Mental Health

Another Day, Another Diagnosis

As the years go by, more and more gets added to the fire:

Major Depressive Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (just a little)

Depression, Severe, Recurrent (I went up a notch!)

Then, recently, I was describing some recent behavior to my therapist and she says she thinks I had a manic episode. What does the doctor say today?

Bipolar Disorder II

What does this mean? It means more meds. Sad. Pills. Can’t sleep. Pills. Impulsive. Pills. Anxiety. Pills. Throw in my acid reflux medication and I have a mini-pharmacy. Is this really the answer? I fear that it is, sometimes.

When I left group therapy I was on a high. I could’ve walked on water. I felt accomplished. I was proud that I had seen it through. I was attached mentally and emotionally to my little family of strangers that I had shared so much of my life with. I was feeling hopeful. But, slowly, that high has gone down, down, down…. to the point where I don’t want to leave my sofa anymore. Does this mean that I’m meant to be a pill-popping, therapy-attending sloth forever? It feels like it. I don’t knock either of these methods. Some of us just need it. I, personally, am a completely different person when I’m not medicated. But, sometimes I tire at the necessity of it. Sometimes, I wonder if the doctors are really listening and actively helping us to develop coping skills outside of prescriptions. I felt that way today. Rushed. The doctor was filling prescriptions within five minutes of the session. She wanted me to talk to my therapist about a possible bipolar diagnosis. She knows me, so she should be able to do it, right? I said to her, “shouldn’t you?” I think this must’ve irked her because while she went on about not knowing me, she stopped long enough to listen to my symptoms and come to an agreement with my therapist’s concern.

I don’t know what the point of me writing this post was. Simply to express frustration, I guess, with the system and with myself. I just want to be happy all the time, one big f**king ray of sunshine. But, damn, it’s hard for some of us, isn’t it?

 

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Mental Health

Empty

You know those rare and random times where you have a decent day, or even a really good day? The kind of day where you got to be where you wanted to be when you wanted to be there. You were in good company. You satisfied some goals. You’re proud of your accomplishments. You did something nice for someone and made their day. You made a difference.

And then the days over. You come home. There’s no one here. And that high turns into the ultimate low, if it was ever really a high at all. Sometimes, we don’t recognize our own facades because we’re so used to wearing them.

I feel empty, depressed, down, unfulfilled, alone… and there’s some confused part of me without feeling.

What do you do when this happens?

Mental Health, Random

Awake, Part 8

I know why the caged bird sings…

How I long to be free of my self-imposed battle with guilt. All the things I’ve done, all the ways I’ve wronged someone, all the things I’ve said, all the mistakes I’ve made, every embarrassing moment orbits the edge of thought trying to break into my brain’s gravitational field. I try to keep the thoughts at bay. Damn by interminable, long memory. It is like my grandmother’s, who at 100 years old, could spout of details of not only all of her offspring’s long ago mishaps, but her own childhood. I envy those who can easily forget and shake off the little things.

I’m afraid to sleep because I’m afraid to dream.

I’m afraid to wake because I’m afraid to think.

Where is the happy balance? Where is the freedom from this self-inflicted tyranny? Hope do I get out of this vicious cycle that keeps me caged in monotony, vulnerability, fear, and one damnably terrible sleep pattern?

The caged bird sings of freedom.

Random

Awake, Part 7

I am thinking of you, in my sleepless solitude tonight.

Awake again. I’m beginning to associate lack of sleep with normalcy. But, at least, I’m being productive.

I drank too much wine and the brain fog is settling in. But, at least I enjoyed it.

My Fitbit says my heart rate is 102. I don’t know if it’s the wine, the position I’m in, or anxiety about yet another day back to work. But, it’s Fat Burn zone, so maybe I’ll shed some pounds in my state of confusion.

I’ve discovered new pastimes for sleepless nights. One is writing my thoughts for others to read. The other is reading the thoughts others write. In some strange way, I feel bonded to everyone else who is awake right now, either because sleep is evasive or because it’s daytime in their time zone. But, strange though it is, it is also somewhat gratifying to feel like part of an unknown something.

I am thinking of you. I have been all day. You showed up in my dreams during the little sleep I did get. Now, I do not know if being awake is a blessing. But, it was good to see your face.

Mental Health, Poetry

Little Girl/Awake, Part 5/Collaboration, Part 1

Borrowed this photo from OraforLife for her poem The Locked Up Soul. Posting a poem I wrote that both her poem and photo reminded me of. Thank you, Ora! Hope you enjoy. 🙂

