Transition in 3 Breaths

1.

I am a body with no buoyancy
sinking in an ocean
the darkest saline solution

splinters of light
chance zigzags
hope in fading gradient

I am waiting to feel the bottom
to rest in the silt
the deepest sandy sediment

 

2.

I am a fool in my reverie
thinking the ocean empty
the oldest seat of evolution

splatters of life
causal zigzags
time in spiraling ratio

I had forgotten to feel the current
to rest in the flow
the purest tidal movement

 

3.

I am a being with no certainty
drinking in an emotion
the sweetest form of resolution

fragments of ice
clear zigzags
focus in rising tempo

I am starting to feel the difference
to rest in the now
the freest mind environment

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Bad Thoughts Diatribe

As far as my current state, I am not sure what I want to explain, so instead I am going to try a brief exercise. I am going to put down some of the incriminations that have been running through my mind lately. I don’t know if this is a good idea, but I am inclined to think that exposing the negativity in my mind can help to weaken it. If I put it down somewhere maybe I can steal some of its power?

You are weak.

You are disgusting.

You are lazy.

You are pathetic.

You are selfish.

You are alone.

You are trapped.

Even just looking at these words… after a while, it feels strange. I suppose initially they sting because I often feel them. I can recall piling the evidence on myself to support these words. They are volatile, and I am certain I risk triggering myself or others by putting them on the page.

But there is something else. Ultimately, those bad, cruel thoughts are so…. mundane. They are boring! As a person who values creative expression above nearly everything, I am actually turned off by how uninspired the negative voices are. It’s almost laughable. There is a defense mechanism in my mind that sneers at how typical those insults are.

Come on! Is that all you can manage? Talk about lowest common denominator!

I realize this creates a dialogue between me and myself… which might seem a little crazy. But no, I don’t think that is accurate. It is not me in the sense of true identity. What I am talking back to is the poison. I am refuting the corrosive thoughts that are spawned by depression.

Whether you accept that or simply think I have begun talking to myself, I have to advocate for this activity. It seems to be helping. Last night I was flooded with the bad thoughts and they held sway. This morning, by compartmentalizing, I find I can fend them off.

The negativity is petty. I can see that when I look at all those words. It isn’t going for truth or accuracy. Just the rawest of attacks. Anything and everything that might generate more bad thoughts.

Despite Myself

I had a feeling I might get up way too early, but that’s what happens when you go to bed early and you’re feeling antsy. I spent a busy weekend working on my apartment. Purge, purge, purge. So many things have been thrown out. I wanted to do this before I found out and then after I found out it became a necessity. Found out what? This is hard to admit, but there are bugs in my apartment. I feel just about as awful and ashamed of this fact as I have ever been about anything, no exaggeration. I can tell myself that I’ve been sick and that this is a result of that but it doesn’t do a lot to make me feel better. I feel like a disgusting failure.

Dealing with this, and having to suddenly find the motivation to work through everything that has to be done has been very stressful. I wasn’t doing a lot, barely anything. I believe I mentioned I have next to no stamina? So that’s pitiful reserves of energy, almost zero functioning work ethic and bouts of apathy that suck all my drive to do things, no matter how important they may be.

And it doesn’t matter. Things still have to get done, despite myself. They have, I’ve come a long way in this cleaning process, but I’ve had a lot of help. If I hadn’t had my mom and my boyfriend (Jeremy) to help me with this purge I would have been screwed.

The frustrating part currently is that they were due to come in and treat for the bugs on Monday, so I plowed through the preparation with Jeremy here over the weekend to help, Mom coming in on Sunday, and a final push by myself to be ready Monday morning. Monday I left before they were due to arrive and didn’t show up again until well after the treatment was supposed to be done. I thought I was going to get home Monday night and find that things were well on their way to being normal again. No such luck. They didn’t come. They left me a note stating that they won’t be here until the 5th.

This might sound like I get more time to prepare, but really I was ready. Everything was thrown out that needed to be, everything else was bagged and the furniture was moved. Somehow, even with help, I had managed to do a lot of work myself. And now? Now I have to undo some of the prep in order to live here, without undoing all the prep that was so hard to achieve. And I have to be here, with a problem I barely see but I know is still there. I have to stew with this stress-triggering problem for a week.

So it spills over onto other areas, as things tend to do with depression and anxiety. I am cranky, sleeping a bit oddly (obviously, it’s almost 4:30 am as I write this) and feeling my creative energies are floundering. I am trying not to be completely pessimistic but it is certainly weighing me down.

I guess it’s a good thing that I am seeking out counseling. I’m looking to bridge the gap between me and what Dr. R can offer me as my psychiatrist. He is there to listen, in a sense, but on the whole he is there to establish my current condition, prescribe medication accordingly and guide me towards any other necessary steps. Counseling is not really his domain. I started to look for help for myself but if I can’t find what I need he is prepared to refer me to someone I can talk to.

