And then there was ONE

Today it’s too hard to navigate my marriage, my job, my cat, my house, my bills, and bipolar disorder. Thoughts flash: run! End it! Just cry it out! I start to plan all those things-pack a bag, grab all my medication & head to the bridge, snot all over myself. All this planning started from under the covers well past the time I was supposed to be at work. As I begged for continuous sleep far into the day, I found myself on the couch too soon. I have so many bottles of medication I haven’t taken. Kept promising myself I would turn them into my therapist or my psychiatrist, but secretly wanting the option for days like this.
My marriage is vulnerable right now. I’ve become too much. I no longer enhance this relationship. The words my husband is using today are sharp. Truth behind his pain. Pushed up against the wall he spouts them. Not to hurt me necessarily, but release himself. The burden that I am is heavy. He is strong. Maybe too strong for 18 years. He often tells me that I have no idea how all these episodes of depression, mania, suicide attempts, battles w the bottle affect him. Truly tear at him. Not only because it hurts to see a loved one in pain, but the insurmountable amount of powerlessness that follows for him. Sometimes feeling betrayed as I reach for the liquid courage instead of him. Sometimes confused why I fall into the dark abyss with no warning. Sometimes because emotions are simply too damn hard.
Its funny because on the inside I am proud of myself when I can be “normal” what I think of as a good wife. I wonder if he notices I’m doing well. I just keep on showing him, at least in my mind, how I’m trying to rise. But, its that day my smile isn’t as big. My silence is stronger. My demeanor changed that he notices. Yesterday he asked if I was feel down. At first I denied it and said I was just tired. After all we had a great start to the weekend. He asked me again a little while later and I decided to shake my head yes. His response reminds me how hard the roller coaster is from any seat. He said we will cancel plans for tomorrow because he doesn’t want to get me “started.” Tears. Instant tears. Started? Does this mean he truly doesn’t get me?
As the sun sparkled I went back to bed under the guise of a headache. Physical pain is easier to accept and has a cure in ibuprofen. I laid me down to sleep to escape. Escape disappointment. Escape depression. Escape having to perform.
The evening didn’t end so well. More truth hit the fan and sent daggers around the room. I yelled. He tried to ask me not to yell and I yelled more. Poor poor communication and coping skills. This is not the picture of a good wife. I excused myself back to bed at 7:45 pm hurt feelings in tow.
I think the trigger to all this is loneliness. I have no support system.i have no friends. More truth to pierce my soul. And where am I now? Alone on my couch in the middle of a Tuesday when I should be at work. It fills the room and I cannot breathe. But dammit I will not cancel those plans. Red eyed. Tired. Full of self hatred. I will smile and carry on.
I feel like I am a party of one dancing around the bigger party. I don’t know how to get in. Do I deserve to be in? Can I, we, lay the burden down?

I Will Address This w Myself

My new gig is PT…24 hours…3 days a week. I used to work full time, probably more than full time. Its day 3. I’m done with my first week. I have friends who are my new bosses that support me. They set me up with a work area not heavily monitored by the cameras. At least they are not in my face and infiltrating my mind. What a blessing.
I feel quiet and distant. I guess just feeling out my role. I carved out this new position and expectation is high. Perhaps assumptions are high. Though I come to this agency with a lot of knowledge, Its still a new position. Which I think I can fulfill, eventually. Perfectionism casts a wide spell and I am certainly a sucker. I want to impress. I want to succeed. I want to be all things to all people. NOW. But, that gets me into trouble. EVERY! TIME!
So, I am trying really hard to take it slow. Ask foolish questions. Relax. Enjoy the ride.   That’s not easy for me.  I’m a need to know person. Need to know where I fit in. Need to know my role.  Need to know ahead of time what is expected of me.  Those things are not a given at a new job.  I brought my calendar into my supervisor’s office and tried to secure dates and times of things..anything.  I don’t think she is holding out on me. Rather I think she doesn’t know quite what to do with me. How to train me. Guide me.  We are getting to know each other in the process. Which is fun.