*****

Quite by accident one day
I was sitting on a bench alone
Staring into nothingness
Seemingly content
Then came this little girl
A familiar girl
She sat beside me
Prim and proper
Soft dark skin
Deep brown eyes
An angel almost
And in her presence
My soul felt more tattered
Then the clothes I was wearing
So I tried to ignore her
No
She tugged at my sleeve
I thought it would come off in her tiny hand
She posed her questions
“What is love?” she asked
Didn’t look at her.
“Love is waste,” I said
“Worthless, painful, never love.”
“What is hate?”
“Hate is the only true emotion.
What forces you to soldier on
What keeps you alive.”
“And what is life?”
I cringe.
“Life. Life is a trial.
It is agony.
It is blood outpoured
And never regained.
It is broken hearts and dreams.
Life is being here and dying.
Nothing more.”
When I finished
She was silent
I finally brought myself to look at her
To look deep into her eyes
There was sweetness there
There was hope
There was innocence
Would I destroy her
Wit the bitterness within me?
How could I speak these words?
How could I let her think these things?
And so I took her in my arms
And took her tiny hand
Held it tight
“Let me try this again,” I said
“Love is a splendid feeling
That should be given and felt
And though sometimes it hurts
We never give up on it
Hate is for the lost
Those who gave up on love
And so they choose anger
Life is not just what you see
It is only what you make it
So choose a path
Never look back
Do not be ashamed of it.”
When I finished
Her eyes were shining
She smiled
I looked at this child
This girl I used to be
The one who lives in me
I realized I had forgotten all I told her
I had forgotten what life could be
Forgotten happiness
I had only allowed myself to know
My rancid inner soul
No more
So I took her in my arms
Hugged her
Squeezed her
Until she was no longer there
Until I only held myself
I stood up then
With renewed spirit
A young girl’s hope
And a lust of long ago
I chose a path
A brand new road
I will not look back
I will not find shame

Poetry, Random

Awake, Part 4

My dreams, they gotta kiss me, ’cause I don’t get sleep, no.

I actually got a fair amount of sleep tonight/this morning. I dreamed that I had been robbed at gunpoint, that people around me lacked sympathy for it; that I was being forced to embrace a religion I didn’t care about; and that one of my parents suggested I give up engineering to become a dentist. Our subconscious mind… It’s out of control. Now, I’m choosing to be awake because I don’t want to dream anymore. Sleep had given me far too much to think about.

*****

The mind will let go
Willfully and with resolve
Longing to be purged
It finds the narrow path
Pushing doggedly forward
To some sort of sanity
Or so it would like to believe
The heart tries to move on
Wistfully and with longing
It is a bit cowardly
It knows better though
And attempts to mimic the mind
Only thing it takes
Are its own broken pieces
And a memory… Or two…
In comes the subconscious!
The cocky snit
Knows it can’t be controlled
Sneaks into our speech
Turns reason irrational
Wreaks havoc on dreams
So even in sleep there is no peace
Even the hand twitches towards… Something…
Teases and tortures mind and heart
With what they’ve been trying to forget
Perhaps vengeful because it remembers all
Maybe not cocky…
Maybe lonely…
Abandoned
It brings the pieces of the soul back together
No longer separated by a strange harmony
Dissonant together

Love, Mental Health, Relationships

Trust and Toxicity

What is it that makes us hold on to the people that are the absolute worst, the most toxic to our lives, just plain no good for us?

Consider my own personal experiences. I connect with very few people. So, when I do, I’m ALL IN. I don’t know how else to be. Usually, the people I connect with are the same. Then the red flags start getting thrown. But, I say, “Oh, it’ll be ok,” or “I can’t judge. I have the same issues,” or “No one is perfect. I have to accept some faults.” I keep saying this until I have been brutally and deeply hurt and that person has abandoned me. I keep saying this while my rational mind tells me to let go but my irrational one tells me that their bullshit shouldn’t dictate my actions and I should continue to be a good friend. I keep telling myself this long past what is healthy and sensible. And after I finally let go, I still struggle to stay away because, as I said, I don’t know how to go all in.

I’ve realized what my personality type is and how I approach friendships and relationships with friends or family will probably not change. This means that I will take disappointments hard and I need my time to grieve after each failed attempt. That’s ok. But, I still haven’t figured out when to start that grieving process at a suitable point in time. I haven’t figured out when to kick a toxic person out on their ass.

Ironically, though, I’ll be ready to kick out a good person. Take this for instance. One of my friends misinterpreted something I said. Rather, she chose to do so because she was in a bad mood and had had a trying previous few days. She reprimanded me 1) unnecessarily, and 2) in front of a group of people. My initial reaction was, “What the f**k was that?” I started thinking to myself I have to pull away, I’ve gotten to close to this person, they’re going to hurt me, we can be cordial, but we can’t be close friends. Then, I did what I often do not do in this situation. I stepped back and relaxed. I gave myself the rest of the day to be mad. The next morning, I told her I understood her frustrations and I forgave her. She was very apologetic. This was progress for me and I thought I had moved on. We hung out a few days later. I realized that I was holding back things I had planned to share (I had just had a breakthrough in group therapy). It took me a couple hours to tell myself to chill out and trust her. She had already apologized several more times during the day. I shared what was on my mind and I felt better. Later, she thanked me for not divorcing her as a friend. But, honestly, there was no reason to. A couple years ago, though, I wouldn’t have been able to get through such a situation nearly so quickly.

