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Good-bye, Dr. Goodenough

August 9, 2020

Yes, you read that right—I am now between psychiatrists. Dear Dr. G. did exactly what I’ve been dreading since I first saw him four years ago, and retired. My last telephone visit was on Tuesday and I’m already missing him, even though I was never as close to him as I was with Dr. Awesomesauce. He was smart, compassionate, and as he said, we worked well together.

I actually found out about his impending retirement about six weeks ago. I got a call from the mental health clinic asking me to move up my September appointment to August, and even though they wouldn’t tell me why, I just knew. He sent a letter out a couple of weeks later which confirmed my suspicions, and suddenly the anxiety flared almost out of control. Who would care for me? What if I hated him/her? And oh dear God, what if I couldn’t find anyone right away and I ran out of meds? Visions of being hospitalized with a wild manic or a severe depressive episode danced in my head.

Fortunately, Dr. G outlined for me the next steps in the journey. There are two new psychiatrists starting at the clinic in a couple of months, and my care can be transferred to one of them once they get established. The office will call me when they start filling their schedules, although Dr. G said I wouldn’t be first on the list because I’ve been so stable (isn’t that nice? Yay me!), but that someone will take me on. In the interim, I can call the office for meds and in case I have a psychiatric emergency, because there are other doctors on staff who will take care of me until I get my permanent pdoc sometime this fall.

Then we did a little reminiscing about our years together. He actually apologized that my medication regimen is so “complex”, as he put it, but the simple fact is it works and I’ve got to stick with it. No argument from me; in fact, I fear the next psychiatrist will want to change the magic formula. That’s a big deal for me…for years, I resented having to take so many meds and was constantly looking for ways to cut down on the number, but somewhere in the past couple of years I came to understand that I really DON’T want to screw with bipolar disorder. My credit score and money management abilities reflect how far I’ve come, and I know I could destroy years of hard work with one manic episode. If I’m a little flat emotionally, if I lack energy and motivation, it’s a small price to pay for my sanity.

I don’t know if I would have come to that conclusion without Dr. G’s guidance. I’m stubborn, and I remember clashing with Dr. A more than once about wanting to have at least a little hypomania; but it only took a few gentle reminders from Dr. G about how necessary the meds were for me to have a decent life. Maybe I was just ready to accept it then; maybe it was that I’d finally developed the emotional maturity to see things as they were, rather than wish they were different. I don’t have many regrets in life, but taking so long to accept bipolar as a part of me is one of them. It would have gone so much easier for me if I’d realized it earlier in life and done something about it. But it’s useless to dwell on the past; far better to put those feelings to work and help other people, like I (hopefully) do with this blog.

In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of meds and I know I can get help if things go sideways, but I don’t expect them to. I’m stressed out due to some events happening at home and some days I wake up wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. But rather than losing my shit—which would do no good for anyone—I’m handling it.

Farewell, my good doctor. You might not have been my first choice, but you were always Goodenough for me.

Debbie Downer

July 14, 2020

No, I’m not depressed, at least not clinically, but I am in a situational funk and I hate it. No summer mania for me this year (not that I want it, but I could use a lift); in fact, summer is only now arriving as it’s been cool, cloudy and damp all through June and into July. Things have been difficult around here lately, and now I’m lost in memories of that terrible night four years ago when Will passed away after hours of extreme pain. Technically he died on the 13th, but it’s the night of the 12th that will always haunt me.

I’d never seen him in such pain in all the years we were together. Not even when he slid down a dirt hill and broke his ankle did he ever cry or scream, although he did cut loose with a string of profanities whenever he hurt himself. I can’t even imagine what he must have been going through that night…only that he was suffering, and I was utterly powerless to save him from it. It took too long for the hospice nurse to get some fire in the belly and arrange for his admission to the inpatient hospice facility, and the trip itself was too long. Clint sat with him in the transport van and has told me on more than one occasion that he was glad he was present with Will because he didn’t want me to see Will’s handsome face twisted in agony or hear his wails.

