Surely It’s Me, Right?!

Watching tv. Trying to write. This has been the pattern for weeks. So much on my mind yet I can’t seem to catch my thoughts. I feel like a drifter. Its been just about 3 months since I left my full time job of 17 years. I was leaving many great working relationships behind in pursuit of a less stressful environment. The hope was in doing so I would have less depressive and manic episodes. I was averaging 2 hospitalizations a year. I guess i always forget even with “good” stress, such as a job change, the risk of an episode is high. I added to that statistic w a devastating manic episode.
On to greener pastures I am now in a part time position. A little slower pace. A smaller office. The only person I really talk to is my supervisor. I drift in and out of the office. Sit at my desk. I miss conversations w my old coworkers where I sat in a unit of 8 people, I the veteran. I the one most people came to for assistance. My cubbie mate and I on the verge of a real budding friendship-something I don’t seem to be good at. But, that world is gone. It seems out of sight out of mind.
I know. I know. Everyone is sooo busy. I don’t always reach out as often as I should. But I try. I think of other people daily and wonder how they are. I don’t just forget people. I feel confused when folks I thought were my friends don’t respond. When these same folks seemed so concerned after hearing about my possible suicide attempt (long story wrapped up in my mixed manic episode). Shared my business with others without my permission. I let go of all of that, as I thought they truly cared. Thought they were my friends..or at least more than acquaintances at this point.
Is it me that falls off the map or them? If anything, I keep in contact, albeit hiding, through texts. When they don’t get returned what am I to think? I am lonely. I feel so alone. I have very few friends. Can’t maintain the ones I *may* have. Lost some along the way.
At the same time I don’t want to beg people to be my friend. Surely it’s me, right? You know why I was unable to write this..because the truth hurts. The pain of isolation is grand. To be fair, I do have a husband. He is most certainly my friend. But, 2 people don’t make a circle. A circle of support is always shoved down my throat. If only I had one. If only I knew how to rally one.
I just drift along to and from work. Drift in and out of the grocery store. Drift from my bed to the couch. Drowning in loneliness and isolation. I think people like me. But that’s as far as it goes. I really don’t understand why it stops there. Surely it’s me, right?

Home in my Cocoon

I hide away in a cocoon of blankets under the guise of a headache. But its depression that lures me here in the light of day. Depression snuggles next to me at first. Gives me time to get comfortable. Flipping and flopping. I’ve only been awake for 4 hours of the day. I guess I’m tired. I mean I feel exhausted but doubt sleep will afford me any true rest. Isolation is likely what I crave. No forced smiles or laughs.
Yesterday it took everything I had to leave the house to see one of my favorite bands. I have been waiting to see them for months. Over dinner my husband tried to pry out of me what’s wrong. The only answer I have is, I don’t know. Sometimes there isn’t a reason. I mumbled I think I have to take time off work. He asked me if I was going to hurt myself. Again my answer I don’t know. We ate in silence for a while as those words loomed over our table. I excused myself and took several moments in the restroom to let the tears run free.
We made our way to the music. The band said “this is the last night of the tour so we are going to let it all out and leave it all here. After several songs passed me by, I finally let the music take me as if I too was letting it all out. Stomping my feet, shaking my hips, singing the words. I felt like I was there. In the moment. Relishing the sounds and what it was doing to my body. No thoughts. No anxiety. One with crowd. Just another fan full of delight. But, then I burst into tears out of nowhere. A flood of forsaken anguish about what..I don’t know. I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe. I fell backwards into my husband who held me up. He took my hand and led me to a chair. He gave me as much time as I needed. I covered my face. Then my ears. Looked at him w eyes brimming with tears.
I felt betrayed. Heartbroken. I thought I was doing all the right things. Staring bipolar disorder in the face. I guess he got the last laugh because I had to leave. Get fresh air. Get home to my cocoon.

If Only I knew…

I turn the music up. I turn it down. Turn it off. Turn it on. Change the station. Maybe I should focus on a task, so I set out to clean the house. I don’t know where to start. I roam around armed w cleanser and a towel. Eventually I just sit on the couch and stare out the window. I don’t know if I am actually looking at anything. My gaze is steady, but nothing registers. Perhaps I should take a shower. Perhaps I should take a nap. I SHOULD exercise. But, I do none of these things. I have no energy. No desire.
I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I need. My husband makes a suggestion but I cannot hear him. I see his lips move, his eyes impassioned. His words fall short. Don’t reach me. I miss his message. I’ve gone inward. I can only seem to hear the echo of the voice in my head, which is stunningly mean and decisive. But, also makes perfect sense.
I put on my trusted headphones to drown out the barrage in my mind. Meditation? Classical? Nature? I can’t make the simplest of decisions right now. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I need. Am i in a void? An abyss? Time is standing still. The lovely purple sage bush out my window is awash in the fog. The minutes creep by. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Its only 3 o’clock? How in the hell can it be 3 o’clock!
If only I knew how I felt. What I need. Maybe you could help me through this invisible pain.

