Mood Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified

diagnosed bipolar and pissed about it

Category: Uncategorized

A follow up note

Last time I left off, I was suicidal.  Again.

Not as bad as the last time, but still pretty bad.

This time, I ended up going into the hospital.  A little “staycation”, as it were.  Not planned, of course.  I was just trying to do the intake interview for an Intensive Outpatient Program, which I could accept that I “needed”.  Then the lady told me she wouldn’t let me leave.

Sign the papers, or be committed by the state.

That’s a decision I hope not to have to make again.

My trip lasted about 4 days.  It was over a weekend, too, so I didn’t even get the full benefits of regular meetings and such.  Lots of drawing and coloring though.  A very, very expensive art class.

But, it changed things.  In a great way.  I learned that I was fighting depression, which was a problem.  But the bigger problem is that I was terrified of people.  I had no safe place, anywhere.  And without somewhere to feel safe, even if in my own head, I was spiraling out of control.  I lost my grip.

In the hospital, they have rules.  Boundaries.  Things I should have but don’t.  They’re imposed on everyone, and so they dictate the terms of the relationships you make.  I loved this.  At the time, I thought, if only I could figure out how to bring those rules out in the real world!  As I saw more and more of what that meant for interacting with others–that there would be no judgment and that you could be safe–I felt the weight lifted.  I felt like I could be myself, without being attacked, belittled, shamed, cussed at, or manipulated.  I was able to spend an entire day in the group room…with other people!  I had been almost certain that would never happen again.  I even felt playful at one time, which I hadn’t felt in so long.

It was a gift, this time in the hospital.  Because I saw that I needed to address the terror I felt about people.  I needed to build a safe place in myself, and work on creating the safe places outside, with others in order to sustain myself through the dark times.  This changed everything in how I approached healing.

I got out, and the next day I went to IOP.  I was still scared.  I couldn’t tell an emotion from a hole in the ground.  But I was headed in the right direction.  I was asking for help, which for whatever reason, is so hard for me to do.  I’ve been doing that, a little at time.

I’m still scared of people.  Still wary.  Still feel my heart race when someone gets too close.  But I keep reaching out, even if just a little.  Like my friend in the hospital told me: you give a little trust, and see what happens.  Not too much, like casting a fishing rod and winding it back just a bit to see what you get.

It’s a little odd.  It still feels pretty isolated sometimes, to always be on guard.  It’s safer though.  I’m more observant.  I’m looking out for myself.  I give a little trust, and if it’s respected, great!  If not, okay, I hold the line there.  More positive actions must be taken to advance!

It feels good to know that I’m doing this because I’m worth being respected, and that I have value as a person, and as a friend, which shouldn’t be pissed away or taken advantage of.  One of the great lessons in the last several months was examining how I treat other people, and how people I love and who love me, treat me.  And for whatever reason, I started using that as the barometer.  For example, I’d try and imagine someone I trusted deeply behaving a particular way (a behavior I wasn’t sure of or that caught my attention somewhere in the back of my mind), and then considered what I would think of them–and what they would presumably think of me–if they did that thing.  I started being able to see when the lines were being crossed.  Not only did I start seeing it, but I also started feeling it in a way that I could sense it in the moment and act on my feelings.  Somewhere a well is filling inside me, because I’ve been able to tap into it several times since then–to be in the moment, to approach a situation with a sense of confidence, of calm even.

It hasn’t stopped the utter terror I’ve felt in response to threats, which I’ve unfortunately received recently (it can come with the job).  I still had the panic attacks and my anxiety was spiked for days.  When it came to game time, though, I did tap into it.  It was there, somewhere.

I’m not perfect yet.  But it is so far from where I came.