Thank God the hospice facility nurses were able to get his pain under control swiftly! He relaxed almost instantly as the medications coursed through his bloodstream, then he went to sleep, and basically never woke up again. Clint reminded me that I should call our priest to give Will the last rites, something I hadn’t even thought of doing. We were all so grateful that Father came that even my son William—not a believer—knelt on the floor and prayed with us.

After this, we had nothing to do but wait. Wait to see what would happen if Will woke up, wait to watch him pass away. Finally, around 2:30AM Clint and Ben decided to go home, while William, his then-wife, and I stayed at the bedside. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. I slipped into a recliner that had been provided for me and just watched him breathe…until he stopped.

I crept around the side of his hospital bed to assess him; nurses never stop being nurses, and I was unsure of his clinical condition. But then he reached out his hand which I literally held in a death grip, he took one last hesitant breath, and it was all over. Thirty-six years of love and marriage lay lifeless in the bed, a beautiful quilt covering his body. I still have that quilt. The hospice nurses gave it to me and it has never left my bed, except to be cleaned, in all this time.

It was 3:10 AM. That was the time I gave the nurse who came in to pronounce him. It’s the time that went on the death certificate too. Ben and Clint returned to the facility since William had called them with the news, and we drove home in total silence, the warm wind in my hair and the sun beginning to think about rising in the early-morning sky. I have never felt more lost in my life. And that wasn’t the last of my worst moments: we still had to visit the funeral home that afternoon. I bawled all the way through that meeting, but we accomplished what we needed to.

Now, four years later, it seems hard to believe it’s been that long; sometimes it feels like it all happened last week. I’m actually a lot better than I was in the first couple of years after Will died, but it’s days like today that remind me that this anniversary will ALWAYS be painful, that I will ALWAYS miss him, until my own dying day…until we meet again.

I Can’t Brain Today. I Has the Dumbs.

June 12, 2020

Seriously. I just looked at my grandson Elijah as we were chatting and all of a sudden I forgot his name. Just…forgot. I was enjoying the company of someone I have loved since the first time I held him at approximately 45 minutes old, and here I was, fumbling for the right name (Zachary? Joshua?). Fortunately it took me less time to remember it than to tell the story, but it’s downright frightening to blank out on something as important as your grandchild’s name!

But that’s just another day in paradise for me and my (once-bright) mind. Ben is usually the one to catch my errors; he gives me shit about it all the time because he’s the only person in the house who A) knows what I USED to be like, and B), thinks it’s funny. I’ve always been a little unfocused and not as observant as I should be—except when I was working as a nurse—but I wasn’t outright dumb. And while there are those who would take issue with me saying that, may I remind you that there’s a big difference between dumb and stupid. Stupid is some idiot saying “Hold my beer and watch this!” and you can’t fix that. Dumb, on the other hand, is stumbling and bumbling through life, and everyone tolerates it because it’s kinda cute in its own way.

I don’t want to be cute. I want my brain back, the wonderful organ that once aced algebra courses and demanded to be stimulated and challenged every day. I don’t know what happened to its intellectual curiosity, either. I do know I don’t have dementia, but I sure act like it sometimes! I forget where the Delete key is on the computer. I forget I’ve spent money and get mad because I think it’s been stolen, which did happen in the past but hasn’t for quite some time. I’ve even been known to flub my words when out in public, which is embarrassing as hell for me and doubtless makes others uncomfortable.

I had a “telehealth” conversation this week with Dr. Goodenough, which consisted of an informal chat on the phone since I can’t figure out how to use Skype or Zoom. I don’t think he knows either. We talked about my tardive dyskinesia and of course about my bipolar brain-fade. I reiterated that I feel I would get at least SOME of my smarts back if I didn’t have to take so much medication, but I said it just for the record. I know there’s not going to be a reduction or discontinuation of any of them, not in this lifetime, because my current regimen is what works. We do not mess with this magic formula. There is room to go up as necessary, but right now that’s not an issue since I’m stable as can be. I feel like a regular person now, at least my version of what a regular person must be like, and I won’t give that up because I’m upset about being such a ditz.

