Well, it’s gotten to that point. I’ll be leaving for the hospital in a few minutes, so I wanted to let my readers know I’ll be off the grid for a few days. I am so depressed I can barely stand myself; it’s time for me to go. I’ll see you when I get back.
I decided I’d better put a trigger warning at the top of this post like I did the last one, because the theme of this one is even scarier. Just in time for Halloween. Only this isn’t tricks or treats, and the fear doesn’t go away with the flip of a calendar page.
The past 36 hours have been literally a dark night of the soul for me. Yesterday morning I spent three hours in the bathroom while Will was out running errands and going to the doctor. Why? Because I was afraid I’d do something bad if I left the relative safety of the little room. You see, I knew where the gun was, and I knew where the pills were, and of course there were knives in the kitchen, and I’d gotten it in my head that I wanted out.
As it is with most people who contemplate dying by their own hand, it wasn’t really that I wanted to die; I only wanted the pain and anxiety to go away. The pain of having no place to go. The pain of being left in the lurch by someone I love very much and shouldn’t have counted on. The pain of loss after loss after loss.
So I sat on the commode and let the darkness wash over me. I weighed various options and rejected each in turn; I didn’t want it to hurt, I didn’t want to leave a mess, and I didn’t want to take the chance of winding up in the ICU with tubes coming out of every orifice. I also didn’t want anyone to think I was a chickenshit who couldn’t cope, even though that’s exactly what I felt like, and that made me feel even worse. I wondered how Will would handle it. Would he be OK? How would the kids react? Would the rest of my family and friends be angry with me?
It occurred to me that I probably should get some help—e.g. call Dr. Awesomesauce. I didn’t know what to say, though. How do you tell your doctor that you’re on the verge of becoming homeless and you can’t deal? There’s a big difference between being stressed and having a psychiatric emergency. Isn’t there? Besides, I knew he’d ask if I was safe, and would probably want to admit me “downstairs” because I couldn’t make any guarantees. I didn’t want to be admitted. I know what “downstairs” means.
I got through the day on Ativan and sleep. Poor Will didn’t know what to do with me since I wouldn’t let him call Dr. A, but he hid everything in new places, and he fed me, and he medicated me and let me doze.
Then late last night, a very dear friend called and over the course of two hours, talked some sense into me, prayed for me, and gave me some ideas for where to get help with our housing situation. She didn’t beg me to stay alive, but she gave me some really good reasons to do so, and after we hung up I felt there had been a subtle shift in my perspective.
Today has not been good, but it’s been better, and right now that’s the best I can hope for. The original problem is still there, and I’m still scared. But I’m also over the worst, and Will felt I was safe enough to leave for an hour or so tonight. I feel absurdly grateful for his trust. I’m also grateful for the many friends who have been posting their support on Facebook…..if it weren’t for all of this divine intervention, I’m not sure if I’d have been able to turn that corner.
And I live to fight another day.
***TRIGGER WARNING*** Bad, bad thoughts ahead.
This is it—I have found it—I am in Hell. Or at least my version of it, anyway. Things have fallen through at my son’s so Will and I can’t move in with him, and as of now we have nowhere to go.
Nowhere to go.
To say I am terrified would be the understatement of the year. It’s a nightmare knowing that we will literally be homeless in another couple of weeks unless some miracle occurs and we find someplace to hang our hats, at least for a while. I never believed that life could come to this. I never thought it would come to this. But with every box that gets packed, every sentimental piece I wrap in newspaper and pray I will get to use again, the reality sinks in further and it hits me yet again: this is all happening because of me. Because of my disease. Because I couldn’t cope with my old life anymore.
I’ve been told that I can’t move forward if I don’t learn to forgive myself for the things I can’t help. But how does one move forward when what lies ahead is even more frightening than the present reality? I don’t want to be here for this, let alone the future if all I can expect is more of the same (or worse). Don’t get me wrong—I’m not planning to do anything stupid—but these thoughts are coming at me like seagulls dive-bombing a picnic table and I can’t push them away entirely. I think about Will and how it might be easier for him to find housing if he were alone—nobody would let an older man with cancer live in a car. Maybe one of the kids would take him in if it was just him and not the two of us. He’s pretty low-maintenance, and he’s helpful too.
But I also know that he’d never be the same if I were to make for the exit, and the kids would just be pissed at me. I don’t want them to be pissed at me. And I lack the guts to take being thought of as a coward, even though I personally don’t see suicide as a cowardly act. I’m only talking about it because it’s the way my brain is wired—I’ve NEVER gone through a serious life crisis without thinking of it at least once—and this is my most spectacular failure in my entire fifty-five years on this planet. But I’m going to stick around because a) I have an insane need to see just how many more indignities I can handle, b) that could be useful knowledge, and c) I haven’t hit rock bottom quite yet. That will probably come on that first night in the car or at the shelter.