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back to basics

Today, I went to the gym.  And for the first 75 minutes of my workout, I wanted to kill myself.  Although my muscles were working, I wasn’t there.  I recall feeling like one of those fungi-infected ants that were featured on Planet Earth.  My body knew what to do, so I let it do it’s thing while I plotted my own death.  It was no longer what my therapist called “passive suicidal ideation”.  I considered alternative means of doing it, if I would leave a note, and if I did, what it would say.  I eventually concluded I wouldn’t need a note, because fuck ’em.  I wondered how much dog food I should leave out before someone would eventually come check on me.  I thought about the people in my life that I actually valued, which I could count on one hand, and how many more I knew and were fairly sizable parts of my life in spite of not being particularly valuable.  Valuable might not be the right word…healthy, perhaps.  Point being that I was just not interested in life anymore.  It’s not a gift; at least, not for me it isn’t.

This is not atypical for me these days.  I wake up either with piercing anxiety or crushing depression.  Working out has been my only hope for a few hours of respite during the day, and I’ve been doing it every day for 45-120 minutes a day, depending on how bad my mood is.  I leave with a bit of internal peace, and a few too-short hours later, the bottom drops out again.  I did have two good-ish days last week, but then it was back to low-town.  My life, as I’ve told my therapist, is ruled by shame, the vicious bitch.

Somewhere around the 75 minute mark of today’s work out, the peace finally came.  I had almost walked out of the gym at the 25-minute mark, the 45-minute mark, the 55-minute mark, and the 75-minute mark.  I shudder to think of how I would feel now if I had.  In place of plans to off myself, I was making plans to live.  And not just to live, but to really take the bull by the horns and DO something about my shitty mood and my shitty life.  I guess my survival instinct could use a tune up, but it did eventually kick in.

I decided that today I would start learning how to take care of myself.  At the ripe-old age of 31, I needed to go back to basics, because I just did not have the slightest idea of how to do that.  I was practicing all the prescripted things they tell you to do when you’re depressed.  Exercise, eat well, get sleep, reach out.  The problem with that advice is that you need to be doing it ALL THE TIME, not just when you’re depressed.  Because basically, you’re just putting money in the bank for a rainy day.  Or it’s like a CD account, where you put money in but can’t access it for a while.  Meanwhile you feel like death would be a blessing.

I envisioned myself going through my DBT workbook, sprawling out in my office, sheets of paper all around me with diagrams and questions and events and processes.  I was going to keep investing and keep trying because I believed it would pay off, eventually.  If I could make it.  And besides, it wasn’t going to get any worse so I may as well try more strategies.  The shotgun approach to depression.

I got home and almost got myself into a Candy Crush tournament.  Not today, I thought.  I pulled up Amazon on my laptop and searched for a book my therapist recommended to me.  It uses a CBT approach and I’ve only been moderately impressed by that method so far, but I decided that, in combination with my DBT workbook, it couldn’t hurt.  While reading that page, I looked at the books that other customers also bought and opened a few more tabs with those.  In total, I ended up getting four new Kindle books.  I began to read.

It very quickly became evident that my whole goal after my last depression was wrong.  Back then, I had decided that I would not suffer anymore.  I was done with it, tired of it, and would do whatever I could to NOT. SUFFER. AGAIN.  I simply refused to suffer.

Cute, right?  This plan was fundamentally flawed from the start.

As I read, I feel like I’m starting to see things form in the ether.  Maybe.  It’s only day one and this particular leg of my journey is just a few hours old.

 

 

emotional terrorism

if you saw me right now, you wouldn’t notice much.  perhaps a little more furrow in my brow and a slight pursing of my lips.  i would lay my hands down in my lap so you wouldn’t notice the tremble.  you wouldn’t feel the spontaneous, uncontrollable muscular twitches on my scalp, or the painful tension in my jaw that occasionally prevents me from opening up my mouth.

click down.  click right.  release.

you also wouldn’t hear the earth-shattering, petrified scream of terror that occupies my mind several hours a day, or the urge to cry at all moments.  especially not the unsettling thoughts of peeling off my own skin and running as fast as i can, as far as i can, and never looking back.

run, run, run, run

in persistent flight mode, the slightest unexpected thing could send me over the edge, letting out the long, horrified shriek i’ve so far been able to contain, or reducing me into a crumpled pile on the floor, shuddering, crying.  the safest place is the paralysis stage, when limbs feel heavy and the mind goes to a strange, empty place that can’t quite be captured with words.  it’s a bit as if you found yourself in a heavy fog, floating.  no thoughts can enter that space.  just quiet.