I see old habits already forming. Not leaving my desk for lunch. Not going on breaks. Not taking walks. I am aware. I will address this with myself. I will!

The 11th Hour

I start my new job tomorrow after a 2 month layoff. We negotiated my position back in January/February. Its a smaller company and I was concerned they couldn’t handle my need for time off. I chose to be completely upfront with regards to having Bipolar disorder. This particular executive team believes in having cameras in the offices to monitor employee activity. It was a little off putting in general, but for me it would easily breed paranoia. I asked for an accommodation of no camera in my work space way back during negotiations. Didn’t seem to be a problem. I was told they were discussing which office made the most sense.
Well, got a call today from my new supervisor and was told the executive team changed their minds and they weren’t going to implement this accommodation after all. At the 11th hour, I’m just a little confused. Makes me concerned I don’t really have their support after all. A little disappointing.

The Empty Space of Time

I sat beaming on my therapists couch as I recounted the final days at my job. I put 17 years of growth, failure, tears and triumph to bed. As a fresh faced 25 year old I bounded into work each day because my clients needed me. Going full circle, in my mind at least, I was bounding out the door having given guidance and direction to the eventual service providers that would care for those clients 24 hours a day. I shared all my historical knowledge w the “newbies” in my unit. I bid my colleagues goodbye. Handed in my keys. Drove slowly out of the parking lot. The view in the rear view mirror bittersweet.
How do you feel, she said, bringing me back to the present. With only two days of “freedom” under my belt, I wasn’t sure I knew. It was all still surreal. I had worked really hard over the last two weeks to close out projects, so my final days (Monday & Tuesday) allowed me some space. I didn’t want to be riddled w anxiety and running around frantically. I also didn’t want to just stop being productive and leave things to other people. I was successful in my endeavor. Even solidifying one last project only hours before my departure.
As an Air Force Brat, saying goodbye was commonplace but I never became good at it. I work with some wonderful people. Not Spending 40 hours a week w them was hard to imagine. The laughter. The shared frustrations. The collaboration. The cohesiveness. All will be missed.
I reported that I learned a valuable lesson. Since my dramatic fall into bipolar disorder and subsequent diagnosis in the last 4 years, I have had to take significant time off. If I had to guess, all told, I would say maybe 12 months worth. I would hold on to the idea they absolutely need me at work and I couldn’t possibly go to the hospital. Inevitably I would push myself too hard and symptoms would become too extreme to stay safe. Hospital here I come, again and again.
The lesson, as I cleaned out my desk or passed along projects to coworkers, was the agency will most certainly go on without me. It never stopped while I was gone. The phone still rang. Emails were sent. Deadlines were met or they simply weren’t. I was but a spoke in the wheel. Helpful. Well liked. But at the end of the day, not necessary. So, in my wake, if any projects fall apart or if they are heralded, it’s not my fault.
A new work week has started. Here I am sitting on the couch drinking coffee when normally I would be checking emails. I feel a little empty. I had a massive panic attack over the weekend..seemingly out of no where. It was a great week of goodbyes, my birthday, sunshine, spending time w my husband. Saturday rolls around. Another good day. Did some gardening, some errands. Plans to make dinner. In the midst of that dinner making, my brain flipped.
The music was too loud. The lights too bright. The kitchen fan sounded like a helicopter hovering. I was dizzy. Seeing black. Breath shorter and shorter. Panic. Pure panic. Now on the floor trying to bring air into my body slowly. My husband was talking to me, but it was muffled noise. I was so confused. What had I done wrong? Everything felt right. Of course, it passed. 20-30 min later. I ate a bit of dinner and then my husband put me to bed..at 8 pm.
I have a month off in between jobs. Most people marveled at that. I mean how often does this opportunity present itself. I was so proactive. I restrung my tennis rackets as I used to be quite a competitor, until Bipolar came along. I fixed up my mountain bike. I made some plans with people. I bought some new running shoes. Got my paints out. This is my time to “figure out what I like to do.”
Yet, here I sit. Alone. Not moving. So scared. Scared of what? Time. Empty space in the minutes, hours, weeks and month ahead.