But sometimes when I lie in bed at night, I remember what it was like to have intellectual conversations, to read books and talk about them, to be quick-witted and funny and full of piss and vinegar.

Oh, well…

Spinning Out

May 29, 2020
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Don’t worry, I’m not personally spinning out, that’s the title of a TV show about an ice skater who just happens to be bipolar. I ran across a Facebook review of the show, which lasted only one season, and so on to Netflix I went. After some time searching for it, I settled down to watch and became intrigued almost immediately. The plot lines are admittedly pretty thin, but the main character, Kat, and her mother Carol (who also has BP) portray complex people in a complex relationship with authenticity.

Built around the dog-eat-dog world of championship figure skating, the story follows Kat, her sister Serena (who is also a skater), her mother and a host of other colorful characters. Of course, no one in the skating arena knows about Kat’s “nonconformity” but Mom and Little Sister, and they hurt each other frequently and deeply. Serena does NOT have bipolar, and she is often caught in the middle between Carol and Kat. Carol goes on and off her meds at more or less regular intervals, with predictable results; Kat is generally good at taking hers, but in one episode she goes off the lithium to see if that would give her enough energy to skate better, and the chaos that ensues in subsequent episodes almost costs her everything.

Almost. I’m coming to the end of the series, and so far she’s been able to resurrect her career, reconnect with her best friend, and make peace with her skating partner. I hope she can hold it together through her next competition, because she’s a very good skater. I’m just sorry the series only ran for one season, I believe it was in 2018 or 2019.

It’s wonderful that mental illness is being brought into the open more and more, even though stereotypes are still common and audiences may get the wrong ideas. This is the end of Mental Health Month, which is helping to raise awareness of mental conditions and show the public that the vast majority of MI people are not monsters. (Sorry I’m back up on my soapbox, but I cannot overstate how important it is to keep advocating for ourselves.) That’s why I do what I do here at bpnurse.com, and why other mentally ill people are doing the same thing. I don’t feel sorry for myself as someone with bipolar disorder; I fight bipolar disorder.

I didn’t always do that. For a long time after I was diagnosed, I felt I was marked for life and that nothing would ever be right again. While I’ll never be “cured”, I have weapons to deal with the illness and I use them religiously. I haven’t even THOUGHT about messing with my meds in two years, and it used to be every spring and fall—it was so predictable that I didn’t even need a calendar to tell me what season it was. Now I’m over the idea that cutting back on meds is a worthy goal to be accomplished as soon as possible. Every single drug I’m on has its place in my treatment plan, and only Dr. Goodenough gets to decide if and when the regimen will change. My job is to take them as prescribed, and only on a (very) rare occasion do I forget them. No spinning out for me!

Tri-Chem, The Coronavirus, and Me

May 3, 2020

I never thought I’d say this, but I am BORED. This stay-at-home business has long since lost its luster (not that it ever had any) and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. In fact, I’m so bored that I started wondering if they still make those old TriChem paints that my mother and grandmother used to make designs on linens.

Now, I’m probably dating myself by even mentioning it, but y’all know how old I am so it’s not like a shocker or anything. I remember watching my foremothers lovingly decorate their pillowcases with whimsical bouquets of posies. I even attempted a rose project myself, but I got tired of it by the time I got to the leaves and left it for my mother to finish. I never was very domestic, even when I was young and impressionable, so I’m finding this continuing lockdown more and more inconvenient with each day that passes…just like the one before it.