shh

you look around.  you see things, knowing implicitly what they are, but not quite processing them in the way that you would normally.  it’s a mindless place, a place where autopilot helps you navigate space, where you can be among the natives, appearing normal but not quite able to understand what they are saying.  this is where your hypervigilance comes in handy.  without a single thought, just using body language and facial cues to know when to smile, laugh, or look serious.  you leave, not knowing what you talked about.  hearing words – some of them seem to make sense together – but your mind slipped away again so you lost track of the point.  nevermind.  no one noticed.

you know you have work to do.  meetings to attend.  a dissertation to complete.  this place won’t help you, so you do the things that are supposed to help.  you hold your worry stone.  go to therapy.  take your meds.  take a bath.  get exercise and plenty of nutrients.  reach out to friends in whatever meager way you can compel yourself to do it.  try to distract yourself with busy work or netflix.  yet you still wake up, heart racing, tears at the gate, tight chest. bracing yourself.

what awful, hateful, spiteful things might you hear today?  what of your person might be under fire?  what things you care about might be used against you?  is everyone safe?

it might be quiet for a while.  what does it mean?  is it finally over?  maybe the defenses begin to come down and you see the vast emotional wreckage, the blistering, hemorrhaging sores that have been opened and reopened, and scrubbed with a wire brush, and you know you can’t take any more.  all the troops are down; you have nothing left.  just motions and time.  go through the motions until new resources are born to repair this mess.

airstrikes by text message.

you hoped too soon.  this isn’t over.  not by a long shot.

perhaps if you contort yourself, your emotions, your values, your beliefs, maybe you can twist yourself into a foxhole.  maybe, if you compartmentalize enough, and don’t think about all of the verbal, acidic spittle or the award-winning mind fucks, you can dodge the attacks.  walk the narrow line, else a reign of terror befalls you.

why won’t you leave?

you can’t.  it’s not compatible with your person.  you cannot, in good conscience, abandon your position.  too much is at stake.  i weather the attacks so the little ones don’t have to.  it’s too unstable right now.  just a little longer.

hope, pray even, that the treatment sticks.  hope it’s just enough to get by, to get everyone in the safety zone.  set up the fort, get contacts in order, build the safety net.

it’s the only way to be free.

online dating assholes

There are funny aspects about online dating too.  Take this prize, for example:

Master of Douche

Saw your you tube BS. Here are the RED flags that I see regarding YOU. A. You say you want guys 29-35 on your you tube. Yet here you put 25-35?
You are this super smart professor/student, PhD, blah blah blah. Yet you are NOT even smart enough to figure this simple and LAME, website MAIL SETTINGS out.
HELLO, if you don’t want smokers? Then make your settings block smokers. If you don’t want married? Then set that up too. If you ONLY want guys aged this to that? Then make your mail settings, age range requirements for contact.
Shallow! It’s all about the pictures for you. Gee, did you ever think that most people are not photogenic and look completely different in person?
And the final RED flag regarding you? You are nearly 30yrs OLD and the longest relationship you have had was 1 year? Lack of commitment, ADHD, always looking to trade up. Or just a plain old B!TCH that no man can put up with for to long!

These are the things that are preventing you from “getting there” beyond a simple hookup relationship.

 

Me

LMFAO how’s this instead:

“you want guys 29-35 on your you tube. Yet here you put 25-35?”
how about the possibility that checking details on my profiles doesn’t take up my entire life like it appears to take up yours.

“Yet you are NOT even smart enough to figure this simple and LAME, website MAIL SETTINGS out.
HELLO, if you don’t want smokers? Then make your settings block smokers. If you don’t want married? Then set that up too. If you ONLY want guys aged this to that? Then make your mail settings, age range requirements for contact.”
Again, clearly you are OCD about online dating.  Get a life.

“Shallow! It’s all about the pictures for you. Gee, did you ever think that most people are not photogenic and look completely different in person?”
You must be ugly then.