This all has to do with that problem I mentioned before, the one I cried over for a while and then sort of calmed down about. It’s still relevant, and I’d like a counselor’s help in having to deal with it. I don’t mean to tease with this mention of an ambiguous “problem” but it’s still sensitive. I want to share it when I am ready but at this point I am still not ready. I think I would be more comfortable with it if the larger portion of it were resolved.

In any case, I am hoping to get in touch with a counselor in the next few weeks. There’s always the option to go to a walk-in if I can’t stand the wait, but I feel like I can hold out for now. Part of this may be that I don’t want to juggle the bug problem and the other problem at the same time. I feel like I need to compartmentalize in order to preserve myself.

Update from the couch

The purge of junk has begun. My mom came over yesterday and we made a dent in the work together. I am caught between feeling good about the progress and feeling bad about the remainder. Still I’d say that overall as far as the cleanup is concerned that my mood is going in the upward direction.

It does get dragged back somewhat by finding myself tired at 6pm. I hate feeling those doldrums, especially when lately I’ve been using most of my time and energy to write. Where normally I’d be lost in the far reaches of a video game, lately I’ve been staring off into the void, pondering my next blurb or poem. The pondering has even produced some results. Imagine that.

Not to say that I think gaming is bad. To me gaming is another avenue of fiction to explore. The enjoyment provided by a compelling game can be akin to a book, a movie or a tv show. It’s exploring the fruits of someone else’s imagination, and it is the root of what I love in life. However, I am encouraged that I am not just gaming. It is easy to be caught up for long periods of time. It is highly escapist for me, especially when the game is detailed and immersive. Getting something else in the mix activity-wise is a promising development.

I am hoping that the change in my meds is going to contribute to less fatigue, but the medication itself is not potent over 24 hours. Its lifespan is quite a bit shorter. This ultimately means I may have to find a better time to take my pills. I.e.: later in the day. I suppose the other option is to divide the dose of that particular medication earlier and later, something I’ve been told I can do by my psychiatrist.

Today is not looking like another day of cleaning. I know my mom has an appointment today so she won’t be able to provide any support, moral or otherwise. Besides, she has the big cart we were using to bring garbage down to the garbage room. I don’t know what I’m going to get up to today. More writing is a possibility.

I’m up early again and not sure what the results will be. I don’t typically go to bed very late so I suppose getting up early isn’t that much trouble. It is extremely unlikely that my fatigue has to do with length of sleep. If anything, it’s the quality… and then of course the fatigue is also most definitely mood-based. What’s interesting to me about my sleep the last couple of nights is that my AHI has been the lowest I’ve seen it.

An explanation: AHI stands for Apnea/Hypopnea Index. I have sleep apnea. Yes, that means I snore. It also means I stop breathing over the course of the night and lose oxygen. It’s a serious thing and in my case quite severe. My AHI without therapy was at about 61. That’s the number of times my air was blocked or partially blocked in an hour. Therapy in my case means a bi-pap machine. It provides a two-tiered (bi) flow of positive air pressure (pap). Essentially it creates enough air pressure to keep my airway open. Even with the machine, it’s not perfect. I still experience “events” over the course of the night, but my average AHI is down to around 12. That’s a big difference. It means I’m getting more of the oxygen I should be getting while I sleep, which means my brain is better rested.

So the past 2 nights I have slept on the couch. I have to be on my side the whole night because there isn’t enough room to lie on my back, the way I normally do. Yesterday morning my AHI was around 7. (The machine has an indicator for this.) This morning it was 3. Holy crap, 3! I don’t know when it has ever been that low. Who knew sleeping on the couch could be beneficial?

Rise. Shine. Wait.

Writing this early in the morning. By my standards, that is. Dodging the shame like I took the red pill last night. Whoosh, whoosh, I bend over backwards and it flies by… almost as deadly as bullets.

I am playing the waiting game. Possibly one of the worst games, but that’s beside the point. I may not have much in the way of a routine at this juncture of my life, but the morning part of what I do have goes something like this: I get up, go to the washroom, get dressed and check the time. If it’s too early then I kill time, usually just browsing or checking the weather or something. If it’s the right time then I call my mom.

My mom is my closest friend. We sync up extremely well in terms of temperament and sense of humour. We are mutually supportive of our respective mental illnesses. She’s there for me, I’m there for her. I talk to her almost every day in the morning and we often do things together, including meeting at Tim Hortons (the coffee place… in case that detail is lost) for breakfast. It’s easy for us to do this, as she lives only four blocks down the street from me.

But it’s a little early to call just yet. So I have to wait, which I am not always good at. Sometimes when I have to wait it seems like nothing interests me anymore but getting to the thing I’m waiting for.

For today’s circumstances, one would think it would be the opposite. That I wouldn’t mind waiting, all things considered. “All things” in this case are the chores I have committed to starting, along with my mom’s help. I am planning to start a purge of sorts, getting rid of almost everything that I haven’t looked at/used over the past year. To give an idea what this means: it’s clothes I haven’t worn or don’t fit, craft supplies I haven’t used, decorations I didn’t take out, movies I’ll never watch etc., etc… oh and boxes. Far too many boxes.