Simplicity

I went to bed at 9pm last night and got out of bed at 10am this morning. Deep deep depression has set in. I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for work. Told him I was also going to work. 2 hrs later I texted my boss and let her know I couldn’t handle an office setting today.
I warmed up my coffee and checked email. I turned on the tv. Something I hate to do before 5pm. But, I need to check out. In a big way. I alternated between my email, Facebook, and writing. But honestly I tried to get lost in television. I won’t reveal the show as it’s probably not in the arena of self compassion, but holds my attention.
I sent a text to my old friend that read: so many moments come and go where a hello and goodbye are but a blimp in the day, weeks, months. I remember our first hello. I felt so bold. But now as I ponder a goodbye I feel so fragile. So alone. I don’t even know what I truly want to say. I’m thinking of you, Steve and Jerry.
These are folks who have long time sobriety and battle depression. Jerry took his life while sober unable to battle anymore.
My mind is not sound. My pain is bigger than me no matter how hard I try. I open my laptop to feel important. Answer work matters that demand my attention. Pretend I matter. Pretend I have an impact. I guess I’m trying to believe as much as pretend.
It’s not a good day. I isolate and spare me from you. I have no words. My smile and nod at a tilt. Socks don’t keep me warm. Pills don’t keep me well. Love doesn’t keep me fed. Faith may not keep me alive.
I’m hunkered down. Curtains closed. Darkness. Forever darkness barricades me. Alarms sound in my head. Warning shots fired. I’m not okay. Simple as that.

Please Take Good Care

I am constantly learning how to take care of myself. I’m not very good at it.  Self compassion is a challenge.  About a month ago I finally broke down and joined a hiking club.  I had been contemplating joining for 5-6 months always coming up w excuses as to why it wouldn’t work out. The dominating factor was always fear. Fear they wouldn’t like me, fear I would fall into the darkness and stop going, fear I wouldn’t fit in.

The hikng commitment is Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.  I have to say it’s going pretty good. The folks are a bit older than me and not quite in as good of shape.  This group is meant to be social as well as physical.  I have trouble slowing down and tend to run up ahead of the group.  While this is encouraged, to get a good workout, I miss out on the real reason I joined. Connection.  I am such a competitive person that when I get on the trail the all or nothing brain kicks in and I must go at least 5 miles. I have a watch that both spurns me on and scorns me  when I don’t reach this distance.

Somewhere in finding my place within the hikng group I decided this level of activity is not enough and I joined a bootcamp class. I worked out with this bootcamp for years just prior to my epic fall into bipolar disorder.  So now I’m doing bootcamp Monday, Wednesday, Friday on top of hiking.  Gotta fill the void somehow right?! There are worse ways to fight isolation and loneliness.

Well, I gave in and took last night off from hiking. My body was so tired and sore. We did a rather rigorous workout on Wednesday. I could barely walk. I knew if I hiked I would have no energy for Friday.  So I told myself it was okay to rest and take a day off.   Me. I did that for me.

The lesson could also be more isn’t always better. I am happy to be off the couch. I’m happy to be physically active again.  I hope to be more social in my group. But really I hope to take good care of myself one day at a time.

Warrior

Today at 6:15 PM

Social Studies

I am a self diagnosed Over Thinker. I saw a cartoon yesterday that really hit home. It was of a person pushed to the ground, laying on her side, shielding herself from the mass amount of thoughts that were trying to take over.  I get stuck on an issue, lets say relationships, and whirl around on a merry go round thousands of times.  I never trust my judgement, my gut. I tend to think my bipolar brain is wrong about most things, when maybe, just maybe I am right.  But, I get bogged down and never come to a resolution.  I find it quite infuriating.

I sit in my therapist’s office and rehash day’s old events. I look at it from every angle, upside down, right side up, diagonal.  She applauds me for being able to see so many sides of the coin.  Yet, I just feel like I am chasing my tail. Like my mind is an empty drawer full of marbles rolling around in all directions. I wonder if I somehow, unconsciously, I do this to avoid making a decision.  Or to avoid coming to a painful conclusion I don’t want to face.  Or maybe I truly am weighing all my options.  I just don’t know anymore.

What I do know is all this thinking and overthinking keeps me from living in the moment. Keeps me from taking a leap of faith.  Keeps me from reaching outside the “safety” of my box.  I don’t want my life to be a bag of symptoms I carry around and manage.  I want to live, not merely exist.  In a way, I suppose, I feel like I’m protecting myself.  If I don’t reach out too far, I don’t get hurt.  However, if I just stay put I am at risk of being tied to the whipping post of my mind.  The voices in my head can be quite cruel.

