazy and ultimately decide I’m too much trouble and actually abandon me – I recognize this is all in my head but I can’t break the cycle.

Truth is, people seem to describe me as free spirited, upbeat, and humorous – and my only explanation is that they must have formed this opinion when I was manic and it somehow stuck with them for whatever reason and I absolutely must not let them realize its all a facade and I’m secretly this ridiculous destitute mess – or am I?

Truth is, I’ve been working on the same 4 seemingly beyond simple basic principles for about a year and a half in therapy – eat regularly, sleep on a schedule, take my medication, and practice daily self-care – I still forget to eat until I nearly pass out or binge until I’m sick, rely on distracting hypnoses and meditations to sleep when I can actually bring myself to go to bed, I have to use all kinds of reminders and tricks to take my medications but I do almost always manage it, and standard self care even now seems like a pipe dream.

Truth is, the mindfullness based practice of wholly focusing on absolutely one thing at a time, no matter how absurdly minute the pieces have to be broken down into, was really helping wonderfully when it came to reducing anxiety and focusing – hell I could even make myself do it in the chaos of daily life at the office – until all of a sudden one day it felt like something in a chain link broke and I simply lost my ability to do it with no warning or reason whatsoever.

Truth is, I feel terrified all the time – mainly terrified of what feeling so terrified is doing/could do to my health, my mind, my life.

Truth is, I don’t fit the spoon theory – I can have 2 spoons a day for like a week then one afternoon like 15 will suddenly appear, and as quickly as they come they’re gone again – and what I accomplish when I have them seems so incredibly productive to me, let’s say taking out the trash AND making a necessary phone call – but laughable in the grand scheme of “normal” life

Truth is, I’m furious at a distant Scottish relative who I doubt I ever even met as a baby for committing suicide even though she was a lifetime alcoholic with severe mental health issues – because if she can just up and quit life one day after all the help and support she had her whole life, who I am to think that it couldn’t one day be me – and that shakes me to the core.

Truth is, even as I just wrote about eating and I sit here in a restaurant with my stomach gurgling on the verge of hunger or illness, the ordeal of getting up, figuring out what to eat, ordering, paying, deciding whether to eat here alone or take it home and eat in the dark is just too much to bother with.

Truth is, I think things are pretty fucking bad regardless of how much my therapist, family, and friends remind me of how far I’ve come since I was hospitalized in February.

Truth is, how the fuck is someone who is bipolar with anxiety supposed to get through the fear of being crazy when most of the time they can’t even brush their teeth?

Yeah, that one was hard to explain to my dentist.


Antidepressants Finally Increased

For many months I’ve been trying to get my pdoc to do something about my depression. Every month it was the same thing, I would practically beg him to adjust my meds and every month he would respond in the same manner – NO. My husband Maurice has been concerned, my therapist has been concerned […]

The post Antidepressants Finally Increased appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

“Coming Out of the Bipolar Closet”


“You have a secret. A secret you’ve been keeping for years if not forever from your family, your friends, your boss, and maybe even yourself. A secret so secret that if people knew, it might change your relationships. They might judge you. They might hate you. They might even fear you. You’re different. You’re weird. You’re sick. You’ve tried to change it, but it’s just who you are, and you can’t keep it inside any more.

You’re bipolar.

Bipolar. Bi-polar. Manic Depressive. It doesn’t get easier the more you say it. You try to use “mood disorder” or “depressed” instead because you think it will have less stigma, but you know the truth. At the moment of diagnosis, you went from being that person — the eccentric-but-sometimes-sad creative — to that person: the crazy one. You know, the person on the subway who you avert your eyes from because you don’t want them to talk to you or get too close. You’re unpredictable. You’re freakish. You’re scary.

Pretty little cocktails of yellow, pink, and blue pills abound. One to bring you up, one to take you down, one to keep you in the middle. One to wake you and one to put you to sleep, because you sure as hell can’t sleep right. Sometimes you stay up all night shopping online, taking photos, or writing for hours on end, creative energy and ideas pulsing through your revved body and mind, and it feels great. Until it doesn’t.

Enter the inevitable crash. You’re suddenly knocked over by a massive wave of sadness, isolation, self-loathing, and hopelessness. You’re left on the floor of the shower trying to breathe through your tears. Sweating, trembling, heart palpitating.

You stop answering your phone, and eventually it stops ringing. Your friends are no longer your friends, except for those select few who won’t let you push them away no matter how hard you try. Your family is tired of dealing with it all, and you can’t blame them.

You stop going out. You stop taking care of yourself. Can you even remember when you last showered?

Soon you’re stuck in your room. Your computer and your TV are your only true friends, an ever-present distraction from reality. You Facebook. You Tweet. You blog. Pretending all the while that you are doing great. You smile for pictures, if you can remember how to smile. Or you use old pictures from times when you were thinner and happier, at least in appearance. If your Facebook world doesn’t know, perhaps it isn’t real. That’s the biggest closet of all these days. Perhaps you are still the smiling go-getter everyone else sees and thinks you are. Perhaps this bipolar thing is temporary or a joke. But you’re not laughing.