I realized that the toxic people that I have kept in my life, the ones that I still feel emotionally attached to, have made me afraid to trust the decent people that come my way. So, I’m more likely to push them away out of fear that they will hurt or leave me and instead stay with the people who DO hurt and leave me, thinking I can fix them. This is my safe place. But, really, it isn’t safe, is it? These actions also keep my depression and anxiety at a high.  I’ve realized that, while it might make me a little sad and restless, it’s healthier for me to have an evening home alone, then continue in relationships with people that are just complete shit. It’s a struggle, though!! Fortunately, this aspect of my life is a work in progress.

What’s your experience? Share with me?

Random

Awake, Part 3

Hello, darkness, my old friend…

Not my friend, really, though. Simply an acquaintance I have become very familiar with. I’ve spent many a moment staring into it’s soul depths while my mind tries to navigate self-induced traps and do-loops that have created a maze of madness and I’m lost in the hedges which is making my anxiety increase and I’m becoming one with the darkness around me instead of embracing the dark behind my eyelids and damn it, now I’m not drowsy anymore, but totally AWAKE! Stop. Breath. Isn’t that what the night can be like? One long run-on sentence?

Hello, darkness. How are you this night? We’re both here. Might as well get to know each other some more. Wrap me in your tendrils. Embrace what sleep and sheep reject.

Mental Health, Random

D-Day

Today was my final day of group therapy and I have been officially discharged from intensive outpatient therapy.

When I first was admitted, of my own volition, I was in the throes of deep depression and anxiety. I had long since detached emotionally from just about everything – work, friends, family, life in general. I could not even feel happy to see a person I genuinely liked or cared for. I felt nothing. I had stopped dating, due to being deeply hurt by someone. I thought to myself, that I should get back out into the pool. I met a man that made me want to feel things again, that made me want to be vulnerable to someone. Then, he hurt me too, and I retreated back into myself, faded into black.

I was feeling guilt and anxiety over events long forgotten about. My mind would wake from sleep and automatically say, “Remember that thing you did ten years ago when you were in college?” or, “Remember that thing you said when you were 8?” and so on, so forth. I would remember all the vivid details of that moment. Every movement. Every word. All aspects of the surroundings. I would feel all of the guilt I had felt, or should have felt, then. I felt it to the point that I was giving myself panic attacks, feeling my heart’s increasing rhythm, my chest tightening, my blood pressure rising. I was stuck in the do-loop of rumination and obsessive thinking.

Tonight, after six weeks of intensive therapy, I feel more like myself than I have felt in probably the last year and a half. I feel confident in the future. I have hope in it.

I was not coalesced into therapy. I wanted to go. As bad as my depression had been in the past, it had never been like this. I had never felt so void of feeling. I lacked care and pride, So, I told my therapist that I thought I needed to check myself in somewhere – an idea that might seem daunting and incomprehensible to most. But, I needed, I yearned, to feel better, and because I accept my mental health for what it is, without the usual social stigmas, I was happy to do something extra, for my own sake.

Of course, I was resistant at first, as I always am, due to my impatient, analytical nature. There were things that I expected therapy to be that it was not. As such, my agitation would surpass the need to just listen and learn. But, over time, I relaxed, was educated, and, though not cured, on a path out of the dark.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” The Serenity prayer. I’ve always despised it, a feeling perhaps inherent in my own nature, because I do not like to think that I cannot change something. I like to be able to control my life. In time, though, even I have learned to start understanding and accepting that I cannot control everything. There is no sense making myself miserable trying to.

I am in a good place, one that I’ve never been in during this years long journey through mental illness. This is not a journey that will ever end, for certain, but it is the first time I have left somewhere feeling that I would not have to go back, feeling like I had made significant progress and my outlook on the future was a positive one. Tomorrow will be kinder (great song, by the way).

Our minds are precious. Look after yours.

Mental Health

The Beckett Sisters

Have you seen the movie The Beckett Sisters? It stars Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates, and Barbara Streisand as three, somewhat strange, women in a small village. They may or may not be related, but they all have the same last name and the same supernatural powers. They can visit other realms at the snap of a finger. They can pull red and people roses from another world into the dreary, clouded fall off their small village. Each of the ladies has one child, all of whom are attempting to find this gift within themselves while struggling to come of age. It is a tale of jealousy, resentment, age-old quarrels among adults, and new ones along teenagers. With appearances from Charlie Heaton and Natalia Dyer, of Stranger Things, this is a film that teaches us…

…nothing. Because it just ends very abruptly. After I awoke, it too me several minutes to understand that I had dreamed the whole thing. This is a battle I often have, distinguishing dream from reality when I’m awake. I have to have conversations with myself to determine what is true or false. Unfortunately, that was only one of several very vivid dreams I had this night. It’s 0425, and I’m afraid to go back to sleep. As the dream fades, I’m not sure Kathy Bates was one of the three actresses, but it was a definitely a hell of a cast.

Aren’t sleep aids/antidepressants/antipsychotics just great? On top of the words and the do-loop of rumination that can’t get out of your head? Sleep on that.