In the meantime, it looks like everything is a go for the cats to be taken to their new home on Saturday. I’m still amazed at that miracle, and of course I’m still praying that God will see fit to squeeze out one more for Will and me. Trouble is, I can barely stand to spend time with them now…..it hurts too much to pet them and hear them purr, knowing they’ll be gone in just a few days. They’ll be OK, even though they won’t understand what’s happening, and they are NOT going to be happy about the four-hour drive, in carriers no less. I wonder if we’ll ever have cats again; part of me believes I don’t deserve them. But then, part of me stubbornly clings to the certainty that all of this is my fault, no matter how many people tell me otherwise.
So, how DO I move forward? I’m sorry as hell about the past, I fear the future, and the present isn’t much of a picnic either. How do I stop blaming myself when it all leads right back to me?
I just realized something: with the exception of a couple of brief hypomanic periods, I haven’t had a real, live, rip-roarin’ manic episode in a year. Seriously. It simply has not happened. Not even during the summer. And it feels like it’s been an eternity since it did.
Obviously, I have mixed feelings about it. I know that mania is NOT my friend, and that I’ve been playing much better with others since I last experienced it. But now all I get are downswings, and even though they’re not as severe as they once were, I’m not thrilled. The only advantage (if you can call it that) to having bipolar disorder is the high, before I go completely “toucan”…..when I’m happy and productive and I love people and everything is BEAUTIFUL!! And now I don’t even have that guilty pleasure.
Yeah, I know…..pass me a little cheese with that whine. Most of the time I’m content to be stable, which is a state that eluded me for much of my life until medications and therapy entered the picture. I just hate it that when I do decompensate, my mood always goes in the dumper. I’ve had three depressive episodes and a mixed episode in the past year, which still makes me a rapid cycler, but there are no upswings. What kind of bullshit is that!??
Now I understand why people stop their medications. It’s not just that they miss mania, it’s that there’s no “reward” for surviving the depression. I’m feeling marginally better today, which is probably why I’m whiny; I was too dispirited before, so my bitching and moaning are actually a good sign. And I know I should be grateful that my meds do what they’re supposed to in suppressing the highs…..I just wish they were as good at eliminating the lows.
But I have to chuckle at myself a little, too. I have researched my illness to the point where I could have written Bipolar For Dummies, but for some reason I got it into my head that my diagnosis had changed because of the repeated bouts with depression. My paperwork from the mental health clinic showed only that I was being seen for depression and anxiety, so I asked Dr. Awesomesauce if he had, in fact, changed the DX.
He tried hard not to laugh, but couldn’t help himself. For one thing, he doesn’t change anything without talking to me about it first; and for another, I had the same idea LAST fall too, although I’d arrived at that conclusion via different means, and it’s just as full of malarkey now as it was then. After all that’s happened and all my studies, you’d think I’d know that bipolar is a forever diagnosis—you don’t lose it just because you’re no longer experiencing one of the “poles”—and that mania is still a possibility, even though it’s been a long time gone.
Well, he fixed that in the computer and effectively eliminated all doubt, which was just as well because I needed something to give the Social Security office that lists all the medical problems I have. What the hell, at least the documentation matches up now. And I’m not as depressed as I was. It’s all good.
One of the advantages of admitting one is depressed is it takes all the pressure off to pretend otherwise. I’ve fought it tooth and nails for over a week, but the truth is I feel lousy and I may as well acknowledge it. There’s no use in trying to pass it off as a little blip on the radar, or blame it solely on what’s going on in my life (although that definitely triggered it). It just is, and it stinks on ice. Or as Dr. Awesomesauce poetically put it the other day, “You feel stuck, and it sucks”.
It’s not ALL suckage, as yesterday’s amazing Facebook hook-up goes to prove. Will and I have to give up our three cats because the family members we’re moving in with are wildly allergic—the kind of allergic that requires the carrying of an Epi-Pen—and I posted my dilemma on FB. Before the day was out, however, I not only had a friend who would take all three, but another friend agreed to drive them to Seattle and still another is going to finance the trip. Now I won’t have to worry about them, because I know where they’ll be and that they’ll get to stay together. I already miss them, even though they’re still here…..but at least there’ll be a happy ending to their story. Who says there are no miracles anymore?
I’m still majorly bummed out about pretty much everything else, though, and that doesn’t help matters. I’ve apologized to Will a hundred times because I’m basically useless and he doesn’t need me to be sick now. Of course, he doesn’t blame me for anything and is doing everything he can to raise my spirits; luckily for us both he has succeeded in quashing my budding suicidal ideation (the last thing on earth he should have to deal with at this tough time in HIS life). It wasn’t as serious as it was back in June when I was really down, it was only fleeting and I think it just happened because that’s the way my mind works in depression: I want OUT, dammit!
But there is no way out of either the depression or the situation, only through it, and I know that. I keep trying to do what Dr. A said and seek the opportunities in it; never one to blow sunshine up my skirt, he still thinks I can turn this into a positive thing, and he’s probably right. I just haven’t found the good stuff yet, and being in a downswing makes it really hard to look for it.
