This is perhaps one of the best things ever written about depression. The author is a pastor who writes a lot about mental health, the LGBT community, and the challenges of living an authentic Christ-centered life in the 21st century. Enjoy!
Originally posted on john pavlovitz:
I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. Psalm 6:6
People speak about a dark night of the soul.
It’s a place where both light and hope flee together; where a black heaviness settles upon your chest and makes your breathing short and labored.
In those loneliest of hours, your demons both real and imagined, get the upper hand and faith is elusive.
I know this place well.
I have spent far too many nights in that blackness acting as the prosecuting attorney against myself; listing off the countless failures and flaws that have brought me to this desperate moment.
When you’re there in the shadow places, the case against you and against the future seems iron clad. You feel anxious and overwhelmed and totally justified to be both. You conspire with the demons to make yourself believe…
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I’ve been sitting here in front of my computer for well over an hour, staring at the screen and willing myself to come up with a post that sounds even marginally intelligent. It’s one of those days when my brain is full of totally unrelated crap that I can’t string together in any logical way. Please bear with me as I try to give you something that’s readable…..
(Checks weather. It’s raining. Boo.)
I’m back to where I can’t concentrate on reading again. My attention span is pathetic, and I’ve got two perfectly good library books I haven’t even started yet. I’m also trying to study this week’s Scriptures that I’m reading at Mass this coming Sunday, and I’m just not feeling it. I hate this…..I thought I’d finally overcome it. Not sure what tbe trouble is, but I’ve been kind of jumpy all over so I suppose it comes with the territory.
(Ear bud slips out. Why does it take five minutes to fix it?)
I don’t think I mentioned this before, but my youngest son just got accepted to nursing school at my old alma mater. He starts this fall. To say that I’m proud of him doesn’t even begin to cover it—I am ECSTATIC! It’s the first leg of his journey toward becoming a nurse practitioner; right now he wants to work either in ER or psych.
Heh. You should’ve heard him this morning on the phone, holding forth on the subject of bipolar disorder. He’s working with someone who’s been diagnosed but doesn’t believe they have it. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t, but as we all know, bipolars aren’t always good at being insightful as to their condition. Even if they don’t think they’re bipolar.
(WTF?? Now I’m staring stupidly at the screen again.)
Anyway, he was describing the manic behaviors he was seeing in this person and sounding like an expert in what they needed to control the illness. Which in a way he is, given the fact that he grew up with ME. Who knew it would be useful one day?
(Another friggin’ typo. Pfffttthhh.)
And so it goes.
For a change of pace, I thought I’d try something a little bit educational today.
I recently learned a new word: misophonia. Its literal meaning is “hatred of sound”, which is an issue for those of us with sensitivities to certain types of noise. They may include sounds like the thudding from a passing car whose stereo is cranked up, startling sounds such as screams from children, and crowd noise.
While misophonia is not uncommon among the general population, it’s rampant in people with bipolar disorder. I’ve been this way my entire life. What child doesn’t like birthday parties? Me, that’s who. Popping balloons and loud games were torture for me. As an adult, I also become quickly overwhelmed by ringing telephones and other routine office noises, which makes it difficult to focus at work. And repetitive sounds, like barking dogs, can make me crazy if they go on for too long.
Needless to say, living in a world where noise is a constant companion can be hellish. I’ve had to learn to go into a quiet room and turn on a fan to block out sound; the other thing I do is put in my noise-canceling earbuds and listen to calming music on my iPod. Either is preferable to flying into a homicidal rage, and it doesn’t take very long to get my emotions under enough control to return to the festivities. I also avoid places and situations where I don’t have the ability to manipulate the environment, such as loud concerts and large gatherings.
Some of it I’ve learned to live with, and some of it I’ll never be able to tolerate if I live to be a hundred years old. But while misophonia does limit me somewhat, I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone in this. I don’t know what the statistics say about the number of people who have it, but I think it’s safe to say there are a lot. Our world is too loud and too intense; let’s bring down the volume a little, shall we?
You know that weird mood state I’ve been talking about recently? The one in which I’m somewhere between normal and hypomanic? Turns out there’s a word for it: it’s called “hyperthymia”. It’s not necessarily pathological, but it’s unofficially on the spectrum and bears watching.
This is the sort of thing they don’t teach you in Bipolar 101. Hyperthymia is more of a personality type than part of an affective (mood) disorder, but it has some of the characteristics of hypomania and the term can be used to describe that in-between phase we BPs know well.
I’m back in it, in case you hadn’t guessed. It’s hard to write blog posts when I’m having trouble sticking with any one thing longer than a bird can stay on one light pole. I’ve started not one but two books and can’t remember a thing I read out of either. I’m trying to learn the Scripture readings for this Sunday’s Mass and can’t connect with them. I’m also somewhat agitated—gotta love the happy-feet thing—but can’t seem to channel it into anything that actually needs doing.