“And the final RED flag regarding you? You are nearly 30yrs OLD and the longest relationship you have had was 1 year? Lack of commitment, ADHD, always looking to trade up. Or just a plain old B!TCH that no man can put up with for to long!”
It was nearly two years, and I’ve had several 1 yr relationships.  You must be from some bodunk town where you probably married at 17 and got divorced 3 years later.  After two kids.

You are made of class.  I hope you feel better about yourself criticizing people like this.  Clearly you need to bolster your self-esteem somehow.

Ciao.

prison sentencing

i am fucking bitter today.  in fact, just call me oscar the grouch.

i had high hopes for my psychiatrist appointment.  since the seroquel has been working, and since i am taking ~subtherapeutic doses of lithium (600 mg) and lamotrigine (100 mg), i thought i might have a shot at tapering off of them while remaining on the seroquel.

of course, in hindsight, my thinking was too simplistic.  i was only considering the unique effects of each medication.  whereas lithium made me not *as* depressed (but still flat), and i didn’t even really notice anything with the lamotrigine, seroquel was the drug with noticeable, measurable effects on my mood.  i’ve felt like “myself” for the first time in 2 years.  so of course, i concluded that i should be able to remove the other drugs while remaining on seroquel.

not so.  my psychiatrist reminded me that there are possible interactive effects that i’m not considering.  it’s possible that seroquel works well *in combination* with lamotrigine or lithium.

moreover, he recommended that i remain on treatment for at least 9-12 months after the onset of remission.  NINE TO TWELVE months.  fuck my mother fucking life.

why 9-12?  well, for people with a *first* episode of depression, the probability of relapse increases substantially if treatment is not continued for at least 9 months (while in remission).  that’s not even considering people who’ve had more than one episode of depression; for them the relapse rate is even higher.

so, my intellectual side is responding to these data and to an obligation to the “responsible” thing to do (i.e., stay on medication).  everything else is up in flames.  i am so angry, so disappointed, so frustrated, so defeated.  these medications are not just medications.  they are symbolic representations of my intense struggle with the bipolar diagnosis.  i want to be DONE with them.  i want to move ON with my life.  and i want to be off medication so i can begin to truly explore whether i am bipolar or not.

except today, i learned that i will not be able to do this.  in fact, i will not be able to do this for a very long time.

now you see it, now you don’t

okay, okay, okay.

i received a message from my psychiatrist today.  last time we met, he asked to see some of my blog posts from when my old psychiatrist said i was hypomanic.  he wanted to see my train of thought, i guess.

today, he sent the following message:

“Hi Patient A.,
Since these blog entries are all while you were taking fluoxetine, they cannot be used as counting towards a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  You would have to have similar symptoms during a period of your life when you were not on antidepressant medications and not using alcohol or other drugs.
Hope this helps.”

is this the same thing as saying we do not have adequate evidence for a bipolar diagnosis?

if so…doesn’t this mean that if i had never seen JiffyDiagnose (psychiatrist #2), i would have never been diagnosed bipolar?

and possibly that i’m not actually bipolar?

flip flop

yesterday i was all moody blues.  i woke up today feeling chipper.  optimistic, even.  don’t get me wrong, i appreciate the improvement.  but man, do i wish it was consistent.

i went to a get together last night, in the interest of staying the course in being social.  it was a small group, different than the one i had been running with the past few times i went out.  it didn’t hurt that i have a teensy weensie crush on one of them.  okay, two of them, but the female is in a relationship so she’s off limits (have i finally learned that lesson?).

i limited myself to two beers, and it didn’t hurt that both of them were HORRIBLE so i wasn’t inclined to have more.  i had no idea it was possible to fuck up an IPA.  it was like drinking acid, forreals.  i ducked outside to the street so i could dump it out, while still appearing gracious for the drink.

after about an hour and a half, i was painfully bored.  it’s not that [all of] the people were boring.  graduate students can just be so…awkward at times.  myself included.

mind you, this is like…9pm so people went kind of bug-eyed when i said i was going home.  so this is what it feels like to be a square.

