Yesterday I wrote 1 line. One blank line.
It was all I could muster.
On my birthday, I had wanted to celebrate me. To celebrate my more than just survival this year, my growth, my success. But I guess there were none to celebrate.
Instead, I spent the day in bed, alone. Quiet. Trying to protect my loved ones from the typhoon of me. Trying not to make the mistake that would hurt them more.
34 years old. Seems young to me. This life is mine to live. But I waste it.
I am weak and stupid. I let fear block my way.
I’d like to re-join the life that I was building but I can’t find the way.
I let fear keep me inside. Alone. Quiet. Disconnected.
What am I even so afraid of?
Last month, it all seemed so clear, so possible.
Then the slide began. I could sense it coming.
Like the smell of the sea before a storm.
How much can I procrastinate writing this… all week apparently.
Unfortunately my award winning strategy for living with bipolar 2 isn’t working very well. (I’ll have to postpone my Oprah show appearance again.)
I thought I was doing really well at this ‘life’ thing. I thought the daily motions that I was working really hard to complete were meeting my goals of giving my kids a decent mother and making my husband’s life less miserable. (Can you feel the self loathing?)
But as this year’s winter depression got worse, my husband and my employer finally ran out of patience (not together but it happened at the same time) and forced me to hear some feedback that I’ve been ignoring for a long time. Not only was I failing at both of my goals, my efforts were aimed in the wrong directions.
The feedback that I finally heard was this:
(I don’t want reassurance. This is true and it’s important that I see it for what it is.)
I am volatile. I am overweight. I am overly critical. I expect perfection from others but rarely provide it. I am judgemental. I am messy. I am lazy. I am not nurturing. I am overly intense. My intensity is not appropriate for the situations.
This list is how they described me. But it’s really how I would have described my mother. Ouch.
I was just working so hard to not cause pain to the people I love. But instead of protecting them, I was actually instilling fear in them. I don’t even know if they were more afraid of my anger or my silence. Are they afraid of pushing me over the edge or of me pushing them down?
The only way I knew to make them less afraid was to stay out of their way but then I learned that wasn’t really what they wanted. Something needed to change. I knew it deep down but I wasn’t sure if it was worth investing more energy in the lost cause of fixing me. I was in a deep hole.
After a lot of crying in the shower and more deep self hatred. I realized that I had to get more and different help to figure out how to take more effective action or I would really lose everything. I learned that I didn’t necessarily need to work harder, I needed to work smarter. And I needed some more tools for that.
So, I called every mood disorder/bipolar organization for help finding services (they were not helpful). Then I called almost every psychologist in the directory (many of them were not helpful). I finally felt empowered to try something new. I felt like I had a bit more agency over my life but I still wasn’t sure what that meant.
When I realized that the routine and rules that I had created and held sacred weren’t actually protecting me from failure after all, I felt a bit more freedom to stray from the prison I had created for myself. I gave myself more permission to check in with my body and mind and consider listening to myself. I had been a prisoner to my own routine.
The new therapist that I’ve started seeing focuses on very intense trauma repair work. It’s very raw and very intense. We work on reintegrating myself with myself. We don’t over-analyse the trauma. I’ve done that already.
I’ve also made huge efforts at work to be punctual and remember that I’m not invisible and am being paid to do a specific job- not just to sit in a chair.
Also, I’ve lost 15 pounds since mid-March. I’m feeling empowered to step away from my routines because they weren’t working. I started overeating to manage anxiety but for a long time, I’ve been over-eating because I was afraid to break the routine. And I’m realizing just how disconnected I have been.
Something is opening inside of me.
When did it close? Was I always so shut down? So reserved?
After that, my mind went very wonky for a while (for a variety of reasons #bipolar?). I chased it round and round the mulberry bush until the late fall when I got a wake up call from my psychiatrist. She told me I could benefit from taking a leave from work to participate in an 8 week intensive trauma therapy program. I knew this was asking too much. I knew that I couldn’t tell my husband that I was taking a leave from work to spend more time focusing on myself.
I skipped my nephew’s bar mitzvah, stopped fantasizing about fixing the relationship with my parents and blocked their phone numbers from my phone. They were dead to me and I dissociated enough to believe it. I forgot what they looked like, sounded like, and avoided any reminders of my past.
“I’m sick of therapy. I’m sick of over-analyzing myself. I’m not that interesting. I’m sick and tired of traipsing around in my crazy mind….I feel okay enough. I’m mostly able to take care of many daily tasks. I just want to stop focusing on my mental state and focus on nurturing my family.” – me, Nov 2014
I shut down the emotional part of me. It was too overwhelming, too all consuming. It felt too selfish to keep indulging and listening to it. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere anyways.
I tried to put my emotional needs aside. I made peace with the idea that I would never truly feeling anything and worked to give my kids and husband the appearance of what they needed. But…now I see that it didn’t exactly work.
