Daily Archives: December 27, 2015

Feeling Overwhelmed and Lacking Balance

Sometimes, when you’re bipolar, you want to bust all the stigma.  You want to save the world.  You want to kick stigma’s ass and save all the people.  But then sometimes you do just feel “crazy” and you just feel like you’re the epitome of mental illness and like you can’t make toast, let alone a difference in the world.

I guess that’s the nature of having bipolar disorder.  Everything is in extremes.  I’ve been struggling some recently.  Not going back to the hospital, type of struggling, but just… there is SO. MUCH. GOING. ON. and I often feel like I can’t handle it (understatement).  Trying to deal with normal suckiness of life on top of bipolar can truly be too much for a bipolar person.  For me, anyways.  And I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Anyone?

I really hate to be complaining, my life is generally really good, it’s great actually, but like with anyone, bad, scary, stressful stuff happens.  Stress just gets the best of me and I wish I didn’t let it.  People get sick or injured or some other frightening or major life event occurs and it just all happens at once and it’s just so overwhelming. I spend a large portion of my life overwhelmed.  Or so it would seem.

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 7.07.31 PM

And for crying out loud, every single damn time I have dental work done–I swear I feel like crap.  And by crap, I mean, totally emotional.  I cry a lot after the dentist.  Sometimes I cry AT the dentist.  I’m sure everyone at my dentists office thinks I’m so great and completely stable. Not. But, I actually talked to my psychiatrist about this last week and he confirmed that this can happen because of what they inject along with the lidocane to numb your mouth.  It was very interesting.  He explains it better, so I’m not going to try, but how amazing is it to know that?!  All of this time I thought it was just me being a total weirdo or that it was just an annoying coincidence or that, you know, it was “all in my head.”

Ugh, don’t you sometimes just want to know that what you’re feeling is normal?  When you’re bipolar and things are all haywire, nothing seems–for lack of better word–normal.  I’ve felt recently like things won’t level out again, or at least not any time soon.  And even if they do, how long will they stay that way? When I feel down, everything is terrible, and when I feel good, I can conquer anything.  Balance would be so nice. 

Ten Things of Thankful (Muddling Through, Not-Giving-Up Version)

Well, I couldn’t find a current TToT anywhere to link to, but I know that these things happen on the weekends, and its the weekend (I think…ha!), so I’m going to throw it up here anyway.  Life has been a series of ultra-rapid-cycling bull-stuff, going on, so some of this may be a stretch, and some of it might only make sense to me, but I’m going to continue on anyway, because I have made it this far, and I will not give up:

  1. The realization that certain persons may not give a damn, to the degree that I had previously thought.  I really want to be done asking myself why I try so hard with certain people.  Other people, more deserving people, could be getting that love that is so thrown away by others.
  2. The realization that certain persons DO give a damn, more so than I had originally thought.  I would really like to stop asking myself WHY (and questioning!) these people love me the way they do, and instead enjoy it.  These people, would be the more deserving people of the love I have to spread around.
  3. Pandora Radio — one of the only things keeping me remotely sane, is playing nearly 24/7
  4. Mostly positive Christmas celebrations.  Meaningful exchanges, warm conversation, good food, flickering fireplaces.
  5. Love.  Even though I am feeling up and down, around and around, I still have love.  Granted, I am realizing that some love I thought existed does not, I have newly-opened-eyes to how huge the love is of certain persons.
  6. The ability to turn my mind.  I may have to practice it over and over, repeat, repeat, repeat, but I CAN turn my mind, if only for a moment.
  7. Not impulsively burning bridges, and realizing that this has served me well over the years.
  8. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) — thank you for teaching me how to save my own life, once again
  9. The possibilities of addressing deeper issues in the new year in therapy, possibly looking at doing EMDR.
  10. Having learned to ask questions when I need validation or support.



Filed under: Ten Things of Thankful Tagged: bipolar disorder, blogging, DBT, dialectical behavior therapy, EMDR, friends, gratitude, mental illness, mental-health, Ten Things of Thankful, thankful

Elf Juice and Gloom

Well,  I think I figured out why Santa didn’t bring me that 1973 Pantera I lust for.

1227151022-00How was I to know Coca-Cola was gonna toss elves into a blender and hit puree then sell it at the store??? My bad.

We are in day three of wet cold gloom. To say it’s dragging me down would be an understatement. I am fighting the depressive inertia but it’s not going well. Once again, I just can’t find my giddy up and go. Meanwhile we’re bordering on biohazard six and the yard looks like a cyclone hit it (thanks, wind storm) so I am overwhelmed and clueless where to start. “Just do it” doesn’t seem to work for me. I go to do something,see everything that needs done, and I essentially cower in panic and shamble back to the safety of my bedroom crypt.

