Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Another visit with Dr. Awesomesauce has come and gone, and once again I am left to ponder the discussion and extract the pearls of wisdom from it. I do this every time I see him, because there really is a lot of substance even in the joking and teasing interspersed between the serious talk.

As I expected, I got my ass handed to me for not calling him immediately when my depression spun out of control. “You scared the hell out of me,” he said, “and if you ever do that again you’ll get a size-10 boot planted in your backside!” He was only half-kidding. I told him I’d given Will permission to call if I started sliding—or zooming—which mollified him somewhat, although he reiterated that he would be seriously pissed (and very sad) if he had to attend my funeral.

We went over my hospitalization and he was pleased with the progress I’d made in there. But he made it clear that one of the things I’d been working on still needs improvement, and that is my tendency to take on other peoples’ problems… no small part because it allows me to not deal with my own. I’ve done it all my life, and it’s hard to remember “not my circus, not my monkeys” when I’m in the thick of someone else’s situation.

But remember it I must, for I have plenty of my own business to take care of. Something drove me crazy enough to want to commit suicide; it was all the crap I’d allowed to build up over time until it nearly crushed me. I’ve allowed myself to get sucked into the vortex of others’ drama over and over, trying to fix their problems and feeling guilty because I couldn’t; in the meantime, my personal stressors were mounting and I wasn’t paying attention to them. The combination of these was what led to the collapse of all my defenses and landed me in the hospital.

So I’m having to draw boundaries, which is NOT easy for me. I can love people and listen to them when they’re going through things, but this is one of those times when being an empath does not serve me well and I must resist the urge to ignore my own needs in order to try to meet theirs. If I’ve got a handle on what’s going on in my life I can be a little more helpful, but I still need to maintain my boundaries. Or, as Dr. A so delicately put it: “don’t smell the shit in someone else’s yard when you’re up to your neck in your own pile”.

Not my circus, not my monkeys. He liked that expression and we had a good chuckle about it. Then he grinned and said, “You’re laughing—that’s a VERY good sound.” It was nice to know that he had missed my laughter, like Will had. Our last several visits have been sober and serious, and this one felt more like the old days when we’d spend a good part of our sessions cracking each other up (and sneaking therapy in between bursts of giggles). We talked about Australia and how stinky koala bears are and how the tame ones will hold onto you just like a baby. He showed me pictures of his recent trip to Florida and told me about the jellyfish he’d accidentally touched (“ugh, it was just like touching snot”). And I told him the story about Carl, the housefly who plagued us while I was inpatient.

It’s good to have things back on track with Dr. A, even though he stared me down till I confessed that I still have ever-so-fleeting thoughts of death (which are banished fast when they do come). Now, if I can just get my life in order again, I’ll be golden. 🙂



Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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