i arrived home to happy pups, a few rounds of draw something, and some L&O.  midway through an episode, i was yearning to play infamous and made a spontaneous decision to buy it on the PSN…around midnight.  while it downloaded, i checked out a show my friend recommended called Firefly.  although anything Buffy-related reminds me of XBF, this Joss Whedon show was distant enough that i didn’t feel sad when i watched it.  in fact, it was really fucking good.  by 1:30a, infamous was still downloading, so i called it a night.

this morning, i got up and went to breakfast with another friend.  the sky is blue, the clouds are parting, and there is a pleasant wind today.  just my kind of weather.  i came home, flipped on firefly, and cleaned my house, washed dishes, did laundry.  now i’m sitting down to grade, but i think i might sneak a little infamous in first.

let’s hope this pattern holds.

so ronery

self-exploration

i need some new fucking hobbies.

i never thought i’d say this, but i’m actually starting to get a little sick of law & order.  nevermind the fact that i have it on any time i am home and my work doesn’t require serious concentration.  my l&o binges serve a purpose: they give me something to focus on.  in moments of silence, sadness creeps in.  as do memories and regret.

i’ve been keeping as busy as possible to avoid those moments.  i did some work on my jeep.  i cleaned out my house.  i redecorated a few areas.  put up curtains.  eradicated dirt and germs.  lots of laundry, and i even folded it and put it away right after it was done.  checked my mail on time, instead of letting it pile up and get sent back to the post office.

i’ve been getting academic work done too.  submitted things on time (!).  made and kept appointments.  been on top of email (mostly).  relatively on time with grading and things related to my classes.  i’ve started preparing for my upcoming classes.

i’ve also been more social than i have in…a very long time.  i had dinner with a couple girlfriends friday.  al-anon meeting saturday morning with another friend.  concert and bar hopping with a crew saturday night.  i spent sunday recovering, but then i had a colleague come over monday to work on some statistics stuff.

but those things aren’t really hobbies, per se.  despite doing all of that, somehow i still have time to fill.  for the past year, i’ve played video games as a new hobby.  it was one of those things i picked up to bond with XBF.  and he was a gaming fanatic so even the mention of gaming things makes my stomach sink.  i tried to play uncharted, and i got through about 5 minutes before i felt too sick to continue.

speaking of which, i would like to state for the record that god hates me.  that sob thinks it’s funny to drop reminders of XBF everywhere.  i mean, it’s relentless.  like the harder i try to ignore it, the more i hear things that remind me of him.

so, i need to generate a list of new hobbies to pursue.  here goes nothing.

  1. painting
  2. hiking
  3. camping
  4. cooking/baking
  5. blogging (check) 🙂
  6. vlogging
  7. knitting
  8. jogging
  9. photography
  10. yoga
  11. leaf collecting and pressing
  12. reading
  13. geocaching
  14. urban exploring
  15. building an agility course for my dogs
  16. gardening
  17. playing pool
  18. model building

for the record, i had to look up hobbies on wikipedia to come up with ideas.  ha!

step one

I found a resource online to help work through step one of the 12 steps of al-anon.  this is going to be a long, long road.  i am going to jot down some initial thoughts about each question here.

this is like one of those chain letter quizzes, except way cooler because, you know, it actually does have a consequence

and it’s not that i won’t find love for 7 years

(although that’s possible too)

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Working Step One:

Do I accept that I cannot control another person’s drinking? Another person’s behavior?

  • i have had to face this realization before and have done so successfully.  however, it isn’t out of habit yet.
  • i wrote down some examples of things i need to accept that i cannot control, e.g.,
  • i cannot control my mother’s need for validation by men, nor her denial
  • i cannot control my sister’s refusal to get adequate treatment, nor any of her self-destructive behavior
  • i cannot control my grandmother’s learned helplessness
  • i cannot control my aunt’s need to control those around her
  • i cannot control my advisor’s refusal to hear my side of things
  • i cannot control my ex-advisor’s using my bipolar as a scapegoat for his actions
  • i cannot control the addictions nor the behavior of my father or my sister’s father
  • i cannot control XBF’s rejection of me

How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?