I am back to not even being able to decide what to nosh on so my stomach rumbles and I just ignore it and put off having to make any sort of decision cos everything tastes like gruel anyway, courtesy of all the damned meds. (No, doctors, I don’t care if you say the meds don’t affect tastebuds as you haven’t been taking them for twenty plus years so what do you fucking know.)

If the depressive inertia would just let up, I might be okay. The anxiety has certainly been manageable now that I haven’t had to contend with the dish and its dwellers for three days. I mean, okay, total withdrawal isn’t good for the depression, but it’s a fucking cure for the crippling anxiety. Who wouldn’t want to jump on that and hump its leg?

So much in bipolar and anxiety disorders is a trade off. Side effects versus benefit. Doing what will quell anxiety yet not help depression because being sad isn’t nearly as paralyzing as being frozen like a deer in headlights with panxiety. Take a med to get to sleep, spend the entire day shaking off the coma effect. Eating even though it could in combo with certain meds make you gain weight.

Trade offs suck.

So as much as I want to be a badass and tear through the housework like a tornado…I don’t think it’s going to happen again today. Bare minimum once again. This motivation thing irks me. I get it maybe once a week and I never know when it will hit me. Otherwise I am stuck in inertia hell.

That leads to self bullying and feeling lazy and weak.

Which adds to depression and being overwhelmed.

Some days I just want to be locked into a padded room with a dozen purring cats, my Xanax, and a laptop to stream soothing narrated shows from. Because every other thing on the planet seems to make me go batshit.

Of course, I am a mom now, and as my mother has pointed out…I don’t “get” to have a breakdown cos I have a child counting on me. (Funny, as she spent three weeks in a psych ward when I was sixteen and she had two kids.)


I stuck to my old counselor’s advice and set a goal for myself. I took out trash. Yep. I know, pathetic. But having done that one thing…Anything else today is gravy. I am exhausted from the anxiety of the hellidays and all the dish dwelling and if I need to shut down for a third day to recover…so be it.

Just won’t be drinking anymore elf juice. These pointy ears are not an attractive look on me.

Self-Harm Revisited

If that title isn’t enough of a TRIGGER WARNING for you, I don’t know what is.

Not long ago I saw on the web a video with the title “Is scratching self-harm?” Well, of course it is, I thought. The video agreed with me.

It seems like the low end of the spectrum, not as extreme as as what most people think of as self-harm, but a form of it nonetheless. Scratching, pinching, hair pulling, and the like are probably considered subclinical next to cutting and burning. But they are still problems. They can escalate into worse self-harm.

In another article (http://www.upworthy.com/this-researcher-who-studies-self-injury-explains-why-people-do-it-and-why-he-did-it?c=ufb1) I saw this definition for self-harm:

“Self-injury is intentional damage to body tissue (that doesn’t include body modifications like piercings, tattoos, and scarification) without suicidal intent.”

So, yes, scratching is self-harm. It is intentional. It is damage to body tissue. and it does not indicate suicidal intent.

Scratching sounds so minor. We scratch ourselves all the time when we have an itch or an insect bite. We scratch ourselves accidentally on protruding nails. Occasionally we draw blood. We wash it off, slap on a band-aid, and that’s that.

But when scratching escalates to self-harm, it can indeed be serious. For one thing, scratches have a tendency to become infected, infection of the sort can lead to further tissue damage – and if untreated, to more serious complications.

There is also the potential for further harm because the scratching will scab over. Then the desire to scratch off the scabs kicks in. When this happens, the scratches never heal. And yes, that’s both a fact and a metaphor.

My own experience with scratching came when I was working at a job that required me to monitor burglar alarms. The alarms tended to go off – whether there was a burglary or not – during thunderstorms. When a storm hit, a dozen or more alarms could go off simultaneously, or at least in rapid succession. I had to call the owners of the businesses, or emergency services as required.

One night during a particularly bad storm, I missed one of the alarms. I did not call the owners until I looked back at the record. When I called, it was 45 minutes since the alarm. I knew I had made a mistake, and a bad one. The owners of the business would not be happy. My boss would not be happy. I was not happy.

I sat alone by the monitors and imagined the trouble I was in. I started scratching my right arm – long slow strokes from nearly the wrist to nearly the elbow. Repetitively. Obsessively. Painfully. I believe I was punishing myself for making a bad mistake. Perhaps there was some thought that if I inflicted the pain, I would escape further consequences of my mistake.

Of course that makes no sense. It’s an example of the irrational thinking that goes with self-harm.