The only escape is, of course, the grocery store and the pharmacy, both of which are places I don’t particularly care to go. I haven’t even been out this entire week, not just because I’m feeling incredibly unmotivated (but woo-hoo, I finally got my laundry done!) but because I hate wearing a mask. I’m lucky enough to have one, but I always had problems wearing them at work when I was nursing–I’m terribly claustrophobic and having something covering most of my face is distressing to me. Besides, I honestly don’t believe I’m going to get Covid-19; I’m pretty sure I’ve been exposed to the virus, and I think I would have had it already if I were going to. My immune system is excellent and has thrown off bugs time and time again over the past 2 1/2 years, and even though I realize that I could get sick, I probably won’t.

One positive aspect of life in these unsettling times is the stimulus payment of $1200 I got last Wednesday. That means I can finally get new glasses, which I need badly because I can hardly see out of the ones I’m wearing. It’s no wonder, I haven’t had an eye exam in five years, but it scares me that I can’t see the fine print on anything and my vision is so blurry much of the time. I haven’t done anything about it because Medicare doesn’t cover glasses or contacts, which is ridiculous because the program is mainly for older people, and who needs vision help more than the elderly? Anyway, I have the money now, and I can afford to get good ones. And I’ll even have some funds left over, which I’m going to save. I really don’t need anything…I’ve got all the clothes I want and need, I don’t have to worry about buying stuff for the house, and I’m happy with the electronics I already have. Other than my own personal stash of food and drink, everything else is provided for me. Yes, I pay rent, but that goes to the mortgage to help keep a roof over our heads.

And in case you didn’t know it, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Every year, I see mental illness become just a little less stigmatized, and that makes me proud. Even as recently as a decade ago, a couple of years before I was first diagnosed, it wasn’t understood nearly as well as it is now, and that’s because of the rising level of education. It’s because people with brain disorders are talking about them, which helps the public see that we are not all potential ax murderers or school shooters. While there is plenty of room for more knowledge and acceptance, it’s a good start, and I hope both will continue to grow as mental illness comes out of the shadows and into the light of everyday conversation.

That was my week. How was yours?

Homeland

April 11, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the U.S. and stay-at-home orders are being extended until further notice, I’ve had plenty of time to get bored and restless and full of ennui. Lately it’s taken the form of binge-watching TV until 3 or 4 in the morning, and what I watch is called Homeland. It’s a series about a CIA agent who just happens to have bipolar 1 disorder, but the spy shit is exciting too. I don’t normally like spy shit. But I am fascinated with this version of it.

As hard as it must be to act the part of a person with bipolar if you don’t have it, Claire Danes (the star of the series) pretty much gets it right. Her character’s depression looks amazingly like the real thing, and her portrayal of mania is amazing…even somewhat triggering. I recognize the pressured speech and over-the-top energy, and I can practically feel it flowing through me like an electrical current. But everything goes back to normal when I finally shut off the TV and go to bed, so I don’t worry about it. The show is THAT exciting!

I do have one complaint about “Carrie’s” use of medication, however. Her sister, who is a doctor, gives them to her, and the way she takes her meds is haphazard at best; all too often she’ll grab a bottle of pills, shake out a few and toss them in her mouth. That’s not how it works. Occasionally she’ll go off her meds entirely, with the inevitable bad outcomes. The first season, her condition is never named but it’s obviously not what you want to see in a high-profile CIA case officer, but by the middle of season 2 she’s in full-blown mania, lands in a psychiatric hospital, and loses her job. By some miracle she gets it back thanks to her mentor, Saul (Mandy Patinkin), and for awhile she’s faithful to her med regimen and doesn’t use them as PRNs. But eventually she goes off her meds again and this time he hangs her out to dry in front of God and everybody at a public hearing, and she is placed on administrative leave.