I am definitely NOT hypomanic. I’m not all elated and bursting with self-confidence, nor am I having any problems with sleep. What I am is about 15 degrees off “normal”, and I’m just waiting till it passes so I can resume my appointed rounds. My blog post production has been anemic, and I want to be able to concentrate again. I’m trying, I really am…..but in the last 10 minutes alone I’ve been distracted from this post by a) a text message; b) a post on another site; c) the alarm that lets me know it’s time to do my online mood tracker; and d) cookies.
Now what was I saying again…..?
Somebody please remind me never to let my antipsychotics run out again.
Well, it wasn’t ENTIRELY my fault. The pharmacy was totally out of Geodon when I called it in for a refill, but then the next night I was up till after 1 AM thanks to my son’s late arrival home from his vacation and skipped the Zyprexa as well. I knew I’d never get up in the morning if I took it. So I gambled…..and of course I lost.
I’ve never felt crazier in my life. My head was exploding with zillions of unrelated thoughts; my focus was gone; I had a squirmy sensation like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. My emotions were all over the map—I was giddy and talking up a storm one minute, weeping hysterically the next, and then back again.
In short, it was like experiencing the whole bipolar spectrum in one day. All I could do was ride it out, take ALL my meds early (they had since been refilled) and go to bed.
I still don’t know how it is that my brain can go haywire like that after only two days without both APs, but obviously they are the glue that holds me together. I’ve always been on a short leash, but this was ridiculous! Thankfully it took only two days to get back to normal; still, the episode scared me and I’m not going to let it happen again if I can help it.
So I’ll make sure to call in my prescriptions a week ahead of time, and I’ll take my APs no matter how late I have to be up at night or how early I have to be awake in the morning. Problem solved…..I hope!
This is the second annual World Bipolar Day. It’s a day to raise awareness of bipolar disorders and the people who live with them. It’s also a day to educate the public in the hope of eliminating the stigma surrounding ALL mental illness. And the only way we can do that is to speak out.
The date was selected because it’s the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was diagnosed posthumously with what is believed to have been manic-depressive illness. For my part, I’m proud that people with this disorder are finally talking about it instead of hiding in a closet. Much of what our society believes about bipolar is wrong, and those of us with lived experience are the best source of information; but putting ourselves out there can still be risky for us due to discrimination in employment, loss of friendships and changes in our social status. I have experienced all three, so I know that prejudice against the mentally ill is very much alive and well in this supposedly enlightened era.
But on this World Bipolar Day, there is hope for the future. Celebrities such as Carrie Fisher and Catherine Zeta-Jones have come forward to discuss their condition in the public eye, which has helped some people with bipolar to feel less ashamed of their illness. It is my hope that the growing awareness will dispel the myths and make people without mental disorders realize that we are not to be feared, so that one day MI will be regarded with the same compassion given to physical illnesses.
Thank you for caring.
Well, this one is really the 501st, but WordPress just notified me of this milestone yesterday and I can hardly believe it. Five hundred posts, most of which are about my life with bipolar disorder (will I ever run out of stories to tell about that?) but there are also some about my family and friends, doctors, pets, faith, and football. Who knew that entering a blogging contest on a dare would turn into something that I’m still doing on a semi-regular basis almost two years later?
I’m frankly amazed that I’ve been able to sustain interest in it for this long. I have a notoriously short attention span and I have a lot of trouble completing tasks I’ve started. Sometimes it takes me half a day to write a post because I get distracted and have to leave it for a while, which of course does nothing for the continuity of that post. If you’ve been a reader for any length of time, you can probably tell when I’m getting manic because my writing becomes disjointed, like I wrote pieces of the post at different times and then tried to string them together…..which is exactly what happens sometimes.
In the meantime, Will and I are still house-sitting for our son and son-in-law, who are on vacation in the Caribbean as I write this. The mouse is still with us, and the snake is shedding its skin…..yuck. I hope I don’t have to watch when it finally gets hungry and decides to stop playing with him. I know it’s the way nature works, and I don’t like mice any more than I do snakes if truth be told, but I can’t help hoping this one will make it till after we leave.
For their part, the dogs are settling down and not peeing or pooping in the house as much as they did at first. They’ve gotten used to us, and they follow us around the house as devotedly as they do their owners. Then there’s meal time, when even though we feed them at the same time we eat, we have five pairs of hopeful, pleading eyes on us as we finish our food. Still, I miss Rufus, our landlady’s old mutt, and I think Zinnie does too. He’s just as nosy when we’re eating, but at least he doesn’t beg…..just sits on the kitchen floor and looks at us with big brown eyes as if to say “I wouldn’t mind if you dropped that chicken leg on the floor”.
We’ll be here through the 1st, which means I’ll be blogging a little more often because I don’t have to type out posts on my phone like I do at home. This computer is very slow, but it’s still better than the phone. Plus, it keeps my mind off wishing I was on Ethan’s cruise ship!