I don’t cut anymore, as I discussed in a previous post (http://wp.me/s4e9Hv-cutters). I also don’t scratch the way I did that night. I still have a tendency to pick scabs. Occasionally if I have an insect bite, I will scratch it to blood and then pick the scabs on that. I try not to. My husband helps me by reminding me not to pick at scabs or to put band-aids on them. I try to rub instead of scratch, or use lotion.

Jenny Lawson (aka the Bloggess) has admitted in her most recent book, Furiously Happy, that she scratches past the point of bleeding and pulls her hair enough to create bald spots. It’s clear that she considers this self-harm. Her husband tries to help her with it too.

But self-harm is basically a private thing – something we do and hide from the world. Some people are able to hide it even from their most intimate family and loved ones. I know I wore long sleeves to cover the dreadful scratch on my right arm. It healed from a scratch to a pink scar and then to a white scar. Now I can’t even see it anymore through the freckles.

But I don’t need the visible reminder. I remember how it felt to do it, how it felt after I did it, and how I felt as I watch the scars slowly fade. its nothing I’m proud of, except for the fact that I survived it and no longer do it.

As most cutters and other people who self-harm do, I feel shame in recalling the act, and almost never speak of it. The reason I’m sharing the story in such a public forum is to let people know that not all self-harm consists of big dramatic gestures. It can start with a tiny scratch. But it is not something to be ignored. We need to talk about self-harm, educate about it, bring it out in the open, and let others know that it doesn’t have to continue.

And that it can start with something as small as a scratch.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, being overwhelmed, coping mechanisms, cutters, cutting, freelance work, mental health, my experiences, physical pain, psychological pain, trigger warning

2016 please come now!

my holiday was bad. really bad.

my family made me feel like shit this Christmas, in turn, making me feel like shit the whole weekend. I spent my weekend locked up in my house, on the couch, alone. I didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone, hang out, nothing..

i feel bad because i feel like i ruined Christmas but the people around me didn’t care about my feelings at all so my holiday was ruined.

ugh to the people around me.

ugh to the holidays.

ugh to myself for not getting up and leaving this place when i could.

2016 please come now!

my holiday was bad. really bad.

my family made me feel like shit this Christmas, in turn, making me feel like shit the whole weekend. I spent my weekend locked up in my house, on the couch, alone. I didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone, hang out, nothing..

i feel bad because i feel like i ruined Christmas but the people around me didn’t care about my feelings at all so my holiday was ruined.

ugh to the people around me.

ugh to the holidays.

ugh to myself for not getting up and leaving this place when i could.

Que Sera, Sera

or whatever will be, will be.

Doing my best to move on in a post-Dr. Awesomesauce world, I did exactly what I said I would do and called the county mental health department last week. I was immediately encouraged by the attitude of the receptionist, whose voice was cheerful and who seemed very interested in what I had to say, and by the intake coordinator who called me back the next morning. They’ve already found a therapist to work with me, and while I won’t be able to see an actual prescriber till March, I think Dr. A will continue with medication management until then.

That’s not to say I’m not devastated at losing him. I’ve shed more than a few tears and I wish I could go back for one more session just to say good-bye and have closure. Besides…what other doctor will treat me like I have a brain, diseased though it may be? Will I find another mental health provider who will serve as my cheerleader, my advocate, my r0ck? And who on earth is going to tease me endlessly about that ridiculous yellow toucan shirt?

I guess I’ll have to settle for sending him a Thank You card with a few well-chosen words of gratitude for taking such good care of me and for the time he literally saved my life. It seems so inadequate; he gave me almost four years of sage advice, careful medication adjustments, and a million and one laughs. But what must be, must be, and I’m going to have to make the best of it.

This is a far cry from where I was even a year ago. Then, these events would probably have destabilized me to the point that I would’ve needed intensive crisis management…maybe not like I did when I was hospitalized, but I would not have done well at all. Just the idea of losing Dr. A used to inspire panic whenever he’d make noises about leaving the clinic to devote full time to his private practice; once, I went into a horrific mixed episode after he told me that. Maybe it’s just that I’ve seen this coming for a couple of years now and it’s not a shock anymore…the only surprise was the way it happened. But I’m going to be OK, even though the ground is definitely shifting under my feet and I don’t know what my mental health care is going to look like from here on out.

And it is the uncertainty that weighs most heavily. I could end up with some jerk who messes with my meds and screws me up royally. I could end up with someone who’s in it just for the paycheck and doesn’t give a damn about the patient. But I could also end up with someone who’s just as wonderful in their own way as Dr. A is in his…which of course is what I hope and pray for. I have come to the realization that my mental health is the most important thing in my life, for without it, I can’t manage my life.

I’ve got my intake appointment on Wednesday. Wish me luck!