I just couldn’t connect in a meaningful way. I eventually stopped talking much. I didn’t think anyone would notice if I spoke or not and every idea I had just seemed like a waste of words. I wasn’t thinking of anything to say anyways. I didn’t trust my thoughts and I was teaching myself to ignore them. I wasn’t totally sure that I was really in the room anyway.
My new therapist said that she admires my skill of dissociation. She said that it was an important tool in my survival. But that now it’s time to move past that and reintegrate myself with myself. She is helping me find/create my inner self.
What my family needed wasn’t for me to seem okay. They needed me to actually be okay. And at that time, without more intensive therapy and more medication roulette, I just couldn’t get there. Honestly, I’m still not sure I ever will be. But I need to try. Not harder, but differently.
I’d like to give them a true me. A thinking, feeling, safe woman and mother. I’d like to give myself that too. Maybe I will always be a wounded person, but I’d like to be a wounded person who can actually feel and be present.
I sat down this morning to try to process how I’m feeling right now. Yesterday I was literally on top of the world. It didn’t feel crazy, it didn’t feel fake. I had a song in my heart and yoga in my soul and I wanted to share it with the beautiful world.
I felt at peace, I kicked ass at work, I won at parenting, I exercised, my life was going to be awesome.
Today, I want to crawl under a car please.
It’s so intense and so shitty and I feel like I’ve said all this before.
Instead of pressure to be the type of mother someone else is, I just want to be the type of mother/person that I was yesterday.
This blog/my brain is officially boring. Let’s summarize all my posts:
Wow! I feel awesome. I’m gonna kick this bipolar thing in the ass!
I can’t remember why I’m still alive.
FML, I felt great but now I feel shitty again and the shit is even more painful because I just felt so great.
So, today’s post is a number 3. Saying anymore would just be wasting pixels.
p.s. I dreamed about being chased by my mother last night. I was at a shopping mall and I saw her getting her hair done but she didn’t see me so I ran away but then someone told her I was there and… So I guess there’s also that blog topic.
p.p.s. I still really really love yoga. It’s such a gift.
What the fuck… I was so depressed the last few months. But when I was in it, I didn’t know. Maybe you wouldn’t have noticed either or maybe you would have… Regardless, I finally took more meds and felt much better.
But it was like a four day rest stop in stability on the way to another shitty place. My therapist says that today sounds like a “mixed episode”. (not to be confused with a ‘mixed drink’, which is something you may enjoy but I cannot.)
So, now I’m feeling like a useless wet towel that people I love have to drag around with them. AND I’m aware of how stupid that is.
Here’s an annotated screenshot of where I’m at today. Fun times.
I actually have no patience to write anything else. Sorry.
This fall, I finally started to understand why people say it feels good to be alive.
My conversation with myself last week:
“It’s a good thing I haven’t told any of my newest friends about this “bipolar thing”. Maybe in a few months, I’ll tell them about how I used to be bipolar. Because now I’m not anymore.
It was just a postpartum thing and the meds rebooted my brain (and I’ve recovered from the childhood trauma, which probably wasn’t so bad anyway), so I’ll go off the meds soon and be awesome.
And then I’ll tell everybody exactly how I became perfect and they’ll all be happy and inspired. Because probably everybody’s a little bipolar really, I just chose to get help to deal with my tiny bit of moodiness that they thought was bipolar disorder.”
I was clearly starting to relax into being a part of my life. So, of course, (eventhough I didn’t actually stop the meds), I suddenly starting feeling like I was slipping away from myself. In a matter of two days, the part of me that was a functioning, confident, non-ruminating partner, slipped completely away. All that was left of me was a slow moving object creeping around my house looking confused and mumbling.
I could feel it coming that day- the way the wind changes when it’s about to rain. It felt like a Harry Potter dementor was getting ready to suck the light out of me. I tried to run but there was no time and nowhere to hide. And then, it began, my new happy me was being quickly ripped from my body.
She tried to hold on but there was no use. The force was too strong. I tried to hold on to my yoga mat and keep her in, but I couldn’t save her. She kept slipping out. All that was left was the shell. It happened so fast and then it was over. I felt like I’d been pulled apart.
The fact that this shit comes back never fails to surprise me. I’m not talking about a bit of moodiness, I’m talking about what it feels like to die alive. To see your life in front of you and not be able to engage with it. No matter how silly it sounds, I can’t think my way out of this. I’m tied to the bottom of the hole, there’s no climbing out.
I took the extra seroquel right away. Two nights in a row. Twelve hours of sleep a night. Anti-psychotic medication and I’m feeling better. I’m coming back into my own body.
But I still feel scared. I feel on edge and not entirely safe. I feel like I was the victim of identity theft and I’m worried the theif still has a key to my house.