Never count Carrie out, though…soon she’s back in the saddle again and life returns to normal, whatever that is for someone who works 20-hour days. Right now I’m in the middle of season 3 and it’s getting more intriguing so it’s really hard for me to shut off the TV even after watching three or four episodes in a row. In fact, I’m going to watch a few more hours of it tonight if I don’t pass out on the sofa like a drunk and stumble to bed in the wee hours. Sometimes that happens and I miss the last 15 minutes, which annoys the hell out of me because I can’t figure out how to go back to previous episodes and catch up on what I missed. (I haven’t quite figured out Hulu just yet.) Naturally, I usually sleep till about 11 and get up around noon; I like to just lie in my recliner and enjoy the fact that while I’m in it, absolutely NOTHING hurts. Not my back, not my knees, not even my ex-broken ankle which still hurts seven months later. The family doesn’t get it, they’re all morning people (well, Shelley is, but the guys prefer a more casual approach to getting up), and they don’t know how I can stay awake practically all night and sleep so late into the day. But then I’ve NEVER been a morning person, and likely never will be. Especially when I have something interesting to do at night.

It’s Getting Weird Out There

March 26, 2020

I told myself I wasn’t going to write about COVID-19. Everybody from the President to the man on the street is obsessed with it; even a few of the car commercials and fast-food ads I’ve seen in the past few days have tossed something in there about it, and in the news it’s 24/7 coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus. But on day 3 of Oregon’s official lockdown, writing about it is the only thing there is to do, it seems. So here goes.

It’s so quiet in town that nothing is moving unless it’s headed to Walmart for the last gallon of milk and loaf of bread. You can’t get toilet paper anywhere and it’s making me very nervous, as we have only about a week and a half’s worth. People are ill everywhere…three of them in my own family. Ben especially has been really sick (and yes, he’s been tested and does NOT have the virus); he’s dealing with influenza B and pneumonia, which are bad enough. Shelley has what sounds like bronchitis, and we have a family friend staying with us because she lives with her mother, who won’t let her come home until she is well again. Clint and I are almost indecently healthy, but then we both have immune systems that could fight off the squirrels in the backyard.

~sigh~ We missed our much-anticipated cruise vacation, which was a major disappointment. Right now I’m supposed to be on Lido deck, floating around somewhere in the Pacific and touring the Mexican Riviera. Carnival cancelled all cruises just days before we were supposed to board, but of course if we’d all shown up at the terminal with Ben and Shelley hacking up a lung, we would have been turned away anyway, and then we would have been stuck in L.A. I can think of a lot of places I’d rather be. And even if we’d been able to get on the ship, who knows whether there was some other poor unfortunate soul who actually had COVID-19 and got us all quarantined aboard for at least 14 days. So maybe we’re better off at home after all.

Speaking of home, that’s where we’ve been since the governor of our state issued stay-at-home orders, AKA lockdown. We can’t go anywhere except to stores, pharmacies, or doctors (and even going to the clinic is dicey). Oh yes, there’s also the liquor and cannabis stores and takeout places, but there is no shopping in indoor OR outdoor malls, no sit-down restaurants or bars, no movie theaters, no large gatherings of any kind. We don’t even get to watch the Olympics this year, for which I don’t blame anyone–nobody wants to endanger the athletes or the people attending. And there doesn’t seem to be any end to it, because no one knows yet how many more people will get sick with this thing.

Yep, it’s getting really weird out there. Almost post-apocalyptic, to be honest. I’ve seen a lot of movies like Contagion and The Stand, the latter of which is a Stephen King novel about what happens when a lethal germ that’s been created in a top-secret lab gets loose, wiping out 99% of the world’s population. Now, hoarding TP and sheltering in place are nowhere near as bad as the cluster-fuck described in this story, but we’re also doing dumb things that make matters worse. Just the other day I saw some of the neighbors outside in their yard with something like five or six kids on bikes racing around the property and a few adults who were obviously NOT social distancing. This isn’t 1965 when mothers whose kids had mumps or chickenpox would get together so all their kids would be exposed to the disease, get sick, and be done with it for life. (I remember these “parties” well, but strangely enough I never got either illness. I was too busy getting strep throat and bronchitis.) Why would anyone let half a dozen kids congregate and possibly spread infection with a sometimes-deadly virus? That’s more like playing Russian roulette.