So, I force myself to open the curtains. Press my face against the window almost as if I can feel the outside.  The sunrise is beautiful. The dawn of a new day. The pink hue that gently edges across the sky is mesmerizing.  So much to see and do beyond these four walls.  In all honesty, I am no safer in here than out there. Alone with my own mind can be just as “dangerous”, if not more so.

I was talking to a coworker who is also in sobriety with 20 years.  We are just getting to know each other. I was trying to relay some frustrations and anxieties about friendships.  She talked about when you first become sober its like learning to live again, without the booze. Learning to relate to people on a sober level is hard.  I knew what she was saying as I had been there myself. I ventured to say that I feel like I am in the same position emerging from the toughest and longest psychotic episode of my bipolar career. I have been steeped in psychiatry and symptom management for 3 months. Very little contact with the outside world, especially on a social level. Sometimes I was in a place where my husband had to tell me what to do next because I couldn’t figure it out.  I feel like I am re-entering the world as a functioning person again. I don’t know how to relate to people. I don’t know how much they want to know about what’s been happening and in turn, its really all I have to talk about.

In reality, I think I am doing better than I am giving myself credit for. I am showing up for work everyday, trying the best I can.  I’m maintaining a workout schedule for the most part. I am participating in my marriage.  The next step is dipping my toe in the social arena. Wish me luck!

Lost that Lovin Feeling

I would like a friend who also has bipolar disorder in the real world. I have such a hard time figuring things out. I am always wondering if what I think or feel is akin to other bipolar folks.  I question whether some of my responses to things makes sense from a bipolar perspective.  In short, has my friend ever felt or thought the same crazy shit I do?  Oh, would that be so darn helpful.  I’m imagining it would help to ease my mind (sometimes).

The other thing I would like (I know Christmas has passed) is for a positive shift in my mood to last more than 4-5 days at a time.  It feels like forever and always I am good..then too good for a day or so, then crash.  Now on the spectrum of my disorder this is moderate.  But, I’d like a continuum of good days..you know a nice long stretch.  Yet, that just doesn’t seem to happen. Already this week I have cried my way to work. Yesterday I was on the way to an appointment which was an hour away and the tears were just flowing like a faucet. The agitation and anger is enormous.  I don’t want anyone to talk to me, look at me or pretend to look at me.  This includes my husband. I don’t want to hold his hand, tell him I love him or have him drape over me as we sleep. I need everyone to back the F up. Why? Why? Why?

I have no answers.  I really don’t have much to do at work, I know that will change. I have “free time” in the afternoon.  If I think about it, I am left alone much of the day.  My phone doesn’t ring. I don’t make any plans, because I have no one to make plans with everyone is at work. Nevermind the fact I really don’t have any friends.

This arena, friendship, has become such a source of contention with me. I find it sad really. I have a girlfriend, who is also friends with my husband. I knew her from work back in the day, and then she was in the circle of friends I had in my  late 20’S.  She lives over where my husband works.  So periodically they get together.  WITHOUT ME.  Is what I hear in my head.  My husband knows I am struggling to put myself out there more with her, actually call her, let her in my world a little more.  Here’s the thing, I can’t expect him to say no to her because of me.  I can’t expect him to suggest, hey why don’t you call the fanatic and go for a hike.  I need to do these things on my own.  But, here I sit with jealousy running through my veins. I am convinced she likes him more than me.  Tomorrow my husband is going to a going away party for an old coworker that is quitting his old agency.  Then he is going to a nice bar that has free live music with another old coworker whom I like very much.   Good for my husband, right.  Getting himself out there.  Look at him go.

Tears just stream down my face as I write this because I feel like I have lost that ability. I feel like bipolar disorder has stolen my sense of self, my self confidence, my ability to trust things as they are.  I don’t know how I fit into the world anymore.  Rather, I don’t think I do.  I don’t belong in any social circle. I don’t know how to be friends with people anymore.  I retreat, I isolate, I fall off the face of the earth too often for most people.  Then there is my evil mind reinforcing all this.  I’m no good. I’m no fun. Blah blah blah.

I have got to find a way to get some power back. I have to believe in myself. I have to believe people want to be around me.  I can’t wait around like a wall flower with my shades drawn and expect the world to come knocking. I’ve got to get up and out.  When I was hypomanic on Monday I was talking to everyone.  Smiling so big.  Laughing so loud. Cracking funny jokes.  I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home because I had so much to say. I had done so much during the day. I felt good.  How can I harness some of that?  Smile on my face, hi how ya doing kind of attitude.  Drop all this garbage I carry around.

Sometimes I think it isn’t easy to be a human being, much less one with bipolar disorder. I trudge through this life as best I can.  Some days I just get down. I want things to be better. I don’t want to be satisfied with what is.  Sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself doesn’t get me anywhere.  I just don’t know how to start.  How do I start living my life in a new way?  How do I let the wall down and explore?