How it is

I am writing instead of crying. Again. I suppose that’s a good thing? It’s better than being mired in the emotion, right? Silver lining or something. In any case I have gotten to a weird place in my mind. I am actually starting to think I should go back to the hospital.

Of course, other parts of my mind immediately counter this suggestion.

I’m not sick enough.

I don’t need my meds changed that drastically.

Other people need it more.

It won’t help.

It will make me miserable.

But hey, hey! Wait a minute, brain, you didn’t even give me the chance to say why I was thinking of it in the first place.

I think there is a possibility that being in the hospital might help me redirect my behavior. Put me “on track” in a way that I am finding it hard to do on my own.

I am really quite sunk. I am not taking care of myself very well and I am finding it very hard. Most of the time, I keep it on the periphery of my mind where it won’t hurt me. When I let myself think about it, I get upset at myself and at how things are. Sometimes I get angry, sometimes very depressed… and other times anxious.

I’ve been starting to have some very poisonous thoughts. I think about how it’s hard to like myself anymore. I think about how I don’t really like my life.

Did I say I was writing this instead of crying? Ok, well damn, make that writing this and crying. Still it feels like something I need to write. It needs to get expressed.

Earlier my mind kept doing these loops where it would survey all the bad things about what I’m doing and not doing… and it kept demanding an answer.

Why? Why are you doing this to yourself? Why don’t you fix this? Why are you letting your supports slip? Why is this so hard for you? Why?

I can’t answer. Not because I don’t have answers, but because they don’t feel like they’re good enough.

What I am swallowing is this: I have shame. And regret. And guilt. And all of these things are heavy and when I feel them it is too much. I have learned to fear these feelings. To dread them. I don’t want to be afraid but I am. My one motivation becomes soothing that fear. So I don’t manage the things I should. I turn to distractions and I avoid the pressure. And all it does is feed the very feelings I am afraid of.

I used to think that going back to the hospital would be awful. That it would mean I was a failure. Maybe I still think that, to a certain extent. All I could think of was how mind-numbing it was to be there. How badly I wanted to leave when I was there. Even so, I am looking at it with a slightly different perspective. I see that it is a resource. It contains tools and guidance. I am wondering now if they aren’t tools I could use. If maybe some time under their guidance would help.

Still I have my doubts. Mostly that they would consider admitting me. I am still holding together to a certain extent, aren’t I? I have enough clarity on my condition to verbalize it. I haven’t hurt myself and I won’t try to kill myself… and to the Health Care industry that makes me a weak priority, now doesn’t it? Besides that, if I can see that I need to change; doesn’t that mean I can take the steps myself?

Well, I can also see that I am on a loop. One that usually manifests in the evening. I get upset, I try to calm down, I convince myself that I will take some positive action… and then I wake up in the morning mostly soothed and ready to push the whole episode into the background. It is fairly easy to push it there at this point, but it is never gone for good. It can be that very night, or a few nights later; the start of the despair all over again.

Maybe tomorrow morning will be different. Maybe not. At this point I am long overdue to see Dr. R… that is the step I should try the hardest to take. Get his perspective.

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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.

Broken

I am not broken

We are not broken

Not a one

There is no perfect

No one so whole

But we have all felt broken

Or if not all

So many

That

Are we not the norm?

Do we not set the trend?

Do we not shape the world?

And so

We are not broken

But

Something is broken

What is it?

It is the lens

It is the mirror

It is how we see each other

It is how we see ourselves

It is how I see myself

It is point of view

And we broke it

We held it

And listened when we were told to break it

Because generations before had done it

Because our parents had done it

Because everyone else had done it

So we did

And I did too

But something happened

The view tilted

To an awkward angle

For a moment I could see differently

I saw between the cracks

I could see us

I could see everyone

I could see myself

Clearly

Unbroken

Now I try

Today

This moment

To hold it in my mind

To always remember

The truth I learned

I am not broken

We are not broken

Not a one

Praise for my Sister

Grace is a super-hero. She saves lives. No, she really does. She works in 911 dispatch. She’s a supervisor and in her time working there she has coached people through many emergency situations, including women who have gone into labor. She could tell you more accurately what she’s gone through on a daily basis, but some of it she isn’t able to because of confidentiality and some things, well… people die while she’s on the job, too, that’s not the cheeriest of subjects.

[My immediate family consists of Mom, Dad, older sister (Grace), younger brother (Louis) and middle child (that’s me, Peg).  Grace is two years older than me, while Louis is two years younger.]

Grace is extremely resilient and an awe-inspiringly capable person. Her job involves incredible amounts of focus, quick-thinking and a cool head. She has all this going for her and it really impresses me.

We’ve gone through phases of closeness and separation as sisters. When we were little we were very close and played together all the time. We were the well-behaved girls while my brother was the one getting into trouble. We had separate circles of friends growing up but we had each other’s backs. Still, we had divergent personalities. We do even now, really. I have always been more abstract and less practical than Grace. This helps my creativity but leaves me lacking in functionality.

That’s the thing: Grace is high-functioning, but I’m certain she has her own mental illness that she deals with on a daily basis. At times this has been hard for me to sympathize with, as she used to make me feel like I was weak for needing help, and especially for taking medication. She has a way of plowing through life that I have never managed, but she used to make me feel like there was something wrong with not being able to cope the way she did.

I don’t get that sense from her anymore. I believe she has grown more accepting of our differences. It’s hard to know for sure, though, as most of her feelings she keeps very guarded. We were close as children, distant as teens and now as adults we have bridged the gap with a lukewarm friendship. I think we both wish it were better than it is, which is promising, but then again our lives and personalities are still vastly different.

This doesn’t stop me from admiring all of my sister’s strength. She has lived through some harsh experiences and I hope she continues to heal from them. She is a super-hero.

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?