In the meantime, we’re all a little stir-crazy. We haven’t had any arguments–yet–but we know we have to walk lightly because who KNOWS when all this will be over. It sure doesn’t look good right now.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

March 7, 2020

The cherry blossoms are on the trees, and my allergies know it. The tulips are coming up and the sun has been shining a little more than usual, so while it’s still technically winter, it feels more like Spring has sprung. This is a GOOD thing. My winter funk has gone away already—no more waking up anxious and depressed, even on rainy mornings—but I’m not ramping up either. Dr. Goodenough is pleased too. We had an office visit earlier this week and other than a little distress about my restless legs, which has an explanation, I’m feeling better than I have in months.

Here’s the thing about the restless legs. I don’t actually have restless leg syndrome, but I experience almost constant movement of my legs and feet whenever I’m sitting down, which is a good portion of the time. There is no music playing (though the TV is always on) but my lower extremities dance like crazy. My husband Will used to call it “happy feet” since it used to be a reliable indicator that I was on the verge of a manic episode. Now, it’s just leg-bouncing and I’m not even aware of it. I can make myself stop for a little while if I realize I’m doing it, but as soon as my mind goes elsewhere it starts again.

The good news is, it’s not uncomfortable, like akathisia or RLS. The bad news is, it’s called tardive dyskinesia (TD) and it’s caused by taking antipsychotics. And according to Dr. G, the only way I could get rid of it is to get off Zyprexa and Geodon and go on Clozapine, which is one of the most hardcore antipsychotic medications there is. To this I uttered an emphatic “HELL no!” I mean, weekly blood tests to check levels for the first six months? Being a total zombie? And possibly ending up even worse? Thanks, but no thanks. I also don’t like the idea that my bipolar is apparently bad enough that it would have to be controlled by such a heavy-duty drug if for some reason I could no longer take my current APs. They have medications for TD, but that wasn’t mentioned and I didn’t ask. Dr. G is not a drug pusher, and I think I take enough pills as it is.

In the meantime, it’s only 10 days until we leave for our cruise to Mexico and all of us are a little concerned about the Coronavirus. I’m not the least bit worried about actually getting sick, but I’d hate to be quarantined to my stateroom for two weeks, or not even being able to get to the ship because our flight got cancelled. So we’re all walking around nervously, hoping and yes, praying that everything works out. Ben and Clint, especially, need this vacation after the past eight months of nonstop stress. They are both burned out and deserve some time to relax. And I’ve waited a year and a half for this trip as well. I’m ready for some fun and sun!

It’s The Little Things That Count

February 16, 2020

Once again, I am reminded that the little things matter: as I was seated upon the porcelain throne last night, I was literally thanking God for whoever invented Milk of Magnesia. For some reason, as I’ve aged I have developed a propensity for the occasional bout of, shall we say, irregularity; and let me tell you, it can be excruciating. I get irritable and shaky, and the pressure just builds up and up until I feel like I’m about to give birth. Then out of desperation I bolt down 60 ml of MOM, and within hours I have complete relief. Just like that. So simple, and yet I never even think about it between episodes.

It really IS the little things that make life bearable, even pleasurable. Almost every night when I settle down under my soft blankets, I pray for the homeless and remember how privileged I am to be safe and warm. I look at the vase of roses and carnations Ben and Clint bought me for Valentine’s Day and think how lucky I am to have these guys. I’ll sneeze a couple of times and take a moment to appreciate the fact that I haven’t been sick in well over two years, when I used to get bronchitis at least once every winter. And even in the mornings when I wake up depressed, I’m grateful because I know it will go away once I start my day.