This, too, shall pass…..
OK, I’ll admit it: I am officially in a depressive episode. It says so right on my paperwork from Dr. Awesomesauce’s office. It’s what they call an “atypical” depression, which is common in bipolar people, meaning I sleep too much and eat too much junk but can still derive some pleasure from enjoyable experiences, like watching The Big Bang Theory. It is also what Dr. A considers a perfectly understandable downswing, given the fact that I am grieving the loss of my old life and having trouble visualizing a happy ending to this story. Even so, I hate it, because it’s more than just sadness. It’s hopelessness.
As is usually the case with these episodes, I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and occasionally I’m so wiped out that I need an afternoon nap. I don’t feel like showering or grooming myself, and I’m spending too many days lounging in the old sweats that double as pajamas. I have a million things to do in order to prepare for this move and don’t want to do any of it…..today all I could manage was to take down all the pictures off the walls, and I cried through most of it. The act of removing the wall hangings symbolized everything that’s wrong with life these days, and I just couldn’t help myself, even as I cursed myself for doing it. I HATE crying. It does no good, and I look like hell afterwards.
I also asked Will how he was managing. Dr. A questioned me about that yesterday, and all I could say was that he was calm and focused, as usual. But it got me to wondering how he really does feel, and I was ashamed that I hadn’t thought to discuss it with him before. He confessed that he was “disappointed” that nothing had come along to make all of this unnecessary, and he feels every bit as badly as I do about having to give up the cats. But he absolutely, positively is NOT angry with me for any of it, even though it’s my illness that has, in essence, betrayed us both.
Naturally my depressed brain tends to believe otherwise, but I am forcing myself to accept his refusal to assign blame at face value. Number one, because I didn’t screw up on purpose, and number two, because it really isn’t my fault. Shit happens. People get sick. I did the best I could to keep going in the face of what turned out to be insurmountable odds, and all I wound up doing was hating my life and spending much of it ill. And overall—this depressed mood notwithstanding—I’ve been a lot less stressed since I haven’t been working.
There. I said it. I was killing myself trying to work full-time and do what I believed was my duty as a productive citizen. It was all I knew how to do, and there were even times when I did it pretty well. Some days I miss my fast-paced lifestyle (and the money and prestige that came with it), and I’ll probably always wish I could have continued it and stayed well. But I couldn’t, and while this move looks, smells, and feels like failure, I have to listen to the people who care about me and accept the unacceptable.
That’s what logic says. I wish someone could explain it to the part of me that’s looking at bare walls and seeing the outlines of where family pictures used to be.
Great visit with Dr. Awesomesauce this morning. I’ve been more depressed than I wanted to admit, but an hour with him and I feel better. As always, he gave me some food for thought and encouraged me to look beyond the immediate situation, which is hard to do when I have a metaphorical brick wall in front of my face, but not impossible. This is one time when “one day at a time” is NOT serving me well. At least I can see a glimmer of hope now, and maybe these upcoming changes really aren’t the end of life as I know it after all.
We talked about disability again, which he is going to do his best to help me with. I don’t think either of us wanted to think it was the best thing for me, but it is and I’m glad I applied. I’m in the process of gathering documentation, and was going to print a copy of my diagnoses and med list from the patient portal to send in with my other paperwork. Ironically, the only diagnoses I found in my online medical record were depression and anxiety. WTF?
I asked him if he’d changed my diagnosis, which I rather doubted because he ALWAYS talks to me about things before he does them, but stranger things have happened. (Maybe I was hoping he had…..?) Silly me. He was quite amused that I would even think that for a moment and quickly corrected it in the computer, then printed it out and handed it to me. So now all my records match up, and I can quit tantalizing myself with thoughts of not having bipolar. Seems I went through that last fall, and got smacked upside the head with back-to-back mood episodes. I better watch that stinkin’ thinkin’…..it never ends well.
Dr. A is also not going to change any of my meds (read: taper me off Zyprexa) anytime soon. Which makes sense, because even though I’m somewhat down, I’m basically stable and not having manic or mixed moods. So if it ain’t broke, goes the thinking, he’s not gonna fix it. And I have to acknowledge the fact that I’ve been so much better overall since I went on the Z full-time. There have been a couple of very brief hypomanias and some depression, but NOTHING like I used to experience. I just hate it that when I have to go on a new med or increase an old one, I never seem to be able to get back to where I was. There are so many scary stories about long-term side effects in people who have to be on multiple anti-psychotics for extended periods of time, and I don’t want them to happen to me.
But consistency is a good thing, and Dr. A is nothing if not consistent. He is a port in the storm that is my life with this disease, and I feel safer knowing that he’s there to guide me through the rough water. Don’t get me wrong—Will and my family and friends are wonderful and I’m blessed to have their love and support. But it’s also good that there is someone who knows the things I can’t tell my loved ones lest I frighten them, and doesn’t judge me for it. The world would be a far better place if everyone had someone like him in their lives.