At a Loss

I’m trying to stay in the present moment. Not worry about my job. Paycheck. Benefits. Future. My husband is so kind and offering for me to stay off work. He can cover my benefits through his work for  a short time. Perhaps I should quit my current job and find something a little less stressful, little less demanding.  Maybe something part time.  Its all too much to think about, but I feel I need to figure things out. I just don’t know where to start.  I am at a loss. I feel the structure and purpose of work would be good for me, but the stress and demands could be detrimental at this point.  If I can’t get through a day without buying into a hallucination, how can I meet a deadline?

Yesterday was a day off from my outpatient program. Doesn’t really matter as I was feeling too depressed to go on Wednesday.  But as I woke up yesterday morning I was determined to give depression a run for its money.  I got busy as soon as I hopped out of bed. My plans were to clean the kitchen, work out, work on some art, listen to some music.  I worked out first, as it was what I wanted to do least. But, by the end, as usual, I was very glad I pushed myself through.  On to the kitchen. I took out the compost to our bins in the backyard. We have a large backyard. I brought a shovel to break up the scraps inside the bins (easier for them to breakdown that way.) As I was walking back, I felt dirt being thrown on me. I could even taste it. The devil was digging a grave for me. I ran over to the dug up area in our garden and yelled for him to stop torturing me. I heard menacing laughter and the words, get in!. Instead, I took my shovel and began covering the hole back up. I don’t know how long I was out there. I was in a trance. Determined to undue this mess.  What brought me back around was raindrops falling on my head. I had no idea it had started to rain. It was raining just hard enough to distract me.  I had probably recovered a 3-4 foot area of our garden.

I cannot seem to draw the line for myself and not get lost in a hallucination. If my husband is home, he can talk me through it fairly quickly at this point. When he is not home, it’s a different story. I was distraught and confused as to how I let it get as far as it did.  Late into the evening, my husband was out watching music. I was getting ready for bed. I heard a knock at the door.  We have a long hallway where both the back door and the front door share space. I thought maybe it was my husband and friend returning. As I got closer, I realized the knock was from the back door. This was very odd. Should have been clue number 1. I turned on the back light, but could not see anyone. I peeked through the hole in the front door..no one. I head back to my bedroom.  Next, I heard the doorknob being rattled, as if someone was trying to get in. Knocks, then rattles. I then heard..Just Get In chanted several times as the rattling and knocks kept occurring. I was so scared. I refused to open the door. But the chatter would not stop. I began to cry. Fear was taking over my body. I grabbed headphones and my Ipod. I listened to music as loud as possible. I sat on the floor leaning up against my bed. Just crying as if I was going to die.  At some point, my husband came home and picked me up off the floor. He shook me. Told me none of the day’s events were real.

As long as these types of scenarios occur, I don’t see how I can return to work. They happen in the middle of the day as well as at night. I would be horrified if a hallucination were to happen to me at work and I follow through on it somehow. I am so discouraged. I don’t know what to do. I can’t imagine not going back to my job. I like my job. I need my job. I’m good at my job. I have been at that agency for 16 years. It kills me, the thought of bipolar disorder beating me up so badly I can’t return to my job.  My fucking job.  Now what?

Do I hop on my husband’s insurance and wait longer to “get better?” Do I go back to my work part time for a short time to get acclimated before moving into full time status?  I have this desire to be fully recovered before my return so I do not have to show up and immediately take time off again.  I think that would be damaging to my self esteem. What am I talking about, this whole damn things is damaging.

I sit and hear my husband’s words. He says he is trying to take the pressure off. But I hear, you are not fit to work. You cannot handle your job as its too stressful. I can’t handle you this way plus with work stress.  In my very own heart, I am fearful I can’t handle the job anymore.  That thought makes me so angry.  How can bipolar disorder rob me of so much?  Also in my heart, I know my husband wants me well and happy. He wants to help.  He promises we are okay financially for a little while. I don’t see how that can be true, but he is our money guy.  I can’t seem to trust the process, but maybe I can trust in him.