  • in a previous relationship with an alcoholic, i had to realize that he was truly ill and that his personal hell was killing him.  also, there was nothing i could do about it.
  • this question extends beyond the alcoholic for me.  i have trouble with conflict, and one of my biggest challenges is accepting that the person with whom i have conflict simply isn’t going to see my way all the time.

Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker?

  • yes, it is certainly a disease.
  • i don’t know if that changes how i deal with a drinker at all.

How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?

  • what is the difference between change and compromise?
  • i have observed individuals changing their behavior at my request.
  • i have also expected change where none may be possible
  • or where my expectation was unrealistic
  • consequences include wearing myself out “waiting” or being the best “support” for that change; i end up angry and resentful, or defeated
  • specific examples to come

What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met?

  • i have feigned inferiority to avoid aggression
  • i have played dumb to get information i want
  • i have used seduction or flirting to get things i want
  • i have debased myself to fulfill a need for pain and shame
  • i’m not sure i know what my needs are, so figuring that out is probably a solid first step

How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want? How do I respond?

  • haha, that reminds me.  i don’t know how many times i have thought to myself, “if you would just do what i want, everything would be FINE!”
  • i feel defeated
  • i feel like it is my failure

What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?

  • they would keep doing what they are doing

How can I let go of others’ problems instead of trying to solve them?

  • stop equating empathy with a need to act
  • figure out a way to be supportive without taking on a burden*
  • turn inward to reflect on what role i should have, if any

Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one?

  • no, and probably not

In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people?

  • anything regarding my sister
  • romantic relationships

In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone else’s behavior?

  • when my alcoholic ex peed himself on my friend’s friend’s carpet.  super awkward.
  • when XBF would tell stories about high school around my friends.  they would look at him kinda funny and then me.  ugh.  it made him look so young and unexperienced.
  • when others go through a shameful or embarrassing situation, i also feel shame and embarrassment, both on their behalf and because i was there to observe it.

What brought me into Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?

  • i went with and for a friend who asked me to accompany her for moral support.
  • however, i knew i needed to go for my own reasons too, such as needing to reflect on myself, find my own voice, and build a support network

Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.

  • a range of people have expressed concern about my risky behavior
  • ex-boyfriends, for one
  • my aunt
  • probably some friends

How do I know when my life is unmanageable?

  • i start to crumble
  • i am unable to keep appointments or plans
  • i can’t keep up with my responsibilities
  • i can’t see which way is up
  • i feel like i’m skating on the surface of my life, without any deeper interaction with the experiences that compose it

How have I sought approval and affirmation from others?

  • i am the poster child for “approval-seeking”
  • interestingly i am also extremely stubborn and rebellious against authority
  • you tell me

Do I say “yes” when I want to say “no”? What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this?

  • i have often done this, but i am getting better
  • life can get pretty out of hand otherwise

Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself?

  • bingo

How do I feel when life is going smoothly? Do I continually anticipate problems? Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?

  • i wait for the other shoe to drop
  • i worry and fear whatever problems have been “building up” during my period of respite
  • i feel more capable during crisis and i also get a lot of satisfaction out of surviving crises

How well do I take care of myself?

  • moderately.  you could really go either way.

How do I feel when I am alone?

  • at peace.
  • able to be myself fully
  • able to pursue my own interests without worrying about anyone else

What is the difference between pity and love?

  • i had to look this one up
  • according to dictionary.com
  • pity: sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy
  • love: 1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. 2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  • i’m going to have to think about this one a little more

Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them? How have I tried to fix them?

  • i think the answer is probably yes, but that is not what is coming to mind
  • what is coming to mind is that i feel more comfortable around other people who have faced problems and need fixing
  • because i have faced problems and need fixing too
  • so i feel safer around them
  • i do not understand people who do not have those characteristics

Do I trust my own feelings? Do I know what they are?

  • when i am not overwhelmed i can trust my feelings
  • when i am overwhelmed, i cannot tell which way is up
  • i cannot sort out my feelings and figure out what to do until i have time and space to reflect and think about them
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