Things deteriorate. Not leaving the house turns into “a thing.” Anxiety, panic attacks, the whole deal. You stop working. You start making bad decisions and staying up through the night again. You’re erratic. Impulsive. Possibly even hallucinating or delusional. Are you really being followed?

You stop driving. You stop taking the train.

You stop caring about anything and everything.

You start to think everyone would be better off without you. You feel broken and unfixable, so why go through it all? Why? Things are hopeless. You begin to feel numb or dead inside, so you drink or take drugs, or hurt yourself just to feel something. You think you deserve to be scarred or bruised on the outside to match your damaged insides. You contemplate the ways in which you might find release from the torment of this life.

Then you see your perfect little daughter, your partner, your mother, or your friend, and you remember that you are not alone. You think of how screwed up their lives would be if you made your “great escape.” How much your actions affect others. You start to feel guilty for even having the thoughts, which only makes you feel worse.

Frustration. Anger. Guilt. Shame. Sadness. Repeat…

Frustration. Anger. Guilt. Shame. Sadness. Repeat…

Then comes the psychoanalysis and everything else they throw at you — dietary changes, magnetic and shock therapy, hospitalizations, more meds… You see modest if any results. You’re ready to throw in the towel, until one day something happens — you’re listening to Pandora while feeding your kid or walking the dog, when Sam Cooke comes on and sings to you… “It’s been too hard living but I’m afraid to die, ’cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky. It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.”

You feel a shift, and realize you can choose to live. Or at least try. It’s not easy. You’ve been flooded by emotional ups and downs, crying and then laughing maniacally, throwing things, feeling totally out of control. But in this moment, you finally realize that a change might possibly come. Not today, but some day. You were not given a death sentence. You can find a way to own your recovery, stop ignoring advice and stop hiding in that damn closet — take your meds, see your doctors, and be more self-aware — you can actually take some control, and start moving in a positive direction. One baby step at a time.

You look around you at the shambles that your life has become, and you see that there are still a few people in your life that find you worth fighting for, and that perhaps you should fight through this for them, and maybe one day you will even do it for yourself. You are strong. You are capable. You are talented. You are worthy of a life worth living. A change will come.

So you get your butt out of bed and make a sandwich. It’s a start.”


“Serious” Mental Illness

…….as opposed to what, exactly? Mental illness that’s just for fun?

I see this term bandied about a lot in the press and on the psychological websites I visit, and I wonder sometimes exactly what it’s supposed to mean. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the various psychotic disorders are the ones most frequently included in this category. I’m not sure why anxiety disorders aren’t on the list, even though for all intents and purposes, any mental illness that substantially limits one or more life activities is considered “serious”.

For my money, they’re ALL serious. They all limit life activities. And they all suck.

They are also all potentially lethal. I have a friend diagnosed with generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder who is basically fighting for her life right now, thanks to a severe episode of depression with a generous side of anxiety. Like me, she recently found herself unemployed and is having to consider major changes in her lifestyle; unfortunately, she lives in a distant state and doesn’t have the support system I do, and she is struggling against being swept away by waves of despair. Yeah, I’d call that pretty serious.

She has previously attempted suicide, twice. However, she promised me when we were texting last night that she wouldn’t harm herself, even though she felt she wanted to. She reported that she was sitting on her bedroom floor, more or less paralyzed by her fears, unable to get up or even open the door because her arms were “too heavy”. I urged her to call her psychiatrist to adjust her meds, or simply go to the ER and be evaluated for admission. I can’t do anything for her, except for providing a crying towel. She’s sick, she obviously needs professional intervention to get better. And yet, her disorder isn’t taken as “seriously” by the establishment as mine is.

Frankly, I don’t think psychiatric illnesses should be categorized this way, especially for those which fall outside the realm of “serious”. There isn’t even a name for them (what do the people who make this stuff up call them? “Non-serious”? Or simply “other”?). Just because depression and anxiety seem comparatively uncomplicated when measured against the mysteries of bipolar or psychotic disorders doesn’t make them less difficult to treat, nor does it minimize the danger to the individual.  I know from my own experiences with severe anxiety that it’s one of the worst states I can be in, because that’s when I start feeling the need to flee, and then the suicidal thoughts come. And that is serious.

I think my friend will be OK. She texted me again a little while ago and said her p-doc is increasing her Effexor and gave her a script for PRN Klonopin, and she says she already feels better knowing she will feel better soon.  I’m glad for her, and maybe tonight I’ll be able to get to sleep before 1:30 AM. But I also know that if my husband ever has to drag me to Dr. A’s office in the kind of condition she was in last night, I probably won’t be sent home with a bottle of pills. Just saying.

OK, rant over.  Remember: all mental illness is serious. Thank you.