Now I said “start” this purge. I by no means expect to get it all done in one day and I don’t expect I could do it alone. It’s that motivational momentum. I don’t have much of it and it very quickly fizzles out. Even someone just being there with a suggestion as to what comes next is vitally important. So if my mom doesn’t feel up to helping today, it probably won’t begin today. I’ll have to wait, call her and find out.

For the time being I continue to dodge the shame and guilt projectiles that are launched when I consider that it’s my fault I need to do this purge in the first place. It seems I’m managing to dodge pretty well, mostly by telling myself it’s more important to do something about the mess than to assign blame.

That works? Yes, sometimes I luck out and that simple bit of self-talk actually works. Well, works enough to make me feel better, as far as spurring any constructive action that remains to be seen.

Stress Engine

I need a third gear. Right now I have gear one: pessimism and gear two: apathy. It would be nice to find a third gear labeled something along the lines of “optimism” or “determination.” Either would be appreciated.

It seems my reactions to anything remotely stress-inducing are locked in those two gears. The pessimism can include guilt, shame, fear and despair. The guilt and shame can often lead to the despair. In turn, the apathy is often a secondary state that locks in after feeling one of these pessimistic emotions. It’s an avoidance reaction. I begin to reject emotions to preserve some sense of calm.

Ultimately, even if I manage to achieve this calm, it doesn’t last. I haven’t dealt with the problem- with the trigger that required activating this two-geared “stress engine.” So things cool down until such a time as it becomes impossible to ignore/avoid the trigger and then the engine starts again.

In a way I am sometimes bitter about this level of clarity that I can achieve. I see exactly what I am doing to myself and then I don’t stop doing it. I know that’s it easier to have insight than it is to have change and I know that insight is at least progress but knowing and feeling something are not always the same. The logic can be sound, but the visceral reaction to the logic can still veer in another direction.

From a logic standpoint, I get that I need to keep trying. I get that patterns aren’t unlearned from just one instance. I get that repetition is a necessary part of managing my illness. I get it. But at the same time it feels so tiring. It feels like I’m racking up more and more failures instead of successes. It feels like a struggle without end.

In this moment

There’s a thunder storm outside. It rages! Just now it rages outside the window. Rain in torrents. Flashes and clashing clouds. I find that comforting. I feel like no one asks you to shine in the rain. No one blames you for wasting the day. Least of all yourself. But there’s more than that going on. It’s not just a shield for however I am feeling. The weather is cathartic and independent. It says everything it has to say and never falters in saying it. Storms like this never hesitate to break open. They arrive and purge their burdens. In response we give them awe, we give them respect.

Rain is marvelous. Wind is beautiful. Heavy clouds are soothing.

I don’t always revel this way in the chaos. I have seen the sun and had cause to smile. But any enjoyment, even of this dark performance, has to be a positive thing. I want to take it in that direction. I am a pendulum in my moods and while this tick forth is with me I will take hold of it. Too many days the rhythm has been out of sync. It has a bad habit of skipping beats lately, so that all I seem to notice is the backwards trend. Then it crosses my mind that it may not be a pendulum anymore. It might be the counting down of a time bomb. The scariest thing about those days is that I don’t know what the detonation looks like or what it really means. I’ve haven’t reached that point in a long time and I’m sure that it would look different now than it did then. It has become a great What If, a great Unknown, the most terrifying of all elements. Some days every tick seems to be closer and closer to boom.

But not today. Today I get a lovely downpour from the world beyond the window. Today the sky unfurls its darkness and refuses to apologize for it. Today I am coasting on external stimulus and I am fine with that. It is only today. Even tonight may be different. For the moment, it doesn’t matter.

I never finish anything!

It’s a painful truth that I have dealt with for a long time. I start projects but I am terrible at seeing them through. I am going to do my best not to impose the expectation of completion on this blog. I am using this to cope, hence the title. There will be ebb and flow, I just have to accept that.

So what’s the plan? Truth, truth and more brutal truth. Maybe some hope thrown in there and maybe even -dare I say it?- a dash of change as well.

My current status: unstable. I am wavering at the edge of downward-spiral land. I’m not there yet, I’m keeping afloat, but it’s pretty meager in terms of functionality. This means that I am taking very poor care of myself and my surroundings. It’s a mess, I’m a mess. I spend a great deal of time not thinking about it and coasting on avoidance pass-times.

Is blogging this any better than what I’ve been doing? I like to think so. At least this is an outlet. A purging method that allows me to reflect a little. I have this idea of adding my little cartoon character… but I may lack the confidence to keep that going.peg

She’s not much to look at, but she’s a decent echo of low mood.

Already I have mixed feelings about this… the blog in general. But, somehow feeling bad about it is doing something to convince me it’s a good idea. I really want to make it work, at least for a little while.

I’ve tried to look the other way for quite some time, and it doesn’t help me. How I have managed not to devolve entirely most likely has a lot to do with luck. Now I am trying to look this thing in the face and see what comes of it.

This is short… very very short as far as a post is concerned. Still I wanted to start somewhere. I’m going to put more into this tomorrow, perhaps touch up the menus and whatnot. It is time for me to be getting into bed.