This is something I work on constantly. If you look at my lifestyle and compare it with the one I had before it all came crashing down in 2014, it’s kind of pathetic—no husband, no job, no car, can’t afford my own place. I’m dependent on others for food, utilities, transportation, and companionship. As used to it as I am now, however, I still wish I had the ability to conquer, once and for all, the monster that ate my life and spit it out just for the hell of it…namely, bipolar 1 disorder.

But then, I have learned how to tame it. Medication has made a world of difference, of course, and so has the work I’ve been doing on myself. I’m grown-up enough now to know what I DON’T know, and I accept the fact that I will spend the rest of my days reaching for more knowledge and more wisdom. I’ve come to value those things more than almost anything else, maybe because they are so elusive and it’s so easy to miss opportunities to expand them. And you know, I wonder if I would have gotten this far if bipolar hadn’t intervened. It’s been only eight years, but I feel like I’ve learned more about life since I was diagnosed than I did in all the 53 years before it.

And yeah, I’m thankful for that too.

The Winter Soldier

January 25, 2020

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. It’s winter and I’m in my customary funk, not really depressed but definitely not my usual shining self (haha). I just had my birthday; I’m 61 and astonished that I’ve made it to this age. It’s funny, when you’re young you never think you’re going to be 40 or 50, let alone 60-something, and when you’re older you wonder how you made it through 90% of your life without the wisdom you have now. That’s not to say you’ve got it all together at this late-middle-aged-pre-elderly time of life, but unless you’re a complete dunderhead, you’re gaining valuable experience that unfortunately most young people don’t pay attention to until after you’re gone. That’s when the light bulb comes on and your kids say “Oh, THAT’S what Mom meant”…and you don’t even get to gloat.

But back to winter, which as you know is my absolute least favorite season. It’s wet and gloomy every day for weeks on end; it’s still getting dark by 5:30; and no matter how “mild” the weather is, it’s still too cold for me. Right now it’s probably 55 degrees outside, which is comparatively warm for Oregon winters, but inside I’m bundled up by the pellet stove for most of the evening. I wake up feeling down every morning in spite of the meds and the HappyLight, and with the stress level in the house being what it is, it’s all I can do to get out of the recliner I sleep in. It’s the only place where nothing hurts—not the knees that are full of arthritis, not my back which has been screwed up since I was 14, not even my broken (but still healing) ankle. I like to lie there enjoying the weightless feeling as I distract myself from my low mood with my phone.

As a result, I’m usually not officially up till around noon. Of course, I stay awake till the wee hours as is my norm, and I can always get up much earlier if there’s a reason to, like hair appointments or church. My mood always improves once I get up and perform my morning routine, so that’s why I’m not too worried about this particular episode (if you can even call it that). It’s just getting past that initial “I feel like crap and I don’t wanna adult today” that’s difficult.

Now, don’t worry about me. I know when I’m in real trouble, and this ain’t it. Everybody has to endure some discomfort in life, you can’t medicate it ALL away, and sometimes you just have to be brave and soldier on. There’s a lot going on around here, and my previously simple, low-stress lifestyle is, well, not so simple and low-stress anymore. Too many components have been added and none of them are good, so I think it’s understandable that I’m struggling a bit. This isn’t the kind of thing you go running to your doctor for, you have to buck up and know that this, too, shall pass. I haven’t experienced suicidal ideation in over five years and I’m not starting with it now. Since Will died, I’ve never felt a moment of it, no matter how much I was hurting or how bleak my outlook was. I can only imagine one situation that might trigger SI, and that’s becoming homeless. It’s my worst fear; even though I’m currently safe and warm, I can’t trust it entirely. I came too close to homelessness to ever feel 100% safe.

And, of course, it IS winter, which magnifies all my woes. I swear, January must have at least 73 days in it, it drags on so, and February isn’t much better even if it is technically a shorter month.

In the meantime, I hear my bed—well, chair—calling my name. Thanks for “listening” to my whining, y’all. My mood will rise along with the crocuses in just a few more weeks. You can count on it.